Sparkling Mineral Water – Sodium Content, pH Level, Bloating, and our Taste Test

Sparkling Water

Article by Andrea Cole, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

A customer recently asked if she had to worry about the sodium content in sparkling water. In this article I will answer that question, discuss pH, common bloating, as well as provide an overview of the major brands of sparkling waters on the market.

When I refer to “sparkling water” I’m referring to naturally sourced mineral water that is carbonated in some way, and not Club Soda or Seltzers. And by “mineral water” I’m talking about water taken from underground springs, mountains or other physically protected water sources. It seems that generally the European sparkling waters have higher amounts of minerals compared to the Canadian contingent in this article (Eska), but all have at least 250 parts per million of dissolved mineral solids including Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Bicarbonate, Sulfate, Nitrate and Silica. Minerals are a necessary part of our diet, but our bodies only need small “trace” quantities. Certainly if you are consuming whole foods, you’re getting enough minerals and I would not go as far as to say drinking sparkling water is beneficial for its mineral content.

Sodium Content

Since mineral waters are naturally sourced, the sodium comes from natural sources as well which we know to have health benefits. The amounts are not huge, anywhere from 3mg/L (Eska), 12mg/L (Perrier), 32mg/L (Pellegrino) to 118mg/L (Grolsteiner) (3) – none will put you over the recommended intake of sodium. The Recommended Daily Amount for sodium is around 1300-2300mg/day (2), and as long as you are eating a diet based on whole foods and not solely consisting of processed or restaurant foods, you’re probably well within that limit.

pH Level

We know that our bodies need to maintain a very narrow pH range of 7.35-7.45 (this range is effectively neutral, or very slightly alkaline – since the range is from 0 – acidic to 14- alkaline). Having too many acidic foods and drinks, or acid-causing foods and drinks, will disrupt this balance. Now, our bodies will maintain balance no matter what otherwise death occurs. But, is it harder on our kidneys, digestion, teeth and bones to have acidic things? Maybe. In the case of mineral water, it seems it is only a small concern. They are only slightly acidic, not anywhere near the acidity of colas or other sweetened carbonated drinks:



Battery Acid 1
Coke 2.5
Club Soda 3.5
Sparkling Mineral Waters in this article 5.3-6
Pure water 7
Normal range for surface water systems 6.5-8.5

The bottom line is there is no concern from a pH perspective in drinking naturally occurring mineral water that has been carbonated. The carbonation does make the pH more acidic, but nothing to be concerned about.


Most, if not all people, will experience some degree of bloating from drinking carbonated beverages of any sort. This really depends on your body and how much you’ve consumed. I realize that the feel of the bubbles in your mouth elevates the water to something special, but obviously, if you’re experience uncomfortable bloating after drinking sparkling water, than don’t drink sparkling water.

An overview of major brands and our in-house taste tests:

I have not assigned an official rank since taste is subjective.  From our panel of 8 judges tasting the following four waters, Pellegrino, Eska and Perrier were all ranked as favourites amongst the judges.  Only Gerolsteiner did not receive top ranking from any judge.





(purchase from RealFoodToronto here)

From the foothills of the Italian Alps near Bergamo, Italy and has added CO2 from a natural mine. “That’s Pellegrino!”, “Minerally aftertaste in mouth”, “Fine bubbles”


(purchase from RealFoodToronto here)

From underground at the St. Mathieu Esker, Quebec from underground glacial rock. CO2 is added at bottling.  “Clean taste, fine bubbles”, “Fizzy, tangy, tingles on the tongue”, “Tastes and feels more carbonated”.
 Perrier From the Vergeze spring in France, it is naturally carbonated but the CO2 is removed and re-added for consistent carbonation. “Milder”, “Very bubbly”, “Mineral aftertaste”.
Gerolsteiner  From a volcanic crater lake in the Eifel region of western Germany.  It is naturally carbonated.  “Very Club-Soda-ish”, “Tasted like bar soda from a gun”, “flat”.

Try your own taste test and see which you like, but feel free to enjoy sparkling water without worrying about salt or acidity.  We all need to stay hydrated and pure, clean natural water benefits our health with needed minerals too!



  1. Spritzler, Franziska. Carbonated (Sparkling) Water:  Good or Bad?   Authority Nutrition.    Jan 10, 2017.
  2. Government of Canada. Sodium:  The Basics.  2013.  Web. Jan 18, 2017.
  3. Reinagel, Monica. Is Mineral Water Good For You?.  July, 2010.  Jan, 18, 2017.


