Local Treasure: Soma Spa

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then I like to treat myself to a trip to the spa.

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photo courtesy of Soma website

I try to prioritize self care because I’ve truly learnt through experience that when I take care of myself I’m better able to be the best version of myself in all other aspects on my life. It makes total sense but it’s easier said than done, which is why occasionally that self care actually needs to be scheduled somewhere, whether it’s a spa or elsewhere so you make yourself go. Really, the spa never feels like a chore but somehow carving time out in your day for just yourself can somehow get bumped off over and over and next thing you know your totally burnt out.

In most areas of my life, I always aim to be really mindful of the decisions I’m making. Whether it’s what I’m eating, the skincare products I’m using, I like to feel good about where I’m putting my money and most importantly what I’m putting in my body. The spa is no exception for me. If I’m going to treat myself I want to do so feeling confident about the business I’m supporting and the product they are using on me.

I stumbled across Soma on Instagram in 2013 and they have been on my radar ever since. Not only do they have a selection of clean products they use for many of their treatments, the products they use are also from a small business made locally (bonus). If you’ve read my blog for a while now, you’ll know that I’m a big supporter of small businesses.

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photo courtesy of Soma website

Of course while those are all positives, what it really comes down to is the actual spa itself and the treatments they offer.

Soma is the only spa in Calgary that offers a hammam treatment which is a traditional Turkish full body treatment that includes a full body cleanse, exfoliation (with sea salt sourced from Vancouver Island!), relaxing moisturizing massage, and last be certainly not least a scalp massage and hair treatment. They’ve put a modern twist on it and the treatment takes place on a heated marble slab to help support circulation. In the past I’ve played it safe and pretty much have only ever had massages so right from the time that I learnt of the hammam treatment it was officially added to my to-do list. Back in 2011 I travelled to Turkey and I loved that trip so much that I think that fact that it is a traditional Turkish treatment piqued my interest that much more.

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I had the treatment a week ago and my skin still feels smooth and moisturized

I love knowing that when I need a bit of extra TLC, I have a place nearby that delivers on amazing treatments, relaxing atmosphere, caring staff and supports the community and local businesses.

What’s your favourite self care practice?

Peach Quinoa Mint Summer Salad

Peach has always been one of my favourite flavours. Without fail every summer they become one of most reached for items at the grocery store. It wasn’t until this summer however that I discovered just how delicious this sweet addition is in my salad. This makes an ordinary boring salad burst with summer flavour and I especially love the flavour combo of the mint and peach. I’ve wanted to share this delicious salad combo for a while now but overtime I make it I end up eating it before I can take a good photo of it to share with you.

What I love about salads (beyond how nutritious they are) is how they’re so easy and require very little time and effort. There’s no real recipe required, just throw together a bunch of good quality healthy foods and you’ve got yourself an easy lunch or dinner. They’re the ultimate opportunity to get creative. You may just stumble upon a combination of flavours that you LOVE and keep coming back to over and over again, kind of like what’s happened to me with this salad.

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I love this salad when it’s hot out and I don’t feel like standing around in a hot kitchen and cooking. I can whip this salad up in hardly any time at all and then sit on my balcony and enjoy the evening sun.

With a base of spinach, I created this salad using quinoa, roughly chopped almonds, roughly chopped mint, one chopped up fig, a bit of crumbled goat feta and 3/4 of a peach, sliced. I saved the remaining 1/4 of the peach to create the easiest peach vinaigrette:

Easy Peach Vinaigrette:
Chop up the remaining 1/4 of the peach
In a blender, add a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and cold pressed organic extra virgin olive oil. I typically aim for a 1:2 ratio of vinegar to oil
Add a bit of water. Don’t add too much water, but enough to thin out the dressing to a nice consistency and to help blend it all together

If you want to make it a bit fancier, throw in a fig or add a tiny bit of ginger

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I always make my own salad dressings. Like anything, once you’ve done it enough times it becomes second nature and doesn’t take much time or effort at all. I find them way more delicious and satisfying this way. And of course, it goes without mentioning that creating your own is the healthier route too. Bottled store bought dressings are often full of junk and added sugars which just isn’t necessary when they are so easy to make

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What’s your go to meal when it’s too hot to cook?

