The Science of Gratitude

Whenever something really great happens in my life I literally thank my lucky stars. Being grateful however, is pretty easy when things are going awesome. Wouldn’t you agree?

Note: Be sure to read all the way to the bottom of this post because there is a “10 days of gratitude” challenge I’m doing and I would love for you to join me!

How often are you grateful when you’ve had a bad day? Being grateful when times are tough (and also when times are terrific) can truly transform your life. Consistency is key. Most nights before I fall off to sleep I share with Walker what I’m grateful for. Sometimes it’s as simple as “I’m grateful for this very comfy bed we get to cuddle in” or “I’m grateful for our quiet time together this evening”.

Be specific with your gratefulness.

According to research, being more specific about what your grateful for helps you maintain this health habit for the long haul. So instead of just saying “I’m grateful for my family” week after week, you could say what you’re specifically grateful for such as… “I’m grateful for my mom’s generosity and the time she makes to bake me delicious breakfast cookies” (hey Ma McCarthy — that’s for you!) or “I’m grateful for the foot massage my husband gave me” (hint, hint Walker if you’re reading this) heehee!

Dr. Robert Emmons who is the leading expert on the subject of gratitude suggests that focusing our gratitude on people for whom we’re thankful rather than material items will enhance the benefits we experience.

Regardless of what you’re thankful for, making it an every day habit is proven to reap benefits.

I have a funny feeling that after you read about the science of gratitude you may be convinced to make this part of your daily ritual if you don’t already do so.

Let’s look at what the science says about gratitude shall we?

Gratitude makes you happier.

Mountains of research support this including the Harvard study on 21 days of gratitude. I’m not linking any study here only because there are a gazillion studies that prove gratitude makes one happier! :) In fact, a regular practice of gratitude can increase happiness by up to 25% according to the Greater Good Science Center.

Gratitude makes for a healthy marriage or partnership.

The University of Georgia has shown that gratitude can protect marriages from the negative effects of conflict. This makes perfect sense doesn’t it? We all want to feel appreciated and a little gratitude for your spouse or partner can go a long way.

Gratitude makes it easier to heal from traumatic life events.

Sometimes events happen in our life that are completely out of our control. For example if someone in your family suddenly becomes ill or your home is damaged from a tornado. Well, research found that the people who gave thanks even in the face of a traumatic life event had better coping skills and reported more happiness overall.

Gratitude improves emotional and physical health.

I wrote about this in my book Joyous Health! Dr. Robert Emmons is Mr. Gratitude. The man has done a LOT of research on this topic. In fact, his research indicates that gratitude is not merely a positive emotion; it improves your emotional and physical health if cultivated regularly.

Gratitude makes you more optimistic about the upcoming week.

If Instagram is any indication, a lot of people aren’t a fan of Mondays. Well it turns out according to Emmons’ research that gratitude makes you more optimistic about the coming week. 

I have to tell you, after writing this blog post I’m feeling incredibly grateful!!! I have so many things I want to tell you I’m grateful for.

Before I say goodbye, I would love for you to participate in something with me… 10 days of gratitude — starting Friday April 29th. Every day for 10 days on instagram, facebook and twitter I’m going to share what I’m grateful for. Please join me!


Thank you for reading this post and thank you for your comments!

Have a joyous day!

Joy McCarthy

Joy McCarthy is the vibrant Holistic Nutritionist behind Joyous Health. Author of JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well. Read more…



The post The Science of Gratitude appeared first on Joyous Health.

from Joyous Health

Guest Post: Go for the Goal

Hi everyone! If we haven’t met before, I’m Kate, and I work behind the digital scene over here at Joyous HQ. Today, I’m giving you a behind-the-scenes look at how we get goals accomplished over here at Joyous Health.

Last week, Google announced it was adding a goal-setting feature to Google Calendar. Since we all live by our Google Calendars over here at Joyous HQ, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at goal setting.

Anyone who has ever broken a New Year’s Resolution (which is pretty much anyone who has ever made a New Year’s Resolution) knows that goals, especially big ones, can be daunting. That said, if no one ever accomplished their goals, we’d never get anything done! We need goals if we want to make progress in any aspect of our lives.

And spring is the perfect time to set goals because the return of sunshine and warm weather leaves us feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on new challenges. (I mean, who feels like challenging themselves in the middle of a January freezing rain storm?)

Research has shown that certain factors determined during the goal-setting stage can help predict whether you’re more likely to achieve your goal. So set your goal with these in mind, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success!

