Health Bite: Cilantro

Health Bite: Cilantro


CILANTRO is also known as coriander leaf and Chinese parsley.

It contains many flavonoids including quercetin, shown to help allergy symptoms and to reduce inflammation.

Research has shown cilantro to be effective in chelating (binding and removing) heavy metals from the body.


Cilantro is best used fresh, because the flavor gets significantly diluted when cooked, however except for the enzymes, cilantro’s health benefits are still intact when cooked. It is delicious in salads and the following recipes.

– Supergreen Guacamole
– Fresh Coconut Ginger Chutney
– Thai Tofu Hotpot Rice Bowl


Why I Eat Gluten-free: My Journey to Healing!

Why I Eat Gluten-free: My Journey to Healing!

In 2001 most people hadn’t heard the word gluten, never mind seeing it plastered on everything from cereal boxes to shampoo bottles.

That year, I experienced a life changing event.

Even though I’d made some positive dietary changes, I was still experiencing troubling symptoms.  After receiving the results of blood tests in which the IgA and IgG were all in the high range, my M.D. told me to stop eating gluten-containing foods.

He wrote out the grains I needed to avoid, and sent me on my way. These included – wheat, rye, barley, and oats.

The next step in a positive diagnoses is, and should have been, a small bowel (intestinal villi) biopsy to test for celiac disease. This procedure is done under anesthetic in a day clinic. My doctor didn’t advise or order the endoscopy biopsy, the gold standard test for CD, just an elimination of gluten-grains. Would a biopsy have caused me to take this situation more seriously? Perhaps. But I don’t fault him, as he likely saw it as invasive and unnecessary.

I went home and started researching how to cook for a gluten-free diet. I learned from reading, that it was going to be challenging. The focus seemed to be on what I’d be deprived of. Still, I was determined to figure it out, because I new I felt better when I avoided gluten. Not only did I join the small ranks of other gluten-free eaters, at the same time I knew because of my long standing sensitivity to dairy foods, I needed to also stop sneaking chunks of extra old cheddar cheese.

Being a perpetual optimist, I refused to believe I was doomed to a life of deprivation. I knew I had to focus on what I could still eat, not on what I couldn’t.

I did my best, seeking out recipes and local resources. But choking down dry cardboard-like rice bread or oily starchy gluten-free muffins and cookies were hardly something to get excited about.

So, with a love of baking, instilled by my “what-kind-of-pie-would-you-like-today-dear?” grandmother, I set out to play with traditional family recipes, making them vegan and gluten-free. Things were looking up!

The bloating, cramping, and pain, as well as much of the heavy fatigue and brain fog I’d lived with too long, began to become non-issues. What a relief!

However, I’d still get weak in the knees when I’d visit my friends who made the best baklava I’d ever eaten and lose all discipline. I loved tempeh as a “meat replacement” and the only one available had a teeny tiny amount of wheat-containing soy sauce. Also I didn’t want to inconvenience my friends or family so ate foods I shouldn’t have been consuming when invited out for meals. And cross-contamination in restaurant kitchens…no awareness back then.

I didn’t realize the true health risks of not being 100% compliant to a gluten-free intake because I didn’t know back then the damage that could be done to the gut with only a trace amount of gluten.

And then my adult daughter was also diagnosed. With chronic anemia her only known symptom, I started to suspect she may have CD, and encouraged her to get tested. When her blood work and intestinal biopsy came back positive (one of the worst cases her gastroenterologist has seen), I knew I needed to get more strict, for her sake as well as my own.

Her diagnoses propelled me into getting rid of every tiny bit of gluten containing foods. I knew for the sake of her recovery we needed to enforce the absolutely no gluten rule as strictly as if our life depended on it…because it does! In fact, those with un-diagnosed CD or those who are non-compliant to a CD diet, are at risk of much higher rates, possibly 80% higher, for digestive/intestinal cancers!

What happened next was an interesting surprise, and a lesson in how we can become so accustomed to a symptom and not even recognize it as un-healthy.

Low and behold, I discovered a lingering symptom that I didn’t even know was a symptom, as I’ve lived with them for as long as I can remember! A week after removing the tiny amounts of gluten from my intake, I realized I didn’t have any mouth blisters.

Prior to removing most of the gluten, I’d lived with small pus-filled blisters in the insides of my cheeks, usually 3-9 at a time. I would roll the tip of my tongue around the inside of my cheeks feeling them unconsciously because they were annoying. As they filled (usually over just a few days) they would “mature” I could scrape it off with my fingernail. I’d asked doctors and my dentist about them in the past, but they’d alway shrugged them off, not knowing what they were.

