Delightful Bites for the Holidays: Best Healthy Christmas Appetizers to Impress Your Guests

Delightful Bites for the Holidays: Best Healthy Christmas Appetizers to Impress Your Guests

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‘Tis the season to indulge in festive flavors and share the joy of the holidays with family and friends. As you prepare for Christmas gatherings, don’t overlook the importance of delightful appetizers to kickstart the celebration. You can still be festive and fancy with healthy foods and avoid the carb heavy, sugar rich, fat loaded appetizers. Elevate your holiday entertaining with these mouthwatering visually appealing Christmas appetizers that are sure to leave a lasting impression on your guests with out requiring your pants to be loosened.

1. Shrimp Cocktail Christmas Trees: Ingredients: Large shrimp, cocktail sauce, and fresh rosemary

Take the classic shrimp cocktail to the next level by presenting it in the form of a festive Christmas tree. Arrange cooked shrimp on a platter in the shape of a tree, using fresh rosemary sprigs as branches. Serve with tangy cocktail sauce for a visually stunning and delicious appetizer.

2. Cranberry and Goat Cheese Crostini: Ingredients: pumpernickel or rye bread, goat cheese,
cranberry sauce, and fresh thyme and more.

Craft an elegant and flavorful appetizer by using creamy goat cheese and switch out the typical refined white baguettes and use toasted pumpernickel or rye bread. Top them with a spoonful of cranberry sauce. Garnish with fresh thyme for a burst of holiday color and taste. You could do other flavours such as strawberries and mint, grilled portobello mushrooms and thyme, grilled peppers and parsley, smoked salmon and dill or avocado and cilantro. Your tray will be colorful, flavourful and a great way to sneak in those vegetables when they are least expecting it.

3. Caprese Skewers with a Twist: Ingredients: Cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, basil leaves,
balsamic glaze.

Give the classic Caprese salad a festive twist by threading cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, and basil leaves onto skewers. Drizzle with balsamic glaze for a pop of flavor and a visually appealing appetizer that’s easy to enjoy.

4. Cheese and vegetable platter: Chesses, vegetables (carrots, broccoli, grape tomatoes, peppers),
olives, hummus, Tzatziki, cut up fruit.

This can be a great way to get your healthy foods out there when trying to look fancy indulgent. Create a cheese platter but keep the cheese to a minimum and focus on fresh, cut up vegetables and berries for a great pop of colours. Use hummus and tzatziki as healthy dips. You can even arrange your vegetables in the shape of a Christmas tree and use the other vegetables as Christmas decorations. Don’t forget to add in olives for those good fats and you can even cut up cucumbers to use as a “cracker base” as a healthy alternative to crackers and breads.

This Christmas, set the stage for a memorable celebration with appetizers that are as visually stunning as they are delicious and healthy. From the classic elegance of Cranberry, and goat cheese crostini to the playful presentation of Shrimp Cocktail Christmas Trees, these appetizers will add a touch of magic to your holiday festivities.

The Benefits of Implementing a Corporate Wellness Program in Your Office

The Benefits of Implementing a Corporate Wellness Program in Your Office

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In today’s fast-paced and competitive business world, companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of investing in their most valuable asset—their employees. A healthy, happy, and engaged workforce can significantly contribute to a company’s success and productivity. One effective way to foster employee well-being and boost  organizational performance is by implementing a corporate wellness program. Such programs are gaining popularity across various industries due to the multitude of benefits they offer. In this article, we will explore the advantages of having a corporate wellness program in your office.

1. Improved Employee Health:

One of the primary objectives of a corporate wellness program is to promote better health among employees. By offering initiatives such as gym memberships, health screenings, exercise programs and nutrition counseling, companies can empower their employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. Regular exercise, balanced diets, and preventive care reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, resulting in decreased absenteeism, enhanced productivity, and reduced healthcare costs. The top five stress symptoms causing missed work days are constant fatigue (29%); sleeplessness (26%); aches and pains (24%); high anxiety (23%) and weight gain (18%). (“Do American Workers”, 2017) A healthy workforce also experiences improved mental well-being, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and lower stress levels.

