Broth With Me

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Oh hi again, it’s me with another BONE BROTH post.

But seriously, I wouldn’t be The Holistic Blonde if I didn’t talk about holistic stuff right? And honestly, truly, in my opinion, bone broth is as holistic as it gets.

It’s like a combination between a weird process (boiling bones), delicious flavourness (again in my opinion) and some pretty rad healing properties. Which is where the #holistic comes into place.

Or else I’d just be @theblonde and there wouldn’t be any value in that. Unless you like blonde jokes, I’d definitely be throwing those out there.

So bone broth. What’s healing about it. What’s tasty about it. Why is it so beneficial for your skin, hair, guts, and joints. Why is it the superfood of our time and the single most important thing that I could never cut out of my diet (and let’s be honest the real reason I can’t commit to being vegan).

Just kidding it’s goat cheese. I’m not vegan because of goat cheese.

Bone broth isn’t a fad. In 10 years we aren’t going to all find out it’s a toxic substance that is detrimental to your health and if you consume it you will get diabetes, heart failure, and live a hopelessly depressing life. It won’t speed up aging, give you cancer, or make you gain 100 pounds simply by looking at it on the shelf. If I had to throw out a negative thing about bone broth I guess I could say the cooking process could get messy but really what’s wrong with stirring up a big pot of liquid gold feeling like a badass witch and knowing you’re about to give your body the wholesome nourishment it craves.

It’s medicinal and healing properties are so vital that I am surprised companies like Boned Broth and Organic Bone Broth and Bo and Marrow aren’t swimming in some serious cash after the hospitals beg for their recipes or buy them outright to supply their patients with only the most nutrient rich solution that begins healing and speeding up recovery after only one mug.

Okay that was a run on sentence but you get the gist, Bone Broth Heals. It won’t be long before Bone Broth Bars are popping up and you can grab your ‘medicine in a mug’ and be on your merry way with your day.

Spicy broth, classic broth, pho broth, chicken no noodle soup broth. I think we might have something here? I can just see it, Brothtails, or Brothtail Hour. In the evenings you can meet your GF and grab a mushroomtini or a borscht bellini! Okay maybe we will keep it a day time thing and skip out on the bone broth cocktails. I’m thinking big picture though..

BENEFITS

Personally, my skin has improved immensely. It has moisture and elasticity and plumpness and I live in Canada. And it’s winter, well Spring technically. I mean it HAS to be from the broth! I also have been adding Sproos Collagen to my coffees and drinking 3 L of water a day-2 other important practices to implement if you are on the whole anti-aging train. I am mainly speaking to myself and any others that have recently turned the big 3-0, although the earlier you start brothin’ the earlier you start reversing the aging process. Now who wants to look 21 again?

I digress. My hair is silky smooth, my nails are stronger, and I recover way faster from workouts. I know this because I hike/run stairs everyday, lift heavier kettlebells, and I am able to walk normally the next day. My digestion has also been flawless. I have been sick significantly less since bringing bone broth into my life, if any sickness at all. I literally cannot think of a negative thing to say about the old witches potion/grandmothers chicken noodle soup.

Bone broth heals and seals the gut, as well as reduces inflammation along the intestinal lining, and the glycine in bone broth can enhance cognitive function. It boosts the immune system, strengthens hair and skin, and decreases joint pain, again by reducing inflammation and contains powerful therapeutic compounds such as glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, and chondroitin sulfate.

But I get it, who wants to go on a mad witch hunt for bones and then go home to slay the evening stirring your broth into some “magical potion” that is supposed to cure all of your problems as if it is Coconut Oils more smellier cousin. Not me, and you don’t have to either.

THE PROCESS

Bone broth is the easiest thing to make. Like have you seen the process it takes to make like, cashew cheese or homemade pasta? Now that is something you can slave over and enjoy the benefits more in a social setting. As long as the flour ss imported from Italy and the cashews are soaked in filtered water. But there is a huge benefit to creating meals with love and pouring your heart into it, especially when enjoying with others. Cooking is an art.

But not bone broth. Bone broth has a purpose and your only job is to make a batch every week or two so that you CAN enjoy eating out and living this thing called balance because your digestive system is thriving. Anyways, making bone broth is quite simple.

Throw the bones in a slow cooker, press on, and just hope we don’t have a scene from This Is Us and I don’t get sued from this post. If I have to watch that fire scene that ultimately takes Jack Pearson's life one more time I am going to lose it. Why you have to give Crock Pot’s a bad name NBC?

We were talking about making bone broth, right. So buy 1-2 pounds of bone marrow bones. These beauties hold all of the nutrients. The collagen, and amino acids, and fats that provide the riches that our bodies need to heal and prevent illness and otherwise optimize wellness, yep those guys. I buy organic bones from a health food store or T-bones, and it’s a pretty normal thing now. No weird looks. Just grab your bog-o-bones and head home to create some magic. You can also boil a chicken carcass (vegans, I apologize for my vocab) or any other bones really, I just love the marrow bones and hope to one day eat the marrow because that’s a whole nother’ can of holistic healing I don’t have time to get into.

Now it’s crock pot time. You could use a big pot and keep it on the stove but chances are you won’t be home for 24-36 hours to watch it boil in case it burns down the house. But I guess we’ve established crock pots have that ability so this is my fair warning that making bone broth could result in a catastophe that devestates TV audience almost as much as when Ross “cheated” on Rachel.

So if you have the time—meaning you are single like me and have all the time in the world to do extra curricular activities like write in your journal, hike AND workout in the same day, and keep up to date on your PVR because you don’t have little children’s running around begging for your attention—then make sure you roast the bones first. This gives the broth more flavour and richness, leaving you with a more savoury and concentrated soup.

Next, the bones go into the crock pot. Then, cover said bones with water, pretty much to the top. Now I warn you, this is not a pretty sight, especially when the marrow starts breaking off and floating around and you’re wondering why the hell you listened to The Holistic Blonde in the first place. Trust me, it will turn into a glorious solution, just you wait!