I came to realize that they were directly related to the gluten when I became 100% compliant after my daughter’s diagnosis, when the blisters completely disappeared. (Rarely when I’ve eaten in a restaurant, where cross contamination is common, will I get a small blister, or I inadvertently buy something I think is celiac safe, but turns out to have hidden ingredients.)

When I think about the chronic eruption of those mouth blisters in years past, I can’t help wonder – what was happening in the rest of my gut when I ate gluten foods?!

Celiac Disease Symptoms Photo

Celiac Disease Symptoms

Do I, like my daughter, also have celiac disease? Or do I have non-celiac gluten intolerance (a more recent discovery and diagnosis), or perhaps just wheat allergy? I’ll likely never know for certain, but I will tell you that because of the likelihood, and due to the damaging affects/effect of eating gluten if I do have celiac disease (it’s too late to have a biopsy, I’d have to go back on gluten for 6 weeks and become sick again) I have since made my daily food choices as if I have CD.

The great news is that, not only have I learned to live within the “restrictions” of a celiac diet, but just as when I moved to a vegetarian and eventually a vegan intake, a whole new world of deliciousness has opened to me (and my family!)

In fact, gluten-free vegan choices are abundant! Unfortunately there are a lot of commercial GF vegan products available but much of them are made from inferior ingredients, not whole-food ingredients. You can read more about that in this post! (coming soon!)

And if you’d like to learn more about GF grains, and alternatives to baking with gluten-containing flours, check out this blog: GLUTEN-FREE GRAINS

Looking for whole-food, delicious, gluten-free, allergy friendly or vegan ingredients?

Or, discover Victoria's Books, chalked full of delicious recipes and how-to's!

Gluten-free Grains

Gluten-free Grains

Gluten-free Grains

  • OATS (sometimes milled with gluten grains so needs to be ELISA tested to be celiac safe)
  • RICE
  • TEFF

Gluten-containing Grains

  • KHORASAN (Kumut)
  • RYE
  • OATS (if milled with other gluten-containing grains)

AVOID: The list of grains above contain gluten so must be completely avoided on a celiac-safe diet.



– any of the above gluten-free grains can be ground for flour

– ground legumes and pulses (chickpeas, navy beans, black beans, lentils, etc)

– ground nuts (almond, cashew, brazil, walnuts, coconut, etc)

– ground seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax, chia, hemp, etc)

Looking for delicious gluten-free recipes for Cookies, Bread, Cakes, Scones, Loaves, Muffins...and more?

Check out Victoria Laine's Gluten-free Vegan Baking eBook!

Health Bite: Tempeh – A Versatile Meat Substitute!

Health Bite: Tempeh – A Versatile Meat Substitute!

Having lived outside of Canada, I have to say there are a few foods I’ve missed…maple syrup for sure! And tempeh! Temp-eh? you say…

Yes. Tempeh. But not just any tempeh. My favorite “smoked” tempeh!

One of my first meals back was a mouth-watering crispy smokey-tempeh sandwich made with (gluten-free) toast smothered in dijon mustard and a skim of hot mustard as well as the mouth watering dill pickle relish from Bubbies! I had some fresh spinach I layered in there too…and oh my!!

Delicious, nutritious down-home comfort food! Mouth-watering deliciousness!

Nutritious because tempeh is a protein-rich, fiber-filled naturally fermented food.

Naturally fermented is healthy?

Naturally fermented foods are not just important for propagating our beneficial gut flora, but critical because without a regular intake of naturally fermented microbe-rich foods our immune system can become depressed, our nervous system can become depleted, and our digestive system is negatively effected, whereas by including foods like tempeh on a regular basis we support the health and vitality of these body systems.

What is tempeh made from?

Tempeh can be made from several different ingredients, typically legumes (soy, chickpeas, fava, blackbeans, peanut, etc) and/or grains (rice, barley, etc) but sometimes there is also seeds (sunflower, etc) added. Depending on where you live you may or may not have access to these varieties. Tempeh can also be home-made for those who want to set up a tempeh making system.

How is it cultured?

A culture called “rhizopus olligosporus” is introduced to the soaked and cooked beans, (just like the yogurt-making process). The prepared beans are spread out in a special box-like container and left to ferment for 3-5 days. Then the commercially purchased tempeh is cut into slabs or strips and either sold in vacumn packs as is, or marinated in different sauces and flavors first.

This is what fermented, uncooked raw tempeh looks like…


How can I use tempeh?

The versatility and deliciousness of tempeh is becoming a less known secret in North America. Tempeh originated in Indonesia, but is available now around the world and is used in stir fries, wraps, sandwiches, soups, stews, chilis, pates, and on top of salads, etc.