Asprey, Dave.  Mineral Water Benefits:  Why Drink Bubbly Mineral Water Every Day.  Web.  Jan. 10, 2017.

Dukor, Matt.  The Differences between Mineral Water, Tonic, Club Soda, Seltzer Water., Feb. 2015.  Web. Jan. 11, 2017.

Gunnars, Kris.  Authority Nutrition.  The Salt Myth – How Much Sodium Should You Eat Per Day?   Web.  Jan 11, 2017.

Llyod, Robin.  Livescience.  Acids in Popular Sodas Erode Tooth Enamel.  March, 2007.  Web.  Jan 18, 2017.

Does eating Soy harmfully increase estrogen in your body?

Does eating Soy harmfully increase estrogen in your body?

Article by Andrea Cole, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

There is plenty of controversy over Soy and Soy-based foods in the media and depending where you look or who you ask, you can find just as much information and studies relating to how Soy is a protein-rich, healthy superfood as well as it being an endocrine disrupting, anti-nutrient danger.  These opinions and the findings of studies vary greatly depending on who is conductingor funding the studies and differing interests (omnivores vs. vegetarians, medical doctors vs. nutritionists, etc).  The majority of “studies” on humans have been observational, and therefore not scientifically valid.  One of our biggest questions at The Healthy Butcher and is around Phytoestrogen.  Specifically, do the Phytoestrogens in soy cause hormonal issues in our bodies? I’ll explain what Phytoestrogen is and why there is a cause for concern.

A Phytoestrogen is defined as “any group of non-steroidal substances found in plants, including Isoflavones, that are structurally similar to estrogen and can mimic or modulate the action of endogenous estrogen when ingested by humans and other animals”(1).   It is the Isoflavone content in soy that constitutes it being a Phytoestrogen, specifically Genistein, Daidzein and Glucitein.  These Isoflavones are similar in molecular structure to the hormone Estrogen and as a result they have effects of stimulating the estrogen receptors in human cells (called the “estrogenic effect”) (2).   Bottomline, they can disrupt your body’s normal function.  Just how much they disrupt your bodily function depends on a host of factors, including the amount of Phytoestrogen already in your body and a slew of genetic factors (3).  I should note that the majority of external estrogen is consumed from milk and factory-farmed meat (where it is common to feed GMO Soy as a major part of their diet).

Historically, Isoflavones first came to the attention of scientists in the 1940’s because of breeding problems in female sheep in Australia grazing on a type of clover rich in Isoflavones.  Twenty years later, it was established that isoflavone-rich soy fed as part of the diet to cheetahs in North American Zoos was a factor in the decline in their fertility (4).   In the 1950’s, Isoflavones were being studied by the animal feed industry as possible growth-promoters because of reported estrogenic effects.  In the 1960’s, soy isoflavones were established as Phytoestrogens because of their binding affinities to estrogen receptors (5).

On the positive side, some studies have found that consuming phytoestrogens can have protective factors including reducing symptoms of menopause and hormone-sensitive cancers and some studies have found possible cholesterol-lowering effects.  The Soy industry has largely promoted Soy as a health food as it is high in protein, low in fat and containing the full amount of amino acids making it a complete protein as well as containing Iron, Vitamins B and C, Magnesium, Folate, Niacin and Zinc.  Now, there is an issue with absorption of these nutrients due to the Phytic acid content like in many nuts, seeds and legumes, but that’s a whole other article.

On the negative side, according to the Weston A. Price foundation, the negatives outweigh the positives when it comes to Soy.  They list a myriad of health issues including the potential to reduce fertility, promote breast cancer, accelerate brain decline, contribute to hypo-thyroid and thyroid cancer, trigger early puberty, disrupt development of fetuses, affect erectile function and depress the immune function (6).  They also state that in infants fed soy milk formula there is a link to auto-immune and thyroid disease as well as early puberty and fertility issues later in life (7).  A recent article in Scientific American compares the main isoflavone in soy, genistein to BPA’s which are known xenoestrogens found in plastics that are linked to brain harm and reproductive disruptions (8).  There is controversy over the validity of these statements, and the Soy industry spends money on debunking these studies and funding ones with more positive outcomes.  Make no mistake about it, the Soy industry is a massive one and Soy is found in more foods than you think (9), so the economic impact is significant.

