Candice Csaky, INHHC

Irresistible Healthy Camping Recipes



With so many outside activities to enjoy in the sunshine, it can be hard to let summer go.  There’s still plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors before the cold really settles in, and one of my absolute favorite outdoor activities to enjoy as the weather cools off is camping.  Whether you go with your family, friends, or even by yourself, it can be the perfect getaway to rejuvenate and unplug. 

As you get ready to pack up for a big camping trip, you might be wondering how you can make delicious and healthy meals while in the great outdoors. Camping can indeed present some challenges for preparing tasty meals, but here are some great ideas to make every camper in your family a happy one!


Foil packets over the fire
One delicious way to make a healthy meal while camping is to pre-pack foil packets of food that you can lay flat in your cooler. Just use your favorite healthy food items, then add your favorite seasonings and olive oil. Seal them up tight and then throw them over the fire when you’re ready. Be very careful when opening them because of the escaping steam, it can present a burn hazard.

Pineapple chicken skewers
The prep is too easy on this one! Merely skewer chicken and pineapples together and stash them in zipper bags of teriyaki marinade. Take along lettuce for wrapping along with any other fun bits like crushed nuts to add a fun texture. Feel free to substitute the chicken with organic, non-GMO tofu for a meat free option. 

Chickpea salad
Mix tahini with a can of chickpeas and you have a healthy on-the-go salad that everyone will gobble up. Chickpeas are packed with protein and antioxidants too so they’ll help fuel your outdoor adventures!

Chili is a hearty meal that’s easy to make in your slow cooker first and tote along for easy heat-up anytime hunger strikes. Use ground turkey to lighten it up a bit or even make a meatless version of it. Chili is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser for any camping trip and can warm up any chilly night.

Fajita fun
Who says you need to go to your favorite Tex-Mex restaurant to get sizzling fajitas? Just marinate your chicken (or tofu) in a zipper bag with red and green peppers and onions and pack it away. Don’t forget the tortillas, salsa, and guacamole so everyone can customize it their way. If you want to make it even healthier, you can use lettuce for wrapping instead.

Banana s’mores
One tradition many campers have is to make s’mores, but it isn’t exactly healthy. Instead, use a banana as your vessel for creating this iconic camping dessert. Just split it lengthwise and fill it with a few dark chocolate chips and marshmallows. Then wrap it in foil and put it over the fire for about 7 minutes. It will get nice and gooey. You can include graham crackers to scoop out the deliciousness or just hand out spoons.

With these tasty recipes in your arsenal, you’ll be able to make that camping adventure delicious, healthy and fun. 

Our family loves camping and get a ton of use out of our old Scamp (some people actually call this Scamping!)  One of our best trips was to San Louis Obispo, CA last year in January!  It was pretty chilly at night and the car was covered in frost at 8am when we finally ventured outside to make some coffee but the weather was amazing and heated up to a sunny 25C (I think that's somewhere in the mid 70s for my US friends).   We spent a good part of our day kayaking in the ocean, exploring a beautiful lighthouse and taking our English Bulldog, Gracie, to play at the beach (you can see her below).  She loved it!


It's been too long since we ventured out with the Scamp and I'm hoping to bring it to Lake Tahoe in a couple of weeks.


Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever camped?  Reply and let me know, I’m always looking for a new place to explore.  Feel free to send a pic, too!  

Want more health tips and community support?  Be sure to join my HWHL - Holistic Nutrition for Hormones, Gut Health and Safer Beauty tips where I offer weekly health and happiness challenges, share my favourite recipes and support you on your health journey! 


gracie beach

Candice Csaky, INHHC

Four Tips To Help Balance Hormones

Balancing hormones is complicated. But you have to start somewhere and here are four things you can do to help which can give you a good idea as to how much work you have to do.


Four Tips To Balance Hormones


Tip #1


Lower Stress 


When we are stressed, the adrenals work overtime to protect us from what they consider physical stress (even though we are not really in danger). This is our fight or flight response. It causes the adrenals to produce higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol.


Because we can only produce adrenaline for a few seconds, our fight or flight response is dependent on excess cortisol, and this is where the havoc begins. Excess cortisol has been linked to depression, blood sugar problems, reproductive issues, anxiety and weight gain around the middle.


The key is to support the health of the adrenals with foods rich in B vitamins, vitamin C and potassium. Practising meditation or deep breathing also helps lower cortisol.


Tip #2


Support the Liver


Excess hormones like cortisol, estrogen and testosterone all need to be detoxed out of the body. This is a key process that the liver performs to make sure we do not suffer from the excess of these hormones. Supporting the health of the liver, therefore is critical. A milk thistle supplement helps liver function more optimally. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and kale, apples, grapefruit, garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, lemons, limes and berries are just a few foods that help support the liver.