Dream Big

Most of us really love a challenge. Studies have shown a direct link between the levels of challenge and performance when it comes to meeting – and even exceeding – our goals. Think about it; how satisfied are you really going to feel after accomplishing something that felt like a piece of cake when you did it? How motivated are you going to be to work hard at something you already know you could do in your sleep?

Now think about a time when you accomplished something that at first felt impossible. Sure, it may have been really hard – and maybe not very fun – while you were working at it, but at the end of the road, I bet you felt like a superhero. That old cliché really is true: nothing good comes easy, but at the end of the day, it’s the hardest things that are the most worthwhile.

Get Specific

Dreaming big doesn’t mean keeping things vague. The difference between a daydream and a big goal is specificity. Keeping things vague is basically a license to procrastinate because while the details of your goal are still vague, it’s impossible to form a plan to make that goal something achievable. So once you’ve figured out what your big dream is, start to imagine exactly what that dream looks like. The more details you have about it, the more data you have that can be used to build the plan that will make that dream a reality.

Be Accountable

When you write a goal down, something kind of magical happens; it transforms from being something intangible and a bit abstract in your mind into something concrete that you can see and touch. Writing a goal down helps give you ownership over your goal. When we take ownership of something, it triggers something we call the “endowment effect,” and the item we have ownership of gets integrated into our sense of identity. Once we see a goal as part of our identity, we have more of a sense of personal investment in it, and we’re more likely to be willing to work hard to achieve it.

Being accountable to external forces can help, too. Tell friends and family about your goal so that they can hold you accountable and give you that helping hand (or kick in the butt), whenever you need it!

And in the spirit of accountability, I’ve asked they whole Joyous Team to share their latest goals with the whole community in this post!

Joy’s going to go for a 30-minute power walk every day. (Stay tuned for an upcoming post on why this is so beneficial for your well-being!)

Benefits of Nature-2

Walker probably spends more time in our office than any other team member. His goal is to get out of his chair and stretch three times a day. This is not a photo of Walker, but he’s too busy running the JH day-to-day and focusing on his goals to send me a photo of him stretching. ;)


I’ve been toying with the idea of getting my Master’s degree for years, but before I can even apply, I need to learn Latin, so my goal is to enroll in some university-level Latin courses to get that ball rolling. (Okay, I’m reading an Anglo-Saxon book here, but that’s because I haven’t bought the Latin ones yet.)


Heather’s goal is to take advantage of the spring weather that has finally come to Toronto by spending 30 minutes in nature every day. She says she’s even taking up farming!

“One of the ways I’m getting my nature on is with a program called Embodied Connections: An Urban Farm Experience at Lady Gaia Farm. The program includes hands-on learning about how to grow vibrant organic produce using ritual, meditation and mindfulness all while connecting with a community of like-minded people and of course, Mother Nature.”


Vienna’s goal is to eat more socks.

Mission accomplished.


What’s your latest goal? Stay accountable and share it with us in the comments below!

Kate McDonald Walker

Kate is our resident self-professed research nerd. Kate is a Toronto-based student of holistic nutrition, yoga teacher, and health and wellness writer. She is a passionate advocate of integrative approaches to wellness and believes in making the journey to lasting health and wellness as straightforward, sustainable and enjoyable an experience as possible.

The post Guest Post: Go for the Goal appeared first on Joyous Health.

from Joyous Health

The Sunshine Juice

I can’t tell you how happy I am that the weather has warmed up a bit…Because this means Walker and I have dusted off the juicer from being in winter storage. And this past week we’ve been extracting lots of goodness!

Case in point, we enjoyed this Sunshine juice when we got home from an event I was speaking at on Sunday. It made both of us feel sunshine-y! The ingredients were very nourishing (more on that below) and fantastic for digestion. Vienna had a swig and she had a super cute green mustache from the pulp. Drinking from a glass is a work in progress for baby Vienna but she much prefers a regular glass to a sippy cup even if it means she gets liquid all over herself.

Sunshine Juice

This recipe is one you’ll find in my 2 Day Juice and Smoothie Cleanse, along with other delicious recipes.

I created this cleanse for those times you need to hit the “RESET” button. Personally, every time I do the Joyous 10 Day Detox I end it with this cleanse. But there’s no reason you can’t do this cleanse mid-week or Monday morning after an indulgent weekend. No matter when you do the cleanse, you’re pretty much guaranteed to feel great.


But let’s get back to this juice and all the nourishing ingredients shall we? I couldn’t resist taking this photo because citrus is so beautiful. All these ingredients are very anti-inflammatory making them heart-healthy.

I used limes and oranges, but if you don’t have those you could also use lemons and grapefruits.

