All posts by Du La

Curry Cauliflower Saffron Soup (and the Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables)

Brassica vegetables, or cruciferous vegetables, are an extremely important part of a well-balanced and disease preventing diet. Like all vegetables, they’re low in calories, fat, and sodium. They’re also a good source of fibre and contain a variety of other essential vitamins and minerals.

In addition to these health promoting substances, they contain phytochemicals which occur naturally in the plants. These phytochemicals have a variety of health benefits for our bodies. One of the best known benefits is their cancer-fighting properties. Vegetables in the brassica family contain glucosinolates, sulfur-containg phytochemicals, such as indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and 3,3”-diindolylmethane (DIM). In studies, these phytochemicals have been shown to reduce the risk of multiple types of cancer, including lung, stomach, colon and rectal, prostate, endometrial and ovarian cancer.

Where can you find these super-star vegetables? Easy! Just browse the produce department at your local grocery store. Members of the brassica family include Cauliflower, Kale, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Rapini, Bok Choy, Arugula, Turnip and Radish.

Curry Cauliflower Saffron Soup is a great way to get a healthy dose of these powerful phytonutrients. This creamy, dairy-free soup will keep you warm in the cold winter months and healthy for years to come!

Serves: 4-6


  • Olive oil – 4 tbsp
  • Onions, chopped – 2 medium-sized
  • Celery, chopped – 2 stalks
  • Cauliflower, cut into florets – 1 medium-sized
  • Mild curry powder – 1 tsp
  • Saffron threads – 1 pinch
  • Hot chicken or vegetable stock – 1½ cups
  • Unsweetened almond milk – 1½ cups
  • Medium or strong Cheddar, grated – ½ cup (optional)
  • Sea salt and pepper – to taste


  1. Heat half the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and celery and stir for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to soften.
  3. Add the remaining oil, cauliflower florets, curry powder and saffron, and season with salt and pepper. Stir well for a couple of minutes.
  4. Cover the pan and cook for another 4-5 minutes, lifting the lid to give the mixture a stir every now and then.
  5. Remove the lid, pour in the stock and bring to a simmer.
  6. Pour in the unsweetened almond milk (adding a splash of water if the liquid does not cover the vegetables) and return to a gentle simmer. Partially cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes until the cauliflower is very soft.
  7. Once the soup has cooled, blend the soup in a high powered blender, such as a BlendTec® or Vitamix® until smooth.
  8. Return the soup to the pan and place over low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, then slowly stir in the cheese to melt.
  9. Loosen the consistency with a little hot water if the soup is too thick, and adjust the seasoning to taste.


Posted: 2015 January 29

Does acupuncture hurt?!

You’ve asked and we will answer!

As we accumulate frequently asked questions, we will answer in “Ask the Doctor” posts (obviously after responding immediately to the persons asking the questions originally)!

Not limited to naturopathic medicine questions, get in touch and ask away, here, or via Facebook or Twitter.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Does acupuncture hurt?

A little, and only for a few seconds.

Acupuncture involves using fine hair-thin needles inserted through the skin. Because we are breaking through the skin, you will feel a small pricking sensation. The vast majority of acupuncture patients report that this is the only time that they feel discomfort, if they feel it at all.

Some acupuncture points elicit more sensation due to where they are located, for example, points in the feet and hands tend to be more sensitive. Also, some acupuncture points create tingling or radiating sensation because of the nature of the point – we expect to elicit this response if we are needling the correct location.

Specific treatments may also elicit more discomfort than others.  For example, treatment of acute injuries having inflammation and swelling such as sciatica or ankle sprain will have some discomfort, as almost any treatment of a condition involving active inflammation would.

Another common example in my practice where people will sometimes comment on sensitivity us in natural labour induction. There are points that need to be stimulated to encourage labour and contractions to begin: these points may be tender.

The pain is so subtle and short-lived and acupuncture is so effective that I would highly recommend it for anyone to try. I use it every day with more than 60% of my patients.

Du La, ND, Acupuncturist



Posted: 2014 July 16

Ginger Syrup, the Most Delicious Medicine

As promised in our Wellness Wednesday video, here is Du La, ND, Acupuncturists recipe for simple ginger syrup. Enjoy!