Tip #3


Support the Gut


We also need good gut health to help make sure the toxins leave the body so supporting gut health is also important. This is easier said than done but it starts with adding probiotics and fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi or sauerkraut. Prebiotic foods such as garlic, onion, potatoes, wheat, broccoli, berries and apples, just to name a few, feed our good bacteria and help keep our gut healthy.


Tip #4


Balance Blood Sugar


Bad eating habits and stress can cause our blood sugar to swing up and down throughout the day. When our blood sugar drops, we can experience anger, fatigue, weakness and depression. Normally, we then receive a signal to do something such as a sugar craving or a desire for a coffee or a beer. If we respond to the craving, and consume something, this will bring our blood sugar back up. Caffeine, sugar and alcohol all cause the blood sugar to swing up high. This causes a high insulin release. And too much insulin can affect other hormones.


If we do not respond to the craving, then our adrenals send a signal to tell the liver to release stored glucose and bring up blood sugar. Again, it tends to be a lot of glucose since adrenaline is a powerful hormone. Blood sugar swings high and again, large amounts of insulin are released.


To keep blood sugar stable, eat small meals throughout the day with fiber and/or protein. Blood sugar stabilizing foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, cinnamon and legumes can be very helpful. Lowering stress also helps keep blood sugar stable.


These are just three simple steps. Give them a try and see the difference they can make.

Candice Csaky, INHHC

What Do Hormones Do?

Hormones are chemical messengers and without them, proper functioning in our body does not occur. They control everything from reproduction, digestion, metabolism, emotions and even hunger and satiety. When our hormones function properly, we feel great and when they do not, we can have health issues that make us miserable.


For three years, I struggled with hormone imbalances and I honestly just didn't know what was going on with me.  I was exhausted all of the time, even if I slept twelve hours at night.  I could barely make it through the day.  I relied heavily on my husband to help out more around the house and with dinners because there was nothing left in the tank by dinner time to keep going.  I had gained an incredible amount of weight in a short period of time, despite doing everything "right" or "by the book" when it came to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.  Nothing worked to maintain my weight or to release weight.  To say I was frustrated was beyond an understatement.  I became embarrassed to leave my house. I came very close to not telling friends and family when I was in town, so that I could avoid visiting them - even lifelong friends - because I couldn't have them seeing me this way.  It was one of the most difficult times of my life. It affected every aspect of my life from my relationships with friends and family to my job.  Everything!  It wasn't until I learned about adrenal fatigue and subclinical hypothyroidism that I started to finally put the pieces together. 


But just having this information didn't fix the problems.  I spent thousands of dollars are naturopaths and saw multiple functional and integrative doctors and still, nothing was helping but my stockpile of very expensive supplements was starting to take over!  The exhaustion was getting worse. The brain fog was worse. I was losing words mid sentence! I thought I was losing my mind.  I couldn't remember what day it was - on a regular basis.  It was getting scary.  That's when I took my health into my own hands.  I literally took a deep dive into hormone rebalancing. I read every book on the subject of adrenal fatigue, the HPA axis, the adrenal/thyroid connection and I took training after training in functional and integrative nutrition on the subject until I knew exactly how to support my body in getting back on track.  It only took 3 years to figure this all out and to put together a program for myself and my clients that has finally allowed me to start to see some improvements in my own thyroid numbers and my energy is actually starting to improve.  The brain fog has lifted, most days and I feel so much more like the old me than ever before.  My clients that have followed this program have had very similar results.


I've personally released 11lbs in just the last couple of weeks by implementing my own protocols (it took some major adrenal support and healing before the weight would start to budge by the way).  This isn't a "quick fix" solution.  Rebalancing hormones and supporting the adrenals to get back to being healthy can take 1-2 years depending a lot on you and how advanced your hormone imbalance may be.  That said, the improvements started to show almost immediately in terms of the brain fog and energy.  If you are ready to take back your health and rebalance your hormones, you can start with either our free 7 Day hormone rebalancing reboot linked at the bottom of this article or you can grab our totally done for you 6 Week Healthy Hormone Program that will teach you everything you need to know about how to reset your hormones and get your body back on track.  You can learn more about the 6 Week Healthy Hormone program here. 


So let's dive in and take a look at a few key hormones systems and you will get the picture as to just how important they are.

Hypothalamus: It signals the production of other hormones and in doing so, helps regulate things like hunger, moods, sleep, body temperature and sex drive.

Thymus: It produces the hormone thymosin, which help regulate the immune system. The thymus shrinks as we age but scientists are not sure if it is supposed to, which means that, perhaps, good nutrition could help maintain immune function as we age.

Pancreas: Insulin produced in the pancreas is a key hormone and its sole function is to help blood sugar get into the cells so we have the energy we need for our cells to function. However, too much insulin has been implicated in many health issues.

Thyroid:  Hormones produced by our thyroid are associated with metabolism and heart rate. If you have trouble losing weight – your thyroid may not be functioning optimally.