Sunshine Juice

Let’s talk about some of the nutritional highlights in these beautiful organic foods, specifically the citrus:


  • Rich in beautifying, immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory vitamin C and a good source of baby-making, brain-boosting folate
  • Limes are an excellent source of anti-cancer flavonoids that have been shown to stop cell division in many cancer cell lines. Limonoids which are phytonutrients found in limes have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon.
  • Natural antibiotic: According to “in several villages in West Africa where cholera epidemics had occurred, the inclusion of lime juice during the main meal of the day was determined to have been protective against the contraction of cholera. (Cholera is a disease triggered by activity of the bacteria called Vibrio cholera). Researchers quickly began to experiment with the addition of lime juice to the sauce eaten with rice, and in this role, lime juice was also found to have a strong protective effect against cholera”. Pretty cool right?
  • Fantastic for digestion. Limes, just like lemons stimulate gastric juices which enhance digestion. Even just the thought of biting into a juicy lime makes you salivate right? This is the first stage of digestion.


  • Most notable for their source of vitamin C, the most widely used antioxidant in the human body. Many people take vitamin C supplements, but the whole food form (eating or drinking an orange) is definitely the best choice if you want to take advantage of a variety of phytochemicals that work together synergistically. This simply cannot be duplicated in synthetic supplements.
  • Owing to the multitude of vitamin C’s health benefits, it is not surprising that research has shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in this nutrient is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer.

 The ingredients in this recipe made enough for two glasses of juice, perfect for Walker and I and a slurp from Vienna. ;)

Sunshine Juice

The sunshine juice is not only super tasty and nourishing but it is also very hydrating.

Sunshine Juice-03947


Here’s the recipe.

Sunshine Juice
2016-04-24 20:09:37

  1. 1 large grapefruit or 2 medium oranges
  2. 2 limes
  3. 1/2 cup fresh mint or basil
  4. 3-4 stalks celery
  5. 1/4 of a cucumber
  6. 1 apple
  1. Wash and cut all fruits and veggies into chunks small enough to fit through the spout of your juicer.
  1. If you don’t have a juicer, you can also blend all these ingredients together and strain with a nutbag or wire mesh strainer.
Joyous Health

 Sunshine Juice-03946



Have a joyous day!


Joy McCarthy

Joy McCarthy is the vibrant Holistic Nutritionist behind Joyous Health. Author of JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well. Read more…



The post The Sunshine Juice appeared first on Joyous Health.

from Joyous Health

6 Health Benefits of Garlic

Happy National Garlic Day! If you’re a regular watcher of the Joyous Health YouTube channel, you’ll know that I love garlic. I often add a little extra to my recipes because I love it so much! Fortunately, Walker loves garlic too, so garlic breath isn’t too much of a concern in our home. ;)

I love garlic’s complexity, and it’s a great way to add flavour to almost any savoury recipe. It’s extra stinky (and extra good for you) when eaten raw, but when you cook it, it becomes this amazing mix of pungent and sweet.

Garlic’s nickname is “the stinking rose,” but it’s actually a member of the lily family, just like onions, chives and leeks. It’s one ancient veggie, and has been cultivated for at least 5000 years. There were even bulbs of garlic found in King Tut’s tomb! But tasty as it is, garlic’s first use wasn’t as a food, but as a healing herb. Garlic was a staple in ancient Sumerian, Egyptian, Chinese and Indian medicine cabinets.


These days, garlic tends to live exclusively in the kitchen pantry, as modern medicines have replaced what used to be known as “Russian Penicillin” in most homes, but that doesn’t mean that garlic has lost any of its health-boosting benefits! Why take tons of tasteless pills supplements when you can get tons of healthy herbal benefits cooked right into your meals?

Garlic contains sulfur compounds that not only give it its characteristic stinkyness, but also have tons of health benefits for all your body’s systems.

Here are my favourite healthy garlic facts:

  • Lowers blood-pressure. The sulfur compounds in garlic that give it its characteristic smell may also help lower blood pressure.
  • Reduces LDL cholesterol. Garlic has another heart health benefit in that those same sulfur compounds also help reduce LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, as well as triglycerides in the bloodstream.
  • Anti-inflammatory. Garlic’s anti-inflammatory capacity pairs nicely with the two benefits above to make it a heart health superfood, but those anti-inflammatory benefits work across your whole body!
  • Antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. Garlic is a microbe-killing machine! Research has shown that the chemical components in garlic are capable of taking out everything from Candida albicans (the fungus that causes yeast infections) to H. pylori bacteria (which cause stomach ulcers).
  • Cancer fighter. You’ve probably heard of the cancer-preventing benefits of cruciferous veggies like broccoli and kale, but did you know that those green veggies contain sulfur compounds that give them their health benefits, just like garlic? Studies have shown that when it comes to cancer prevention and garlic consumption, more is more! While moderate consumption of garlic lowers the risk of two types of cancer, high consumption of garlic may be linked to prevention to all but two types of cancer (breast and prostate), so feel free to stink it up!
  • Helps with iron metabolism. Even though there’s not really any iron in the garlic itself, studies show that garlic can help you absorb iron by encouraging your body to make ferroportin, a protein that helps bring iron into your body’s cells.