DIY Bath Bombs

Bath time is practically sacred to me. It’s a part of my night routine nearly every single night and pretty much always has been. They’re my favourite place to go to and relax and wrap up my day. I love the satisfaction that comes with dropping a bath bomb into the water just before I slip in. It’s so satisfying to see the fizziness and what’s even better is that my bath is then transformed into something that feels just slightly more spa like.

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Of course I realize there are plenty of DIY Bath Bombs already on the internet, but this rendition turned out so well I figured it was worth sharing anyway. I’ve made bath bombs enough times now and experimented with a few different recipes and this one has definitely turned out to be my favourite. I amped up the ingredients a bit because I wanted these to be a bit more luxurious. If you’re after something with simpler ingredients, I am sure there are plenty of options for those floating around the internet too!

Unlike store bought bath bombs, my homemade version have no synthetic fragrances, dyes or other unnecessary chemical additions. I also wanted them to hold together well so I opted for the addition of a bit of shea butter and coconut oil which solidifies at room temperature. They also doubles as incredible moisturizers for the skin. The ingredients are all carefully selected to be nourishing for the skin and body and they are a little more friendly on my wallet than grabbing them at the store. They may not be as vivid or sparkly but I would trade those elements anytime for this DIY version.

These can be a bit tedious to make at first as you have to have the proper ratio between wet and dry ingredients. The goal is to have the mixture moist enough that it sticks together, but dry enough that the fizzing effect of the citric acid and baking soda isn’t triggered by the addition of the wet ingredients.

Ingredients:
1 cup of baking soda
1/2 cup of citric acid
1/2 cup of sea salt or epsom salts
1/4 cup of oats, blended into a fine powder
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
2 teaspoons of shea butter
1 teaspoon of french pink clay
Essential oils of choice – I used a combo bergamot and wild orange
Spray bottle with neroli hydrosol (you can definitely use water, but as I mentioned above I wanted these to be extra luxurious) Hydrosol = fancy word for flower water
Dried flowers to decorate the top (optional)
Mould to form the bath bombs in – I use half of a christmas ball ornament

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Method:

Mix together all of the dry ingredients. Melt the shea butter or coconut oil until they are fully liquid. Carefully pour over the oil, making sure not to saturate one area too much. Using a fork, work the oil throughout the entire mixture. Add in the essential oils of your choice. I added between 5-10 drops of each of the two oils, scattering the drops across the mixture. Again, use the fork to work the essential oils into the mixture. Your ingredients should start to take on the consistency and feel of damp sand. The goal is for the mixture to be able to hold its shape when formed. Using the spray bottle, mist the mixture with the hydosol (or water) a couple of sprays at a time and then mix it through. Again, try not to saturate the mixture too much or it will trigger the fizzing effect that we are trying to save for the tub! Keep spraying until your mix holds together. With my fine misting spray bottle, I sprayed around 5-6 times before I felt happy with the consistency.

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Once you have the proper consistency, press the ingredients into your mould. (If you are adding dried flowers or something similar, place these in the mould first) I really took my time with this to ensure I was packing the tightly so they wouldn’t crumble once they were removed from the mould. Carefully turn over the mould. Place on a baking tray or something similar to allow to dry. I like to place mine in the fridge to help speed up this process. (Note some bath bombs will work better if you allow the bath bomb to dry in the mould. This is dependent on what type of mould you are using)

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After they have set and have dried, they are ready to use! I should mention now because it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t that, like any bath bomb these can leave your bathtub a bit messy. The mess is easily cleaned up though and I personally think the trade off a relaxing bath worth the extra 30 seconds it takes to quickly wipe my bath down afterwards.

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The nice part of making something like this yourself is that once you get the basic idea and formula down, you can begin to experiment with it and put your own twist on it like I’ve done. I love coming up with different combinations and working with different ingredients.

What’s your favourite night time relaxing ritual?

 

 

what I ate today

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I recently got back from spending a couple of weeks travelling Europe. I got to revisit some places I had been before but never really had the proper time to explore the first go round as well as plenty of new places that had been on my ever growing list of places to visit for quite some time. As much as I love travelling, it’s pretty much a given that by the end of my trip the one thing that is really pulling me home is that I’m eager to get back into my own kitchen and have the ability to eat the way that makes me feel the best.

