Pacific Wellness Toronto News

Roasted Butternut Squash with Maple Tahini Dressing and Arugula


Freshly roasted butternut squash seasoned with black pepper..


All the various types of winter squashes get me really excited about fall and it’s seasonal flavours.

This is a great side dish to any holiday feast, but is simple enough any night of the week. The squash and sauce can be prepared ahead of time and served at room temperature. Drizzle the dressing over the squash and top with the arugula and seeds just before serving. Winter squashes are full of vitamins A and C, fibre, and many other vitamins and minerals. They are also a source of low glycemic, complex carbohydrates – meaning they can take the place of more starchy foods like white potatoes, rice, or pasta on your table. Most people peel their squashes, but often the skins are so thin that they soften when cooked, and provide a nice texture contrast, along with loads of fibre – so save yourself the effort! Feel free to use whatever type of squash you like best (Kabocha, buttercup, acorn) – although butternut is a crowd pleaser.

Dr. Bianca Drennan, ND

Ingredients: Roasted Butternut Squash with Maple Tahini Dressing and Arugula



  • 1 2-3lb butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt


Maple Tahini Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup



  • 3 tbsp unsalted, toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cups baby arugula



Preheat the oven to 425F. Rinse the squash well and cut in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and discard. Cut the squash into 2 inch irregular pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. To the bowl, add the oil, spices, thyme, red pepper flakes, and salt to taste. Toss well and coat each piece of squash in the oil mixture.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the squash evenly in one layer, trying not to overlap any pieces. Place squash in oven and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and caramelized.

While the squash is roasting, combine the dressing ingredients with a pinch of salt in a small bowl. It should be the consistency of thick cream, so add more water as needed. Set aside.

When the squash is done roasting, place on a platter and drizzle with maple tahini dressing. Sprinkle over toasted pumpkin seeds and baby arugula, and serve.

Serves: 4-6 as a side dish

Dr. Bianca Drennan is available for nutritional consultations at The Pacific Wellness Institute.  If you have employee benefits that cover a naturopath you can claim this service.  Call our front desk at 416-929-6958 to inquire.

Reducing Inflammation Through Diet

Inflammation word cloud on a black background.

Inflammation in your body can serve a useful purpose.

It’s your body’s first line of defense. But in some instances, inflammation can stick around longer than needed and may be contributing to certain medical problems. Fortunately, adjusting your diet may help decrease inflammation and improve health.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to harm, such as an infection or injury. Cells travel to the area of injury or infection. Inflammatory cells heal the injured tissue or trap the harmful substance, such as bacteria. The cells release chemicals that activate proteins, which further protect the body.

Sounds good, right? Not so fast. The problem with inflammation is when it occurs chronically, it can have a negative effect on the body.

There are two types of inflammation including acute and chronic. Acute inflammation occurs in instances, such as if you get an infection or if you cut yourself. The inflammatory response helps protect your body and help it heal. Acute inflammation is short-term.

Chronic inflammation is different. Chronic inflammation involves your body sending an inflammatory response even when one is not required. When your body is in a high state of alert, and the inflammatory process goes on too long, it might damage your organs.

Diseases Associated with Inflammation  

When inflammation persists and becomes chronic, it can damage tissues of the body. The link between chronic inflammation and certain diseases is relatively new. Researchers are still learning how exactly the inflammatory response negatively affects the body.

Currently, studies have indicated that inflammation is associated with the following conditions:

Heart disease: The American Heart Association has been researching how chronic inflammation contributes to heart disease, and there does appear to be a link. One large study conducted at Stanford University indicated chronic inflammation leads to swollen or inflamed blood vessels, which may contribute to blocked arteries. 

Lung problems: Chronic inflammation may lead to breathing problems, especially for those who already have lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD. Inflammation causes fluid to accumulate in the tissues, which narrows the airway making getting air in and out more difficult.

Joint pain: Inflammation can lead to scarring or thickening of the connective tissue, which may increase pain and stiffness in the joints.

Depression: It appears that chronic inflammation may increase a person’s chances of developing depression. In 2015, a study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal indicated that those who reported symptoms of depression had higher levels of inflammation in their bloodstream than those who were not depressed.

Diabetes: People with chronic inflammation may be more likely to develop diabetes. Cytokines, which are released by the immune system as part of the inflammatory process, may affect insulin production and lead to blood sugar spikes.

Nutritional Guidelines for Decreasing Inflammation

An anti-inflammatory diet may help decrease chronic inflammation. Also, an anti-inflammatory diet is high in important nutrients and low in sugar and saturated fat, which makes it a good overall nutritional plan.

Before starting an anti-inflammatory diet, it’s best to have nutritional counseling. A nutritionist can provide you with specific dietary recommendations for your age, weight, and nutritional goals.

Before are general nutritional recommendations to decrease chronic inflammation.

Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids may protect against the damage of chronic inflammation. Foods that are high in omega-3 include fish, such as mackerel, salmon, and herring. Walnuts, flaxseed, and soybeans are also good sources.

Recipe: Green Goddess Salmon Cobb Salad

Spice things up: Spices, such as cayenne, ginger, and turmeric, contain anti-inflammatory compounds, which may decrease the negative effects of chronic inflammation.

