Confused About Cholesterol?

The British Journal of Medicine published a controversial piece of research suggesting that perhaps bad cholesterol just isn’t that bad for you, especially if you are over 60 years old. There was some data in the study to suggest that high “bad” cholesterol or LDL cholesterol might even be associated with less overall mortality in older folks.

As you might expect, there are many critiques of the research that draw into question the validity of the findings.

But while the medical community and researchers argue over whether cholesterol does or doesn’t matter when it comes to heart disease, we thought we would look at it a different way–one that’s a little more forest, and a little less trees.

Here’s what we know for sure does matter in preventing and even reversing heart disease:

  • Exercising regularly matters
  • Eating a diet high in whole foods, good fats and lean proteins matters
  • Getting enough sleep matters
  • Quitting smoking matters.

Focus on making these things matter…and there’s a very good chance your cholesterol won’t.

Recipes from Our Grand Opening

106752Thanks to everyone who joined us for our Grand Opening this week! Here are all the recipes you may have enjoyed while wandering about our new home. 🙂

 – The StoneTree Team

Roasted Red Pepper Walnut Dip

Sourced from ‘My New Roots’ by Sarah Britton

Ingredients:

  • 3 large red bel peppers (about 1 1/2 Ibs/700g)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup/140g raw walnuts
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 3 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
  • Grated zest of 1 organic lemon
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Fresh parsley (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400’F/200’C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Rub the peppers with the coconut oil and put them on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until blistered and blackened in a few places. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, quickly cover with wax paper or some type of lid (this will steam the peppers, making the skin very easy to remove).
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 325’F/170’C
  4. Spread the walnuts on a separate baking sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes, watching carefully so that they do not burn. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  5. When they have cooled, slip the skins off the peppers and discard them
  6. In a food processor, pulse the garlic until minced. Add the peppers, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and sea salt and blend on high until the desired consistency is reached – smooth or slightly chunky, whatever you prefer. (If you want to increase the protein in this dip, add a handful of chickpeas, kidney beans, or lentils.)
  7. Season to taste and garnish with parsley before enjoying in your favourite manner.

Thai Peanut Sauce

Sourced from ‘Oh She Glows’ by Angela Liddon

Ingredients:

  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 3 tablespoons (30 ml) toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) natural almond butter or peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons (10 ml) grated fresh ginger (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lime juice, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (35ml) low sodium tamari

Directions:

  1. In a mini or regular food processor, combine all ingredients with 2-3 tablespoons (30-45ml) water.
  2. Process until combined.

Rainbow Spring Rolls

Sourced from Thirsty for Tea blog

Makes 12 rolls.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced into 3? long strips
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced into 3? long strips
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 3? pieces
  • 1/4 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced into 3? long shreds
  • 1 avocado, ripe but firm, halved and peeled, then cut into thin slices lengthwise
  • small bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3 small scallions, green part thinly sliced
  • 12 tapioca or rice paper wrappers

Directions:

  1. Fill a medium pot with water, then bring to a full boil. Blanch the asparagus by throwing the tip portions into the boiling water for about 45 seconds. Remove the asparagus with a wire mesh sieve, then plunge into another bowl filled with ice-cold water. Blanch the non-tip asparagus sections for 1 minute in the boiling water, then remove with the sieve and also plunge into the ice-cold water.  Remove all the asparagus from the cold water and place on a dish to drain off excess water. Set aside.
  2. Fill a large casserole or deep, large dish with about 1? of warm water. Submerge 1 spring roll wrapper in the water completely, wait for it to soften for about 10 seconds, then place the sheet on a clean work surface.
  3. Stack 2 strips of the red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, asparagus, and avocado in the lower 1/3 section of each sheet, towards the center. Add some of the shredded cabbage and carrots on top of the stack.  Scatter some chopped cilantro and sliced green onions on top of the stack to finish. Roll up spring roll and fold right and left sides of the wrapper in towards the center of the roll. Continue rolling upwards (away from you) until you get a completed roll.
  4. Repeat the rolling process for all 12 rolls

Dr. Shelby’s Healthy Chocolate

This is an easy-to-make chocolate. No cooking. No refined sugar. Plenty of delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups shredded unsweetened coconut cocoa butter
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa/cacao powder
  • 2 Tbsp carob powder
  • Vanilla extract (the real thing)