Don’t miss the next very important step. There is a special, magical ingredient that must go into the pot or your anti-aging, gut healing, immune boosting potion won’t be as beneficial as they say. Apple cider vinegar. Now I’m not saying chug the stuff because ACV shots too are a popular thing in the moment, (but if you have it out, by all means take a swig) but pour 1-2 T of the distasteful acids into the pot. This helps leech (what a beautiful word) all of the nourishing vitamins and minerals from the bones. This is imperative and if you miss this step you miss the point of drinking bone broth for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner.) We are hunting for aminos, vitamins, and minerals, and ACV is the trick.

Okay so your basic broth is boiling away. If you are a typical Ugg wearing, pumpkin spiced drinking, selfie taking basic girl, then stop here. If you’re lucky there will be pumpkin spiced flavour bone broth for purchase (actually a good idea though) and you can skip this whole process. But if you aren’t as basic and want to get a little creative, this is where the fun begins. Go ahead and add all the things. Onions, celery, garlic, maybe even get wild and throw a bay leaf in there just make sure not to eat it. It’s poisonous they say. When I’m feeling frisky I add a multitude of different mushrooms too, because next on the list of holistic foods that cure everything is the family of fungi.

It’s up to you how long you want to boil the bones for. I try to cook mine for at least 36 hours. I have also taken my bones out and reused them for another batch, creating an equally nourishing broth. Once I turn off the crock pot and let it cool a bit, I pour it into a nut mylk bag (a nice $5 from Bed, Bath, and Beyond) and way better than a cheesecloth in my opinion! I store the fresh broth for 3-4 days in an airtight container in my fridge, drinking 1 cup per day. I add sea salt and pepper, and sometimes gluten free tamari or turmeric. It’s absolutely delicious and my body thanks me for it!

I hope this helps, and if you have any questions regarding bone broth, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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I am offering my 6 Week Nutritional Consulting and Meal Planning package at a discounted price of $349 (regular $399) for the month of June, (I know it’s not even May but I will be hiking West Coast Trail in 3 weeks and won’t have access to a computer, wifi, or even clean socks at that point). Email me at theholisticblonde@gmail.com to get in on this wonderful deal! Ps. my meal plans include Bone Broth.

Use discount code HolisticBlondeMay at checkout <3

Happy Brothin’

<3 The Holistic Blonde




Happy Guts



“Depression is often an inflammation-driven condition, not a neurochemical deficiency disease.”

“The most powerful path to our brain-and peace of mind-is through our gut.”

-Kelly Brogan, Holistic Psychiatrist

I kind of have an obsession with gut health, digestion, and let’s face it, Kelly Brogan. If you’re reading this Dr. Brogan and need a Holistic Psych Nurse assistant, oh and how cute we have the same name, I’m your girl. Now I wait, manifest, eat some sauerkraut, drink some bone broth, and wait some more.


Okay okay, I’m guilty, I have posted this blog before. But I have a pretty new website and didn’t transfer over all of my super so if you are an avid fan then rest assured there is some new content mixed in. I didn’t transfer all of my old blogs over to my new website so fortunately you get to re-live my sarcastic humour with a side of nutrition knowledge. And if you’re sipping on a bulletproof and feeling extra sharp you might even understand half of what I am trying to say. This week’s blog: Gut Health.

I figure, the more I preach, the more I educate, and the more I banter about the importance of loving your guts, maybe you guys actually will? (And maybe the doctors will start prescribing probiotics and hospitals will serve kimchi), a girl can dream right? I figure to get my point across I will just continue to voice my frustration, despite a somewhat controversial topic, and follow my gut (see what I did there?)

But actually though, I literally just gave a patient lactobacillus acidophilus for the first time in hospital the other day and was ecstatic! I mean, they were also taking an antibiotic as well, so ordering a probiotic should have been mandatory and the common sense thing to do, but I was happy to see that it is finally being prescribed along with antibiotics. In my 5 years of nursing, I have given a fair share amount of antibiotics, and this week I was privileged to dole out my first ever probiotic, ordered by the hospitalist himself. Can you believe it? Finally a step in the right direction. They didn't build Rome in one day now, did they?


Fortunately, you can actually start taking steps towards building up your gut flora in a day. Just keep listening to my ramblings, follow the recommendations at the end of this post, and you'll be well on your way to achieving optimal gut health and even flawless skin if you’re brave enough to drink bone broth.


Let’s start at the beginning. Why are our "guts" so important? And why is all of this information coming to surface just recently? Where was all this "support your gut" health information in nursing school?! Or any nutritional information in that regard. I digress. Back to the importance of establishing and maintaining optimal gut health. Well basically, your gut is made up of a billions and billions of bacteria, both good and bad, that reside all along your gastrointestinal tract. Likely, your gut flora is "imbalanced", meaning way too many bad bacteria (let's call them Oscar the Grouch) and less good bacteria (the Fonzy's).  Fonzy was not a part of my time or anything but on the show Friends, Fonzy was clearly portrayed to be  an overly happy, obsessively smiling, joyful human, and someone who clearly irritated Phoebe while she was getting ready to birth triplets. So yeah, we want less Oscar the Grouch's snacking on cookies (how fitting) and we want more Fonzy's in our guts.

If that made any sense to you, congratulations, you get me.  So in order to establish a healthy balance of these two fictional characters, we need to add probiotics into our diet to begin repopulating our likely washed out gut flora (studies show a single course of antibiotics can wipe all of the bacteria in your gut and take up to 5 years to replenish), feed the good guys with prebiotics, and stop feeding the bad guys with sugar, aka cookies. Have you guys heard of the new fad where everyone is eating more keto and decreasing carbs and sugars from their diets? Yeah, that’s because for people suffering from inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, mood issues, and digestion issues/poor gut health, the keto diet actually works and begins to heal the body. In summary, fad diet=RAD diet.