Don’t get me wrong – as I mentioned in my previous post, I aim to stay consistent with how I eat even while travelling. I think it’s very much possible to have some semblance of health whilst travelling, it just may take a bit more effort to seek out the places that are align with how you want to fuel your body and a bit of preparation in advance. Despite best efforts, it’s never quite the same and given that I am someone who loves to cook and happen to live in a wonderful places with abundant options of health and fresh food, there’s always a piece of me that is ready to come home and get back into my usual routine, no matter how much I may love a place.

Now that I am back, here is a look at what I ate today now that I am back in my routine.

Breakfast: 7 am

 

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I usually like to start my day off with some sort of drink be it a tea or lemon water. Lately my go to has been combining holy basil tea with peppermint. I picked up the holy basil tea from a local super food shop as I’ve heard many people sing praises about it. I liked that it is an adaptogen (anti-stress agents), helps balance hormones and is beneficial for our blood sugar. If you want to learn more about it, Dr. Josh Axe does a great job of talking about the benefits: https://draxe.com/holy-basil-benefits/

While drinking the tea, I whipped up a green smoothie that I had been craving. This is my typical green smoothie: 1/2 avocado, 1 banana, pineapple, leafy greens (I used kale today), cucumber, parsley, fresh squeeze of lemon juice and some chia seeds. I add spirulina which is why the smoothie is a deeper green. Together the chia seeds and spirulina add a bit of protein and therefore this smoothie tides me over a bit longer. I blend with water and ice. It was easy to whip up, nutritious and hit the spot.

Snack: 10:45 am

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These homemade bars have been my go to lately. They include beans in them which may sound totally bizarre, but the beans add lots of fibre and protein to the bars to help stabilize blood sugars and keep me satiated for a long time. Beans themselves are very mild flavoured and it’s likely you’d be none the wiser if you gave these bars a try. I wrote a blog post for Wymbin Yoga for Kids with more information and the recipe. Click here to read

Lunch: 2:00

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Since I returned home I’ve gotten my first batch of produce from the CSA I signed up for which I had been eagerly awaiting since signing up a few months prior. Basically the CSA is  helping fund a farm which allows you to later reap the benefits of when their crops come in and you get a share of their produce. A giant salad is my go to lunch anyways so it was nice to be able to include fresh, organic and local veg directly from my farmer for todays lunch. Todays salad included: Sprouted mixed lentils, green and red leafy lettuce (from CSA), baby cucumbers, fresh dill and parsley, scallions (from CSA).I topped it with a squeeze of fresh lemon, drizzle of cold pressed organic olive oil and a bit of sea salt. I always make homemade salad dressing. It is not something I buy and you won’t find a single bottle of it in my fridge! In my opinion it’s so much tastier (and obviously healthier) to make your own.

Snack: 4:15

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A piece of fruit and a small handful of almonds or walnuts is a very typical snack for me. It takes virtually no time to prepare and is usually just what I need to tie me over between lunch and dinner. Eating the fruit in its whole food form with all of the fibre and nutrients intact as well as pairing the fruit with a healthy fat such as the nuts helps avoid spiking my blood sugar by slowing down the release of sugars from the fruit into the blood stream. The crash that follows a spike as well as well going to long between meals leads to some serious hangriness which is why I always try to have healthy, balanced snacks like this on hand. In the background you may notice my S’well bottle making a guest appearance. Best water bottle ever! I pack a big water bottle every day with me and this is hands down the best bottle I own.

Dinner: 8:00 pm

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Despite what I said at the beginning of this post about loving to cook, it’s inevitable that some days I get home from work and it’s the very last thing I feel like doing. As such tonights dinner felt pretty uninspired but I tried to push through my feelings of laziness and throw something healthy and tasty together without much effort. Using a bed of the same green leafy lettuce I had used in my lunch that I received from my CSA, I topped it with a bunch of shredded carrots, roasted cauliflower and curried chickpeas that I simply just warmed up on the stove with some spices. Typically I would have made a turmeric-lemony-creamy-garlic sauce for this but as I’ve just come back from Europe I haven’t done a proper grocery shop and didn’t have what I needed to throw much of any kind of sauce together.

