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Five Lesser-Known Foods To Incorporate Into Your Diet This National Nutrition Month

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Top raw foods chef Heather Pace shares nutrient-rich food ingredients for improving overall health and well-being.

TORONTO, ON (February 16, 2017) - March 1st, 2017 marks the beginning of National Nutrition Month, a 30+ year old campaign designed to focus on bettering food choices and developing improved eating and physical activity habits for Canadians. According to StatCan in 2014, 20.8% of Canadians over 18 were classified as obese, with poor eating choices acting as a major contributor.  To help incorporate more nutrient-based items into Canadian diets, Victoria-based raw foods chef Heather Pace shares five lesser-known ingredients that pack flavour and function into everyday recipes.

Maca1. Maca

With over 20 amino acids (including eight essential amino acids), this South American root (also known as Peruvian ginseng) is great for libido, fertility, memory, focus, and energy. Known as an adaptogen, this root helps with the body’s response to stress. It can be purchased in powdered form and has a pleasant malty taste that  can be used in desserts, smoothies and other drinks.

2. Turmeric

Most famously known for its anti-inflammatory properties and high iron content, this spice from the ginger family also helps balance blood sugar and loosen stiff joints. Turmeric is commonly used in curry powder and has a strong taste, but can be added to most soups, dips, salad dressings, tea, smoothies, and even desserts. It can be used fresh or in powdered form.

3. Avocado oil 

Dubbed “the healthiest new oil” for its lack of cholesterol, trans fats and high content of vitamin E, avocado oil comes from the fruit flesh, rather than the seed like most oils. Avocado oil assists the body in absorbing important nutrients and has been found to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Because of its neutral flavour, avocado oil is a great option for salad dressings, dips, baking and cooking.

4. ChagaChaga

High in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins B, K and D, the chaga mushroom grows on birch trees in Canada, Northern United States and Russia. A source for natural energy, chaga can be made into a tea that has vanilla and maple properties to it. Chaga can also be added to smoothies or used in desserts like cheesecakes, puddings and pies.

5. Hibiscus tea

High in vitamin C and iron, hibiscus is a tropical flower with a tangy, cranberry-like flavour. Also high in antioxidants and an abundance of minerals, hibiscus helps to boost immunity, decrease inflammation, and works as a natural diuretic. In its dried form, the flower can be used in a variety of smoothies and desserts like this lemon hibiscus raspberry cheesecake!

Incorporate some of these ingredients together in a delicious raw chocolate superfood shake formulated by Pace with a recipe found below. To find out more about Heather Pace and her raw food creations, please visit


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About Heather Pace: 


Heather Pace’s love of food led her to the completion of a classical culinary program at Fanshawe College at the age of 21. She used her valuable skills and experience to create healthy vegan, and later raw vegan versions of traditional foods. Heather has worked in various restaurants, bakeries, juice bars, as a personal chef, in recipe development and is currently the is the owner of Sweetly Raw Desserts company in Victoria, B.C. She is the published author of Sweetly Raw Desserts (Quarry Books) and writes a popular blog called Sweetly Raw that is filled with hundreds of healthy gluten free/vegan recipes, beautiful photos, and her seven raw dessert e-books. Heather posts daily on her mouth watering Instagram account and also has a new Youtube Channel where she shares delicious and creative recipes. With a passion for educating people on how to incorporate more plant based options into their diet in a fun and tasty way, Heather teaches raw food classes in different cities. With her own voracious sweet tooth, her motto is “Have your cake and eat it too”, and really focuses on showing people how they can make and enjoy incredible guilt-free desserts that can even help with weight loss! Heather is also a certified yoga instructor.


Raw Chocolate Superfood Shake Photo Credit Heather Pace

1/2 cup chilled chaga tea

3-4 tablespoons cashews

1 small frozen chopped banana

1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons cacao powder

1 tablespoon maca powder

1 tablespoon lucuma powder

1 tablespoon coconut sugar or yacon syrup

1 teaspoon mesquite

1 teaspoon chia seed

1/4 teaspoon ashwaganda root powder

1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder

4-6 large ice cubes

1-2 teaspoons cacao nibs, optional


Blend the chilled chaga tea and cashews until smooth, creating a milk. Add remaining ingredients (starting with 4-5 ice cubes) except cacao nibs and blend until smooth, using the tamper of the vita mix to push down. The mixture is thick. Taste. Add more ice if you like, or a few drops stevia if you want it sweeter. Depends how much cacao powder you add.Add cacao nibs and blend for a few seconds to break them down. Drink immediately!

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