Adrenals: There are many hormones produced by the adrenal glands but their main function is to help us cope with stress, both physical and mental. Because of this, the adrenals rule the roost in the body. This is because protecting us from danger is considered to be one of the most significant systems in the body and because of that, when we are stressed, the adrenals can cause all kinds of havoc with other systems.

Pituitary: This is a master endocrine gland that produces hormones that tell other glands and organs to produce more hormones. However, hormones from the adrenals like cortisol or insulin from the pancreas can exert pressure on the pituitary and interfere with other hormones relationships where the pituitary is involved.


Of course, the hormones that often concern most people are the reproductive hormones.


In women, the ovaries produce estrogen, progesterone and small amounts of testosterone before menopause. After menopause, it is the adrenals that produce these hormones to keep women healthy.


For men, the testes produce testosterone and small amounts of estrogen and progesterone.


These are just a few hormonal relationships – it really is complex and often hormone problems are a result of several hormones exerting influence in a way that causes more than one issue. Food and lifestyle can help immensely to feed the various body parts so they work in a more balanced way. This is an area that I am passionate about helping my clients with.  If hormone imbalances are an area you are struggling with, you can book your free Discovery Session with me to find out if our Hormone Rebalancing Program is a good fit for you so that you can get your hormones back on track. 


Balanced hormones are the key to a having a body in balance. Even small imbalances can cause an issue. Getting a proper diagnosis is key and from there decisions can be made to help correct the issues.


Feeling like you could use a hormone reset?  Follow this link to our home page and sign up for our FREE 7 Day Healthy Hormone Reboot.


This is an incredible 7 Day healthy hormone reset that will help you to get started on the path to healthy hormones! 

Candice Csaky, INHHC

Benefits of Nutritional Cleansing

Candice Csaky, INHHC

The Symbiotic Relationship of Probiotics and Prebiotics

If you want to improve your gut health or maintain the good gut health you already have, there are two things you must do. Consume probiotic foods and prebiotics foods and they are best consumed together, creating what is now being called “symbiotic” foods. This is easier than it may sound and can actually be fun.


I personally  love this topic and information that I am about to share.  So many people that are struggling with gut health may run to a doctor or a pharmacy looking for that quick fix when they may just have everything they need in their own home.  We don't all need to be spending money on expensive probiotics and prebiotics (I will add the caveat here that with extensive gut healing work, sometimes the investment is very necessary).  Sometimes, just simply adding in the right combinations of prebiotic foods and probiotic foods is all you need for a healthy, happy, balanced gut! 


Probiotic foods contain beneficial organisms that help our gut perform its duties and have amazing health benefits for us. Prebiotics are types of fibre like inulin, resistant starch, GOS and FOS that help feed our good bacteria.


We have two types of bacteria strains in our gut: residential and transient. Residential bacteria strains are the bacteria that live in our gut naturally and we must have them re-populate to stay healthy. Transient strains of bacteria pass through us (usually within 3 days) but while they are there, they help the gut do its work and keep us healthy.


Probiotic foods contain transient bacteria.  We need prebiotics to help us feed and increase our residential bacteria.


Getting some prebiotic and probiotic foods on a regular basis is the key and that is quite easy to do. Some examples of probiotic foods are sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, kefir, miso, natto, pure apple cider vinegar (with mother), true balsamic vinegar, wine, unpasteurized beer, crème fraiche. In order to deliver beneficial organisms from fermented foods to the gut as well as the enzymes these foods also contain, do not heat past a temperature of 118 degrees F (48 C).


Prebiotic foods are Jerusalem Artichokes, chicory, garlic, onions, beans, lentil, citrus fruits, pears, apples, bananas, berries, almonds broccoli which contain soluble fibres like inulin and FOS. Resistant starch found in legumes, potatoes, wheat, corn, rye, barley, rice, spelt, kamut, and other grains and GOS is found in dairy products. The list of foods that are prebiotic is going to expand as research continues to discover more foods containing elements that are probiotic. It could turn out that all whole foods have some prebiotic benefit but we do not know that yet.


Prebiotics are not just food for good bacteria. They also enhance the absorption of calcium and magnesium and are involved in appetite regulation as well as lipid metabolism. As research continues, it is even more fascinating how these simple substances in food, and together with our good bacteria, are involved in a complex relationship to help us be healthy.


Consuming prebiotics with probiotics can be as simple as mixing banana slices into your yogurt or serving sauerkraut with a meal that contains garlic and onions. Maybe this is why we traditionally constructed meals as we did.


