Friday, 4 November 2016

A Successful Day

I still haven't gotten around to writing about how clinic is in general, and I swear that it's on a list somewhere. I do want to share that information, because I think it's nice to have that available as a current or even prospective ND student.

Today however, I wanted to share some information about a good day in clinic.

This past couple weeks have been a little crazy and stressful. We're 6 months into clinic, and I'm not exactly where I'd like to be with respect to my skills. Sure, I've progressed and know A LOT more than I did 6 months ago. I'm getting better at connecting with patients, providing treatment and exams. But there is a lot more that I'd like to be doing better at, and there's also a bunch of assignments and things to work on right now, so it feels like my time is really limited. I've also noticed that often when people say "Hey Noah, how's it going?" I don't respond too well, usually saying "not well." Things have been getting me down and stressed, and that's not the type of person I usually am.

Anyway, within all the stress, I had a great experience with a patient today that really brought me up and improved my mood and motivation. So a patient of mine came in for a follow-up. They weren't feeling all that well and had considered cancelling, but decided that it was a good idea to come in. Already a good sign, knowing that I am able to provide a space and care that people feel comfortable coming to. The nice thing though, was learning that treatment we had initiated last visit had provided a positive shift for them, and this was based on my own research and clinical judgment. The visit continued and we had a good plan moving forward, and I'm excited to continue helping this person improve.

Sure, this does happen a fair bit in clinic, but it's always a nice reminder when this happens, that I've got the tools and skills to help people improve.

So amidst the chaos of everything else that happens in life, I enjoy taking a chance to step back and just notice what I have done, and what I can do. After all, it's why I got into this in the first place!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Mexican Chocolate Protein Smoothie

Here with another fun recipe, because why not? This recipe was very important for me today because of how cold the weather is now -> I had snow on my car this morning and it's not even November yet!

So I love chocolate, because its sweet, rich, and pairs well with so many flavours. Plus it gives you a nice little energy boost, and cocoa powder is a great source of magnesium, which is great for helping relax stiff and tense muscles. I have a chocolate protein smoothie most days, serving up loads of protein and healthy fats.

The issue with smoothies this time of year is that from a Chinese Medicine perspective, they are very cool in nature. As the weather cools down, it's important to have more warm and cooked foods in order to support your digestion and energy. Mexican Chocolate to the rescue!

There are multiple variations on Mexican Chocolate, but the key is using warm spices like cinnamon, allspice and hot peppers. So without further ado, here is my take on a Mexican Chocolate Protein Smoothie.


  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk of your choice (almond milk is my go to)
  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder (I prefer whey, but plant based works as well)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of hot chili pepper
  • 3-5 ice cubes
  1. Drop the ingredients into your blender in the order listed and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour the smoothie into a glass, sprinkle with some extra cinnamon and chili pepper, stir and enjoy!
Note: You can substitute chocolate protein powder for vanilla if you add 2tbsp of cocoa powder. You can also use an unflavoured protein powder with the cocoa powder, then add 1-2tbsp of maple syrup to taste. 

The chili pepper gives a wonderful kick that really gets you going in the morning. Delicious!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Best Hummus Recipe

Best Hummus Recipe

I love this recipe because its super easy to whip together, it’s very affordable, and it gives you a huge amount of hummus; I usually find that this recipe can last me a week of snacks, though that changes when the family starts enjoying it!
Here’s my basic recipe, there’s also a ton of room for enhancements, I’ll provide my favourite suggestions. The basic recipe includes Za’atar, a classic Middle Eastern spice mixture, and let me tell you, when I first started using this stuff, it really upped my hummus game. Just know that when the hummus sits for a bit, it has this interesting greenish colour that almost looks like mold, but worry not, it’s safe…and delicious!  

Materials Needed
  • Good blender with a tamper (I use a Vitamix and find it works really well)
  • OR a food processor (I’ve used these before and it works, but I find the blender produces a nicer consistency) --> if you use a food processor, ensure to periodically use the spatula to scrape down the sides and get everything blended together
  • Flexible spatula
  • Citrus press/juicer

  • 1 small can of low-sodium chickpeas (drained) and 1 small can of low-sodium with liquid
  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • ½ cup well-stirred tahini
  • ¼ cup minced garlic (you can use fresh garlic, but I find the extra liquid from a jar of minced garlic tastes well and helps with texture)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for mixing and serving
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Ground paprika for serving
  • Za’atar for serving

  1. Pour the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the blender. Start on low speed and ramp up to medium-high while pressing with the tamper. (If using a food processor, use the pulse function and watch the hummus in order to prevent over-processing)
  2. Slowly pour extra olive oil as you blend until there is a nice smooth consistency.
  3. Stop the blender and taste the hummus, then add sea salt and blend to taste (I usually require a few dashes).
  4. Pour/scrape the hummus into a container, then use the spatula to spread the hummus in little circles, creating various ridges. Drizzle olive oil in a circle so that it spreads over the ridges, as opposed to pooling in the center. Sprinkle za’atar and paprika overtop, and enjoy!