Probiotics need to eat prebiotics in order to stay alive and thrive, and keep your gut healthy and happy. So what foods contain prebiotics? Well, mainly foods high in fibre (such as flax seed and wheat if tolerated), and more specifically, foods high in inulin. Inulin is a soluble dietary fibre that is non-digestible. It passes through the small intestine and begins the fermentation process in the large intestine, where it turns into that Fonzy character mentioned above (good bacteria). Foods high in inulin contain onions, garlic, asparagus, and leeks-all great soup ingredients if you ask me! Dandelion root and chicory root are also great sources of prebiotics if you are a nutrivore like me and drink dandelion tea for fun.

As noted earlier, it is very important to limit the number of sugars you are eating. By consuming sugar, you are feeding the bad bacteria, causing these microbes to proliferate. This may contribute to indigestion, bloating, and cravings as well as increase the risk for chronic illnesses connected to the immune system such as allergies and autoimmune conditions. Um, that doesn't sound too great to me! Now I do realise completely changing your eating habits to snacking on veggies and hummus instead of whatever Costco's cute little Italian food tester lady sold you is not going to happen overnight. Of course I realise this, if I didn't, I wouldn't need to do what I do now, do I? But this blog posts exists in efforts to provide education and create awareness of your current food choices and empower you to change your habits, leading to healthier and thus happier lives. Bold right? That's how confident I am.

Okay so we've talked about establishing good gut flora, and I didn't even have to mention feces transplants, so you're welcome. The next thing important for maintaining a healthy gut is ensuring the gut is sealed. Closed, glued, nothin's getting through, etc. Your digestive system is essentially a long pipe beginning at your mouth, stretching downwards and winding around in the tummy, and out through the shoot into the toilet. I may be a nurse and a nutritionist but there are still some words I feel uncomfortable saying, yes anus is one of them.

I remember in holistic nutrition school, my instructor described your digestion system as essentially a system "outside" of your body, because other than a few nutrients and vitamins here and there, nothing should actually go inside of your body. Which is not the case these days, as many people are experiencing symptoms of systemic inflammation and food intolerances. This is where the term "leaky gut" comes from.

Let me tell you a quick story here. I recently developed an allergy to eggs. Now, if you’ve read my bio, you’ll know that I grew up with an extremely unhealthy diet (sugar, cheese, and refined carbs only). McDonalds and Twix bars for this kid only. I have spent years working on healing my own gut issues. But after a completing a body building competition in 2014 (yes I fell prey to the glittery bikinis, “dream body” and orange tans and the sacrifices that went with it) I most definitely developed an allergy to eggs. More specifically eggs whites, because I had about 15 per day. It took me a while to figure out the cause, but after seeing a Naturopath and getting testing done, we concluded I was allergic to eggs, both the whites and the yolks. Once I removed eggs from my diet, I know longer felt like absolute hell. My headaches disappeared, my energy levels came back, and I wasn’t having any digestive difficulties. GREAT NEWS. Oh, except I can no longer eat eggs again. That was years ago. I have experimented on and off, but within 12-24 hours I felt extreme fatigue and the headaches returned. I would always pin point it back to that omelette at De Dutch or baked goods containing eggs. But, after a recent trip to Europe and South Africa, I was able to tolerate eggs again! Between taking collagen and glutamine regularly, drinking bone broth daily, and flooding my body with superfood capsules complete with probiotics and digestive enzymes, I really think I finally healed my gut. You could say my digestion is eggcelent.

Basically, if your gut is perforated, undigested food particles, and bad bacteria can actually slip through the cracks, set off the immune system, create hormonal disturbances and blood sugar imbalances, and ultimately wreak havoc throughout the body. Which was what happened to me, and it only took me a few years to figure out what was happening and begin to reverse the damage. This is why I am so passionate about gut health, because everyone could benefit from a little holistic love in their guts, even if they don’t have any digestive issues. Seems like a good enough reason why they should be replacing sugar packets with collagen packets (hello vital proteins) in the hospital and even Starbucks, but who am I to suggest such a thing?

In other words, we have this pipe, and anything that goes into your mouth, good or bad, will interact with the rest of your body. It's that simple. If you have a leaky gut, these interactions will be far more intimate. Enough that some undigested particles get through the walls of the intestinal lining, interact with your bloodstream, setting off aforementioned immune response. Ladies and gents, systemic inflammation is born!

Why there is zero nutritional education given in the hospital (I am saying that verryy lightly) is truly mind boggling. People experiencing symptoms directly related to nutritional inadequacies are often treated with medications (nothing wrong with that especially during an acute phase) but what about education? There isn't much information provided (and the information provided is shit anyways and yes let's keep feeding diabetics with sugar, okay here's an oatmeal cookie made out of margarine and an Ensure loaded with refined sugar to ensure you get your nutrients). Rant over. But that is seriously how we treat diabetics, cue eye roll. I must sound like an idiot because the recent documentary "What the Health" actually states that sugar is in NO WAY related to diabetes, so just throw me a donut and shut me up.

But seriously, imagine if our patients received vitamin infusions and nutrient dense foods that don’t irritate the gut? I must look weird sitting here in Starbucks smiling and fantasizing about my own little holistic hospital! If you suffer from any mood related issues, digestive difficulties, autoimmune disorders, fatigue, poor energy, or obesity (+ many more) here are just a few supplements and food products you can start taking to support your gut, like today.

  • Take a Probiotic. The more strains the better, ensure it has Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Ultimate Flora, Align, and Natural Factors are great brands to start out with. I usually switch brands everytime I finish a bottle.

  • Consume Probiotics Foods. Saurkraut, kimchi, kombucha, gut shots, kefir, yogurt. There are many to choose from and they are everywhere. Thank you to mainstream media and millennials there is no shortage of kombucha companies starting up. Head into your local health food store and stock up!

  • Have some Collagen. Collagen is also becoming popular, (Hallelujah) and should be easy to find in your community. Vital Proteins, Organika, and Sproos are my favourite companies. Collagen helps repair the intestinal lining and heals gut inflammation. You can add collagen to your morning coffee or tea, or add into a smoothie! Costco actually carries a Costco size supply of Organika so no excuses! Collagen has truly been a gamechanger for me.