Check out our Fermented Green Smoothie Recipe here for a delicious dose of both prebiotic and probiotic foods in one healthy meal!  Enjoy! 


green smoothie




1. Inulin-Type Fructans: Functional Food Ingredients1,2 Marcel B. Roberfroid, 2007 American Society for Nutrition

2.Health effects of probiotics and prebiotics A literature review on human studies, Henrik Andersson, Nils-Georg Asp, Åke Bruce, Stefan Roos, Torkel Wadström, Agnes E. Wold, Food and Nutrition Research, Vol 45, 2001

3. Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics: approaches for modulating the microbial ecology of the gut 1,2M David Collins and Glenn R Gibson, 1999 American Society for Clinical Nutrition

4. Lowbush Wild Blueberries have the Potential to Modify Gut Microbiota and Xenobiotic Metabolism in the Rat Colon

5. Alison Lacombe,Robert W. Li,Dorothy Klimis-Zacas,Aleksandra S. Kristo, Shravani Tadepalli,Emily Krauss, Ryan Young,Vivian C. H. Wu mail Published: June 28, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.006749

6. A Systematic Screening of Total Antioxidants in Dietary Plants1, Bente L. Halvorsen et al, Institute for Nutrition Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo; Akershus University College, Bekkestua, Norway; †Agricultural University of Norway, Ås, Norway; and the ‡Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota

7. Current knowledge of the health benefits and disadvantages of wine consumption, John F. Tomera, Trends in Food Science & Technology – TRENDS FOOD SCI TECHNOL 01/1999; 10(4):129-138. DOI: 10.1016/S0924-2244(99)00035-7

Candice Csaky, INHHC

Coffee - Who can drink and who should avoid?

Coffee is one of those things - you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.).


Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!


There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It's a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you're used to drinking.


NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.


Let's look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.


Caffeine metabolism


Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.


About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel "wired" for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is "fast" metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.


This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much - because we’re all different!


The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body


NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.


The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.


Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):

●     Stimulates the brain

●     Boosts metabolism

●     Boosts energy and exercise performance

●     Increases your stress hormone cortisol

●     Dehydrates


So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.


Coffee and health risks


There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.


Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:

●     Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)

●     Increased sleep disruption

●     Lower risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

●     Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes

●     Lower risk of certain liver diseases

●     Lower risk of death (“all cause mortality")

●     Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease


Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).


NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.


Should you drink coffee or not?


There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.


Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:

●     People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)

●     People who often feel anxious

●     People who have trouble sleeping

●     People who are pregnant

●     Children and teens.


If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:

●     Give you the jitters?

●     Increase anxious feelings?

●     Affect your sleep?

●     Give you heart palpitations?

●     Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?

●     Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?


Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.


Recipe (Latte): Pumpkin Spice Latte


Serves 1 





3 tbsp coconut milk
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin puree

½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 cup coffee (Swiss Water decaf if decaf is preferred)




Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.


Serve & enjoy!


Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.




Candice Csaky, INHHC

Healing from Costochondritis & Tietze's Syndrome Naturally - a Multifaceted Approach

Costochondritis and Tiezte's Syndrome are essentially the same condition, with one key difference - Tiezte's presents with swelling and Costochondritis does not. 


Whether you've been recently diagnosed or you've been living with this for years, in my opinion, the path to healing from costochondritis s a multifaceted approach.  In this day and age of a "pill for every will," most people are looking for that quick fix solution so they can get on with their lives, but I am here to tell you, that simple does not exist with costochondritis.  


If you've had this for years, like I did, then you likely already know this.  I personally tried everything from anti-inflammatory diets, acupuncture, to 6 different physiotherapists (physical therapists for my American friends), 3 different chiropractors, Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors, osteopaths, massage therapy and at one point, when I was in more pain then I could handle, I even tried the pharmaceuticals (gabapentin and tramadol - neither of which did anything to touch the pain I had).  


Okay, so here is what I believe, as someone who lived with severe and acute costochondritis for 8.5 years before I found my healing path. These are some (if not ALL) of the most important systems to implement to support healing in the body, literally from any condition, but specifically costochondritis.


1) Mindset/Mindfulness


You must have a mindset that shifts from "I am in so much pain" to "I am healing". You must believe it is possible. If you use costochondritis as a "crutch", if it protects you in life from any fears that you may have, then this is deeper work that is required to identify and break through this. This is the NUMBER ONE reason that I see people staying stuck in their illness. Who would you be without costochondritis? What would other's expect of you? What additional responsibilities might you have? What are you afraid of achieving or doing that having this condition protects you from? Without busting through these thought patterns, people are content to stay where they are. It's not often a conscious decision so I invite people to sit with this.


2) Stress 

Stress is similar to mindset here as our mindset can really determine how we handle stress.  Stress is the number one factor in people returning to balance and can interfere with healing in the body more than most people know.  Adding stress management tools into your life will go a long way to supporting balance and optimal health. This could include deep breathing techniques, meditation and gentle, restorative yoga. It could also include grounding and getting out in nature, spending time by the ocean (if you live near one) or in the forest. The fresh air, sounds of the ocean or stillness and life in the forest are all healing and provide excellent benefits to our body. Many of us do not slow down enough any more and now is a time to make time for this. 