Ginger is one of our favourite herbs, not only for cooking but also as a natural remedy for fevers, colds, chills and nausea. It stimulates circulation supporting immune system activity; “loosens” congestion; and promotes a “good” sweat (releasing “heat” in the Traditional Chinese Medicine paradigm). It is an exceptional remedy for stomach-aches and nausea whether from pregnancy or motion sickness; and is recognized as the most useful herbs for reduction of nausea caused by chemotherapy.

Getting children to take medicines can be a challenge. Ginger is great because it is one of the few medicines they actually enjoy, especially when paired with honey.

One of our favourite home remedies is ginger syrup. It’s not only a medicine, but can be used as a base for homemade ginger tea, or ginger ale in hot summer months.

This is how we make a simple ginger syrup:


  1. Ginger root, peeled – 2 fist-sized pieces
  2. Water – 4 cups
  3. Raw honey – 1 cup


  1. Peel and slice roots into 1 cm pieces (to minimize waste, scrape the skin of the root using a spoon).
  2. In a small saucepan, add ginger pieces to water.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and leave uncovered at a rolling boil until approximately half the liquid has boiled off (approximately 1 to 2 hours).
  4. Strain ginger root pieces from mixture (technically called a decoction).
  5. Stir in raw honey.
  6. Let syrup cool, then refrigerate.
  7. Ginger syrup can be stored for up to one month, if refrigerated.

For homemade ginger ale:

add sparkling water to ginger syrup to taste (approximately 3 tablespoons syrup in a cup of water). Add ice cubes and garnish with lemon or lime slices.

For ginger tea:

Simply add approximately 3 tablespoons of ginger syrup to a cup of boiled water. Sprinkle with a pinch of freshly ground cinnamon or add a few cracked cardamom pods.

To make a digestive cordial:

Do not strain ginger slices from the decoction. Add honey as above, together with 2-3 cinnamon sticks and 10 or so cracked cardamom pods.

Refrigerate for 1-2 weeks and strain before use.

A digestive cordial can be had on it’s own (1 teaspoon at a time when having abdominal bloating or fullness), or as a sparkling drink or tea.

We hope this simple recipe inspires you to add this great medicinal food to your lifestyle!



Posted: 2014 August 27

Homemade Granola Bars (Vegan, Gluten-free, Grain-free)

Looking for a healthy snack to pack for lunches? Look no further! We love these nutty, grain-free granola bars that are so easy to make and kid approved.

Forget the sugar-ladened granola bars and try these homemade healthy treats.

Following our Wellness Wednesday video from yesterday, Du La, ND, shares with us one of her favorite, healthy, kid approved snacks.



  • Almonds, raw – 1 cup
  • Walnuts, raw – ½  cup
  • Pecans, raw – ½  cup
  • Medjool dates, pitted – 7 soft
  • Coconut flour – 2 tbsp
  • Vanilla extract – 2 tsp
  • Sea salt – ¼ tsp
  • Goji berries – ¼ cup
  • Raisins – ¼ cup
  • Cacao nibs – ¼ cup
  • Pumpkin seeds – 3 tbsp
  • Honey or brown rice syrup – ¼ cup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  2. In a food processor, pulse raw almonds, raw walnuts and raw pecans until you have a coarsely ground nut meal.
  3. Add pitted Medjool dates and pulse again until evenly distributed throughout the meal.
  4. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in coconut flour, vanilla extract, sea salt, goji berries, raisins, cacao nibs, pumpkin seeds and honey or brown rice syrup.
  5. Press in a pan lined with parchment paper (tip: leave extra parchment paper on the sides so you can fold it over and press the granola down with your hands).
  6. Bake until golden brown (approximately 15-20 minutes).
  7. Allow to cool completely and cut to desired size.


Posted: 2015 March 5

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote (and the Health Benefits of Rhubarb)

It’s rhubarb season, and if you’re lucky enough to grow a patch (or have a wonderful patient who brings you an armful), you might be looking for a good recipe.

My favourite is a super-simple and tasty Strawberry Rhubarb Compote. You only need 5 ingredients and around 15 minutes of time to make it.