 Here are some of my favourite garlic-containing recipes so you can start taking advantage of this super-healing superfood!

Wild Mushroom Soup


Rosemary Sweet Potato Wedges

Sweet-Potato-Wedges-02964Chickpea Pancakes with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Tumeric-Chickpea-Pancakes-2Kale Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing

Creamy-Salad-Dressing-10Do you love garlic as much as I do, and add extra to recipes that already call for it? What’s your favourite super-stinky extra-garlicky food to make? Let me know in the comments below!


Joy McCarthy

Joy McCarthy is the vibrant Holistic Nutritionist behind Joyous Health. Author of JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well. Read more…


The post 6 Health Benefits of Garlic appeared first on Joyous Health.

from Joyous Health

Guest Post: Clean Green Kale Smoothie

Hi Joyous Health readers! I’m thrilled to be back and sharing an amazing detoxifying recipe with you. Smoothies are my go-to breakfast and snack because they are super quick and easy to make, and you can stuff a lot of nutrients into them! This particular smoothie is great for cleaning and detoxing our bodies.

Fiber is an excellent nutrient that sweeps clean our digestive tract. Apples contain a special kind of fiber called pectin that is primarily found in the apple skin (so buy organic and eat the peel!) and can help prevent diarrhea. Chia seeds are also a fiber powerhouse and excellent source of healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Kale and lemon have fabulous detoxification properties. Kale contains isothiocyanates that help regulate detox activity in our cells, this gives the liver a little extra help in the detoxification department, while lemon provide plenty of antioxidant vitamin C to protect our cells from free radical damage. Cinnamon not only adds a hint of spice that pairs perfectly with the apple, but it also helps keep your blood sugar balanced.

Finally, no smoothie is complete without a good dose of protein. The chia seeds provide protein, however I recommend added a scoop of your favourite protein powder to this smoothie. This way, it will keep you full all the way to lunch time! JesseKaleSmoothiePortrait

Clean Green Kale Smoothie
2016-04-07 16:37:34

  1. ¼ lemon, peeled and seeds removed
  2. 1 ½ cups nut milk of choice
  3. 2 big kale leaves, roughly torn
  4. ½ apple, roughly chopped
  5. ½ banana
  6. pinch of cinnamon
  7. 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  8. 1 scoop protein powder of choice
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Joyous Health

 What’s your favourite way to make eating healthier when you’re on the go? Share it with me in the comments below!

Jesse Lane Lee

Jesse Lane Lee, BSc, CNP is a cheerful Holistic Nutritionist, motivating speaker, cookbook author, and founder of On her website she shares holistically delicious recipes for free and hosts interactive live online cooking classes. She is the author Jesse Lane Wellness Cookbook Healthy Dairy Free Desserts which contains over 30 healthy dessert recipes with vibrant pictures. Jesse Lane will teach your how to have your chocolate without pudding on weight with her 15 page Guide to Natural Sugar Substitutes. Get it for FREE at

The post Guest Post: Clean Green Kale Smoothie appeared first on Joyous Health.

from Joyous Health

The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen for 2016

Each year, I wait for the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen with baited breath. How many pesticides will my favourite fruits and veggies be sprayed with? Will more GE produce be showing up on grocery store shelves this year?

The Dirty Dozen is a list of the 12 fruits and veggies that, when conventionally raised, have been found to contain the highest amounts of pesticide residues by the time they make it to the grocery store. The Clean Fifteen, on the other hand, is the list of produce that have the lowest amounts of pesticides.

For the last five years, apples – my favourite fruit – have been at the top of the Dirty Dozen list. This year, they’ve moved down, but only be a single spot. :( They’ve been replaced by strawberries as the produce with the most pesticide residues. This is unfortunate because the strawberry is North America’s most popular berry! (Yes, botany nerds, I know it’s not technically a berry – it’s a drupe – but we eat them like berries, so I’m going to stick with the common terminology. ;) ) North Americans eat about eight pounds of strawberries a year, so that’s a lot of pesticides to be ingesting if you’re buying conventional, and no matter how well you wash your produce, it’s nearly impossible to get all the pesticide residues off; some of them can be really stubborn and sticky!