3) Nutrition 


Most holistic nutritionists would place nutrition in the number one spot here - but I don't. While it is a huge tool in promoting healing in the body, without healthy thought patterns and belief that you can heal, or without stress management, all the broccoli and greens in the world cannot protect the adrenals or the protect the body from the damaging affects of stress. We just get our nutrition right for our body and then the cells can do what they need to do. If there is gut damage and inflammation in the body, then we must work on gut healing so that nutrient absorption can be optimal. If it's not, all the supplements and greens in the world are not necessarily going to make a huge difference because the body can't absorb the nutrition from them. So healing the gut can be included in this for some people. People may also have leaky gut - which is allowing toxins, food proteins and waste to get into the blood stream which can then start an auto-immune response, including inflammation in the body - again - gut healing work. This brings me to Triggers.


3) Triggers


Eliminating triggers - this could be food sensitivities, scents and smells that you are sensitive to or anything else that can trigger a reaction or a flare up - identifying and eliminating these is huge.


4) Identify the Mechanism of Cause


This will not be the same for all people with costochondritis but it will help you to identify what healing path to take.  Many people with costochondritis will tell you that it just came on out of the blue. There was no injury or known cause.  They just woke up with this excruciating pain one day.  Many others end up in the ER believing they are having a heart attack because of the symptoms only to be diagnosed with costochondritis.  Many have used tools like my friend Steve's August "Backpod" to unlock the rib hinges and promote healing, and in some it works great while in others, it doesn't make a difference.  If the cause is injury related, then the body work is going to be even more important for you.  However, in many people, the cause is related to a very stealthy virus - the research is still new in this area, but Epstein Barr Virus is being implicated in connective tissue disease and neurological disease - as well as autoimmune and thyroid disease.  While you may not have EBV, I high recommend getting tested to see if you have an active case.  If you do have an active case, then we can absolutely talk about lowering your viral load naturally and what you can do about that! 


Another known cause or perhaps precursor to costochondritis is autoimmune disease.  As many as 70% of fibromyalgia patients will eventually end up with costochondritis.  If this is you, then gut healing work is on the menu!  Remember were I mentioned above about gut inflammation and toxins getting into the blood stream that can create an autoimmune attack or "flare".  


I personally have scoliosis and hyperflex mobility - unfortunately, those are necessarily things that are so easy to change as they are something that people are often born with or develop as they grow.  They are, however, things that put the risk of costochondritis at much higher risk.  So implementing the other strategies is going to be super important for people like me.  


4) Body Work


This one is very specific to costochondritis - you MUST find a hands on practitioner that knows and understands costochondritis or, at the very least use tools like the backpod, a foam roller and learn the exercises and stretches that can support you in healing from this. It's no surprise that people with costochondritis also tend to be people who are under high levels of stress, spend a lot of time on the computer, smart phones or other devices that allow their posture to keep them in a hunched forward position for many hours during the day. If you work in an office, a standing desk might be a good fit for you.  It took me years to find a physical therapist that could help and even working with  him two days a week for 4 months, I was not seeing any improvement.  I was so close to giving up on him helping me when I made a change - I implemented all of the steps above at the same time - and that is when my haling began.  


For the previous 8.5 years before I healed, I had tried everything - but not all at the same time!  That's the key difference here.  I had to implement everything together.  I took all the tools I knew I had as a holistic health practitioner, the tools I use when working with my clients, and I treated myself as though I was my own client.  I went to work on all of these areas in my life.  I implemented a nutritional cleanse to address inflammation and toxins through nutrition, while working on my mindset.  I added in a regular routine of daily meditation and shifted my mindset from "I am in so much pain," to "I am healing."  And while doing all of these things, I continued with my physical therapy and active release technique, and within 4 days, I had a major shift.  It would take another 2-3 months before I started to do the things I had given up because of the "pain" that usually would come with them.  I just kept waiting for it to come back, but it never really did.  


I am not 3.5 years past the last time I had a flare up and I still implement these practices, because I know if I don't make these life long habits, that costochondritis could come back.  


If you are looking for support in healing from Costochondritis, please feel free to reach out to Candice.  She is an Integrative Holistic Nutritionist and passionate about supporting her clients in returning to balance. 

Candice Csaky, INHHC

Reduce Inflammation With These Key Foods


Inflammation. It’s not just for health headlines.


It’s a fact.


Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that it can be pretty bad for our health; this is especially true when it's chronic (i.e. lasts a long time).


Inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and diabetes, just to name a few.


But, instead of writing all about what it is, how it's measured, and where it comes from; why don't I focus on some foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are proven to help reduce it?


Here are my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations:


Anti-inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, Pineapple and Cherries


Why save the best for last? Perhaps the most amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods are a sweet favourite of yours?


Berries, grapes, pineapple and cherries are packed with fiber, and antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese).


Oh, and did I forget to mention their phytochemicals (phyto=plant)? Yes, many antioxidants such as "anthocyanins," "resveratrol" and "bromelain"  are found in these delicious fruits.


In fact, berries, grapes, pineapple and cherries may be the best dietary sources of these amazingly healthy compounds.