It feels great to be back in the swing of things with my routine and regardless of tired uninspired dinners, I’m happy to be back in my kitchen whipping up healthy dishes again. This was a pretty typical day for me. What do you miss the most when you are on vacation? What does a typical day of eating look like for you?

 

will travel for food: Victoria

I recently got back from Victoria on Vancouver Island where I spent a few days with a good friend of mine. Every time I’m in Victoria I fall in love with it a little bit more. I absolutely love how lush and green everything is and of course that there is an abundance of cute places to grab amazing, nutritious food! Vacation or not I still like to maintain a healthy diet and it’s much more fun when you have plenty of places that deliver on both flavour and health. Eating well is by no means any sort of punishment and I don’t feel like I ever need a break from it the way that some people may justify their vacation diet. To each their own, but personally I love eating well and as such my vacation diet tends to not deviate too much from what I would eat on a regular basis.

Victoria seems to be a bit more progressive than the city I am from when it comes to healthy lifestyles and we definitely took advantage of getting our fill from their plentiful restaurant and cafe options and fortunately we didn’t even make it through them all so there is plenty of reason to go back.

Here are some of the places we indulged in during our trip. If you find yourself in Victoria, make it a point to stop in at one (or all!) of these places!

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Cafe Bliss was the perfect little stop downtown to grab a yummy bowl, drink or treat. We stopped in here twice and I even grabbed something for the plane ride home the night before we left. I’m still craving their food!

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So we may have gone to Be Love 3 times in just over 24 hours. No shame, it’s that good. We both fell in love with their Shawarma which is picture at the top of the above photo. Although it hardly resembles a traditional shawarma, both of us kept craving it over and over again and I had to resist the urge to order it multiple times because I wanted to keep trying something new. One of the first things when I did when I got home was dash to the grocery store to try to come up with something that had a similar feel to it as the yam Shawarma and despite it being totally different in flavours and ingredients, it was a winner and I think we even had it twice in one week. I love that I left this trip feeling inspired to get home and try something new.

Jusu Bar: There are a few locations of Jusu Bar around Victoria. We walked over to the Oak  Bay location and thought we were just grabbing a quick drink on our walk. We both spontaneously ended up getting their Classic Tacos and despite us walking in with zero expectations, we both agreed that they may have just been the yummiest thing we had all trip. The shell of the taco was made from leftover beet pulp from making the juice which was so cool! I loved that they had found a use for the leftover bits from juicing.

Nourish Restaurant and Cafe:

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This place was recommended to us by a friend/my friends sister (Thanks Krista Bear) and I’m so glad we deviated from Be Love for our last breakfast outing to try it out. I loved this atmosphere this place had. It was super quaint and the perfect cozy spot for an overcast morning.

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They had lots of yummy drink options that deviated from the normal latte and teas regularly served, including this delicious drink called Imperial Sunrise which had turmeric, herbal chai tea, steamed almond milk and honey. I definitely need to try to recreate this one at home.

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If you don’t have time to pop in for an actual meal, you can still grab a drink to go from their cafe side. They have plenty of cool take away items including their in house dairy-free hollandaise and their homemade water kefir.

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I love that all of these places offer not only healthy food but are extremely accommodating for people with different food preferences, sensitivities and allergies. It’s always nice to go somewhere where everyone can enjoy the food and doesn’t feel like a pain in the servers butt by having to try and make special requests whilst ordering so they can enjoy the food.

I am always keeping a running list of all a bunch of must try restaurants no matter where they are, so I have to know: What’s your favourite spot to grab a meal that delivers on both flavour and health?

easy ways to get variety in your diet

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I have a lovely little collection of cook books and I love pouring over them and getting inspired by all the amazing, creative dishes the authors/chefs have created.

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One of the best ways for me to get out of my head and ground myself after a long day is to get home and whip up something delicious and nutritious. Not only am I clearing my head and shifting my focus, I am treating myself to yummy food that is nourishing and I deem as an act of self love. Being in the kitchen for me is kind of like food for the soul and food to well… eat. Obviously. Somehow despite all the wonderful cookbooks and blogs and my own creative ability, more often than not I work through the same rotation of recipes. I want to start making better use and getting more creative in the kitchen so I have decided I am going to aim for picking one new recipe a week to give a try.