2. Enhanced Productivity:

Investing in employee wellness pays dividends when it comes to productivity. Numerous studies have shown that healthier employees are more focused, energetic, and motivated. Corporate wellness programs often include stress management workshops, meditation sessions, and resilience training, equipping employees with valuable tools to  cope with work-related pressures effectively. By reducing stress and improving mental resilience, companies can create a positive work environment conducive to creativity, collaboration, and innovation.

3. Increased Employee Engagement:

Employee engagement is a crucial factor in organizational success. When employees feel valued and supported by their employer, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work. In fact 6 in 10 Canadians believe “their employer has some responsibility in ensuring their good health.” (“Strategic Does” 2012) Corporate wellness programs provide an opportunity for companies to demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being. These initiatives not only enhance physical health but also foster a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and mutual support among colleagues. Engaged employees are more likely to stay loyal to the organization, leading to reduced turnover rates and increased overall productivity.

4. Cost Savings:

While implementing a corporate wellness program requires an initial investment, it ultimately leads to long-term cost savings for companies. Lost productivity caused by workers’ depression and anxiety costs the Canadian economy almost $50 billion a year. (“Why Workplace”, n.d.) Given that depression and anxiety are on an increasingly all time high this makes it even more important to invest upfront.

The direct costs associated with absenteeism, medical expenses, and disability claims can be significantly reduced through preventive health measures and early intervention. Moreover, healthier employees tend to have fewer accidents and injuries, resulting in lower workers' compensation claims and insurance premiums. By prioritizing employee well-being, companies can achieve substantial cost savings and improve their bottom line.

5. Positive Company Culture:

A robust corporate wellness program can foster a positive company culture that values employee well-being. When employees witness their organization’s commitment to their health and happiness, it creates a sense of loyalty and satisfaction. Having a 7-day health challenges, step challenge, water challenge etc. can all create a more cohesive community within the work environment. The presence of wellness programs can also attract top talent during the recruitment process, as job seekers are increasingly prioritizing work-life balance and a supportive work environment. A positive company culture built around wellness encourages teamwork, collaboration, and a shared commitment toff
personal and professional growth.


In today’s competitive business landscape, implementing a corporate wellness program is no longer a luxury but a necessity. By prioritizing employee health and well-being, companies can unlock a host of benefits, including improved employee health, enhanced productivity, increased engagement, cost savings, and a positive company culture.

Investing in a comprehensive wellness program demonstrates a company’s commitment to its employees’ overall well-being and sets the stage for long-term success. In an era where employees are seeking more than just a paycheck, a corporate wellness program can become a powerful tool to attract, retain, and nurture talent while reaping the rewards of a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce.

The Top 5 Foods That Fight Fibromyalgia

The Top 5 Foods That Fight Fibromyalgia

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Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in specific areas of the body. While there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a well-balanced diet can help manage its symptoms. In this article, we will explore the top five foods that have shown promise in fighting fibromyalgia and providing relief to those affected by this condition.

1. Fatty Fish:

Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with fibromyalgia. Omega-3 fatty acids also support brain health and may aid in reducing fatigue and improving cognitive function, which are common challenges for fibromyalgia patients. Check out our delicious and omega 3 rich salmon chowder.

2. Leafy Greens:

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with important nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like calcium and magnesium. These nutrients contribute to overall health and help combat the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Calcium and magnesium are especially beneficial for muscle relaxation and reducing muscle pain and stiffness. Check out this delicious broccoli and greens soup.

3. Turmeric:

Turmeric is a golden spice widely recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties. It contains a compound called curcumin, which has been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. Adding turmeric to your diet, either in the form of a spice or a supplement, may help alleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Check out our anti-inflammatory turmeric latte loaded with pain boosting nutrients.