Anti-inflammatory Food #2: Broccoli and Peppers


Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant "sulforaphane." This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.


Bell peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of the antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin.


Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colours.  Peppers that are any other colour are not fully ripe and won't have the same anti-inflammatory effect.


I pack these two super-healthy vegetables together in this week's recipe (see below). 


Anti-inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats (avocado, olive oil, fatty fish)


Fat can be terribly inflammatory (hello: "trans" fats), neutral (hello: saturated fats), or anti-inflammatory (hello: "omega-3s), this is why choosing the right fats is so important for your health.


The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unsaturated ones, including omega-3s. These are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.


Opt for fresh avocados, extra virgin olive oil, small fish (e.g. sardines and mackerel), and wild fish (e.g. salmon). Oh and don't forget the omega-3 seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.


Anti-inflammatory Food #4: Green Tea


Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.


EGCG is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer's.


Drinking steeped green tea is great, but have you tried matcha green tea? It's thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea.


Anti-inflammatory Food #5 - Turmeric


Would a list of anti-inflammatory foods be complete without the amazing spice turmeric? 


Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin. This compound has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.   

The trick with Turmeric and your body's ability to absorb the anti-inflammatory curcumin, is Pepper.  One problem with curcumin is its low levels of bioavailability. Most of the curcumin that is ingested gets metabolized before it can get absorbed. Piperine is said to help make curcumin more bioavailable and therefore more anti-inflammatory than if you take it without pepper.  


I've added it to the broccoli and pepper recipe below for a 1-2-3 punch, to kick that inflammation.


Anti-inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate


Ok, ok. This *may* be slightly more decadent than my #1 pick of berries, grapes, and cherries.


Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants (namely "flavonols"). These reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy. They've even been shown to prevent "neuro-inflammation" (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory, and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.


Make sure you avoid the sugary “candy bars.” You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory!




There are just so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose. They range from colourful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.


You have so many reasons to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily dose of "anti-inflammation."



(Broccoli, Pepper, Turmeric): Anti-inflammatory Quinoa




Serves 2


¾ cup dry quinoa (pre-rinsed)

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 medium onion diced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 dash salt

½ tbsp turmeric

1 dash black pepper

2 cups broccoli, chopped


In a saucepan place 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the quinoa and simmer until the water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes).


Melt coconut oil in a skillet. Add diced onions, turmeric, pepper and salt, and lightly sauté for a few minutes.


Add broccoli and lightly sauté for 5-6 minutes, until it becomes softened.


Add the cooked quinoa and stir everything together.


Serve & enjoy!


Tip: Add some cayenne pepper or curry spice for an extra spicy kick.










Candice Csaky, INHHC

How to Improve Gut Health

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”


And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we're not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We're talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.


There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It's here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We're just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of "the gut-brain axis"). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health.


So, let's talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I'll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.


Our gut’s role in our overall health


Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.


This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.


For one thing, our guts can "leak." Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it's not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can "leak." When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don't seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.


FUN FACT: About 70%-80% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.


A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.


The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.


So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!


How to improve gut health


There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the big contributors to an unhealthy gut and some of these main contributors are the foods that feed your not so friendly gut bacteria, like processed refined sugars, processed foods and alcohol. Try eliminating these for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.


Many holistic health practitioners recommend eliminating dairy and grains from the diet to promote gut healing, but dairy and grains both contain very beneficial prebiotics that feed your healthy residential gut bacteria so unless there is a known sensitivity or allergy, I don't recommend eliminating these foods.  If there is a known sensitivity or allergy, then removing these while gut healing work is being done can be beneficial while working towards reintroducing these in the future. 


By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colourful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.


The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.


Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.


And don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stress management, time outdoors in nature and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.




The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.


The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.


Recipe (Probiotic-rich): Fermented Carrots



Serves 12


1 L warm water
4 tsp salt
4 carrots, medium, peeled, sliced

1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)




Make a brine by dissolving the salt in water.


Place carrots into a clean canning jar, packing them in tight. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of head space at the top.


Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don't float (you can use a "fermenting weight").


Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop. Feel free to open and taste.


Serve & enjoy!


Tip: Use this as a side dish, or even a snack.




Candice Csaky, INHHC

10 Toxic Chemicals In Your Mascara

I started reading and learning about toxic ingredients in my personal use products so many years ago now, I don’t even remember, but it was sometime around when I became a mother and my super strong momma bear senses were turned on.  I instinctively knew that avoiding toxic chemicals on my babies just made sense to me, but what I didn’t know was where all these toxins and chemicals were hiding or how to avoid them, beyond shopping for products that I thought were cleaner, like Aveeno and Burt’s Bees (those are just two that come to mind).


My babies are now 24, 14 and 10 (this Saturday)!  I don’t know how they grew up so fast but I blinked and sure enough, my 14 year old is now taller than I am!  I digress…but the point is, I’ve always shopped for what I thought were cleaner products since I first became a mother and as my children grew, my knowledge and awareness grew.  Having already raised one teenage daughter, with a second entering that realm soon, and a teenage son who is now getting into hair products, skin care and deodorant, I know it’s up to me to educate them and to protect them. 