Consider supplements: Taking certain supplements may also help decrease inflammation in the body. For instance, in some studies, people who took magnesium supplements had lower levels of C-reactive protein in their blood, which is an indicator of inflammation. Curcumin may also be a useful supplement for people with inflammation, as it is thought to curb inflammation in the body.

Eat the colors of the rainbow: Fiber-filled veggies and fruits are helpful to decrease inflammation. Foods, such as tomatoes, blueberries, and grapes are good choices. Cruciferous vegetables including Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli contain nutrients that also combat inflammation.

Choose grains wisely: Stick to complex grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats. Limit foods high in simple carbohydrates, which increase inflammation.

Lifestyle Do’s and Don’ts to Curb Chronic Inflammation

In addition to the nutritional recommendations listed above, there are useful lifestyle do’s and don’ts including:

  • Do have a nutritional consultation.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Do exercise on most days of the week.
  • Don’t eat foods high in sugar, such as cookies, candy, and cake.
  • Do drink plenty of water each day.
  • Don’t eat large amounts of foods high in saturated fat, such as fried foods.
  • Do eat a varity of fresh veggies and fruits.
  • Don’t overdo your alcohol intake.
  • Do practice stress management techniques, such as deep breathing daily.

Chiropractic Care of Sleep Problems

Beautiful young woman asleep, on white background

Chiropractor care is often used to treat back and neck problems. But it can also be used to improve your overall health.

In fact, it might be surprising to learn that chiropractic care may improve your quality of sleep.

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important factors that affect your health. We all want a good night’s sleep, but it is easier said than done for many people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one out of every three adults in the United States report they do not get enough sleep.

Although sleep needs vary, most people need between seven and nine hours every night. But it appears about a third of adults are falling short. Regardless of the cause, lack of quality sleep can lead to a variety of problems. Both your physical and emotional well-being can be affected by poor sleep.

A variety of consequences can develop if you do not get enough sleep. Poor sleep can lead to memory problems, irritability, and depression. A lack of sleep can also decrease your ability to fight infection, which means it’s easier to acquire illnesses.

Sleep deprivation also increases your risk of getting into an accident. Driving in a drowsy state is thought to be a factor in thousands of car accidents each year in the United States.

Reasons for Poor Sleep

It’s clear we need sound sleep to function optimally, yet many of us don’t get enough sleep. Millions of people are walking around sleep deprived. Why is adequate sleep so hard to come by for many people? Lack of sleep can occur due to several reasons, including:

Poor sleeping habits: A lack of shut-eye may develop due to poor sleeping habits, such as drinking too much coffee or caffeinated soda before bed. Going to bed at different times each night can also throw off your natural sleep rhythm. Sleeping on an uncomfortable bed can also affect sleep.

Pain: Chronic pain is also a big factor that affects sleep. Pain can make it difficult to fall asleep. Even if you manage to get to sleep; pain can jolt you awake. Although pain medication is an option, it can have negative side effects and lead to dependency.

Stress: Stress can also affect your ability to fall and stay asleep. If you’re worried or tense, it can increase stress hormones in your body, which can prevent your body from relaxing enough to fall asleep.

Sleep disorders: Sleep disorders are also the cause of poor sleep for millions of people. Sleep disorders may include conditions, such as sleep apnea, which involves obstruction of the airway during sleep. Restless leg syndrome, hypersomnia, and sleep-wake disorders can also rob you of the rest you need.

Treatments for sleep problems often vary based on the cause. Some sleep disorders may improve with conventional treatment. For example, sleep apnea may be treated by using a CPAP machine, which delivers pressure into the airway to keep it from becoming obstructed.

In other instances, traditional treatments for sleep problems, such as medication, can have unwanted side effects. Sleeping pills often have side effects including headache, prolonged drowsiness, and lightheadedness. Some medications for sleep can also be addictive.

RELATED: Acupuncture for Issues with Insomnia, Anxiety and Attention

How Chiropractic Care Can Improve Sleep

One treatment you may not have considered for sleep problems is chiropractic care. When many people think of chiropractic care, they think it’s mostly for back pain. But chiropractic treatment can also improve the quality of your sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 33 percent of people who have chiropractic care report immediate sleep improvements. That’s one of the great things about chiropractic care. Results are often felt right way.

Chiropractic care can improve the function of the central nervous system. The central nervous system plays a key role in how efficiently your body functions. When your central nervous system is functioning optionally, it improves your overall health and your body performs better. It’s easier for your mind and body to relax so you can fall asleep.

A chiropractor focuses on correcting spinal misalignments and improving the health of your spine and entire body. You might wonder what that has to do with sleep. Pain, tension, and stress all affect how well you sleep. If your body is in better alignment and pain is eliminated, you’re more likely to fall asleep faster and sleep sounder.

In addition to treating pain and decreasing spinal problems, a chiropractor can also provide recommendations and tips on how to get better sleep. For example, your chiropractor may suggest a certain type of pillow or mattress. He or she may also recommend certain sleep positions based on any spinal problems you have.

Although chiropractic care may not always be the answer to sleep difficulties, it may be worth a try. Even if it does not treat your sleep problems, it will likely fix any spinal misalignments you have and improve your overall health.