4. Berries:

Berries, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, are rich in antioxidants, which help fight oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in the body. Additionally, berries contain fiber and vitamin C, which support the immune system and overall well-being. Including a variety of berries in your diet can provide relief from the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Check out our acai berry smoothie bowl.

5. Ginger:

Ginger is a versatile spice known for its medicinal properties. It possesses anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, making it beneficial for individuals with fibromyalgia. Ginger can be consumed fresh, as a tea, or incorporated into meals to add flavor and potentially reduce pain and inflammation. Check out our delicious moon milk tea loaded in nutrients that help reduce inflammation and pain, and helps with sleep depression and anxiety.


While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing fibromyalgia, adopting a healthy diet can significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with this condition. Incorporating the top five foods mentioned above, including fatty fish, leafy greens, turmeric, berries, and ginger, can provide valuable nutrients and potentially help reduce pain, inflammation, and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. As always, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet, especially if you have specific dietary requirements or are taking medication.

Remember, a well-balanced diet, combined with regular exercise and other lifestyle modifications, can play a crucial role in managing fibromyalgia symptoms and promoting overall health and well-being.


The Top 5 Things to Support a Healthy Brain

The Top 5 Things to Support a Healthy Brain

A variety of protein powder and shakes.

The human brain is a remarkable organ that plays a vital role in our daily functioning, cognition, and overall well-being. It requires proper care and nourishment to function optimally and maintain long-term health. Fortunately, there are several simple and effective ways to support a healthy brain. In this article, we will explore the top five things you can do to promote brain health and enhance your cognitive abilities.

1. Regular Exercise:

Exercise is not only beneficial for our physical fitness but also has a significant positive impact on brain health. Engaging in regular physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, promoting the growth of new blood vessels and enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. Exercise also stimulates the release of chemicals in the brain that improve mood, reduce stress, and enhance cognitive function. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, along with strength training exercises to reap the maximum brain-boosting benefits.

2. Balanced Diet:

A well-balanced diet is crucial for maintaining optimal brain health. Include nutrient-rich foods that provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Foods such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins should be an integral part of your diet. For top 10 brain boosting foods check out this article.

These nutrients help reduce inflammation, protect against oxidative stress, and support the growth and maintenance of brain cells. Additionally, staying hydrated is important for brain function, so remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day. For more on the best foods to consume and avoid please check out our article.

3. Mental Stimulation:

Keeping your brain active and engaged is vital for its health and longevity. Regular mental stimulation and cognitive challenges can help improve memory, enhance problem-solving skills, and promote overall brain function. Engage in activities that require mental effort, such as reading, puzzles, learning a new skill or language, playing musical instruments, or engaging in strategic games like chess. These activities stimulate the formation of new connections between brain cells, improving cognitive reserve and reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline.

4. Quality Sleep:

Adequate sleep is crucial for brain health and cognitive function. During sleep, the brain performs essential processes like memory consolidation and toxin removal. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline, memory problems, and mood disorders. (1) Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Establish a consistent sleep routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, limit screen time before bed, and practice relaxation techniques to improve the quality and duration of your sleep. For strategies on how to get a better sleep check out our article.

5. Social Connections:

Maintaining strong social connections and engaging in meaningful relationships is not only good for your emotional well-being but also for your brain health. Social interaction and engagement have been shown to lower the risk of cognitive decline and contribute to better mental health. Regular socialization helps stimulate the brain, enhance memory, and reduce the risk of depression and anxiety. (2) Make an effort to spend time with friends, join community groups, volunteer, or participate in activities that foster social connections.


Supporting a healthy brain is within your reach with these five simple but powerful lifestyle choices. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, mental stimulation, quality sleep, and social connections all contribute to optimal brain health and cognitive function. By incorporating these habits into your daily routine, you can promote brain longevity, enhance memory and learning, and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline. Remember, it’s never too late to start taking care of your brain, so prioritize your brain health today for a better tomorrow.