So today, we are diving into mascara!  Mascara is literally the second most used cosmetic in the United States and Canada with 47% of Canadian women using mascara (lipstick is # 1 and we will be diving into that one soon – so stay tuned)!




So while I had been using safer, cleaner products for years, mascara was one of those products I just hadn’t even considered changing!  I literally had no idea how toxic the ingredients in mascara were until I learned about a company that was working on creating a safer mascara for their customers, and they had been working on this product for 3 years!!!  They wanted both safety and performance to be the best, and apparently it just wasn’t that easy to accomplish without these regularly used toxins and now I know why!  (I’ll let you know about that company at the bottom of this post, so keep reading!)


As the second most popular beauty staple in North American households, commercial mascara brands often contain ingredients that are inexpensive to obtain and may be harmful to your health. The hazardous chemicals can be found in many of the top brands such as Cover Girl, Maybelline New York, Mac, and even Neutrogena, among many others. These toxic ingredients can get into your bloodstream through and can be very harmful to your health.


Since the beauty care and personal use industry is largely unregulated (The United States has only banned 30 known toxins from this industry since 1938, which Canada has done a bit better by banning close to 600 ingredients, they still have a long way to go to creating the safety standards that the European Union has in place, with more than 1,400 banned ingredients), nasty chemicals make it into those slick black tubes, boasting claims of Kim Kardashian lashes and formulas that won’t smudge even if you find yourself face-to-face with a power washer.


Makes you wonder what is in the eye makeup remover needed to dissolve said mascara…


So to help keep you safer and protected from the nasty ingredients used in many commercial brands, I’ve compiled a list of 12 chemicals found in mascaras that aren’t doing you or your body any favours.


1. Parabens such as Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, and Propylparaben
Parabens are used as preservatives. This means that they are added to makeup to stop the growth of microbes, fungi and bacteria in order to extend shelf life. These chemicals are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the tiny pores around your eyes.


Parabens have been linked to increases in breast cancer by mimicking estrogen and causing endocrine disruption. They have also been linked to reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, and skin irritation.  We also know now that 95% of breast cancer tumours contain parabens.  This is definitely one of those ingredients you want to avoid in all of your products.  (fyi – parabens are on the never list of ingredients of my favourite beauty product company!)


2. Phthalates
Phthalates are a chemical found in literally hundreds of beauty products, including mascara. Phthalates are an anti-androgen chemical, which means that they are a hormone disrupting chemical. In studies, phthalate exposure in young girls has been shown to cause early puberty.  Phthalates have also been shown to cause birth defects and deformities.

They can also damage the liver, lungs and kidneys whilst also interfering with the reproductive system. Whether you’re already pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or you are the mom of a young girl going through puberty, it’s definitely a good idea to steer clear of phthalates.  


3. Thimerosal
I have to say, this was one of the MOST shocking ingredients that I found in mascara. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that there are several brands that contain Thimerosal in their mascara.  Thimerosal is a mercury-based element used as a preservative and antiseptic.  It has been banned from most vaccines (with the exception of flu vaccines) because it is known to cause damage to brain function. In low doses, Thimerosal is still toxic as it is bio-accumulative – in other words, the body stores this metal.  Over time, repeated exposures and absorptions of this dangerous toxin can become a real health hazard.  The FDA has literally banned Thimerosal from all cosmetic products – EXCEPT those products used around the eyes. This may be due to the fact that produces used around the eyes must be bacteria-free.  That said, cleaner, safer products that do not use Thimerosal in their mascara have found other, safer, preservatives that are far less dangers. 


The EWG put it like this:


“According to FDA, ‘Mercury compounds are readily absorbed through the skin on topical application and tend to accumulate in the body. They may cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, or neurotoxic manifestations.’ Mercury is considered particularly toxic to the developing brain during pregnancy, infancy and childhood. FDA has banned the use of mercury compounds in all cosmetics except those used around the eyes, where levels are limited to 65 parts per million (ppm).”


That makes sense, because, you know, who cares about their eyes? Hmm….


4. Synthetic Dyes
Synthetic dyes are often used as a colorant to achieve the rich dark color that mascara offers. These are labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number (e.g. FD&C Red No. 6, D&C Green No. 6).

These are believed to be toxic and carcinogenic.


5. Coal Tar Dyes
Coal Tar is a thick liquid or semi-solid obtained as a by-product in the destructive distillation ofbituminous coal. These dyes are also used as a colorant in mascara and contain heavy metals. To avoid coal tar dyes, look for FD & C Blue no. 1 on the label. Also, you may find them listed as a five digit number that is preceded by a Cl. (includes D&C Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 33, etc.) They may also be labeled as Aminphenol, Diaminodenzene or Phenylenediamine.


