The Benefits of Dark Leafy Greens

Benefits of Dark Leafy Greens 

(with Kale & Sweet Potato Powerbowl recipe)


Dark leafy greens are the superstars of phytonutrients and we want to share some great benefits of including them in your everyday meals! One of our favourite dark leafy greens is kale because it is nutrient dense and contains a complex of many vitamins and minerals. Kale is a rich antioxidant due to its dark pigment which is why we call it a phytonutrient. The antioxidants in kale help protect our bodies against oxidative damage that we come into contact with through free radicals. Oxidative damage is one of the leading factors that causes aging and many diseases. That is why it is so important to consume many antioxidants and richly pigmented phytonutrients!


Kale can be cooked, made into chips for a snack, or used for nutritious meals as a side or main component of the dish. An easy way to incorporate kale into your day is through this power bowl with sweet potatoes and fresh garlic dressing.


Recipe: Servings 5-6


  • Kale (approx. 7 cups chopped)
  • 2-3 Small sweet potatoes (about 4 cups)
  • Spices for sweet potatoes: 1tbsp paprika, 1tsp turmeric, 1tsp garlic powder, sprinkle of nutritional yeast, ¼ tsp salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for kale



  • 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 cup unsalted Cashews

Topping Ideas: (optional)

  • ¼ cup Dried cranberries
  • Optional: roasted chickpeas, grilled chicken or protein of choice, hemp hearts



  1. Preheat your oven to 375 F
  2. While oven preheats, soak cashews in a bowl for at least 20 minutes and chop up sweet potatoes into small sections or cubes (about 1 inch)
  3. Pour olive oil over sweet potatoes and toss with all spices
  4. Once the oven is ready, place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet on one side and add the fresh garlic on the other side. Cook for 15 minutes and remove the garlic, then keep cooking the sweet potatoes for 20-23 minutes or until the sweet potato is fully cooked and starting to get crisp on the outer edges.
  5. While the sweet potato is in the oven, it is best to prepare the dressing for the kale. Drain the cashews and place in a food processor or blender. Add in all other ingredients for the dressing and blend until smooth or desired consistency.
  6. Put the kale pieces into a large bowl and use the 1 tbsp of olive oil to massage into the kale leaves. You can do this for 5-10 minutes. Then add the dressing once that step is complete.
  7. Once the sweet potato is done cooking, place it in the bowl with the kale and toss together.


The Importance of Progesterone: All About Balance

Progesterone is well-known for its role in regular menstrual periods and healthy pregnancies.

Progesterone itself is a remarkable hormone which acts on your brain, breast, bone, ovaries, and uterine tissue. It’s not a coincidence that estrogen acts on these same tissues. Progesterone is the brake to estrogen’s gas pedal, and the balance of these hormones is critical for optimum function and wellness.

But did you know that progesterone helps with sleep, mood, irregular or heavy periods, and can help prevent endometrial cancer? In addition, it helps to build bone and has positive cardiovascular effects. Here are a few ways studies have shown that progesterone can promote health and wellness:

  • Prevents Endometrial Cancer and Lightens Menstrual Flow: Progesterone has been key in opposing estrogen to prevent endometrial hyperplasia (overgrowth) and prevent endometrial cancer. Progesterone can lighten menstrual periods by balancing estrogen’s stimulating actions on the uterine lining. It is given to women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) who have irregular and skipped periods to shed the thickened lining of the uterus. Progesterone-containing IUDs have become a popular solution to managing heavy periods in perimenopausal women along with cyclical or continuous oral progesterone supplementation.


  • Promotes Restful Sleep: Progesterone has a calming effect on our brain. Progesterone is rapidly converted in the brain into allopregnanolone which acts through the GABAA receptors to calm anxiety and promote sleep (Friess et al., 1997). A good example of this is progesterone’s overall mellowing of mood as we see in the third trimester of pregnancy. Sleep disruption is found in 31% of early perimenopausal women and increases to 38% by late perimenopause (Dennerstein et al., 2000). Randomized double blind crossover trials in men (Friess et al., 1997) and menopausal women (Schussler et al., 2008) clearly document significant increases in early rapid eye movement sleep, decreased sleep interruption, and no changes in morning neurocognitive function (Schussler et al., 2008).


  • Has Protective Effects on Bone: Progesterone promotes bone forming activity by binding to osteoblasts (cells that secrete the matrix for bone formation). Estrogen and progesterone balance bone remodeling so that estrogen reduces bone resorption while progesterone stimulates bone formation (Prior, 1990; Seifert-Klauss and Prior, 2010).


  • Reduces Breast Tenderness: Breast tenderness (or mastalgia) is a concern for 33% of early perimenopausal women (Dennerstein et al., 2000). Clinical evidence shows breast tenderness occurs when estrogen (E2) levels exceed the normal midcycle peak. Progesterone is a well-known and effective therapy for breast tenderness occurring, as it commonly does, premenstrually (Hale et al., 2003). Progesterone can also help significant symptomatic improvement of breast tenderness in perimenopausal women (Dennerstein et al., 1985).