  • Drink Bone Broth. Seriously it's like the Universe is trying to make it easy for us to heal our guts. Companies are popping up everywhere to make this easy for you, so you don't have to boil bones in your kitchen for 48 hours, (although I prefer to). Bone broth is rich in collagen and the amino acids glutamine, glycine, and proline, all which help seal the gut and reduce intestinal inflammation. If you don't like the taste of bone broth, try steaming your veggies in it or adding it to stirfrys to enhance flavour. Vegan options are also available (but not as beneficial).

  • Supplement with L-Glutamine. As mentioned above, glutamine is an amino acid important for growth and repair of your intestinal lining. Supplementing with L-glutamine powder is recommended for healing the gut and also can help repair ulcers. A normal dose is 5-10 g but I have gone much higher (up to 40 g) during a gut healing protocol.

  • Take Digestive Enzymes. These guys help digest your proteins, fats, and carbs so there is less irritation along the intestinal tract, and your body can continue healing. You don't need to supplement with enzymes forever, but they are important during the gut healing process.

I would also recommend getting Vitamin Infusions! These have been the ultimate gamechanger. Okay oops, I said that about Collagen but they all play such an important role, it’s hard to choose! By infusing vitamins right into the bloodstream, you are guaranteed to absorb the nutrients 100%, which will make a huge impact in your health if you suffer from any gut issues, meaning you ideally aren’t absorbing your nutrients adequately. Check out your local Naturopath today and check if they offer vitamin infusions. I often go with a friend to kick back, drip, and catch up with each other over coffee.

So that is that! If you made it this far and actually learned a thing or two, horray. I don't have any special discount code for probiotics at Nature's Fare or some of that yummy kraut I mentioned, but hopefully you will be motivated enough by the fact that just a few of these changes can make a major impact on your mental health, physical health, and overall well-being. If that doesn't motivate you, then disregard all above content and have a lovely, lovely day.

You can also contact me for a full nutritional assessment, complete with nutrition and supplement recommendations, and a sample meal plan to get your started on the path to optimal health. I’ll ask you questions, create an individualized plan, tell you to take supplements, and then stalk you every week to make sure you follow through! It’s a great experience.

Cheers *holds up a beet flavoured gut shot*

THB <3

 
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The Holistic Blonde Travels: Italy

I had the amazing opportunity to go to Europe and South Africa to travel with my best friend. Specifically Italy, Spain, London, and Cape Town. These next few blog posts will showcase the highlights of my trip, how I managed to stay somewhat holistic, and of course, the insanely delicious and sometimes nutritious eats along the way. Enjoy <3


I’m known to make some pretty impulsive decisions in my day, but this one was probably the smartest. Life is short. You can be gone in a minute. Read the newspaper or turn on the tele and you will figure that out pretty quick. Book the flights. Quit your job. End the relationship. Just do what it is that lights your soul on fire and go do that. I was craving travel, but kept coming up with excuses not to do it. So when the opportunity arose, and the stars aligned perfectly so that I was able to go without stressing about finances, work, my puppy, I knew I had to jump on a plane. Sometimes when I’m grinding at home in Kelowna I forget there’s a big, beautiful world out there that I must adventure.

All packed up and ready to go!! Kelowna International Airport

All packed up and ready to go!! Kelowna International Airport

 

I flew in to Gatwick, London. The only solo navigating I had to do this trip was figure out how to get to our cute little Hotel from the airport (as Jessica wouldn’t be flying in for a few more hours) and I completed the task pretty flawlessly if I do say so myself. I mean, definitely almost hopped into the wrong shuttle but the nice lad directed me to the correct one. After a much needed glass of Rose and an even more needed nap, I woke up to my best friend Jess at the door. She has been travelling 5 weeks thus far, and has already been to Scotland, Ireland, and Germany! Lucky gal.

My ride or die &lt;3 22 Years and counting!!

My ride or die <3 22 Years and counting!!

I’m sure I would love solo travelling. I am always stirring up conversation with whomever will listen to me blab about my life, but I prefer to travel with someone else. My biggest trips in the past-Thailand, Central America, and Texas-were all with at least 4 girls and I loved the variety of personalities and the merriment of us all together. Jess is my best friend of 22 years. There’s no one else I’d rather be exploring the world with. The fact that on day 2 I’ve already peed my pants laughing means this is going to be a-pardon my french, or italian?-fucking awesome trip.


We arrived in Venice and immediately got lost (thanks to me) during our walk to tour hotel. Jessica is definitely the navigator but I still somehow managed to screw it up. The first of many times. Jess and I talked about how weird it was that we maintained our friendship this far. Like why? Why us? Why did we choose one another as our person. We don’t even have anything in common anymore. Jess is a hardcore vegan into Vampire Diaries and anything mythology and my hobbies include dodging carbohydrates for nutrient dense game meat and swinging kettle bells. I literally ate olives for breakfast (after fasting of course) while she had a vegan breakfast that was accompanied by surging blood sugar levels. I also have a burning desire to exercise any chance I get, so maybe it wasn’t by accident that I gave her the wrong address so we had to walk 20 minutes extra to get to our hotel?

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Regardless, we still finish each others sentences, reminisce over 22 years of good times, and hold each other's secrets that nobody else will ever know. She’s my person, and here we are in Italy together about to drink fantastic wine and eat gluten and dairy rich pizza and pasta create even more memories that we will laugh about in the future. Like the fact that she has said “reckon” every second sentence and thinks she has blended into the culture since she spent a hot minute in London. Anyways, I am so extremely blessed to be on this trip with her, and i know it will be an epic vacation. Let’s start with Venice.