On top of being a little boost for extra creativity, variety in our diets is key to ensuring we are getting the full gamete of nutrients needed for optimal health. I read in a book recently that on average people usually rotate through the same 15 core food items and I think that’s totally true, we are all creatures of habit and stick to what we know we like more often than not. I want to start thinking outside the box a bit more and not only challenge myself a little bit when it comes to cooking (which will allow me to shift my focus outside of my own head even more) but also ensure I am switching it up and getting a wider variance of nourishing foods. To me homemade food takes mindful eating to the next level. It really allows for a deep appreciation, your food becomes the result of your hard work and time. There’s a deeper sense of connection when you are hands on with your food and I LOVE that aspect of cooking. Sometimes cooking feels like a pain and a big chore even to me as someone who generally really loves it, but there’s a certain fulfillment that comes from putting in the time and effort to create something beautiful, healthy and delicious.

Another easy way to include variance in your diet is to share dinner with friends! Their go to meals and your go to meals will often differ from each others, and it’s a fun way to connect and deviate from your norm. We all know that food is best when shared with someone you love!

Are you someone who cooks? Share your go to meals in the comments and inspire someone else to try something new!
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3 easy detox practices

For the last year or so I’ve been working on eliminating toxins in my daily life and focusing on lowering my overall toxic body burden. Regardless of me eliminating toxic household cleaners and switching over to clean(er) personal care products, the truth is that much of our exposure to environmental and dietary toxins can be a bit beyond our total control. Our bodies more than ever are exposed to an alarmingly high amount of toxins through our environments, lifestyles and diet. On a daily basis our bodies are infiltrated by toxins that can wreak havoc on our health and oftentimes we don’t even realize this is all happening.

Our bodies have plenty of systems put in place that function to help relieve our body from these toxic burdens (liver, lungs, kidneys, lymphatic system, colon etc) and our primary goal should be to support these systems to work optimally. Here are 3 simples practices that can be added into your daily routine to support these natural systems without a lot of time or effort.

  1. Dry Brushing: This took a little getting used to as the brush is quite rough but now I love it! There are a ton of benefits to this simple method. Not only are you getting rid of dead skin cells that will help keep your skin soft and glowly, you are also helping to stimulate the lymphatic system by brushing in long sweeps and encouraging circulation. I like to add a couple drops of some type of citrusy oil to my brush for a little sneaky aromatherapy too. detox1
  2. Tongue Scrape: Our tongues are supposed to be pink! Not coated in white gunk. I’m not going to lie, I actually cringe a bit when I see someones tongue coated in nasty white gunk. First thing in the morning and before bed at night, I run my scraper over my tongue to get rid of all that nasty. Our bodies do a lot of detoxing over a good nights sleep and I like to help get all of that out. I know a lot of people may feel grossed out by this, but what’s worse? Swallowing that all again?! And I ensure you that it is entirely more effective to scrape rather than just brush. Try it out and see for yourself. A clean, pink tongue is a good sign that your body is how your tongue should be, so if you are noticing that your tongue is always coated it may be time to consider looking into that a little deeper. A coated white tongue can be a sign of inflammation in the body. detox2
  3. Warm Lemon Water: I know that this is old news by now and this has gained a lot of attention in the last while but I add it here because this is something I do on a near everyday basis and despite me not being a morning person, this drink helps pep me up in the morning and helps get my day rolling. In regards to detoxifying, the citrate content helps your body flush out toxins and it has a high vitamin c content that has a whole wealth of benefits including being an antioxidant. Some people tout that it helps stimulate digestion and the liver first thing in the morning and wake your body up – studies definitely have been done to show the benefits of lemon but all I know is that it makes me feel great, especially with some added fresh ginger and a dollop of raw local honey.

Detoxing doesn’t just have to mean juice cleanses and detox teas! You can support your body’s natural systems by cleaning up your diet and lifestyle and encourage a bit of extra action from some of these easy habits that you can slip in pretty much anywhere at anytime!

Enjoy the Holiday weekend with friends and family!