Of main concern to me as a Nutritionist, and us here at The Healthy Butcher and is the large amount of soybean oil and soy protein isolate in our food system today.  Soy ingredients are in more than 60% of processed and packaged foods and in nearly 100% of fast foods (10).  These ingredients are things like flavourings, preservatives, emulsifiers and sweeteners and are found in things like meal replacement bars, chocolate bars, soups, sauces, meat alternatives, cereals, bullion, ice cream, bakery products and bread and are also called Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Lecithin, “Natural Flavour”, MSG and Mono and Diglyceride.  These processed “foods” with heavy marketing lead to overconsumption of something that isn’t meant to be consumed at all.

So I arrive at my conclusion, which is the same conclusion I come to in most of my articles.  Eat real, whole foods and don’t worry about over analyzing the nutritional content!  Traditional ways of consuming soy, like organic whole soybeans (edamame) or fermented soy like tempeh, miso, natto and soy sauce have been consumed as part of a healthy traditional Asian diet for countless years and the consensus from many doctors and nutritionists is that these are a safer, healthier choices.  In general, it’s hard to go wrong with whole, organic, unprocessed foods in balanced amounts.  Problems typically occur with processed food in all forms, including Soy.



(1) The American Heritage Medical Dictionary.  Houton Mifflin Company, 2007.
(2)   Andrew, Ryan.  Precision Nutrition Inc. Soy:  The Latest Research.  Web. Nov 2016.
(3) Ibid.
(4) Mesina, Mark.  The Journal of Nutrition:  A Brief Historical Overview of the Past Two Decades of Soy and Isoflavone Research.  California, 2010.  J. Nutr. 140: 1350S–1354S, 2010.
(5) Ibid.
(6) Nienheiser, Jill.  The Weston A. Price Foundation.  Studies showing adverse effects of Soy, 1939-2014.  August 2003.  Web. Nov. 2016.
(7) Ibid.
(8) Konkel, Lindsey.  Environmental Health News.  Could Eating Too Much Soy Be Bad For           You?  Nov 2009.  Web.  Nov 2016.
(9) The US is one of the largest producers of soy worldwide (55%) and 90% of soy crops are GMO.  Andrew, Ryan.  Precision Nutrition Inc. Soy:  The Latest Research.  Web. Nov 2016.
(10) Daniel, Kaayla.  The Weston A. Price Foundation.  Response to Dr. Mark Hyman.  Soy:       Blessing or Curse? Sept. 2010.  Web.  Nov 2016.

Real Recipe: Eggplant, Feta & Crispy Lamb Crumbs

Photo by Chef Mike Ward

Photo by Chef Mike Ward

Chef Mike Ward ( came up with this simple, yet delicious recipe…

We all know eggplant left to it’s own devices is kinda meh. This dish however brings an entire army of monster flavours and textures. You’ll never see these humble little fruits in the same light again (yes, it’s a fruit).



Serves 4 – prep 25 mins, cooks in 1 hour


  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Place eggplant on parchment paper lined oven-roasting tray (slicing a slither off the skin side will help them lay flat). Drizzle soy into the scores of the eggplant, then drizzle over a healthy splash of olive oil. Don’t add salt. Roast for 40 mins.
  2. Meanwhile, in fry pan on med/high heat add a splash of olive oil, add onion and garlic, sauté for 2 to 3 mins. Then add lamb and a good pinch of salt. Fry until lamb is crispy (but not burnt). With the back of a wooden spoon crush ground lamb into a chunky crumb like texture. Reduce heat if required.
  3. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl combine crumbled feta, cumin, chili flakes (if desired), lemon zest and juice. Don’t add salt. Set aside.
  4. After 40 mins remove eggplant from oven and top with feta mixture. Switch oven to broil and slide back in for 10 to 15 mins (until feta has browned slightly). Remove from broiler, spoon over warm lamb crumbs, garnish with coriander and finely sliced chili peppers to taste. A drizzle of olive oil is always welcome.

Sprouted Nuts and Seeds


Article by Andrea Cole, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

Nuts and seeds are a spectacular food. Not only do they taste great, and not only are they packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats, but they are also convenient to carry on the go. There are unhealthy food choices everywhere around us, so I always recommend packing a healthy snack to avoid succumbing to junk food. In this article, I’m going to explain the concept of “sprouting”, where these already healthy foods becomes super charged. Raw, organic, non-irradiated nuts and are not cheap by any stretch, so you want to get the most out of them, and sprouting is definitely the answer.