Top 10 Brain-Boosting Foods

Top 10 Brain-Boosting Foods

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

Whether you’ve suffered a brain injury, or are experiencing brain fog, or just struggling to concentrate and focus … we’ve got you covered with this list! Brain foods not only can help with supporting better cognitive functioning, but help can help boost mood, support sleep, and help with better focus and memory for school or work.

Let’s explore our top 10 brain-boosting foods!

1. Turmeric

This eye-catching, gold-coloured spice is a common component in curries. Turmeric’s most well-known active constituent is curcumin, which has been shown to have many supportive benefits for cognitive functioning. Curcumin is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that has the ability to cross the blood-brain-barrier, a protective barricade that defends our brain from toxins in our body. Once in the brain, curcumin acts to reduce oxidative stress and neuroinflammation (1). With inflammation reduced, your neurons are able to communicate more effectively, increasing cognitive capacity.

Turmeric is a spice that is an easy addition to many dishes. For an inspiring new take on an old dish, take a look at our Turmeric Hummus recipe. 

2. Kale/Leafy Greens

Eating your daily greens is essential for brain health! Cruciferous vegetables, including kale, spinach, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts are packed full of essential vitamins, such as notable amounts of vitamin K. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is critical for brain health. Vitamin K helps to build strong fat cells in the brain, which improves the structure and communication of our brain cells, otherwise known as neurons (2). Research has shown that individuals who have higher levels of vitamin K, achieved through consuming their leafy greens, have less memory challenges than those with lower levels of vitamin K (3).

If you are looking for a fun way to incorporate more leafy greens in your diet, try these Quinoa and Kale Fritters for a new lunch idea!

3. Eggs

Eggs are packed with brain supporting nutrients such as Vitamin B6, B12, choline and folate. Deficiencies in B12 and folate have been linked to depression. Because eggs are high in the B vitamins, they are good at helping to reduce mental decline as we age.

Eggs are a powerhouse source of choline, a nutrient important for strong cognitive performance. Studies that looked at individual cognitive performance (on tests of memory and attention) and choline levels demonstrated that higher choline levels correlated with better cognitive performance (4). It is suggested that since choline is a major component in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, high levels help neurons communicate with each other during activities involving memory and attention. While choline is not yet used as a direct treatment in humans, animal studies indicate that choline treatment help reduce memory deficits in animal models of traumatic brain injury (5).

The National Academic press indicates that choline is an important micronutrient that your body uses to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory. Two studies found that higher intakes of choline were linked to better memory and mental function (Nurk, Resfum, et al 2013) (Poly et al 2011).

Eggs are economical, and quick and easy to make for any meal of the day. In case cholesterol is a concern, we want to share the The Mayo clinic indicates that although chicken eggs are high in cholesterol, the effect of egg consumption on blood cholesterol is minimal when compared with the effect of trans fats. Most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs a week with no increase in their risk of heart disease. Some studies have shown that this level of egg consumption may actually prevent some types of strokes.

Eggs yolks, specifically, are where high levels of choline are found. For a new way to prepare your morning eggs, check our Pesto Baked Egg Cups recipe. This recipe also contains kale – another brain superfood! 

4. Oily Fish

Fat is a very important component of your brain. Your brain is made up of billions of specialized cells, called neurons, and each neuron is wrapped in a fatty sheath. This fatty sheath helps the neurons send messages to each other quickly. The faster these neurons can communicate, the better our thinking skills including memory and attention. Unfortunately, after a brain injury, this fatty sheath can become damaged and impair communication between neurons (6)

Oily fish, including salmon and trout, are wonderful sources of fat that go straight to the brain. Particularly, omega-3 fatty acids are found in these fish are used to help build up the fatty sheaths around neurons (7). Due to this process, incorporation of oily fish is believed to be beneficial in the cognitive recovery process after a traumatic brain injury. 