  • Fresh organic Ontario-grown strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and chopped – 2 cups
  • Raw honey – one ¼ cup, and a second ⅓ cup
  • Fresh lemon juice – 1 tbsp
  • Fresh Ontario-grown rhubarb, rinsed and chopped – 3 cups
  • Water – 2 tbsp


  1. Add strawberries, ¼ cup honey and lemon juice in a small pan and stir.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until softened (about 3 minutes).
  3. Remove strawberries from liquid; place in a separate bowl and let cool.
  4. Set aside pan with strawberry liquid.
  5. In a different small pan, combine rhubarb, ⅓ cup honey and water.
  6. Simmer gently over low heat, stirring often, until rhubarb is almost tender (about 6 minutes).
  7. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to the bowl with strawberries.
  8. Add strawberry liquid to rhubarb liquid pan. Raise heat to medium and simmer until thickened and reduced to ½  cup (about 10 minutes).
  9. Let cool and stir into strawberry-rhubarb mixture.

Enjoy with organic yogurt, hemp hearts and chia seeds for a healthy and delicious breakfast or snack.

Not only does rhubarb have a lovely tart and tangy flavour, it also has many health benefits:

  • Rhubarb contains antioxidants, like lycopene and anthocyanin.
  • It can also help lower cholesterol, supporting heart health.
  • Rhubarb stalks are a good source of fiber, benefiting your digestive health.
  • Rhubarb contains vitamin K, an essential vitamin that helps with blood clotting, protecting the bones and preventing liver and prostate cancer.
  • Rhubarb is also a good source of vitamin C, which is great for a healthy immune system.

Du La, ND, Acupuncturist



Posted: 2014 July 9

The Four Foundations of Children’s Health: Pillar One – Whole Family Health

In October, I had the privilege of meeting with a group of parents to discuss strategies for optimizing their children’s health. The discussion centered around four “pillars” of health that form the strong foundation for future health.

The first “pillar” of the foundation is “Whole Family Health”. By “whole family health”, what I refer to, is the state of harmony in the family unit as a whole, a concept absent from most discussions on “personal health”. Parental stress has an enormous impact on our children’s well-being. In this video Dr. Gabor Maté, a leading authority in the area, gives a great overview of this concept.

The majority of brain development and maturation occurs from birth to the age of three. Over this period our brain weight increases from 18% to 80% of our adult brain weight. One of the ways parental stress directly affects children is through the creation of anxiety, which in turn affects their brain development during this crucial time.

Uncontrollable, chronic adversity experienced early in life may cause detrimental effects in developing brain architecture, as well as the chemical and physiological systems that help an individual adapt to stress, setting the stage for a lifetime of anxiety.

Two common stressors for most of today’s parents are:

  1. The pressure to be a “perfect” parent
  2. Over-scheduling

The pressure to be a “perfect” parent

A better goal (for you, and your child) is striving to be a “happy, healthy parent”. Here are some guidelines to help with this concept, offered by renowned herbalist and women’s health expert, Aviva Romm, MD.


In our family, we address this by limiting our children’s involvement in extra-curricular activities, even if this means they will never be a multi-lingual, prima ballerina, concert pianist, with black belt in karate, who will attend Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship.

We tend to forget that even without extracurricular activities, our children have nearly the equivalent of a full-time job with their regular schooling.

We commit to a “family day” on week-ends, on which we schedule no activities, but rather spend time together allowing the day to unfold as it will, and lastly, are open to giving them a day away from school if we feel they need it.

These relatively simple steps have allowed us to be more relaxed, and therefore “present” as parents, and resulted in more relaxed and happy children.

In my next posting, I will elaborate on the second “pillar” of health we discussed, “Family Nutrition”.

Please join us in moving our families towards better health and improving the health of our children and future generations!

Until next time,

Du La, ND, Acupuncturist


Posted: 2014 December 4


The Four Foundations of Children’s Health: Pillar Three – The Microbiome

My third Pillar of Health for families relates to a relatively new area of medicine, the microbiome.

The microbiome, as it turns out, plays a role in a wide range of chronic health conditions, including food, environmental and seasonal allergies, eczema, asthma, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

What is the microbiome? Essentially, the human body is an ecosystem supporting over 100 trillion microorganisms.

We call this ecosystem of bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, all working synergistically with our bodies to maintain health, our microbiome.

“We” are 90% microbiome and only 10%” body cells”.  A healthy microbiome is one that is in balance and diverse.

How can we develop a healthy microbiome, right from birth?