When nuts and seeds are raw they have a protective phytic acid coating as well as enzyme inhibitors, both of which combine to prevent rotting and allow them to stay alive and viable until they are ready to germinate in the spring. As a result of the enzyme inhibitors, much of the nutrient value is not extracted during our digestion process; even worse, raw nuts and legumes can actually destroy some enzymes in our digestive tract and can be very hard for many people to digest as it forces our Pancreas to release large amounts of enzymes to compensate. Sprouting replicates the natural germination process and thereby releases the enzymes, fats, vitamins and minerals. It also adds flavour. If you find raw nuts bland, you will be pleasantly surprised with their enhanced flavour after sprouting.

There is some confusion around the terminology for soaked and dehydrated nuts and seeds. The terms “activated”, “germinated” or “soaked” are often used to describe the process of soaking for a period of time and then dehydrating at a temperature below 110F. Temperature is key because higher temperature would damage the oils in nuts and turn them rancid and will also destroy the natural enzymes that help with digestion and absorption. The term “sprouted”, which applies more to legumes and grains, is not really applicable to most nuts and seeds because you don’t produce a root or sprout, nor do you want to for most types (see the chart below). Nonetheless, the end result is the same – the goal is to “wake up” the nut and end its period of dormancy, thereby inactivating the enzyme inhibitors.

I often buy a few different kinds of my favourite organic raw nuts and seeds combine them in a bowl and soak them overnight with some sea salt then put them in the oven on the lowest setting for the whole next day and overnight again. The end goal is the nuts have a nice crunch, and this may take anywhere from 12 to 36 hours, depending on the types of nuts and the temperature. Many people use a dehydrator for this as your oven may not go as low as 110F and it’s a long time to leave your oven on. My preferred choices for nutritional benefit, good fats and lower carbohydrate nuts are Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, Brazil Nuts and Pumpkin Seeds.

This process is time-consuming, I agree. I don’t always have time or forget to get them soaking. Thankfully there are more and more quality products on the market that have the time and work of soaking and dehydrating done for us. Living Intentions nuts and seeds are a great time-saver for me. Organic Traditions has sprouted flax and chia seeds which are great for baking. Always store your nuts in the fridge, they can become rancid quickly when exposed to heat because of their high fat content.

Organic Sprouted Nuts - Activated AlmondOrganic Sprouted Nuts - Spicy Cocktail BlendOrganic Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds with Himalayan Crystal Salt


Axe, Josh Dr. “Sprout Guide: How to Sprout Grains, Nuts & Beans”. Web. Sept 22, 2016. “What’s Wrong with Food Irradiation?” Feb. 2001. Web. Sept. 22, 2016.

WebMD. “Should You Sprout Your Food? What to know about sprouting grains, nuts and legumes”. Feb, 2014. Web. Sept 22, 2016. “Is There a difference between Soaked and Sprouted?”. March 2016. Web. Oct 20, 2016.



Real Recipe: Chicken Barley Biryani

This deliciously simple recipe by our friend Chef Mike Ward.  Visit his website for more great recipes and videos:

Great cooking for me is about trying new ingredients, I created a similar dish to this recently using rice, But this time I tried it with barley. Holy smokes, what a gorgeous change. Barley has a nuttiness and texture you don’t get from rice.


Serves 6 – prep 15 mins/cook time 50 mins.


  1. Preheat oven at 350°F.
  2. In an ovenproof pan with high sides, heat a splash of olive oil on medium-high heat. Season chicken thighs with salt/pepper, lay thighs skin-side down once pan is hot. Let chicken sear until skin is golden then flip and do the same on the other side. Don’t fuss around with them or you’ll tear the skin, place them and let them sear. Once golden brown on both sides remove from pan.
  3. Add chopped onion and chili flakes to the pan, sear until the onions are brown and crispy.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook for a few seconds (you may need to turn the heat down).
  5. Add the chicken stock and stir with a wooden spoon. Remove all the crispy bits from pot base.
  6. Add thyme and barley, give a quick stir, place the seared chicken thighs back into the pan.
  7. Place the lid on and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove, add a little more fresh thyme for garnish and check barley for seasoning.
Chicken Barley Biryani by Chef Mike Ward

Chicken Barley Biryani by Chef Mike Ward partners with Penguin Pickup to offer Click & Collect throughout the GTA!