 
Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

 

Venice is the most beautiful city I’ve ever been too. There’s no doubt about it. Kelowna, yes you are my paradise but Venice, ah Venice. There’s nothing like it. There is so much history and culture, so much beauty and romance. Walking throughout the maze that is Venice to catch our gondola was such a beautiful experience. It was chilly but our curiosity kept us warm. Thanks to google maps we managed to weave through the city finding creamy gelato on the way. Cookies and cream for me and mango for Jess. Yep, even our favourite ice cream flavours are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The gondola ride was as magical as can be, but I think in the future it would be nice to have Champagne and be serenaded. Take note future husband.

Jess and I on our beautiful Gondola ride. Venice, Italy

Jess and I on our beautiful Gondola ride. Venice, Italy

On the first night Jessica and I were determined to have pasta. First of all, I am hands down gluten and dairy free. But when you’re in Venice, you eat pasta. And pizza. And whatever else you fancy. No, not because you are on Vacation and you deserve to be gluttonous, but because you are here to experience their culture. Luckily my dietary restrictions aren’t as severe and my totally amazing optimal gut health allows me to eat whatever I please. FYI, stay tuned for my Love Your Guts E-course, and then you yourself will have guts of steel!

Every meal I ate, I ate with intention. I mean, I won’t lie, after Jessica and I landed the most authentic little family run pasta place, ordered THE MOST incredible pasta (I found my pesto dream pasta), upon receiving the dish we asked each other if A) do you think our hotel has a microwave we can use? And b) can they give us take home cutlery with our leftovers. 3 minutes later we finished our pasta. There were no leftovers. There was never going to be leftovers. What ever were we thinking?

The most amazing pesto pasta in Venice, Italy.

The most amazing pesto pasta in Venice, Italy.

After dinner we found a cute little cafe pub, sat next to two 90 yr old men, and chatted for hours. The conversation was hard at first, and consisted of them saying “bella” and us replying with “gratzi” back and forth, but Jessica then downloaded a translator app and we soon found out that they were just “honest men” who worked very hard. Oh and Maurice doesn’t like Limoncello’s, Italy’s signature after dinner appertif.

Overall my experience in Venice was absolutely perfect. We ate pizza, pasta, drank wine, and walked around old Italy until our feet hurt! I will most definitely be back. Thank you Venice for an unforgettable experience.

 
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“To build a city where it is impossible to build a city is madness in itself, but to build there one of the most elegant and grandest of cities is the madness of genius.” Alexander Herzen


Next stop: La Spezia.

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La Spezia is a beautiful little town along the east northern coast, only minutes away from the famous Cinque Terre region that contains 5 little adorable towns. Since we got in later in the evening, our first night we stayed in our ‘close and cozy’ Air BNB (highly recommend this exact one) and enjoyed the bottle of Rose Bubbles that Fabio got for us, along with some Olives and walnuts.

Okay guys, something happened this trip. I went from olives being legitimately the only food I wouldn’t eat (oysters are up there too) and for now, some reason, I absolutely love them. I mean you won’t see me purchasing a can of black olives any time soon, but the green ones, flavoured with garlic and basil (rumour has it they can also be found stuffed with goat cheese), are so insanely delicious that I have to stop myself from eating the whole darn package! Paired with a walnut to cut the saltiness juuuust a tad, is what really gets me going. I am officially an olive lover. The low carb lifestyle in me just got a whole lot sweeter. Or saltier.

The next morning I woke up with excitement and went for a run. I know exercising isn’t going to be a priority here, because I don’t want it to be. I’m in Italy. My focus is exploring, drinking wine, eating pasta, and just spending time with my best friend. Regardless, you know I love my exercise. During my own 6 month personal transformation I made sure exercise was a priority. Movement is crucial for my mental health, and yes, physical health as well. But that’s not why I do it. Everyone knows exercise releases dopamine and other neurotransmitters responsible for feeling good. I love lifting weights, and more recently swinging kettle bells, but I do love cardio as well. It releases my anxiety. It clears my head. It gives me a chance to work through things in my head, or think of nothing at all.

So I went for a 5 k run. I ran all the way to the water where there were ships and yachts and I think even a few pirates. It was the perfect start to my day. After a quick breakfast (vega protein powder for the win) we took the train to start our Cinque Terre trip.

Looking towards La Spezia, Italy from the yachts along the water.

Looking towards La Spezia, Italy from the yachts along the water.

First of all, while travelling, it is always ideal for me (on my wallet and my body!) to eat out all 3 meals. Plus, ya’ll know I’m a fan of fasting. But after my run, and knowing we wouldn’t be eating lunch for a few hours, a little bit of protein was perfect. To be honest, I wish I brought a ton more! It worked out perfect because I ended up eating one of my favourite meals this day, and am glad I didn’t have a full belly. Everyone’s different. Some people need more food than others, just like sleep. But starting my mornings off light always makes me feel my best, especially when I know I’ll be feasting in the evening.

The train took us to the first little town Monterosso. My first train ride of the trip! We coasted along the Mediterranean Sea and it was just as gorgeous as I would have imagined. The first stop we toured around a little bit, and then found a little wine bar and had some Rose and olives. I was in heaven. I couldn’t stop smiling and probably would have shed some happy tears but I was just too overjoyed even to cry! This was exactly what I pictured when I booked my flights to Italy.

This, was Italy to me. Just want I envisioned. I mean so far Venice, La Spezia, and Florence have been so different from one another, but this brief moment with my Rose, my best friend, and the views of the sea just filled my heart. I sat here in SO much gratitude. Like is this really my life? How am I so lucky to have the privilege to travel the world with my best friend and witness such beauty. Life hack: you can eat perfect, exercise religiously, meditate everyday, but gratitude is truly the key to happiness. No doubt about it. Show gratitude everyday, make it a habit, and watch the miracles happen <3

 
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Alright now that we’ve shared a moment together let’s continue, shall we? We hopped back on the train to reach our next destination-Vernazza. Ugh, okay this was my favourite. I wish we had more time to explore in each town, but we took advantage of the time we had. We originally were going to do Cinque Terre on our next full day, but it was going to be raining. We made a quick decision to do it on this day, and it was more rushed than we would have liked, but at least the sun was shining.