Despite the fact that they have been proven carcinogenic, the 1938 US Act includes a specific exemption for them. Risks associated with coal tar dyes include severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, lack of concentration and nervousness. They are also link to an increased risk of Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma.


Coal Tar dye has been banned or found unsafe for use in cosmetics in Canada.


6. Aluminum Powder
A metallic substance used as a cosmetic colorant. Rated as a high concern by the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for being a neurotoxin. Long term exposure of aluminum powder can impair the body’s ability to excrete mercury. This can result in making any amount of mercury that is in the body even more toxic. So let’s see, companies are using both Aluminum Powder and Thimersal in their mascara.  Yikes!


7. Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate)
Found in many brands of mascara, this ingredient is a high concern by the EWG because it can cause biochemical or cellular level changes. Side effects include developmental and reproductive toxicity, and organ system toxicity. Acetate has been prohibited and restricted in Canadian and German cosmetics. Retinyl Acetate, also known as Retinyl A, is one of the banned ingredients in the European Union. Retinal A is a synthetic vitamin A ingredient found in many brands of mascara and anti-aging eye creams.  One or more animal studies show tumor formation at very low doses.


8. Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is used in mascara as a preservative and is a known carcinogen.


Even absent as an ingredient it can be present from the combination of chemicals such Bronopol and Quaternium-15 which work together to form formaldehyde releasing preservatives.


In addition to being a known carcinogen, formaldehyde is a skin irritant and suspected to increase liver toxicity. It also can cause severe allergic rashes (think burning sensation and visible blistering) which becomes more likely with long term exposure.


It’s restricted for use in cosmetics in Canada and is suspected as an environmental toxin by Health Canada as well. 


9. Imidazolidinyl Urea
Imidazolidinyl Urea is used as an antimicrobial preservative, but it also acts as a formaldehyde releaser.


“Imidazolidinyl urea is an antimicrobial preservative that works by forming formaldehyde in cosmetic products. People exposed to such formaldehyde-releasing ingredients may develop a formaldehyde allergy or an allergy to the ingredient itself. In the U.S. approximately 20% of cosmetics and personal care products contain a formaldehyde-releaser and the frequency of contact allergy to these ingredients is much higher among Americans compared to studies in Europe.”  - EWG


It has been shown to trigger an immune system response that can include itching, burning, hives, and blistering of skin, in addition to possible severe respiratory reaction. It has also been suspected to cause gastrointestinal and liver toxicity issues.


10. Fragrance
You might not think that fragrance would have a huge effect on the toxicity of a mascara, but it really does. Most beauty products contain fragrance as the smell of chemicals isn't really very pleasant, but hundreds of thousands of different chemicals could be added to mascara in order to give it a distinctive scent. In the beauty care industry, companies essentially have the right to put any toxic chemicals together to create a fragrance that can be added to their products and they do NOT have to disclose these ingredients to you.  Many of these fragrances contain over 100 ingredients, which are often carcinogenic and/or hormone disrupting chemicals but the FDA has given them proprietorship over this ingredient.  So they never have to release these ingredients to you! Shocking, right?  One of my favourite documentaries on this topic is the movie Stink


As for mascara, The Environmental Working Group rates fragrances in mascara at an 8 out of 10, 10 being the most dangerous for your health. Some chemicals used to create certain fragrances have a vast range of side effects, including rashes, mood issues, headaches and hormonal imbalances.  


11. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
SLS is used in everything from mascara to toothpaste and shampoo and everything in between.


SLS is a really rather nasty skin irritant and it's even used to irritate skin in tests, causing dryness and roughness, in order to test the effectiveness of other chemicals that heal the skin. There's also increasingly strong evidence to show that repeated SLS exposure is linked to an increased risk of developing cancer, because it reacts with other minerals within your body to produce carcinogenic toxins and nitrates.


Unfortunately, even some well known “safer” and high end beauty brands use these chemicals - and hundreds and sometimes thousands more.


Be ruthless in your choices for safer beauty and remember, you never have to sacrifice your health for the sake of looking beautiful!  


One of  the best pieces of advice I can give you going forward is to shop safer.  Get an app.
It can take hours to read labels, compare products and find safe brands. Download an app like Good Guide, Think Dirty or the Environmental Working Group’s Healthy Living.  These are all great resources that can be used right from your smart phone while shopping to help you find safer brands.


Looking to transition your mascara and other beauty products to a cleaner version? I chose this specific company (remember the one that took 3 years to formulate their mascara with safer, cleaner ingredients that really performs) because they have a Never List of ingredients that Exceeds the European Standards list with over 1,500 banned ingredients.  They are also EWG Verified (you can check all their products out on the EWG App and they have excellent ratings)!  You can start shopping here for safer mascara right now!  I also have a FB group set up where you can join in and learn more.  You can join Meet Beautycounter here


(Resources: EWG, SkinDeep, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, FDA.GOV, )