RealFoodToronto-PenguinPickup-partnership is proud to announce a partnership with Penguin Pickup locations.

We now have pickup locations throughout the GTA, offering a convenient Click & Collect option for customers!

To read the official Press Release, CLICK HERE.

For a chart of all Pickup locations and associated pickup windows and cut off times, CLICK HERE.


Real Recipe: Sunday Shepherd’s Pie with Yams (Paleo Friendly!)

Shepherd's Pie by Ronny Joseph

Shepherd’s Pie by Ronny Joseph

by Ronny Joseph,

Sunday’s should be about relaxing and catching up on a bit of me-time. But the old adage rings true, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Unless you’ve got a game plan for the coming week of meals, you’re likely going to scramble for unhealthy options at the last minute. If you’ve ever meal prepped before you know that some foods simply don’t stand the test of time and taste goes out the window by day 2.  My absolute favorite way to avoid this is to cook a big shepherd’s pie. Not only does it taste better the second and third day, you can portion-out individual servings and freeze them for a few weeks if needed. Problem solved! Once again, swap traditional potatoes with Japanese yams for a delicious, low-glycemic alternative.



  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with a pinch of salt and add-in the cubed yams – cook until fork tender (approx. 12-15 min).  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the yams to a food processor along with 1.5 tbsp ghee and a pinch of salt.  Purée until very smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Heat a large Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed stock-pot over medium-high heat. Drizzle ½ tbsp. avocado oil and add-in the ground lamb – cook until browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Lower the heat to med-low and discard all but 3 tbsp of the rendered fat in the pot. Add-in the onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms. Cook until the carrots have softened (approx. 12-15 min), stirring occasionally. Add-in the zucchini and garlic and cook an additional 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add-in spicy paprika, smoked paprika, onion powder, a pinch of salt and pepper, stir to coat and toast the spices for 60 seconds. Add the browned lamb back to the pot along with the chicken stock and chopped parsley. Bring everything to a steady simmer and allow the liquid to reduce by half.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400F. Meanwhile, spoon the meat mixture into a shallow baking dish or casserole and spread mashed yams overtop. Place the baking dish onto a baking sheet to catch any spill over from the juices. (Tip: To achieve a fancier look, spread the yams using a piping bag or heavy-duty zip-top bag fitted with a metal tip.)
  6. Bake at 400F approx. 20-25 minutes or until yams are golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.


Butter: Good or Bad?


By Andrea Cole, our in-house Registered Holistic Nutritionist. 

Butter is a health food, a superfood really. This is your Nutritionist speaking, you can trust me. For many of us this might go against what we’ve always been told. Over the last thirty years or so, we’ve been told that saturated fat is bad and low fat, low cholesterol foods are the healthier option. Newer research and scientific studies are proving that that’s just not true (1). In fact, a recent report on over 70 studies from the Annals of Internal Medicine (2) showed that consumption of saturated fats does not influence cholesterol levels, for better or for worse. It is in fact vegetable oils, rancid fats, high ratios of Omega 6 fatty acids vs Omega 3 fatty acids and trans fats created in things like Margarine that negatively influence health. Perhaps it is time we learn from our grandparents and use good old saturated fats like lard and butter to cook with, and skip the canola.

Now, to be clear, I’m not going to tell you to go on an all-butter diet (although you’ll soon be getting my article on the Ketogenic diet which is a very high fat diet), but I do want to make clear that our general fear of butter is unfounded. There are many health benefits of consuming butter which I’ll review below, but it is important to note that not all butter is the same. It is important to get quality butter made from Organic or Grassfed milk – good examples are Kiwi Pure or L’Ancetre. Food that is derived from animals gets it nutrition (or lack thereof) from what the animal ate. The healthier the inputs, the healthier the outputs – it’s that simple. Stick to Organic or 100% Grassfed whenever possible.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of our new hero, butter:

  • It’s a great source of vitamins and minerals like fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K and minerals like Manganese, Chromium, Zinc, Copper, Iodine and Selenium. Actually, butter has more Selenium per gram than Herring or Wheat Germ.
  • The saturated fat has short and medium chain fatty acids which the body uses for immediate energy, immune support and boosting metabolism. Remember this, eating fat doesn’t make you fat! Eating fat helps your body start using fat for energy and burning some of your own fat stores.
  • It has a healthy ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. Much of our modern diets are too high in Omega 6’s, that can cause inflammation and lead to disease. Ideally we need an almost equal ratio of like 1:1 or 1:2 but the standard North American Diet contains more like 1:20 or even 1:30.
  • Grassfed butter contains good amounts of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which helps fight cancer and helps the body store muscle instead of fat. Again, eating fat doesn’t make you fat!