Options:

  • Cinnamon + cayenne powders Peppermint flavour
  • Coarse salt

Directions:

  • It does help to use a Vitamix (faster process) but a standard blender will work as well.
  • The coconut is light and will keep working its way up the sides of the container; you need to keep pushing it down. Coconut flakes will ‘melt’ after a few minutes of blending.
  • Once it is liquefied, add melted cocoa butter, vanilla and powders.
  • Cocoa butter: the volume you use depends upon how ‘coconut-y’ you want the chocolate to taste. I prefer more of a chocolate experience vs. macaroon… so I include cocoa butter in this recipe. However, it is not required.
  • Melt the cocoa butter in a double boiler (I simply immerse a glass measuring cup in a small pot of water on stove ‘low’).
  • Pour in to a spring-form pan.
  • I line it with parchment paper, to make cutting and clean-up easier (one piece for chocolate can last several months… reduce/reuse/recycle!).
  • For thin chocolate, use a larger pan.
  • I like thicker chunks, so I use the smaller pan.
  • Put in fridge to solidify.
  • After ~10minutes, sprinkle top with coarse salt. I recommend Himalayan (pink) or Celtic (grey).
  • This is a good time to also add other superfood boosters, like goji berries, cacao nibs, berries, pumpkin seeds, etc.
  • Once solid (couple of hours) remove from spring-form pan and cut with strong knife.
  • Store in refrigerator.

Marinated Tofu

Ingredients*

  • 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu, chopped in ~1cm cubes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed [sometimes I also add ground cumin to the mix]
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

* adjust amount of each marinade ingredient according to taste; these amounts are approximations

Directions

  • Combine marinade ingredients and pour over tofu so that all cubes are immersed. Store overnight in refrigerator.
  • Place cubes on cookie sheet greased with coconut oil (an oil safe for high-heat cooking)
  • Bake at 400° for 30 minutes, or until desired consistency.
  • Serve on own as a snack or as a protein topping to any salad.
  • Optional: roll cubes in nutritional yeast prior to baking

No-Bake Energy Bites

Source Gimmesomeoven.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
  • 2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs (optional)
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour.
  • Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (Ours were about 1″ in diameter.) Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  • Makes about 20-25 balls.

Black Bean Dip

August 5, 2010 blog

This super-easy and inexpensive snack will have even the pickiest kid asking for more. And because black beans are high in iron, magnesium and folic acid, both parents and kids can be happy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of black beans – drained
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped (if you are using the jarred chopped garlic use 2-3tsp)
  • ½ -1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Gently heat oil and garlic in a pan until garlic is fragrant and slightly toasted (about 2 min).
  2. Place beans in a food processor, blender or a bowl that can be used with a hand-blender
  3. Pour oil and garlic mix over black beans
  4. Add sea salt
  5. Blend until all beans are mashed – about 1-2 min
  6. If the mix is a little dry, you may need to add a little more oil – about 1-2 tbsp. Serve with organic corn chips or rice crackers for a gluten-free and vegan snack!

Please Join Us: Grand Opening June 21

In my 15th year of practice in this wonderful community, we here at StoneTree have found our way to our fourth and final home at 27 Third Street in Collingwood.

This heritage building, originally constructed in the late 1800’s, has a long history of housing local health care providers. During four months renovating her, we chatted with many enthusiastic locals who would delight in the telling of all manner of interactions with this lovely little building and all the people who worked in it.

We are so happy to continue the tradition of continuing health care at this address, and hope you will all come and join us for a look around on June 21st from 4-7PM. All are welcome.

Join us for refreshments, recipes, demos, office tours and samples. The official ribbon cutting will be at 5PM, with Mayor Cooper doing the honours!

“It’s Only a Flesh Wound”

I visited with a married couple recently, and was reminded of this famous clip from the Monty Python movie, The Quest for the Holy Grail. (Warning: the clip is a bit graphic in a 1970’s bloody kind of way.)

In practice, I find men are often more prone to disregard symptoms. Perhaps for them it feels like the right thing to not complain, but it makes it a challenge to get them to fess up when they aren’t feeling well.