5. Pumpkin Seeds & Squash Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are filled with the amino acid tyrosine. Consuming this amino acid is important because it is used to create neurotransmitters, the chemicals that our brain communicates with. Specifically, tyrosine is important for creating norepinephrine, which is responsible for responding to acute stress scenarios. When stress is addressed with norepinephrine, it allows our brain to focus on the task at hand without feeling worried or losing focus. Multiple studies have shown that consumption of tyrosine can boost cognitive performance in a stressful situations (8). 

Pumpkin and squash seeds are a wonderful source of tyrosine. In fact, estimates show that one handful can have as much as 35% of the recommended daily intake for tyrosine (9). Consider having these seeds as a snack on the go to keep your thinking skills sharp, even on a stressful day! Check out our coconut yogurt clusters recipe for a tasty way to consume pumpkin seeds!

6. Coffee

Many of us are all too familiar with the daily pick-me-up that appears to come loaded in our daily cup of coffee. However, coffee, specifically caffeine, does more than increase wakefulness; caffeine has benefits for our learning and memory too! When consumed, caffeine interacts with specific receptors in the areas of our brain responsible for learning and memory. After a traumatic brain injury, this interaction becomes particularly important. Researchers suggest that long-term exposure of caffeine can indeed increase the number of these receptors having a positive impact on thinking skills such as memory (10).

Remember, that caffeine can also impact your sleep cycle and potentially exacerbate stress and anxiety, so these are important factors to consider before consumption. 

7. Green Tea

If coffee isn’t for you, then perhaps you’d like to try green tea. Green tea is famous for promoting relaxation and mental clarity and it is increasing in popularity around the world.

Similar to coffee, green tea also contains smaller amounts of caffeine, which promotes thinking skills such as learning and memory. However, there’s another important secret ingredient in green tea… groups of polyphenols! Polyphenols are micronutrients that are found in plant foods. Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that help to fight inflammation in the brain. Due to these anti-inflammatory properties, researchers support the consumption of polyphenols through the diet to facilitate the complex recovery process after a traumatic brain injury (11).

L-theanine, is an amino acid found in green tea. This amino acid can cross the blood-brain barrier and increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps reduce anxiety and makes us feel more relaxed. Although caffeine in green tea can help increase our mental alertness, the L-theanine helps us to avoid getting the “jitters” and nervous energy that coffee can sometimes give us.

So switch out your coffee for green tea and if you are not a hot green tea fan – brew a pot and put it in the fridge to cool and add stevia for a healthy iced tea beverage.

Of course green tea can be sipped hot as a tea, but you can also enjoy it cool from the fridge with a bit of stevia for a healthy iced beverage, or maybe you’d be interested in making it into a 2-ingredient ice cream!

8. Blueberries

Blueberries are small, but mighty, when it comes to protecting your brain! They contain phytochemicals, which are non-nutrient compounds that provide health benefits. Blueberries are high in a particular phytochemical group known has flavonoids. Along with producing that vivid blue colour, flavonoids are strong antioxidants, which protect against free-radicals and neuro-inflammation.

Additionally, a six-year Nurse’s health study in over 16,000 older individuals found that consuming 2 or more half cup servings of blueberries and strawberries a week were linked to slower mental decline and delays in mental aging by up to 2.5 years. Another study identified nine older adults with mild cognitive impairment who consumed blueberry juice every day. After 12 weeks, they experienced improvements in several markers of brain function (Kroikorian 2010).

The studies on blueberries and brain health seem almost endless! To share one more, Tufts scientists have found that the addition of blueberries to the diet in animal studies improved short-term memory, navigational skills, balance and coordination. Compounds in blueberries seem to jump-start the brain in ways that get aging neurons to communicate again.

Human studies have shown that consumption of blueberries promotes the growth of neurons, combatting memory loss (12). In animal brain-injury models, when taken as a powered supplement, blueberries have been found to have positive impacts on learning and memory challenges. It is believed that their anti-inflammatory effects, promote brain plasticity, fostering learning (13).

