To give readers an idea of what to expect from the recipes in this blog, here we outline some of the basic ground rules we’ve developed for our own diet through the last few years of research. These food guidelines—adopted from a vast array of resources including books, websites, consultations with doctors, and our own food sensitivity tests—are intended to create the best environment for our bodies to heal and stay healthy.
We want to emphasize that we are not medical professionals ourselves. While these guidelines work great for us, your optimal diet may be different – you could have different food sensitivities and allergies, for example. Before adopting any diet, we’d recommend consulting with a doctor or medical professional, and testing your own sensitivities and allergies.
The Three Pillars
The world of food and nutrition is a contentious and controversial space, filled with experts arguing back and forth on the nutritional benefit of certain foods. It can be frustrating to find out a food you enjoy is considered healthy, only to read a week later that it’s not.
Therefore, it was a relief to find out through our research that there are three key dietary “pillars” that are generally accepted universally as being healthy for the human body. Thus, our diet emphasizes:
1. Eating whole, natural, organic foods
We aim to fill our plates with whole, real, nutrient-dense, preservative-free foods that not only taste delicious, but support our health and well-being. For us, it’s important to make as many meals and snacks from scratch as possible so we maintain control over the ingredients and know exactly what we are eating. In cases where that’s not possible, we always make sure to read nutrition labels to ensure the product is made with clean, healthy ingredients. If we see an ingredient that we don’t recognize or sounds like it was generated in a chemistry lab (for example, the delicious-sounding “hydroxybenzoate”), we quickly put it back on the shelf.
2. Healing the gut
Poor gut health has been found to be a core issue in many diseases (especially autoimmune conditions), so we always aim to fit in a variety of gut-friendly and nourishing foods every day. Our favourite gut-healthy food is homemade bone broth, a delicious broth packed with gelatin, vitamins, and minerals that have been extracted from the bones. We also incorporate fermented foods such as sauerkraut and lacto-fermented pickles, which are rich in probiotics and packed with billions of beneficial bacteria that help restore balance in our guts.
3. Avoiding inflammation
When the body is continually exposed to harmful foods (chemicals, preservatives, allergic/sensitive foods, etc.) and environmental toxins (such as air pollution, chemicals absorbed through skin, even teeth fillings), it creates chronic inflammation: a common and major precursor to nearly all diseases. A nutrient-dense diet that incorporates known anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, walnuts, wild-caught salmon, and leafy greens helps calm and prevent inflammation.
There are certain foods and food categories that we try to avoid altogether – these are foods whose potential dangers outweigh their nutritional value, particularly for those struggling with disease (especially autoimmune conditions). Some of these are arguable, but in our case, we have decided it’s not worth the risk – and in all cases it’s possible to get the same vitamins and minerals via healthier alternatives.
No one likes being told they can’t do something or can’t eat something; believe me, we were disappointed when we found out how potentially harmful some of our favourite treats were! That was, until we found out we could substitute healthier, more delicious foods for nearly everything on this list.
With that said, these are the big dietary “no-nos” in our household (and in the recipes on this blog):
1. Refined sugar/artificial sweeteners
We avoid all refined sugar and artificial sweeteners, choosing instead to use raw local honey, real maple syrup, and fruit to satisfy our sweet cravings. We try to consume homemade baked goods and sweeter treats in moderation, saving them for special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries.
We’ve eliminated all dairy from our diet due to a food sensitivity to casein, the protein found in milk. There are many non-dairy milk alternatives (coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc.) that can be used to replace cow’s milk in your morning oatmeal or cup of coffee.
We stay away from gluten due to sensitivity, although it is a common irritant for many people. We’ve swapped gluten-containing grains for buckwheat, oats, rice, and quinoa (all in moderation), and are diligent about reading ingredients on packages to ensure there is no “hidden” gluten.
The negative effects of alcohol are widely publicized, and nearly every resource we’ve encountered has recommended a complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages for those looking to prevent disease and optimize health. While the odd glass of red wine is said to be beneficial for heart health and one of its ingredients (reservatrol) is considered anti-inflammatory, this is balanced negatively by the inflammatory effects of the alcohol itself in addition to known allergens in some of the wine’s ingredients (ex: grape skins). Fortunately we were never big drinkers ourselves, otherwise this would have been a major bummer!
5. Inflammatory oils
We’ve removed all processed and hydrogenated oils such as vegetable and canola oil from our diet. These oils are highly inflammatory in nature and have potential carcinogenic properties, particularly when heated. Instead, we enjoy unheated, extra virgin olive oil drizzled on cooked vegetables and in our salad dressings, and use coconut oil for baked goods and low-heat sauteing. Both of these oils are also great options for DIY beauty products!
