Balance Bars

Here’s an ingredient you may never have thought to include in your baking: This ingredient has a mild flavour on it’s own and the addition of it into your baked goods will transform your baking into sources of protein and fibre that will help sustain your families through long days. They are easily hidden into recipes and picky kids will be none the wiser. Can you guess what the secret, nourishing ingredient is? BEANS are the perfect sneaky addition to your baking that will kick up your baking a notch for dense, filling treats that boast high nutritional value. There are plenty of different types of beans and recipes that you can experiment with. Including beans in your baking and snacks to provide for the kids will help keep their energy levels sustained so they can stay active and feel good!

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With Summer on it’s way, there are plenty of days in the Sun ahead. Road trips, camping trips, family getaways and the like make for long days where we want to keep our families feeling good and enjoying every moment. We can avoid the HANGRY monster that lives in all of us by choosing to eat balanced snacks that are full of protein and fibre which make beans the perfect ingredient to add to our diets.

The concept of being hangry stems from an instability with our blood sugar levels. This can occur from going too long in between having a bite to eat and the crash that is sure to follow after blood sugar spike. Our blood sugar can rapidly spike for many reasons – such as indulging in unbalanced, processed or refined snacks devoid of fibre, protein and healthy fats that help slow down the release of sugar into the blood stream. The crash that follows is what leaves us feeling irritable, grumpy, tired can contribute to anxiety and general short temperedness. The brain is dependent on glucose (the simple sugars our food is reduced to) for energy. Allowing our blood sugar to get too low will create sugar cravings and can lead to bad cycles of spikes and crashes if we are choosing the wrong foods to fuel us. Long term, this can lead to weight gain, illnesses such as insulin resistance and diabetes.

Fortunately, we have a tasty solution full of fibre and protein that will help slow down the release of the sugars into the blood keep us feeling good with lots of sustainable energy so we can make the most of Summer!

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Here is one of my favourite recipes that I make ahead and keep on hand for early mornings, long afternoons and a wholesome satisfying snack on the go:  These bars are full of fibre and protein from the beans, healthy fats and plenty of whole food goodness. They are free of common allergens so those who have sensitivities or allergies can still enjoy.

Balance Bars:
Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
3 ¼ cup rolled oats – ensure they are gluten free if there is a gluten sensitivity
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ cups of cooked white navy beans, rinsed and drained – there are a few varieties and any will work. I use navy beans
¼ cup coconut oil, gently melted
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 cup dried cranberries or apricots (unsulfured is best if you can find it – the Sulfur Dioxide is the preservatives that keeps the colours in dried fruit bright. Unsulfured won’t look as brightly coloured but it’s better to avoid the preservative)
¼ cup high quality dark chocolate chips (optional but tasty!)
¼ cup roughly chopped almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Make your chia mixture: This acts an alternative for an egg as eggs are becoming more of a common allergen. Mix the 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoon of water and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes to gelatinize.
  3. Pulse half of the oats in a high speed blender or food processor until it becomes a rough flour.
  4. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl: all of the oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  5. In a blender, combine the white beans with all of the wet ingredients: Coconut oil, maple syrup, unsweetened apple sauce, vanilla extract.
  6. Combine the wet and dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl and stir until everything is fully incorporated.
  7. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. You can get creative with the last three ingredients and try different combinations of dried fruit and nuts and seeds.
  8. Press firmly onto the baking sheet and cut into bar shapes, spreading out slightly so all edges of the bars can cook evenly. Cook for 15-18 minutes or until the bars turn slightly golden. These bars should be kept in the fridge in an airtight container and will last for a week. Alternatively, you can make ahead and keep them in the freezer for one month.

There are plenty of other ways you can add beans into your baking – muffins, cakes, brownies, blondies can all be done with the addition of various kinds of beans that will help enrich your baking nutritionally and stabilize blood sugars. Get creative, generally for every 1 cup of beans you can omit one cup of flour. Here’s to making the most to Summer and having the energy and good health to do so!

Blueberry Cardamom Smoothie

Finding time to blog is hard lately but I just had to get on here to share with you guys my go to smoothie of the moment. I’m obsessed with this thing and it’s been part of my go to breakfast rotation as of late. Seriously, this drink gets me out of bed some mornings, and that’s saying a lot because not much entices me to get out of bed on cold winter mornings (sad reality, haha).