For your daily dose of berries, check out our Berry Beet Smoothie Bowl!

9. Walnuts

Given that these nuts look like a little brain themselves, it makes sense that they support brain health! Walnuts contain a host of healthy fats, which play an essential role in brain health. Research has shown these healthy fats reduce oxidative stress, maintain the structure of the neuron, and promote the generation of new neurons (14).

Did you know that 60% of our brain is made up of fat? This includes saturated as well as polyunsaturated fats. Omega 3 is a very important fat for our brain and we just do not get enough in our diets due to poor food choices, consuming processed foods and poor cooking and heating methods. Omega 3’s surround our nerves and protect them. They ensure that our nerves can transmit a smooth signal. Believe it or not, these good fats help regulate the release and performance of neurotransmitters. If we don’t consume enough of these good fats in our diet we can experience depression, memory and learning problems, difficulty concentrating, inflammation and even schizophrenia (Holford 2004). We mentioned above that consuming oily fish provides Omega 3, but so does eating raw nuts like walnuts!

In addition to these fats, walnuts contain various nutrients including polyphenols, vitamin E, flavonoids, and more. These components allow walnuts to protect the brain against inflammation and mitigate cognitive challenges (13).  Who knew that so much power could be packed inside one little nut! 

10. Dark Chocolate

Who doesn’t love hearing that dark chocolate can be a brain health food! Dark chocolate packs a triple punch containing levels of caffeine, antioxidants, and flavonoids. Just like in blueberries, the flavonoids in dark chocolate are strong antioxidants which fight against oxidative stress and neuroinflammation. This helps to slow cognitive decline and protect against neurocognitive diseases14. One study looked at over 900 participants and found that more regular dark chocolate consumption was associated with a stronger cognitive performance (15).

The flavonoids in chocolate gather in the areas of the brain that deal with learning and memory. Researchers say these compounds may enhance memory and also help slow down age-related mental decline (Sokolov, Pavlova et al, 2013). Chocolate is also high in magnesium which helps to calm the mind and promote relaxation. In fact, craving chocolate can be a sign of a magnesium deficiency.

In case you need one more reason to enjoy some chocolate, it also contains a chemical, phenyethylamine (PEA), which can help to elevate mood and feelings of love, while suppressing appetite and improving memory and learning. Feel the love and eat some dark chocolate!

Remember, we are talking about dark chocolate here and not candy bars or milk chocolate bars, which are full with sugar and artificial colourings and flavourings. Our Cranberry Pistachio Bark, Hot Cocoa Elixir, or Black Bean Brownies are all great way to consume dark chocolate!

In Summary

We can see from this list than there are many foods available to support brain function after a traumatic brain injury. Of course, these strategies are relevant to those of us who haven’t suffered an injury as well, as these foods support a healthy brain for improved mood and memory.

It is important to remember that a healthy balance of all these recommended foods, and others, is the most important to optimize cognitive performance. Don’t forget, that many lifestyle factors, such as sleep and stress, impact how our brain functions too! These should be considered in addition to dietary factors to support our brain during recovery or to prevent premature aging.

If you’re looking for help navigating brain injury recovery or other cognitive symptoms, please reach out! Our Nutritionists and Dietitians would be happy to guide you along your health journey!


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  2. Ferland, G. (2012). Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions. Advances in Nutrition, 3(2), 204-212. doi: 10.3945/an.111.001784
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  4. Nurk, E., Refsum, H., Bjelland, I., Drevon, C., Tell, G., Ueland, P., … & Vollset, S. (2013). Plasma free choline, betaine and cognitive performance: the Hordaland Health Study. The British Journal of Nutrition, 109(3), 511-519. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512001249.
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  9. My Food Data. Roasted Squash And Pumpkin Seeds (Unsalted).
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