      *My favourite thing to eat with this hummus is chopped celery, but it works well with carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and probably lots of other vegetables. It’s also great on top of a pita or a sandwich, or even as a creamy salad dressing!
Variations – There are endless variations you can create using different spices, or substituting other types of beans for the chickpeas (black beans work great), so feel free to experiment. My favourite is to add a tablespoon of curry powder while blending which provides a bright yellow colour. For serving, create the same olive oil drizzle, but then sprinkle with chili pepper flakes for a spicy hummus. Delicious!  

Finished hummus along with some chopped veggies. Food prep for the week!

Finally Here! (sorry for the long hiatus, here's a bonus recipe!)

So I never had a chance to write on the blog and indicate that I'm finally in clinic! It's been a long road to get here, with 7 years of post-secondary education, including 3 years at CCNM, over 100 exams and so many papers and practicals. But the light at the end of the tunnel is here, and I'm finally doing what I've wanted to do for so long.

I'll have to update the blog in the future with a post on what being in clinic is like, but for now, I wanted to just let you guys know that I'm seeing patients and available for consultations. I'm very interested in helping people struggling with anxiety, depression, insomnia and stress. I also help with weight loss, pain and low energy, as well as women's health concerns including hormonal regulation problems. And of course I'm interested in helping with general family medicine and helping people optimize their health, whether they're unsure about what supplements to take, which diet is best for them, how to exercise safely, and any other general concerns.

Feel free to come in for a consult, or send me a message at if you have any more questions!

I'm available at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic at CCNM
Monday and Wednesday from 2:45pm-7pm
Friday from 8:45am-12pm (this is a focus shift on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia)
I'm also available at the Brampton Naturopathic Teaching Clinic at the Brampton Civic Hospital
Thursdays from 4:15pm-8:15pm --> this is a free clinic

Click the above links to book and just ask for Noah Litvak on whichever day you'd like. Hope to see you soon so I can help you have less pain, more energy and overall feel better!

And now, as an apology for my long hiatus, I've posted my favourite hummus recipe on my next blog post. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Winter Unity Summit

 It's Sunday night with only 3 weeks of classes left, and then exams are coming! But let's forget about that for a minute and do another retrospective post, because that's always more fun!

So I've posted in the past about my own Unity Summit here, but this one was a little different for a few reasons. First, instead of being a new student, this time around I was a 3rd year student, and on the student's association helping to run the event. Being in charge is really cool, because you have responsibility for helping others have a good time, which is quite rewarding, as I described when talking about my blue mountain trip.

Second, the experience of unity summit is very different when you are a student leader, because you are coming in already having some friends, are more comfortable, and as a leader, it's your job to be really open and friendly with everyone. As a result, you end up pushing yourself to meet lots of people, and get to make lots of new friends. This a really awesome part of the experience. I would have to say that being a student leader over the past two years has been really fantastic for many reasons, but pushing myself to connect with more people is one of the big reasons.

Finally, one of the really cool things about this Unity Summit is that it was the Winter one, meaning it was a completely different setting. The Summit in the fall is always at the YMCA camp up north, and that is cool, but it's a little different for the winter. Instead we go to a smaller camp in Halton Hills (west), and there are way fewer people, as the January intake is usually about 1/3 the size of the September intake. The smaller group is a little bit more intimate, there is a lot more free time, plus, it's during the winter! This means snow, and ice, so activities like snowball fights, ice skating and hockey are all part of it. Plus I got to go horseback riding, which was pretty cool, even though it was just a slow tour, because I've never been riding before. And with the really relaxed environment, we came up with an awesome NSA skit that I will remember forever, a ton of fun to do, and ended it off with a really fun dance party. This is the 4th Unity Summit dance party I've been to now, but it was a really special one, because when Dr. Turk played Bohemian Rhapsody, literally everyone in the building started singing it together. Really cool experience.