  • Can Treat Hot Flushes and Night Sweats: In those women who cannot take estrogen, oral micronized progesterone has recently been shown to be an effective therapy for postmenopausal hot flushes and night sweats (Hitchcock, 2012).


  • Energy Booster: Progesterone is known to increase the thyroid hormone, T4, which increases your body temperature at a calorie requirement of 300 kcal/d (Barr et al., 1995). This is why your temperature increases after ovulation, from increased production of progesterone. Rationale follows that progesterone supplementation may help with weight stabilization in the perimenopausal period along with a minimum of 30 minutes of vigorous activity and a proper nutritious diet (which is always recommended).


  • Has Anti-Androgen Effects: Progesterone is a natural blocker of 5 alpha reductase and reduces androgens (male hormones). It protects the hair follicle from the effects of testosterone. It is the reason for more hair growth in women during pregnancy. In addition to hair benefits, it can also combat acne. We see this when certain progesterone/progestin-containing birth control pills are recommended for acne patients.


  • Has a Positive Effect on the Cardiovascular System: Estrogen is known for stimulating the production of HDL cholesterol which is the good cholesterol in our body. Natural progesterone, not progestins, have been found to support and not negate the positive effects of estrogen on HDL.


Studies have shown progesterone has cardiovascular safety in terms of endothelial function, weight, blood pressure, waist circumference, inflammation, coagulation, and cholesterol or lipid profile (Prior, 2014).

In conclusion, I hope you will agree that progesterone itself is a remarkable hormone. It is important to remember that a healthy balance of all hormones and nutrients, as well as a healthy lifestyle, contribute to achieving the best outcome.


Julie Thomson, MD, MSc, CCFP

Papillon Medical Dermatology Laser Centre




Hitchcock CL, Prior JC (2012) Oral Micronized Progesterone for Vasomotor Symptoms in Healthy Postmenopausal Women – a placebo-controlled randomized trial. Menopause 19: 886-893.

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2013 Aug;79(2):282-7. doi: 10.1111/cen.12128. Epub 2013 May 6. Progesterone therapy increases free thyroxine levels–data from a randomized placebo-controlled 12-week hot flush trial.

Prog Neurobiol. 2014 Feb;113:6-39. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2013.09.004. Epub 2013 Oct 27.Revisiting the roles of progesterone and allopregnanolone in the nervous system: resurgence of the progesterone receptors.

Jerilynn C. Prior​, 1 , 2 , 3 , * ​Thomas G. Elliott​, 1 , 2 ​Eric Norman​, 1 ​Vesna Stajic​, 1 and ​Christine L. Hitchcock​ Progesterone Therapy, Endothelial Function and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A 3-Month Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial in Healthy Early Postmenopausal Women 1​PLoS One​. 2014; 9(1): e84698.

J.C. Prior​, Progesterone for Symptomatic Perimenopause Treatment – Progesterone politics, physiology, and potential for perimenopause​Facts Views Vis Obgyn​. 2011; 3(2): 109–120.

Gaining Gratitude for Food

We cultivate many different relationships in our lifetime, and it’s no doubt that they can take a lot of work. We take time to keep them strong and nurture them; we experience some highs and lows. It takes practice and patience to keep relationships healthy, and our relationship with food is no different! 

One of the most positive things I’ve done is learn to practice food-based gratitude, and it’s something I want to share with all of you. We live in a world with a fast-paced food industry and we receive a lot of stimulus from our devices, social media, and other people. It’s easy to fall into the habit of eating mindlessly when there are so many distractions, so today I’m going to share some tips and practices to help you gain more gratitude for your food and create a healthy relationship with it. 

Tip #1 
Keep a 3-Minute Journal of Gratitude

Anyone can find three minutes in their day to do this, and it’s a simple step that can start the spread of more positivity in your life, including your relationship with food. It doesn’t matter where or how you incorporate this practice; you can use the note app on your phone, a journal – whatever is easy and accessible! 

For each day, write “I am grateful to eat ________, because it _______.”

An example could be: “I am grateful to eat an avocado today, because it will help nourish my body and mind.” The great thing about this practice is that there’s no right or wrong thing to say; your journal entry is based solely on what you choose to have gratitude for that day. If you find this hard to do, it may be that you need to learn more about your food! Which leads me into the next practice…

Tip #2
Discover an interesting fact about your food

A simple way to gain gratitude for your food is to learn more about it! I find that when I discover interesting facts about what I’m about to eat, I’m more appreciative of its benefits, and in turn want to nourish my body with more goodness.