How long will tempeh keep?

You may notice black strips of what looks like mold on some tempeh slabs/strips. This is a naturally occurring color that is harmless, in fact healthy…as it is a concentration of ferment. If the tempeh smells okay…neutral or sweet…and isn’t slimmy…it is perfect.

Tempeh that is purchased in a vacuumed package can be stored refrigerated for weeks, and usually months. It can also be frozen for up to 6-12 months.

Once it has been removed from the vacuum package, it should be cooked or eaten or stored in a plastic container up to 1-2 days. Fresh tempeh will not keep as long as cooked tempeh.

Where can I find it?

Tempeh is available in several flavors (marinades) from two different companies here in western Canada, but only the varieties from Green Cuisine are completely gluten-free. Some of the Turtle Island varieties have soy sauce made with wheat which if you have celiac disease, or NCGI, you have to avoid.

If you live elsewhere you may have other options. Tempeh is even available now in mainstream grocery markets like Superstore, as well as natural food markets.

A few examples of tempeh dishes...

Find more tempeh recipes in Real-Life Vegan Foundation Diet!

What’s the difference between whole-foods and those that aren’t?

What’s the difference between whole-foods and those that aren’t?

Do you know the difference between whole-foods,
and those that aren’t?

Whole-foods vs Not Whole-foods

Whole-foods vs Not Whole-foods

The majority of calories in the North American diet come from refined and highly processed foods that are loaded with sodium, sugar and fat. Shifting the majority of your calories to whole- foods is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. So what exactly are “whole-foods”?

We could use the term “natural” to describe “whole-foods” but food manufacturers who use “natural” to advertise products that are anything- but-whole-food have adulterated it so that there is no longer any credibility in the term “natural.” Another important misconception is that whole- foods are always organic, but they are not necessarily so, nor are organic foods necessarily whole. For example, organic refined flour, although free of pesticides, is still refined flour with barely any of the original nutrients that the whole grain provided.

“Whole-foods” seems the best term to describe those foods that have been left as close to their natural “wholesome” state as possible. While some foods require a small amount of processing to make them edible for human consumption (ie. peeling a pineapple, or adding a culture of probiotic to make yogurt), a general definition of a whole food could be:

– Nothing has been taken away (unfragmented, unaltered, unrefined, unprocessed)

– Nothing denatured has been added (contain no artificial ingredients and no added preservatives).

Whole-foods also help to reduce environmental impact especially if they are locally grown. Purchasing whole-foods with nature’s compost- able packaging instead of man-made packaging sends less waste to landfills. Purchasing seasonal, local foods reduces shipping and fossil fuels.

Victoria Laine’s Whole-food Nutrition Kitchen Recipes:

The recipes on this website utilize whole-food ingredients. They are free of isolates (an individual part of a whole-food, for example, soy protein isolate, refined sugar, or protein powder) and are either free of, or use only a minimal amount of sweeteners and oils, including coconut oil.

Get Victoria’s whole-food recipes here!


3 Steps to Sugar Addiction Recovery!

3 Steps to Sugar Addiction Recovery!

lifestyle_changeDo doughnuts, cookies, pastries, chocolate, and sweet beverages make you euphoric, as much or more than alcohol?

Do you know how eating these alter your mood and contribute to depression and craving for more goodies, causing a vicious cycle?

How would your life improve if you learned how food and addiction worked so you could stop using sugar as a drug?


Refined, stripped, white or brown, crystalline sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in beverages, in combination with refined, stripped white flour and processed oils, are deadly combinations that make up a high percentage of daily calories in the typical North American diet, and increasingly in other areas of our world. These foods are cheap and easily available and causing major havoc to our health.

When our food intake is rich in refined sugars, refined flours, and processed oils, it truly is a recipe for disaster. We call those disasters “diagnoses names” like: diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, cancer, arthritis, and others.


A “sugar-drunk” experience can be the same as those alcoholics suffer: Energy that spikes and crashes, moods that swing up and down like a roller-coaster, running into walls or falling down easily, slurring words, easy to anger or depressive states.

One of the first authors to alert readers to “the sweetest poison of all” was William Dufty, who wrote “Sugar Blues” in 1975 and discussed the correlation of refined sugar with addiction, as well as other mental illness.


Refined sugar is made from raw sugar cane, beets, or corn. Sugar cane in the whole form as nature intended with the b vitamins, minerals, and fiber intact can be a healthy choice as part of a whole-food intake. However, when the nutrient-rich, dark molasses is removed from the sugar cane, the remaining crystals are highly heated, creating a molecular change that our human bodies do not process well.