I thought I was going to write about Medgames, but this post has become long, so I'll save it for another time. Hope you enjoyed your Easter long weekend! I can't remember the last time Easter was in March, so weird to me, but it was a pretty relaxing weekend. My nephews Erik (almost 3) and Andrew (almost 1) came over to stay all day Saturday and Sunday, and they are just adorable. Plus we finally had some fantastic weather, after the ice melted on Friday of course. I even got out for a couple long walk/jogs on Saturday and Sunday. Anyway, have a great week!

There's me with the horse I rode, Cujo. He got a little crazy partway through, started bucking a little bit and maybe almost killed me. But we're cool, he's a good guy...I mean horse.


Saturday, 26 March 2016

Winter Blue Mountain Trip

So this is one of my retrospective posts, a little more on CCNM life.

Something that I wanted to do throughout my undergrad, but never got a chance to do, was plan a ski trip. The great thing about planning a trip is that: you get a discounted price for yourself for booking, you get a lot of responsibility, and thus satisfaction from helping everything come together, and of course, you get to set up a trip doing something you enjoy, with people that you like.

It was finally this year that I went ahead and did it, and I'm really happy that I did. The trip that I planned was really difficult to pull together. I first started looking for people interested in late October, and once I had a lot of people, I started looking for a place to book the trip. Suddenly, people started dropping like flies, and then there were issues with dates because of other events, a lot of different factors made it really difficult. However, a lot of hard work and persistence allowed things to finally come together, and for my post-midterm Blue Mountain trip, I had just over 20 people signed up with money paid to come.

We had a fantastic time on our trip, leaving for Collingwood just after we finished our exams Friday morning, and staying until Sunday afternoon. We skied in beautiful weather on Friday afternoon/evening and Saturday. We had a wonderful time enjoying a big chalet, spending time together in the hot tub and sauna, playing games in the big great room, and talking late at night. We also went out to the Village Saturday night and created our own party at a small club, having a lot of fun there too. Sunday we went to the spa at the hotel at the Inn at Blue, and enjoyed going from hot tub to cold pool, to massage, and finally a really nice sauna. And a big part of the enjoyment was from spending time together and talking about lots of things, most of all not talking a lot about school. The 2 hour drive there and back was also a great time to talk and enjoy each others company.

Now I'll mention that this was not actually the only trip. Another friend of mine booked a trip to Blue for us to a similar type of chalet just at the end of Finals in December. Same thing, we drove to Blue right after finals were over, and went up to have a great time. The only difference, is that there was no snow in December! So we didn't ski at all, I didn't even bring my skis! That being said, we still had a wonderful time, getting away from the city and just hanging out with each other.

So I guess the reason that I wanted to write this blog post, aside from reminiscing about some great times with my friends, is to talk about the importance of getting out. Escape. This works for people in areas of life of course, but I think this is really important to CCNM students. Depending on how diligent you are or how important going to lectures is for you, CCNM students can spend well over 30-40 hours a week at the school, many more of course if you live in residence (I'm fortunate enough to have my home close enough to school, and a car, so I do get away). There are many wonderful people at CCNM that you get to become friends with and connect with, but when you're at school, we are in a little bit of a bubble. It's not the same as the outside world, and the things that you talk about are very different. Realizing this, it is vital to get out of the school and experience the world with these wonderful people. I have found that the connections you create become much stronger, and the experiences you get to have are amazing. Whether it is going out to a bar on a Friday night, taking in a museum, going to a Harry Potter Trivia night (yes I did that in February, it was really fun!), or going on a ski trip, it's just awesome to connect with your friends in a different setting.

I hope that you, blog reader, take my message to heart, and ensure that you take opportunities to connect with people outside of your bubble. If it is CCNM, push yourself and your friends to participate in activities outside of the school. If you have friends that you work with, offer to do things outside of there. The connections that you strengthen, and the experiences you will have are worth the effort.

Fun picture from the first Blue Mountain trip. Since there was no skiing to do, we wandered and enjoyed the village together, and ended up taking a picture with Santa Clause. It was a really happy and fun day!

Monday, 21 March 2016

Back From Another Hiatus and 3rd Year Winter Courses

So unfortunately I fell off the wagon with blogging again after Finals in the Fall semester. I can't promise that my consistency will be back, but I'm going to try to be a little more consistent again, at least until the end of the semester. And while I'm doing that, I'll try to give a bit of a recap of all the stuff that has happened this semester.

At the moment I'm busy working away at some assignments, but I did finally get something done that I've been meaning to do for weeks. I created a Facebook Page for myself as an intern at the RSNC. Oh by the way, I'm an intern at the RSNC now, that's something new for Winter! I'll write more about that in a future post, but here is a link to my facebook page, which I'm hoping to keep a little more regular than this blog with posts, at least once a week.