What makes things even worse is that two veggies – even though they didn’t make the top 12 – were found to have enough pesticide residues that they were added to the Dirty Dozen list as “dishonourable mentions.” And one of them was dark, leafy greens, my favourite family of veggies because they are so nutrient-dense!

While things look more promising over on the Clean Fifteen list …

Keep in mind that even though these fruits and veggies have the lowest amounts of pesticides, low pesticide residue doesn’t mean no pesticide residue, and organic produce will still have less residue than even Clean Fifteen conventional produce.

Further, you’ll see on the list that sweet corn and papaya have little notes by them. This is because there are genetically engineered (GMO) versions of corn and papaya that are sold in some grocery stores, so if you want to make sure you’re avoiding GMOs, you’ll want to buy organic for these two as well.

Overall, it’s best to buy organic whenever possible, but I totally understand that, depending on where you live and what your budget is, this may not always be an option logistically and financially, so the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen is a great tool to help you figure out when it’s most important to buy organic, to reduce pesticide residue exposure as much as possible. For even more tips on how to shop organic on a budget, check out this post.

You can download a Joyous PDF of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen here, or by clicking on the image below, to take to stick up on the fridge or take to the grocery store with you.


What’s your best tip for saving money while shopping healthy and organic? Share it with the Joyous Community in the comments below!

xo joy

Joy McCarthy

Joy McCarthy is the vibrant Holistic Nutritionist behind Joyous Health. Author of JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well. Read more…

The post The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen for 2016 appeared first on Joyous Health.

from Joyous Health

Grilled Pear and Cheese Sandwich

I still remember the first time I ever had a grilled cheese and apple sandwich. It was about 12 years ago at a little Belgian-style cafe in Toronto called Le Petit Dejeuner. The taste was new and foreign to me because I had grown up on your typical grilled cheese sandwich (which did not include any fruit). The addition of the apple was so fresh and delicious.  I would get this sandwich with a salad to go on my lunch break quite often when I worked for a marketing agency down the street. It was total comfort food.

Since it’s National Grilled Cheese Day I thought I would share one of Walker’s favourite sandwich recipes. And yes… I love it too!

This sandwich may not be for everyone, because yes there is dairy and gluten, but I will give you options in the recipe to make it cow-dairy-free and gluten-free. But most importantly, this grilled cheese is made with 100% real food.

Pear Dijon White Cheddar Grilled Cheese-03853

Speaking of real food…

Many of my friends grew up in the 80s and 90s on Kraft Cheese Singles. You know, the cheese-like substance in plastic wrap? It makes me shudder just thinking about it. I hated the smell of them. I have to give my parents thanks because they never gave my brother and I Kraft Singles cheese slices. Is that even cheese? We always had real cheese, I remember my dad being pretty adamant about that.

This grilled cheese tastes delicious with either white cheddar or goat cheese. If you can’t or choose not to eat dairy, you could also use Daiya dairy-free cheese.

Pear Dijon White Cheddar Grilled Cheese-03843

Here’s the recipe for two people. I decided to use pear, but you could use either apple or pear.

Grilled Pear and Cheese Sandwich
2016-04-11 11:41:36

  1. 4 slices of bread of your choice (I used sourdough, but you could also use sprouted or gluten-free)
  2. 3/4 cup grated organic white cheddar or hard goat cheese (you could also just slice enough cheese up to cover the bread)
  3. 1 pear or apple, sliced thinly
  4. Dijon mustard to taste (as much as you like!)
  5. 1 tbsp room-temperature organic butter (the butter in the photo is goat butter, which is why it’s white)
  1. Heat grill pan or grill to medium.
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread and place butter side down on pan or grill.
  3. Spread some Dijon mustard on the bread and top with cheese, followed by sliced pear and top with other slice of buttered bread.
  4. Cook slowly (be patient!) until cheese is starting to melt and the bottom is golden brown and then flip.
Joyous Health

Pear Dijon White Cheddar Grilled Cheese-03857 


What’s your favourite way to dress up a grilled cheese sandwich?
Share it with me in the comments below!

Joy McCarthy

Joy McCarthy is the vibrant Holistic Nutritionist behind Joyous Health. Author of JOYOUS HEALTH: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, nutrition expert on Global’s Morning Show, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well. Read more…

The post Grilled Pear and Cheese Sandwich appeared first on Joyous Health.

from Joyous Health