Beets and corn are also a whole-food that when unadulterated and eaten as a vegetable are healthy choices. But when they are heated into refined white crystalized sugar or high-fructose corn syrup for soda pop and juice-flavored beverages, they no longer resemble whole-food in any way.

Flour when ground from whole-grains, can be part of a healthy, whole-food intake. But when flour is taken from a whole-grain and made into refined, processed, white flour, it is stripped of the bran and germ that contain the fiber and fatty acids, micro-nutrients and disease-fighting phytonutrients, and is no longer a healthy option.

Whole-grains, potatoes, and beans, contain two main carbohydrate components; fiber and starch.

Just as the brakes in a car work to keep the vehicle from speeding too quickly along a highway, fiber and starch are present in carbohydrate-rich whole-foods to keep glucose from entering the bloodstream at a healthy speed via the process of digestion.

Fiber and starch, as well as naturally present fatty acids and amino acids in whole-foods make the difference between “blood sugar swings” or a happy, pleasant food experience without negative side effects.

Food is meant to be in the most natural “whole” unadulterated state possible for human consumption. Our human liver has to metabolize thousands of chemicals. When we fragment essential parts of the whole – the fiber, the fatty acids, the protein, the starch – the body’s systems, including the liver, has to work that much harder to neutralize and to deal with the excesses that are being thrown at it.

Nutrient-stripped sweeteners, molecularly altered through high heat, enter the bloodstream at high-speed, just like alcohol.

Excess sugar that is not burned up through movement and exercise, not only turns into excess fat in the human body, but also causes fatty liver disease. Excess fructose (from refined sugar, not fruit) is particularly toxic to the liver, just as alcohol is.


Doug Lisle, Ph.D., author of “The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health and Happiness,” explains what cravings are.

“What are cravings and how do they affect your plan for healthy living? Cravings aren’t “bad.” They are just signals that you want something. When you are tired, you crave sleep. When you are thirsty, you crave liquids. And if you are getting good signals from someone really attractive, well, you know. So most of the time, cravings are operating as they are supposed to and not causing any mischief. The problem comes with cravings for unhealthy things, like junk food or drugs.” Read more here>



The 3-Step Solution
from Sugar Addiction!

Diabetes_MathSTEP #1: Eat a whole-food, plant-based intake to provide the dietary fiber that keeps blood glucose stable. Ensure you are eating whole-food, fiber-filled, starch-based foods for the majority of your daily intake! Eat beans every day. Beans are so rich in dietary fiber and 1 cup a day provides 9-16 grams of fiber, almost a third of what we need daily.  Eat whole-grains, whole-grain pastas, granola, and white, purple, or sweet potatoes with the skin! For at least a few months until your body recovers, severely minimize even the natural simple sugars (maple syrup, honey, agave, and dried fruit). Eat sweet, fresh fruit when a craving hits.

STEP #2: Enjoy doughnuts, cookies, pastries, and chocolate that are made with whole-food ingredients. Make sure they are oil-free too (and nothing deep fried), that have lots of fiber-rich ingredients. There is no need to sacrifice the enjoyment of natural sweetness and comfort foods, when we ensure ingredients that are just as sweet and delicious but do not cause the  detrimental effects of refined, processed foods. Naturally sweet spices like cinnamon and anise can add extra delicious sweetness to dishes.

STEP #3: Replace all sugary drinks with water, mineral or carbonated water, or cold or hot herbal teas – Licorice root, cinnamon, lemon grass, whole-leaf stevia, rooibos, mint, chamomile, etc. Drink enough water, 6-8 glasses a day! Water keeps our cells working at their optimum, allowing detoxification pathways to aid repair, and rebalance organ function.

BONUS STEP! Get rid of all the “artificial” sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners set you up for more cravings in the same way, and possibly in an even more powerful way, than refined sugars.

Cravings will become a non-issue. They will become the natural signals that tell you you are hungry and need food. Food will lose it’s power over you when you take control over your choices and set whole-food parameters that nourish your body in a delicious, balanced way.  You will lose the excess weight, control your blood sugar, reduce your risk for disease in general. Your moods will even out and you’ll feel and be more stable, with vibrant energy and glowing…with food!!

If the holidays found you in another slump of sadness and regret over your food and health, despair no longer! You can enroll in one of Victoria’s Whole-food Nutrition Kitchen eCourses, or get private 1:1 support, and get useful resources here.
~ Spend 10 minutes-a-day to overcome sugar addiction once and for all!
~ Learn to lose excess weight, hunger-free and sustainably!
~ Balance blood glucose so you can avoid unnecessary medications and hospital bills!

Learn more about Victoria’s eCourses and eBooks!