Health Tips for Toronto residents

(My professional expertise is in mental health--the following tips come from reading and personal experience.)

Try mixing the butter with 1 cup of sunflower oil in a blender. It tastes the same (so long as you use a
 refined oil such as you would get at the supermarket rather than the health food store), spreads better, and cuts down the saturated fat and cholesterol. For garlic butter pulverize a clove before adding the other ingredients. No trans fat that way. Or spread a ripe avocado instead of butter. It's super healthy, and tastes great with tomato, ham, chopped up olive and/or green onion, egg, banana or shrimp.

Spinach is great creamed, or if it's not too coarse, mixed in a salad with lettuce or spring mix. An omelette made with spinach and a little basil is also good. But if your family is still unenthused, try baking your spinach in phyllo pastry. You get it frozen at the supermarket.  You lay out two sheets of pastry, fold in half, and wrap/roll up a third of a box of frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed out a bit--add the juice to the soup or stew) and a little low fat mozzarella or other mild cheese in it. Bake for about half an hour at 325.

Want the benefits of Soy but hate tofu? Zogolo's makes a variety of great frozen pretend meat and chicken patties, which you find in supermarkets and fry in canola or olive oil. (They're mild in flavour, though--hold the bread. Avoid their wieners--good flavour, but the texture is like sawdust.)

Tired of hot, greasy sunscreens with a mildly unpleasant odour? I recently found a good one. It's called ANTHELIOS"L". It's less greasy, and though it has a perfume, it's a mild and pleasant one. It's SPF 60, so you don't have to put it on thick. The waterproof one is even less greasy, and has no perfume, so it doesn't attract mosquitoes. It's SPF 45. I found it at Shoppers Drug Mart and dermatologists' offices.

If you've been the orthotics route and all you got was sore feet--try really good shoes such as you will find  at the Birkenstock store on Alcorn street at the Summerhill subway station. Peter, who runs the store, makes arch supports (as well as orthotics), modifies shoes and sandals, and is informative and endlessly patient. Before trying orthotics for fallen arches, you might try a five-minute foot exercise a physiatrist (rehab specialist) or physiotherapist can give you. Also, the Foot Clinic at Women's College Hospital is great, and it's covered by OHIP except for materials.

If you have allergies, and find your pillow won't mold to your head because you had to put a plastic cover on it, try a buckwheat pillow. It is heavy enough to mold despite the plastic--and, we have found, very comfortable. Also, did you know that raw cotton, found in some upholstery, cushions and futons, is a common allergen? Likewise kapok. Also, if you don't mind vinyl pillow covers, you can get two for a dollar at EFAD's in Shoppers World--just buy them by the box and chuck them out when you change the bed linen.


In case you haven't heard, we're all supposed to take 1,000 I.U. of Vitamin D a day--even in Spring and Summer if we wear sunscreen like we're supposed to. I kept getting colds all winter till I started taking 2,000 I.U. a day. Haven't had a cold since (3 or 4 years.) Note that tests done on students at the University of Toronto showed that virtually all non-whites were deficient in Vitamin D, and you need more as you get older. Then there's the calcium. If calcium carbonate upsets your stomach (bloating etc.), take calcium citrate or calcium lactate, which don't have that effect. Some authorities think 500 mg is too much to take at once, so again calcium citrate tablets are better. Make sure you have enough magnesium in your diet to balance the calcium (half the amount; more is OK. Magnesium supplements such as epsom salts can cause diaharrea, so get it in food if you can).


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Copyright 2000 Beth Mares


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