We no longer incorporate eggs into our diet due to Curt’s sensitivity to egg whites; however, if you tolerate eggs, they can be an excellent source of protein. The recipes on this site will often use a “flax egg” when required, which can be made by combining 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp of water. A flax egg has a similar consistency to egg whites and works well to bind ingredients together, much like an egg would!
7. White and Whole Wheat Flour
Due to the potential negative effects of gluten (see above), we no longer bake or cook with wheat flour and instead substitute gluten-free grain flours (oat, quinoa, buckwheat, etc.), nut flours, and coconut flour.
8. Additives and preservatives
A lot of packaged food products on the market are loaded with additives and preservatives to help prolong the product shelf life. Just look at the nutrition labels – “monosodium glutamate”? Sounds delicious! These additional ingredients offer no nutritional value and are often synthetic or chemical in nature. For this reason, we make the majority of our meals and snacks from scratch, and we always read any packaged food labels to ensure the product is made with only whole and natural ingredients.
9. Conventional meats
We source our beef and chicken from local farms that raise their animals humanely and do not use hormones or antibiotics. We look for grass-fed beef and pasture-raised chicken, and we eat a lot of omega-3-rich, wild-caught fish: especially salmon. We eat lean game meats and red meat in moderation (typically once a week), but stick with organic, grass-fed beef and bison.
There are a lot of question marks surrounding soy: there is a high volume of genetically modified soy on the market, and it is said to disrupt hormones in the body. As a result, we avoid it. If you are a fan of soy sauce, coconut aminos make a great substitute!
Looking at the recipes in the blog, you’ll notice a trend: a focus on healthy, anti-inflammatory, gut-healing ingredients filled with vitamins, minerals, and everything the body needs to thrive.
Here are a few of the most important cornerstone foods and ingredients in our diet:
1. Leafy greens
Kale (all varieties), spinach, arugula, swiss chard, and lettuce varieties are some of the leafy greens we include in our diet every day. The easiest way to get leafy greens into our diet is through big lunch or dinner salads (great for getting huge quantities of vegetables in!), adding greens to a dinner sautee or stir fry, or blending them up in our smoothies. A note of caution with smoothies: some greens are much more bitter than others. Choosing the right type of green and proper proportion (combined with a bit of fruit) can allow you to add greens to your smoothies without even knowing they are there.
2. Sulfur-rich vegetables
Sulfur-rich vegetables are anti-microbial and beneficial for detoxification and gut health. Foods such as cabbage, onions, garlic, cauliflower, and asparagus are great sulfur-rich vegetables that can be incorporated easily into your diet. Our dinners almost always include garlic and onions (not as yucky as it sounds!), and we love serving roasted cauliflower as a delicious side dish, or adding asparagus and cabbage to our veggie sautes.
3. Plenty of colour
They say you should “eat the rainbow” (unfortunately they don’t mean Skittles!), so we include a wide array of richly-coloured vegetables and fruits in our diet. Some of our favourites include blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, zucchini, cucumber (with the skin), broccoli, carrots, red cabbage, and beets among many other fruits and vegetables. Consuming a variety of brightly-coloured foods fills the body with many different nutrients and vitamins, so having a variety is really important!
4. Fermented foods
We try to incorporate a number of different fermented foods into our diet so we are populating our guts with different types of good bacteria. Some of the fermented foods we enjoy are sauerkraut, fermented salsa, fermented garlic (great for using in homemade salad dressings), kombucha, and water kefir. We also try to include ferments with each meal. It doesn’t take a lot! Just a forkful of sauerkraut, a couple fermented pickle slices, or a small glass of kombucha can help restore balance of the gut flora.
5. Bone broth
Bone broth is an essential part of our diet in supporting and improving our gut health. We like to consume 1-3 cups of bone broth each day through delicious bone broth soups, gluten-free grains that have been cooked in bone broth, or simply sipping the broth from a mug.
6. Good fats
Despite a historical stigma surrounding fat, the health community is finally catching on to the importance of consuming “good” fats, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids (NOT omega-6). Good fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, with limited saturated) supports and nourishes various body systems and organs, especially the brain, which is largely made up of fat. Some of the good fats we include in our diets come from avocado, coconut, salmon, flax oil, chia seeds, and extra virgin olive oil.