If you are sensitive or allergic to lactose a good option is to use Ghee. Ghee is made by simmering butter, which evaporates the water and separates out the milk solids including most of the remaining lactose and casein leaving behind pure butter oil that’s even more nutrient dense and packed with antioxidants as well as a rich buttery flavour.

The long and short of it is, go ahead and enjoy your delicious tasting butter and don’t feel guilty about it. The more we know about how our foods are medicine the better we feel about eating nourishing healthy foods. A big part of health is our mindset, if we feel guilt or negative feelings when we eat, it can affect how well we use the nutrients it contains. Stress and negativity can shut down digestion keeping us from absorbing nutrients and leaving us hungry for more food or cravings for low-nutrient or sugary snacks. Eat good fats like butter, avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds and feel good about it. As Julia Child said “you can never have too much butter”!


1. See: Why Butter is better at: or Top 8 Health Benefits of Butter at:;

2. See: Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis at

3. See:


Tara’s Fav 50 Grocery/Pantry Foods

Tara Longo and her favourite bone broth

Tara Longo and her favourite bone broth

Tara Longo is co-owner and co-founder of The Healthy Butcher and, she’s a super mom of two young kids, and a great cook.

In this video series, Tara takes us through her top 50 grocery & pantry items.  Of course, fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and fish don’t qualify for the list otherwise they would take all 50 spots. Eat real. Live healthy.  Browse for thousands of amazing products, delivered to your door (if you live in Toronto!)

1. Acropolis Organics 3L Tin of Biodynamic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2. Thomas’ Utopia Organic tomatoes

3. The Healthy Butcher’s Organic Chicken Fingers

4. Max Mexican Salsa Verde

5. Nutiva 1.6L Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

6. EPI health bread loaf

7. Derlea Organic Minced Garlic

8. ChocoSol Traders chocolate

9. Pinehedge Kefir

10. Moss Berry Farm Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

11. Niagara Specialties Prosciutto

12. Chosen Foods Avocado Mayonnaise  AND The Ojai Cook Organic Mayonnaise

13. Kiwi Grassfed Unsalted Butter

14. Alba Lisa Corn Tortillas

15. Bulletproof Vanillamax Collagen Bar

16.’s House Brand Coffee Beans – Italian Espresso blend

17. Sunflower Kitchen’s Babaghanouj

18. Cheese Boutique Housemade Cream Cheese

19. TruRoots Ancient Grain Gluten-free Pasta

20. Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour

21. Prana’s nuts – great for snacks, especially: Organic Amandine Maple Almonds  and “Go Nuts” Maple Nuts Snack 

22. The Healthy Butcher’s “The Cleaver” Original BBQ Sauce

23. Petit Pot Organic Fig Yogurt

24. Organic Ezekiel 4:9 – 100% Sprouted Whole Grain Loaf

25. The Healthy Butcher’s Duck Confit

26. Lee’s Ghee – the best fat to use for high heat cooking

27. Orasta Organic Sun Dried Whole Figs – Amazing snack, soft & sweet. Non-irradiated, No Sulfites.

28. Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crips – A pantry favourite – unique mixes of nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Perfect for cheese plates. Kids love them too!

29. Bio-K Probiotics – a great way to get a 50 billion live bacteria shot.

30. The Healthy Butcher’s Chicken and Rib Spice – Ideal for Chicken, Ribs, or pretty much anything grilled!

31. Nomz Energy Bites – delicious, clean nut based snacks

32. The Cheese Boutique’s Jackhammer Cheese – A raw, Organic Guernsey cow’s milk cheese from Monterigie, Chambly, Quebec is aged for 18 months and has a nutty, smooth, buttery flavour.

33. Pita Break’s One Buns – thin whole wheat buns perfect for reduced-bread sandwiches or burgers.

34. Dutchman’s Gold Raw Honey – raw, unheated, unpasteurized and only lightly filtered. It contains all of the wonderful compounds that nature intended including natural bee pollen, royal jelly and beeswax.

35. El Tounsi’s Harissa – This fiery staple of Tunisian cuisine can be used as a base for sauces or soups, a condiment, a dip or a spread, made from red chilli peppers.