So…if you have a brave knight or pathological non-complainer in your life, here are 10 symptoms that you should INSIST he (or she!) take seriously.

  1. Chest pain. A squeezing, pressure or tightness in the chest that may also include pain in the arm, nausea, vomiting, sweating or difficultly breathing. This symptom can be caused by something as benign as reflux, but it can also signal a heart attack.
  1. Shortness of breath. This can be a symptom of something as benign as an anxiety attack, but it can also be a symptom of a blood clot or embolism in the lungs, which is very serious.
  1. Sudden intense headache. This is the type of head pain that far exceeds the average headache. It could signal a burst blood vessel in the brain, which is very serious.
  1. Unexplained weight loss. Losing more the 5% of your body weight in less than six months without trying is a troubling symptom. Many cancers present in this way and need to be ruled out.
  1. Unusual bleeding from any body part. This can be a result of a simple, easy to treat infection, but it can also be a sign of something more serious, like cancer.
  1. High or persistent fevers. High equals anything over 103 degrees. A fever of around 100 degrees for several weeks is also an issue. This means the body is fighting something–you want to make sure you use all the tools available so it wins.
  1. Sudden confusion. This symptom could be as simple as low blood sugar, or as serious as a stroke or brain tumour. Checking it out quickly is important.
  1. Swelling in the legs. Can signal vein problems or thyroid issues, but can also be associated with heart failure.
  1. Sudden and severe abdominal pain. Many people with irritable bowel syndrome can have this symptom and it is not life threatening. It can, however, also signal very serious issues like abdominal aneurysm, a perforation of the intestines, or loss of oxygen supply to the intestines.
  1. Flashes of light or other visual disturbances. This symptom could be a sign of a migraine, but it can also be a symptom of a retinal detachment that needs to be dealt with immediately to prevent permanent vision loss.

Any one of these can be no big deal, but they can also be signs of something serious. Don’t let the people in your life fall for the “flesh wound” syndrome. If they’re not going to take a symptom seriously, that doesn’t mean you can’t!

Pot, Teen Brains, and the Right Question

In 2012, a study was published that followed over 1000 individuals for over 30 years to look at the impact of persistent cannabis use on the brain.

Based on IQ tests, blood samples and interviews with parents and teachers, here is what the researchers found:

  • Those participants who used pot regularly before age 18 saw significant drops in IQ from childhood.
  • Those who become regular pot user after the age of 21 did not get the IQ drop at all.

The scariest part? IQ’s in the kids who stopped regular use never recovered. The brain damage was permanent.

This piece of research created a lot of buzz, but a lot of controversy, too. Was the IQ loss really because of pot, or some other socio-economic factor? Many scientists weighed in calling the results of the study into question.

A follow-up study looking at twins and cannabis use showed that there was no evidence of cognitive decline in teens. However, the data was collected only by questionnaire and the questions lumped kids who only tried pot once in with those who smoked daily.

So which piece of research do you believe?

When research disagrees, I find a good starting point are these two questions:

  1. If the research isn’t clear, what’s the smart bet?
  2. Are we asking the right question?

1. The Smart Bet: Teen Brains Are a Work-in-Progress

As any parent of a teen can likely describe, the brains of teenagers are actively developing. This is particularly true in the frontal cortex, an area of the brain involved in memory, executive function and impulse control. Brain scans have shown that this is actively changing in the teen years and doesn’t fully mature into the early twenties.

Using any chemical on a daily basis during this period that might disrupt that seems like an idea that is really not worth banking on while we wait for scientists to figure out who has the best research.

There is no value in a normal, healthy teenager using pot regularly. So incurring the risks of using it, even if not fully proven, seems like bad bet. There’s no strong upside to regular teen use that I can see, so why argue about the science?

2. A Better Question: Why All the Pot?

Harmful or not, however, telling kids, “It’s bad for you,” doesn’t have a great track record for changing teen behaviour.

As is so often the case in medicine, sometimes it’s asking the right question that leads to a solution.

Instead of asking “Is regular pot use bad?”–which doesn’t work great for modifying teen behaviour–why not ask, “Why is my kid smoking so much pot?”

There’s no question that cannabis creates a state change. But what’s going on for teens who feel they need that state change every day? 

While that alone won’t change behaviour, it might be a step toward something that can.