We explored the town a little bit and before we knew it we were hiking. We just kept going up. Looking along the luscious terrain, it reminded be a little bit of Boqeute, Panama, and a little wave of gratitude came over me. Hiking has quickly become one of my favourite activities. Exercise mixed with nature and amazing views? Yes please. Jessica hasn’t done much hiking but thoroughly enjoyed it. She was a trooper and we hiked for a good hour upwards and onwards. It was incredible, and to experience it with my best friend made it even more so. Between my morning run and this hike, my fitbit was congratulating me with all sorts of accompishments! But really, I highly recommend hiking Vernazza if you visit Cinque Terre. Apparently you can even hike between the towns (instead of taking the train) so that will definitely be on my list for my next visit.

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When we reached the bottom, we stopped at another cute little wine bar, had a glass of a Cinque Terre dry white-which may have been the best tasting wine I’ve had this trip, and then continued on to Manarola. We unfortunatebly skipped Corniglia, as it was becoming dark and our host Fabio told us this would be the one to skip if we were to choose one. But it was quite alright, because Manarola was where we ate like queens.

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At this point we were starving. My vega protein powder wasn’t holding up after my run and hike, and the few glasses of vino we had, had me feeling fluttery. Apparently many places close for dinner, but we lucked out and found a cute little Italian-need I say Italian-restaurant. I love my pasta, pizza, and everything in between. But I saw Mussels on the menu... And thanks to my probiotics I’ve been taking religiously, I only had one thing to do, trust my guts. #holisticnutritionistjokes. Guys, I LOVE seafood. Especially fresh seafood. My preferred flavour is mussels in a curry sauce, but these were made in a delicious butter and marinara sauce, and I ate the whole damn bowl. As mentioned, Jessica is vegan so I did my best not to deliver too “yums” while licking my fingers. We also shared a pesto pizza. Gluten and all. And THIS was actually the best thing I ate. We loaded it up with parmesan and pepper, and ate til our little bellies were happy.

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We made a quick stop in Riomaggiore, where we walked around in a maze. Google maps saved us for the 100th time this trip and after climbing at least a thousand stairs and we made it back to our train. Even in the dark this place was beautiful. I would have loved to explore it in the daylight, but hey, that’s what coming back to Italy is for. Overall our trip to Cinque Terre was beyond lovely and I highly recommend visiting this little paradise.

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The next day poured canni e gatti (cats & dogs..) and Jess and I were able to get some work done. I absolutely love my job as a psychiatric nurse-there is no doubt about it. But the fact that I can also make an income from my laptop, while sitting in Italy, and knowing I am also making a huge impact, brings me so much joy.

If you aren’t familiar with what I do, I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. I work with clients of all ages and help them become the best versions of themselves by using simply one thing: food. Okay, there’s a lot more to that, but mainly I use nutrition to help others heal themselves. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But you would be truly surprised how well you can optimise your health just by changing what you put on your plate. Food is truly medicine. I study holistic nutrition every single day. That is my passion, and I love nothing more than being able to share that with the world.

Speaking of the World, our next stop was Florence <3


Our jaunt to Florence was nothing spectacular. We walked the 5 minutes the train, of course arriving 30 minutes earlier than we needed to, and had a lovely 2 hour train ride through the alps of Italy. We found our air bnb which was conveniently settled in the heart of Florence, perched high into an authentic Italian structure, our hosts name appropriately named ‘Flo.’ Our wifi wasn’t working, which is always a blessing in disguise.

We only had two nights here, meaning we were on a quest to find good food and good wine. As much as I love the longer stays where we can set up our roots, these short stays meant we had to get down to business. Our first meal was nothing special as we stopped at the first place we could find because of our grumbly tummies. I know that there will be Carbonara in my future, any my body is only capable of handling so much glucose. First of all, I 100% love to indulge, and never restrict myself. So when I chose a seafood salad (salmon, tuna, and shrimp over spinach) literally doused in olive oil, balsamic, and a generous portion of parmesan, this was not restricting. If anything I would have also added bacon and avocado, but I never had the chance to learn those words in italian. #ketofail. Regardless, it was delicious.

 
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This is where THB thinking comes into place. Now I am in Italy. I can smell pesto sauce and fresh made pizza everywhere I go. I also didn’t want to spend 2 days indulging in refined carbohydrate heaven with a side of dairyland. Sure a pesto pizza, pasta florentine, or loaf of bread in balsamic would have been delicious, but I know I’d be diving straight into the carbs and enjoy it a lot more with my lipstick and dancing shoes on in the evening. But in my scrunchie, joggers, and fanny pack I was perfectly happy with a light lunch. If you know me, my blog, or my opinions on nutrition this is how I’d typically eat every meal. A little bit of protein, bonus points for seafood and omegas, nutrient dense greens or other non-starchy veggies that keep my hormones happy, and drenched in olive oil to keep my insides nourished and my brain health on point. Did Jessica’s 4 cheese gnocci rev up my dopamine centres? Absolutely. /but I wanted to fuel my body with the macronutrients it prefers. My body can only handle so much glucose, and I’d rather save the sugars for my vino and pasta dinners.

Our fist night was pretty quiet. We wandered the streets a bit. Jessica had been to Florence before but this was new to me. Completely different than the other Italian cities we visited, and I quickly wished we had more time to explore this beautiful city. The smells, the people, the buildings, they were all different. Yes, it was tourist overload and I’m sure more foreigners than locals but it was still nice to be immersed in the Italian culture.

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The next day was MY 30TH BIRTHDAY! Okay, no, it wasn’t. That happened in December and it was fantastic, but since this trip was booked as a 30th birthday present to myself, I wanted to properly celebrate it in the one place I wanted to visit. Over the years I have collected stars on my feet. From Las Vegas, to Central America, a few local Canadian Stars, and now an Italian one. They are my travelling starts, and it was absolutely adamant to acquire one on this trip! It was the least painless as well, and after the 45 second process I am extremely happy with the results.