7. Other star ingredients
Some other important ingredients we include in our diet regularly include turmeric, seaweed, and apple cider vinegar.
Turmeric: The compound curcumin found in turmeric is highly anti-inflammatory, especially when combined with a healthy fat and black pepper. We add turmeric to our bone broth and roasted vegetables, and often enjoy it in a deliciously comforting golden latte.
Seaweed: We incorporate varieties of seaweed and algae to our diet such as kelp, kombu, dulse, chlorella, and spirulina. These sea vegetables contain valuable minerals and vitamins, and are also a rich source of iodine. Because we avoid processed foods with a lot of salt and don’t use regular table salt that has been enriched with iodine, seaweed is an important part of our diet.
Apple cider vinegar: Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a staple in our house for its alkalizing properties and ability to balance out the body’s pH levels. Tina credits ACV for helping to heal her skin of painful breakouts and for also keeping viruses at bay. Curt hasn’t had a cold or flu since late 2014 (knock on wood)!
In addition to the above, it’s crucial to get variety in the diet – this protects the body against sensitivities and prevents boredom.
I know what you’re thinking: “Vegetables, bone broth, fermented food…yum, delicious, wow”. Trust us, we were there too. That is, until we realized how easy it was to make quick, delicious meals using the ingredients above. Check out the recipes section for inspiration!
Even though we can typically find more than enough variety with the above ingredients to keep us satisfied, sometimes our cravings overwhelm us or we find ourselves surrounded by temptation while at a friend’s house, on vacation, or at work. When our willpower is waning, we’ve discovered that it is virtually always possible to satisfy these cravings (usually for sugar or carbs in our case) with compliant foods.
Craving sugar? Grab a fruit or make something with a bit of honey or maple syrup. Have a hankerin’ for a pastry or baked item but want to avoid refined flour? Substitute it with gluten-free oat flour or coconut flour.
There are also certain “iffy” foods that we generally try to avoid but do allow ourselves to indulge in on occasion. These include, but aren’t limited to: white potatoes, brown rice, beans, and lentils. With these “on the fence” foods it is important not to overdo it and to keep things in moderation.
We’re all human and will slip up now and then. It’s important to keep a positive mindset and “get back on the horse”!
We understand that above guidelines may seem daunting. They certainly were for us. We thought to ourselves: how can we possibly consume that many vegetables? How can we give up our favourite treats (pizza, ice cream, etc.)?
Here are our three biggest tips for maintaining a healthy diet in a world surrounded by temptation:
1. Make changes slowly
Start by switching white flour for gluten-free oat flour, or swap refined sugar for a bit of maple syrup. Before long you won’t even miss them. Trust us!
2. Get enough variety
We quickly realized that the biggest enemy to any healthy diet is boredom. If you stick with the same foods, day in and day out, you WILL get bored and stray from the diet. Experiment, incorporate new foods and ingredients (ex: spices), and try new recipes to keep things fresh.
3. Plan your meals
If you want to stick with any diet, especially when starting out, it is crucial to plan ahead so you can get your mind (and fridge/pantry) prepared. We sit down every Sunday to plan the week’s meals so we’re sure we have enough ingredients to last through the week. We do everything we can to avoid being hungry and having nothing to reach for – that’s when it becomes so easy to cheat.
4. Freeze meals for later
One of our most-loved home appliances is our large upright deep freezer. Because our diet emphasizes fresh foods that can start deteriorating within a few days or weeks, we often buy most groceries (such as leafy greens, bones for broth, or berries) in bulk and store them in the freezer. We also set aside one day a month to create a few “freezer meals” that we can take out and defrost on days we don’t feel like cooking.
We sincerely hope the guidelines above and the recipes and advice in this blog provide you with inspiration on your healing journey. We are here to help in any way we can – feel free to contact us if you have further questions!
Below are a few of the most influential books and resources we have discovered on our healing journey; these authors continue to inspire us and help us remain healthy and energetic everyday.
1. The Wahls Protocol (Dr. Terry Wahls)
2. Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (Professor George Jelinek)
3. Eat Dirt (Dr. Josh Axe)
4. The Candida Cure/Healing Multiple Sclerosis (Ann Boroch)
5. Anti-Cancer (Dr. David Servan-Schreiber)
6. Best Bet Diet (Dr. Ashton Embry)
No two people are the same. While we benefit from the guidelines above, others could have different dietary needs and restrictions. Please consult a certified healthcare provider to determine the suitability of this site’s content for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. For more information, please visit the Terms & Conditions.
All the best on your healing journey!
~ Curt & Tina