Now I've got to get back to my assignments, but I'll give you a quick overview of the courses that we have in 3rd year Winter.

Integrative Therapeutics 2 - This is the same idea as IT 1 from the Fall, just teaching based on the cases we do in Primary Care here, a little bit of OSCE prep, and thankfully, no big annoying paper to write!

Primary Care - As a full year course, this is the same as in the Fall, except that we switch timeslots (in the Fall I had Mondays from 2-420, so now I have 430-650), and we get a new group. In addition, there is an OSCE examination, which I had just last week, I'll write about that in a future post though.

In Office Procedures - This class has a little bit of didactic lectures, but is mostly a practical class where we learn phlebotomy, injection therapies, sample collection (urine, saliva and skin), ear lavage, and nebulized glutathione and magnesium, as well as some basic theory about intravenous therapy (this is a full continuing education course with extra certification required, but we do learn some basics).

Maternal and Newborn Care - Dr. KBT (Kimberly Blyden-Taylor) teaches this course, a great overview of care for mothers and newborns, all the way from preconception through breastfeeding.

Asian Medicine - As a continuation from the Fall, we learn more about TCM formulas, TCM theory on Western conditions and run through lots of practice cases. We also have a big research paper similar to IT in the Fall, except this one was done as a group of 4, so it wasn't nearly as time consuming.

Asian Medicine Practical - A continuation from the Fall, we do 2 partner cases where we take a case from a classmate, come up with a treatment plan for them, and then initiate that treatment plan over 2 visits. We also have several group practicals to further practice our skills in tongue and pulse diagnosis.

Manipulation - In 2nd year Winter we learned all about motion palpation and assessment of the body from head to toe, here we get to learn how to actually perform chiropractic manipulations/adjustments to fix joints that are out of alignment. Keep in mind that "out of alignment" doesn't literally mean the bone is in the wrong place, it means that joints are not moving as well as they should due to spasms and tight muscles, so we help them move with specific adjustments. And the cracking sound that you hear during an adjustment? That is not the bone cracking! It's just gas escaping from the joint as you move it.

Emergency Medicine - This course is a lot of review of Standard First Aid, something that I have a lot of experience with as a former lifeguard and camp counsellor. This is important though because only CPR level C with HCP is required to be a student at CCNM, Standard First Aid is not. So students need to get some training in emergency management. In addition, we learn about the emergency drugs that NDs are allowed to administer such as epinephrine, and we also learn about the use of oxygen. There is some full class lectures and a group assignment, but this course is mostly small group practicals.

Pediatrics - This course is focused around care for children from 0-18, looking at growth from all aspects of health including physical, mental and emotional, as well as the social connections with family and the environment. We have didactic lectures for the first half, and then after midterm (which is multiple choice), all the classes are case based where we work in groups on specific conditions in different age groups. The final is going to be open book (including computers), so I'm a little worried, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. This course also includes a "lab" component - in early January we had the Pediatric Open House at CCNM where parents brought in their children to be assessed by 3rd year students in groups of 2. We then had to also observe a pediatric appointment either at the RSNC or through some sort of preceptorship. Then we needed to write a reflection paper based on these 2 observation experiences.

Homeopathy - A continuation of last semester with focus on acute remedy prescriptions, as well as practical sessions where we work on case taking. In addition, we've continued following our live case that we saw our instructor do last semester.

Botanical Medicine - Again a continuation of last semester, just going through more body systems and also working on 2 more group cases.

Clinic - Finally, what should be the most interesting course of the semester, clinic! In this course we have 1 clinic shift on a Tuesday-Friday night (2-8pm) or a Saturday morning. I personally got a Wednesday 2-8pm shift with Dr. Ragbir, who was actually my TA in first year health psychology if you remember from this post. On the shift we get a mentor 4th year student, and follow them as a secondary intern for the semester. This means that we see all their patients with them and are slowly incorporated into the visits, helping with physical exams and intake, as well as some treatment. We can't do adjustments or injections, but we can do acupuncture if the supervisor is there. In addition, we work with our interns on charting and treatment plans as well as patient research. Unfortunately my shift and my intern specifically hasn't been that busy, but I have still definitely learned a lot from this experience so far, including from shadowing Dr. Ragbir and seeing a bunch of different patients on the shift.

Alright so that's it for today, I'm going to get back to my assignments for now, but I'll try to be back for another post soon to review some of the events that have happened this semester so far.

I know I've been gone a while, but hey, this owl is pretty cute right?
And I'm a night owl, so maybe that's me?