 
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For dinner Jessica and I drank dirty martinis, which I am proud to say was my first ever olive martini. And I finally ate my carbonara. I mean gluten free of course, but rich with flavour. An egg cream base with bacon, parmesan, and extra virgin italian olive oil. It’s gotta be my top favourite birthday dinner’s ever.

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That concludes my trip to Italy. It was everything I imagined and I can’t wait to come back to explore, hike, drink wine, and of course, eat more pasta.

Travelling does not mean you need to restrict your diet. You can still enjoy the foods you love without feeling the bloating or even guilt that accompanies “bad food” choices. It truly is about balance, and choosing the foods that work well for your body, and of course leaving a little room to indulge in cultural treats. Because I am in fat burning mode, throwing in some carbohydrates doesn’t throw my metabolism completely off and actually benefits me. I woke up leaner, and had a ton of energy for my morning runs.

Check out my Products Page to grab my 7 Day Keto Slim Down or purchase my Nutritional Consulting Services to start healing your metabolism and begin your weight loss journey. Stay tuned for more THB Travels. Next I head to Granada Spain, home of the Tapas!!

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Welcome to The Holistic Blonde <3

 
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Hello! Welcome to my very first blog post. I hope you are as excited to be here as I am!

My name is Kelly Gillies, aka The Holistic Blonde, and I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and a Registered Psychiatric Nurse. I am passionate about ALL things nutrition and mental health, so if you’re looking to gain knowledge in the field of holistic health, then this is the place to be.

I didn’t always eat superfood smoothie bowls, nutritious green salads, raw turmeric, or fresh pressed green juices. I didn’t always meditate, go to yoga, implement a daily gratitude practice, or write in my journal. It actually took me years of self-experimentation, years of education, and falling in love with self-development that lead me to where I am today. And where is that exactly? Well let’s just say I feel the most physically, mentally, and emotionally well than I’ve ever felt! I am only continuing to explore the world of biohacking and holistic wellness that will undoubtedly lead me to being an even more optimal human being than I was before.

After growing up stick thin with a racing metabolism, I was used to my lean frame. I never had to worry about weight, dieting, or fat shaming as do the growing amount of young women that face those challenges today. I was blessed with the genetic lottery. I grew up on processed carbohydrates and sugar laden foods. I added sugar to my strawberries and a hefty amount of cheese on my broccoli. I didn’t know what an avocado was, or even like them til my 20’s, and if chicken nuggets weren’t on the menu, I’d rather eat my fingernails. I only drank chocolate milk or apple juice, and I wouldn’t be far off by saying I probably consumed close to 1000 Twix Bars in my early years. McDonald’s and Stuffed Crust Pizza weren’t treats for me, they were a typical night's dinner. In other words, I was the complete opposite of holistic nutrition.


When I became an adult and responsible for my own eating habits, things didn’t get much better. For the record, my mother was a single mom working up to 3 jobs, and she did her best to provide for me and my brother, however, optimal nutrition wasn’t always the biggest priority. Yes, I began cooking for myself more, but I still had nutrition backwards. I was fueling myself with too many refined carbohydrates and the wrong types of fats. My microbiome was already a mess due to my early years of poor nutrition and dozens of antibiotic series, and I was extremely addicted to sugar. Switching to a healthy diet without proper education didn’t seem very likely. I went through the low-fat phase, the high carb phase, and tried every diet in the book. My weekends consisted of bar hopping with friends followed by late night donairs and “hangover Sundays".” I needed a complete nutritional overhaul and to be quite honest, I wish there was someone just like me that could have showed me the ways while I was trying to discover the “right” way to eat. Which you will soon learn, there is no “right” way.


I joined a Crossfit gym (please keep your comments to yourself) and within a few weeks I had heard about the Paleo diet and my roommates and I immediately became obsessed. Probably because it had something to do with Crossfit. I started fueling myself with whole foods, less refined products, and let’s be honest, a little too much almond butter. But I felt amazing! This was the first time in my life, at 21 years old that I began to care about what I put into my body. Soon enough the inflammation, anxiety, and constant bloat that I had been used to started to fade away. It was around this time that I watched a Ted Talk called Mind Your Mitochondria about Dr. Terry Wahlberg and her miraculous recovery from MS using a paleo diet approach. I was completely mindblown, and fell in love with nutrition and its healing properties.


The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition was on my radar. I had pamphlets sent to me about the program and seriously considered beginning a full-time distance diploma program while also working full-time as a registered psychiatric nurse. Life got busy as it usually does, and I never enrolled in the program. Fast forward to May of 2015, and I moved myself and my civic full of my belongings to beautiful Kelowna. Within a few months of working 12 shifts at the hospital, I quickly realized I needed something else to focus on in my spare time. I started blogging, but I still wasn’t completely satisfied. With a quick google search about the CSNN program, an email to the school, a deposit for the program, I was enrolled!


First of all, going back to school after almost 4 years is not fun. Especially when your anatomy and physiology credits didn’t transfer over and you have to repeat the courses! Ah, oh well. I passed with flying colors, and finally had the credentials I needed to start my own nutrition consulting business. To be honest, even if I had the time and money I would never complete a dietician program, because it doesn’t align with my beliefs about health and nutrition. I would literally have to be telling people to eat bagels in the morning to manage their blood sugar and meet their recommended amount of grain products for the day. No thank you.

After I graduated I didn’t jump into becoming a holistic nutritionist like I had originally planned. Instead I fell back into my comfort zone at the hospital, with the guaranteed paychecks. I travelled and paid off debt. I watched others accomplish their dreams while sitting on the side lines. The thing is, I had big dreams but I didn’t trust that I could ever follow through or that I was worthy of having it all. There were some major roadblocks in front of me, and the funny thing was, I was the one who placed them there.