  1. Vaginal birth is the first inoculation of healthy micro biome. Vaginal birth has been shown to have positive long-term health benefits and support healthy epigenetic changes (i.e., turning “on” of healthy genes and turning “off” of unhealthy genes).
  2. Skin-to-skin contact between mothers and newborns is the second route of exposure by which newborns gain a healthy microbiome. Skin-to-skin contact has been shown to be beneficial for the first six weeks of life.
  3. Breastfeeding: Breast milk contains oligosaccharides which feed the bacteria Bifidobacterium infantis and sets up the newborn’s digestive tract to contain a balanced microbiome.
  4. A plant-based diet feeds and keeps microbiome diverse.

What negatively affects our microbiome and reduces diversity?

Antibiotic use. Since the introduction of antibiotics, we have lost approximately 30% of microbiome diversity. It is not a secret that antibiotics are over-used: for example, 2/3 of respiratory tract infections are ultimately treated using antibiotics even though 80% of these infections do not meet the Centres of Disease Control (CDC) requirements for antibiotics use.

What can we do now?

  1. Birth vaginally, spent time in skin-to-skin contact with your newborn and breastfeed for a minimum of six months.
  2. Avoid using antibiotics unless necessary. Use a healthy lifestyle to prevent illness, and natural medicines as a first-line in treating illness. Revisit the first two pillars of health, Whole Family Health and Family Nutrition.
  3. Eat a variety of whole foods, focusing on plant-based foods.
  4. Embrace the motto “Live dirty, eat clean”. Avoid antibacterial products and let your kids play in the dirt. Exposure to dirt encourages microbiome diversity.
  5. Use probiotics to replenish healthy bacteria, especially if your immune system is weak, and after using antibiotics.

Below are some resources to learn more about the microbiome and the essential role in plays in our everyday health.

– Du La, ND, Acupuncturist


Posted: 2015 January 15

The Four Foundations of Children’s Health: Pillar Two – Family Nutrition

In our family, and for the families we work with, we emphasize nutrition as essential for optimal health. Eating a well-balanced, whole foods diet will improve most health issues and prevent a myriad of chronic health problems.

We also feel better when we eat better!

We do not feel there is one diet for every person, but we do think there are important guidelines that will get most of us, most of the way there.

With so many different diets and eating ways, it is easy to get lost in all the details.

Michael Pollan sums it up so well: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Eat food,

This basically means to eat real food.

Avoid packaged, pre-made, fast food that is so convenient but so unhealthy. If you can eliminate most pre-packaged, prepared or take-out foods from your diet, you are eliminating most of the excess sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, food additives and preservatives you are presently eating. We encourage all of our patients to eat real food, whole foods and get in the kitchen more.  Getting in the kitchen with your kids will help them learn to to eat more sensibly as well, setting an example for a lifetime of healthier eating habits.

not too much,

This reminds me of the Japanese concept “Hara hachi bu”.  This translates, loosely, to: eat until you are 80% full.

Most of us are simply eating too much food. If you cut back on your intake, you will likely strike a better balance with what your body actually needs to be healthy. This is particularly important for those of us who are sedentary and not striking the right balance of calories in versus calories out, and consequently gaining extra body-fat/weight as we age.

mostly plants.

On our home, we structure our food intake according to the Harvard  School of Public Health’s “Healthy Eating Plate”: a simple, visual approach to balanced eating. To ensure a balanced intake of foods, including having “mostly plants”, ensure each major meal consists of:

  • half fruit or “non-starchy” vegetable
  • a palm size serving of healthy protein
  • and palm size serving of healthy grains “starchy” vegetables (e.g., potato)

By eating this way, we are eating about 75% plants, most of which are of the healthier “non-starchy” variety.

Once you’re in the routine of using these simple guidelines, you will actually have, in most cases, dramatically changed the way you are eating, and will notice it in the way you are feeling! Importantly, by modeling healthy eating, we will also be fostering in our children healthy habits they can carry with them through their lifetimes.

If you need more help, we have quick, simple healthy meal ideas and tips and are happy to support you along this journey towards better nutrition! Ask us for help!

Tune in to my discussion of the next pillar, the microbiome.

Until next time,

Du La, ND, Acupuncturist


Posted: 2015 January 8