Start by choosing one healthy food per week and take a few minutes to learn about it. Look at articles, watch a short video, or listen to an expert (there are some great food-based podcasts you can tune into while you putter around the house). Then, think about ways you can incorporate this food into your regular diet. Seek out a new recipe or memorize a fun fact, whatever gets you excited to eat!

Tip #3
Talk to a local farmer or food producer.

For most of us, the norm is to go to the grocery store, pick up some items, then go home to cook and eat them. Hop on a search engine and seek out the local farms and food makers around you. It’s so interesting to learn about how your food makes it to your table and all the care put into it before it gets there.

Reach out and ask questions; there are always people with great stories to share! Let them tell you about the steps they take in order to provide you with something delicious. This isn’t just a great way to practice gratitude, it also gives you a sense of community and appreciation for those that cultivate food. 

Support your local farmers and food makers! 

Tip #4
Learn to grow food.

If you want to get even more hands on with the food process, plant your own garden! If you’re pressed for space, even a single plant can be a great way to develop an appreciation for your food and where it comes from. Options are endless! If you don’t know where to start, don’t be afraid to speak with your local plant stores/experts.

Taking the time to care for something that your body will later consume is an excellent and practical way to practice gratitude. It’s a wonderful cycle to be a part of! 

Tip #5
Make one recipe a week that you are really excited about. 

It doesn’t need to be a challenging recipe but choose something you really want to make. Maybe there’s an ingredient you’re excited about, or just something tasty and nourishing. Turn on some of your favorite music or your favorite cooking show and have some fun! Taking some time every week to cook or make food mindfully is a great practice to incorporate in your routine.

I want to share a quick and healthy recipe that I love to make at home. If you decide to give it a try, practice practicing gratitude by finding something to be thankful for about each ingredient! 

Quick & Nourishing Chickpea Salad

– 1 can of chickpeas (I use organic)
– 1 cucumber, cubed
– 1 sweet pepper, cubed (orange or yellow)
– 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
– ¼ cup of dill
– ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

– ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
– Sprinkle of feta cheese

Start by rinsing and draining your chickpeas. In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, cucumber, pepper, tomatoes, and dill. If you want the optional ingredients, add them in with the other vegetables. Next, pour the lemon juice and olive oil over top and mix to combine all ingredients. Finish with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Enjoy! 

In health,

CHN, Papillon Medical

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Let’s talk about skin cancer. It can be a scary topic to discuss, and sometimes it is easier to ignore the subject than to face the truth.

Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common forms of skin cancer in Canada.  Fortunately, this type of skin cancer is the least dangerous, but that does not mean you can simply ignore it.  BCCs must be treated or they will continue to grow by destroying and invading surrounding skin tissue which can sometimes lead to disfigurement.

Let us start with a little background information on why this type of skin cancer is called a basal cell carcinoma.  Everyone has basal cells, which are found at the bottom of our epidermis.  This type of skin cancer occurs when one of the basal cells develops a mutation in its DNA (the basal cell’s DNA controls the process of creating new skin cells).  When this process is functioning properly, new skin cells are produced in the basal cell; over time, the older cells are pushed toward the skin’s surface, where eventually these old cells die and are sloughed off. When a mutation occurs in the basal cell, the DNA instructs the cell to multiply rapidly and continues to grow when it would normally die off and be shed from the skin.  Eventually, this overgrowth in cells may form a cancerous tumor; this is the lesion that appears on the skin in the form of a basal cell carcinoma.

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the primary cause of this type of skin cancer (if you would like more information on ultraviolet radiation, please see our blog “The Sun’s Relationship with Your Skin”).

Factors that may increase your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma include: chronic sun exposure, frequent or severe sunburns as a child, increasing age, fair skin, personal or family history of skin cancer, radiation therapy, renal organ transplant, and patients whose immune systems are compromised.

What should you look for?  The appearance of this type of skin cancer can vary, but the early warnings sings include:

  • A firm, flesh-coloured, or slightly reddish bump, often with a pearly border
  • A sore or pimple-like growth that bleeds, crusts over, and then reappears
  • A small, scaly patch seen most often on the trunk or limbs
  • The area may have small blood vessels on the surface which give it a red colour

It is important to note that BCCs can look quite different from one person to another; when in doubt, check it out.  Any sore that does not heal within four weeks should be examined by a dermatologist.  Follow your instincts and visit your dermatologist if you see anything new, changing, or unusual on your skin.

Now that you know what to look for, an important question to ask is how do you help prevent this type of skin cancer?  Avoid being in the sun during the hottest hours of the day, wear protective clothing, wear SPF year-round (even when it is cool or rainy out), and avoid tanning beds.  Lastly, it is important to perform self-skin checks at home and report any changes you may notice to your family doctor or dermatologist.

Sometimes the hard topics in life are worth discussing, they might just save a life!