I hired a business coach, started spending time with like-minded people, adopted a morning routine (meditation, gratitude, & exercise), and just started putting myself out there. I am truly amazed at how things progressed once I started focusing on the things I wanted. My desire to help others through a holistic approach is truly my passion. The fact that you can truly heal yourself using food at other holistic practices makes my heart skip a beat! And if I can provide that education to you, and benefit your life so that you become a better human being in any way, well then sign me up! This is where I belong.

Welcome to my platform. I will be sharing recipes, information about mental health disorders, nutritional advice, biohacking tips, and all things self-development so that you can get the most out of this blog during your visit. As for my services, I charge $399 for my basic nutritional consulting with a comprehensive health history & 6 weeks of meal planning! Check out My Products Page for my other offers and packages.Hello! Welcome to my very first blog post. I hope you are as excited to be here as I am!

My name is Kelly Gillies, aka The Holistic Blonde, and I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and a Registered Psychiatric Nurse. I am passionate about ALL things nutrition and mental health, so if you’re looking to gain knowledge in the field of holistic health, then this is the place to be.

I didn’t always eat superfood smoothie bowls, nutritious green salads, raw turmeric, or fresh pressed green juices. I didn’t always meditate, go to yoga, implement a daily gratitude practice, or write in my journal. It actually took me years of self-experimentation, years of education, and falling in love with self-development that lead me to where I am today. And where is that exactly? Well let’s just say I feel the most physically, mentally, and emotionally well than I’ve ever felt! I am only continuing to explore the world of biohacking and holistic wellness that will undoubtedly lead me to being an even more optimal human being than I was before.

After growing up stick thin with a racing metabolism, I was used to my lean frame. I never had to worry about weight, dieting, or fat shaming as do the growing amount of young women that face those challenges today. I was blessed with the genetic lottery. I grew up on processed carbohydrates and sugar laden foods. I added sugar to my strawberries and a hefty amount of cheese on my broccoli. I didn’t know what an avocado was, or even like them til my 20’s, and if chicken nuggets weren’t on the menu, I’d rather eat my fingernails. I only drank chocolate milk or apple juice, and I wouldn’t be far off by saying I probably consumed close to 1000 Twix Bars in my early years. McDonald’s and Stuffed Crust Pizza weren’t treats for me, they were a typical night's dinner. In other words, I was the complete opposite of holistic nutrition.


When I became an adult and responsible for my own eating habits, things didn’t get much better. For the record, my mother was a single mom working up to 3 jobs, and she did her best to provide for me and my brother, however, optimal nutrition wasn’t always the biggest priority. Yes, I began cooking for myself more, but I still had nutrition backwards. I was fueling myself with too many refined carbohydrates and the wrong types of fats. My microbiome was already a mess due to my early years of poor nutrition and dozens of antibiotic series, and I was extremely addicted to sugar. Switching to a healthy diet without proper education didn’t seem very likely. I went through the low-fat phase, the high carb phase, and tried every diet in the book. My weekends consisted of bar hopping with friends followed by late night donairs and “hangover Sundays".” I needed a complete nutritional overhaul and to be quite honest, I wish there was someone just like me that could have showed me the ways while I was trying to discover the “right” way to eat. Which you will soon learn, there is no “right” way.


I joined a Crossfit gym (please keep your comments to yourself) and within a few weeks I had heard about the Paleo diet and my roommates and I immediately became obsessed. Probably because it had something to do with Crossfit. I started fueling myself with whole foods, less refined products, and let’s be honest, a little too much almond butter. But I felt amazing! This was the first time in my life, at 21 years old that I began to care about what I put into my body. Soon enough the inflammation, anxiety, and constant bloat that I had been used to started to fade away. It was around this time that I watched a Ted Talk called Mind Your Mitochondria about Dr. Terry Wahlberg and her miraculous recovery from MS using a paleo diet approach. I was completely mindblown, and fell in love with nutrition and its healing properties.


The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition was on my radar. I had pamphlets sent to me about the program and seriously considered beginning a full-time distance diploma program while also working full-time as a registered psychiatric nurse. Life got busy as it usually does, and I never enrolled in the program. Fast forward to May of 2015, and I moved myself and my civic full of my belongings to beautiful Kelowna. Within a few months of working 12 shifts at the hospital, I quickly realized I needed something else to focus on in my spare time. I started blogging, but I still wasn’t completely satisfied. With a quick google search about the CSNN program, an email to the school, a deposit for the program, I was enrolled!


First of all, going back to school after almost 4 years is not fun. Especially when your anatomy and physiology credits didn’t transfer over and you have to repeat the courses! Ah, oh well. I passed with flying colors, and finally had the credentials I needed to start my own nutrition consulting business. To be honest, even if I had the time and money I would never complete a dietician program, because it doesn’t align with my beliefs about health and nutrition. I would literally have to be telling people to eat bagels in the morning to manage their blood sugar and meet their recommended amount of grain products for the day. No thank you.

After I graduated I didn’t jump into becoming a holistic nutritionist like I had originally planned. Instead I fell back into my comfort zone at the hospital, with the guaranteed paychecks. I travelled and paid off debt. I watched others accomplish their dreams while sitting on the side lines. The thing is, I had big dreams but I didn’t trust that I could ever follow through or that I was worthy of having it all. There were some major roadblocks in front of me, and the funny thing was, I was the one who placed them there.

I hired a business coach, started spending time with like-minded people, adopted a morning routine (meditation, gratitude, & exercise), and just started putting myself out there. I am truly amazed at how things progressed once I started focusing on the things I wanted. My desire to help others through a holistic approach is truly my passion. The fact that you can truly heal yourself using food at other holistic practices makes my heart skip a beat! And if I can provide that education to you, and benefit your life so that you become a better human being in any way, well then sign me up! This is where I belong.

Welcome to my platform. I will be sharing recipes, information about mental health disorders, nutritional advice, biohacking tips, and all things self-development so that you can get the most out of this blog during your visit. As for my services, I charge $399 for my basic nutritional consulting with a comprehensive health history & 6 weeks of meal planning! Check out My Products Page for my other offers and packages.