36. My Little Chickpea’s Herb Infused Falafels – perfect for a healthy lunch or snack:

37. Bella Casara’s Burrata – fresh local cheese that gives you a taste of Italy.

38. Mary’s Gluten Free Crackers – not only delicious, but healthy… a lovely option for a charcuterie or cheese plate.

39. Pacific’s Organic Vegetable Broth Tetra Packs – small tetra packs make it a convenient way to have broth in your pantry for any recipe.

40. Belly Ice Cream – local, made from scratch ice cream that is your perfect treat during the summer.

41. Ever spring Farm’s Sprouted Flax Powder – a nutty, delicious flax that is an excellent source of fibre, Omega 3s, and sprouting improves digestion.

42. The Healthy Butcher’s Jerky – real jerky! Made with zero nitrates of any sort, and no crap. The best jerky on the market. Several varieties:  Beef – Mild,  Beef – Hot, Bison – Mild, Bison – Hot

43. LunchSkins Sandwich bags – a perfect reusable bags for lunches and snacks.  Large/Sandwich side and Small/Snack bag

44. Altura’s Andean Pink Salt – non-treated salt from the Andes Mountains contains many minerals to give it it’s natural pink colour.

45. Marty’s Chicago Pickles – Small batch delicious pickles that are grown, cured, and hand packed in Ontario!

46. The Healthy Butcher’s Bone Broths – made with real ingredients from scratch, packed with nutrients and healing power.
Organic Ancho Pepper Beef Broth
Grassfed Beef Broth
Ginger Duck Broth
Organic Lemongrass Chicken Broth

*** Check out our own Andrea Cole discussing the Benefits of Bone Broth here:

47. Holy Crap Breakfast Cereal (Dragon’s Blend) – delicious and nutritious featuring super food chia, sprinkle on your cereal or yogurt daily!

48. Sopa Soups – vegan, zero processed ingredients, and delicious.  Several varieties:  Cheese Broccoli, Black Bean, Minestrone, Beet

49. Grainstorm’s Ancient Grain Pancake Mix – rich, grainy flavours without the insulin-spiking refined flours!

50. Fruit Dome’s Pre-Cooked and Peeled Red Beets – eat Organic beets without the fuss


Real Recipe: Burrito Bowl

Burrito Bowl, by Michelle Tirmandi

Burrito Bowl, by Michelle Tirmandi

Toronto-based Holistic Nutritionist Michelle Tirmandi ( brings us this quick and easy Burrito Bowl recipe.  This is truly a go-to quick, easy and healthy dish that can be changed up depending on what you have in your fridge and pantry.

This recipe takes 30 minutes start to finish, including cooking the rice.  And if that’s not reason enough to give it a try, I will let you know that it’s colourful, plant-based ingredients are filled with phytonutrient power:

  • Black Beans: contain fibre, folate (mega important for mamas-to-be), and a decent amount of protein to help with blood sugar stabilization.
  • Cilantro: contains a high amount of antioxidants (required for healthy, glowing skin) and also acts as a natural cleansing agent, specifically binding to heavy metals and helping them to be removed from the tissues.
  • Tomatoes: a very rich source of antioxidants including Lycopene and Vitamin C (the precursor to collagen production). They also contain Vitamin A which helps to keep your hair shiny and strong.
  • Avocados: an excellent source of good fats, as well as folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and fibre (a major pregnancy power food!).
    Bell Peppers:  an excellent source of carotenoids, which help to protect the skin, tissue and cells from environmental toxins and disease.
  • Brown Rice: contains fibre (important for natural detoxification) as well as the beautifying & anti-cancerous antioxidant, Selenium.

Ingredients for the Burrito Bowl:

 Ingredients for the Seasoning Mix:


  1. Add 1 cup rice and 2 cups water to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 25 minutes.
  2. While the rice is cooking, chop the onions and peppers.
  3. Chop tomatoes, avocado , cilantro, set aside.
  4. Shred the cheese, set aside.
  5. Add 1 Tbsp coconut oil to a pan over medium heat and sauté the onions for 4-5 minutes. Add the peppers and stir together.
  6. Add all of the spices together and stir in to the onion and pepper mixture, continuing string for another few minutes until everything is well mixed.
  7. Heat the corn and beans in a separate pan.
  8. Once the rice is cooked add all ingredients together and enjoy!