References :,

Improving Your Gut Health & Common Imbalances

So, what’s the deal with gut health? Our digestive system or “gut” is one of the most important systems in our body! It does so much for us, allowing us to digest our food and absorb its nutrients. Our gut is the home of many bacteria, and what we put in our body can heavily influence the balance of good and bad bacteria in our microbiome. 

What are some common causes of gut imbalances? 

  1. Lack of proper nutrients and prebiotics
    Healthy gut flora is diverse, and for optimal diversity it’s important to eat a range of foods, including fruits and vegetables which are a great source of fiber. Prebiotics, or the compounds in our food that support the growth and activity of bacteria, are also important to have. Some sources of prebiotics include chickpeas, oats, garlic, leeks, onion, bananas, and asparagus. Processed and inflammatory foods can create inflammation in our gut, which inhibits digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Alcohol can also wipe out the good bacteria, so limiting your intake is beneficial for improving gut health.
    If you want to add more prebiotic fiber into your routine or you find it difficult to consume enough through your diet alone, there are some great supplement options. Our favorite is the Metagenics UltraGI Replenish
  1. Antibiotics
    Antibiotics are incredibly helpful when used to treat bacterial infections and diseases, but in terms of gut health, antibiotics get rid of the bad bacteria and the good bacteria. Because of this, it’s important to re-establish the good bacteria in the gut if you take antibiotics, and for this reason we recommend taking a good probiotic once your medication is finished (at least 6 hours later). If you have any questions about which probiotic is right for you, we’d be happy to help you with recommendations!
  1. Stress
    We’re constantly told that stress is bad for us, but how does it affect our gut? Our gut is connected to our nervous system which means that when we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system becomes activated. This triggers a fight or flight response in the body and releases the stress hormone, cortisol. At this point, proper digestion is inhibited, and the stomach produces more acid causing indigestion. In more serious cases, stress can cause a decrease of blood flow to the stomach which can lead to inflammation and imbalance of gut bacteria. 
    If you want to improve your gut health, managing stress (especially while eating) is important. Set some time aside for yourself and have gratitude for what your digestive system does for you. Relax while you eat. Focus on chewing properly to break down your food into pieces that are easier to digest. Even if you’re on the go, try to set aside a few minutes to eat mindfully. 

What Can You Do to Support Gut Flora?

Nourish Your Gut with Nutrients: 
Nourish your gut by eating the rainbow in fruits and vegetables and be sure to include lots of omega 3 foods to help strengthen membranes and reduce inflammation. As we discussed above, probiotics are great for establishing healthy gut flora; they replenish good bacteria, boost immunity, and keep our bowels “regular”. Fermented foods are another great source of the good bacteria and enzymes that benefit our digestive system.
Because of its amazing health benefits, the last food we want to highlight is bone broth! Not only is it chock full of easily digestible vitamins and minerals, the high glutamine content in bone broth helps to protect and maintain our intestinal lining. It’s a great base for many recipes and can be used in more than just soups! If you’re unable to make your own at home, we love  Borderland Food Bone Broth as they are local to Calgary and produce great quality broths. They have many options like grass-fed bison, grass-fed chicken, grass-fed beef, and a bone broth smoothie base! 

Gut Rejuvenating Squash Soup

This recipe is inspired by gut-nourishing food with a yummy bone broth base. It’s an easy-to-digest meal that is tasty and beneficial to our microbiome. Enjoy!

– 1 Butternut Squash (medium to large)
– 2 Onions (small to medium)
– 2 Cups of Bone broth (Homemade or Borderland)
– 1 Small Can of Pumpkin Puree
– 2 Red Apples (your choice)
– 2 Cups Unsweetened Cashew Milk (or coconut milk)
– 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
– ½ tsp Black Pepper
– ½ tsp Ground Garlic
– ⅛ tsp Turmeric
– ⅛ tsp Chili Powder 
– ⅛ tsp Cumin

Topping Options:
– Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
– Hemp hearts
– Light Sprinkle of Cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Get a large baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Cut the butternut squash in half and make sure to remove the seeds. Lightly salt the squash and place on the baking sheet with the inside facing down. 
  2. Cut the onion into quarters and place on the baking sheet. 
  3. Cut the apples into small- to medium-sized pieces and make sure the core is removed. Place on the baking sheet and lightly salt along with onions. 
  4. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the squash is tender (easily poked with utensil). Remove from the oven and let cool for 8-10 minutes. 
  5. Scoop out the squash into a big pot and add the onions, apples, pumpkin puree, bone broth, cashew milk, and all spices. 
  6. If you have an immersion blender, blend in the pot until the soup mixture is smooth. A food processor will work as well. We’re looking for a nice smooth texture where all ingredients are combined well. 
  7. Place the pot over medium heat and heat the soup through. 
  8. Serve and add toppings if desired! 

By Natalie Ovics, CHN
Papillon Medical & Dermatology