I actually cut back on the amount of smoothies I drink in the winter, and those that i do have I tweak the ingredients, passing on the ice cubes and  including things like warming spices. That is how this amazing smoothie was born. Blueberry and cardamom are the most perfect marriage of flavours and I can’t get over how delicious they are. If you watched my latest youtube video or read my most recent blog post, you’ll know that I’m having a moment with cardamom. Cardamom is great for digestive and cardiovascular support but I think it flies under the radar in comparison to some of the other warming spices like cinnamon and ginger. I’ve had more than one friend ask me what cardamon even is on more than one occasion.

There are plenty of smoothies I make that have all kinds of vegetables, greens and superfoods added to them to bump up the nutritional value. This smoothie just isn’t one of them. I purposefully keep it simple as the flavours are just so perfect and the colour is amazing! Green vegetables, I love you, but I don’t love the swampy colour I am often left with. We all eat with our eyes first, don’t you think?

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How to Recreate:

The great thing about smoothies is the recipes are completely adaptable and open to the individual’s interpretation. No measurement is exact and that is kind of the beauty of making smoothies. And because quality matters, I’ve provided links to my favourite brands where I can.

Base of milk of choice: I use either homemade almond milk or a carrageenan free coconut milk
Banana: fresh or frozen (frozen bananas give such an amazing texture!)
~ 1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic blueberries
1 tbsp of cashew butter or coconut butter (or sometimes a bit of both!)
2-3 pods of organic cardamom
healthy sprinkling of organic cinnamon 
1 scoop of vital proteins Collagen Peptides

Pop everything into your blender and blend away! You’ll be left with the vibrant purple colour and amazing creaminess with that perfect flavour combination of the cardamom and blueberries.

I’ve opted for collagen peptides by Vital Proteins as a means to add a bit of protein to my smoothie. With the recent changes my ND has implemented in my diet to help manage my interstitial cystitis, protein powders are no longer an option as I am steering clear of dairy in all forms and grains as well. Plus, am I the only one that things that protein powder masks the flavour of just about everything else and all your smoothies end up tasting the same? Collagen peptides are a highly bioavailable source of protein and are known for their skin and hair benefits as well as the ability to support joints.

The reasons to love this smoothie go beyond that amazing colour and flavour: opting for whole feeds inevitably leads you with a host of benefits: health benefits of blueberries, bananas, cinnamon benefits, cardamom benefits, all the while you will be satiated from the protein and fat additions which really turns this smoothie into a quick and simple meal of its own.

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Chai Inspired Elixir Recipe

Elixirs seem to be popping up everywhere lately. At one point I had no idea what an “elixir” was, and although I’m not sure there is a specific definition I more or less think of them as blended drinks, usually warm, as opposed to something steeped and strained. They are usually incredibly nourishing and have healthy fats in there to help make them deliciously creamy and frothy. They are super satisfying! Whatever way you want to define them as, I’m sold.

I had been pretty obsessed with making a simple chaga tea elixir, but felt like switching it up a bit when I was reading about the amazing benefits of warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, etc in Julie Daniluk’s new book Hot Detox that I picked up from chapters. I’m a big fan of chai tea and I knew with the addition of some of my favourite Artisana coconut butter and a base of chaga tea I could create a deliciously creamy and frothy chai tea that is such a great alternative to you typical chain coffee shop where they load them up with sugar, allergenic dairy and unnecessary artificial junk.

Full Recipe:

Ingredients:
1 cup of steeped chaga tea or tea of you choice (roobios or black tea will work too!)
1 tsp – 1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
.5-1 tsp ground cloves
1 small whole pod cardamom or .5 tsp ground cardamom
1 big spoonful of coconut butter (my favourite brand is Artisana)
2-3 small dates or 1 bigger medjool date (or more if you prefer sweeter)

Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high for approximately a minutes. This will allow the drink to become smooth and amazingly creamy and frothy! Pour into your favourite cup, sip & enjoy

xo


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Simple Swaps: Reducing Waste

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I’ve recently come to learn that statistics show most people abandon their resolution and intentions for the new year as early as January 15! I can totally understand that, as in the past I’ve been way to over zealous with what I set out to achieve. The past couple of years I shifted my focus to something more simplistic and it’s been way easier to stick with!

If you happen to follow me on instagram, you would have seen that this year I am focusing on being more mindful of the amount of waste I produce. At some point in 2016, I became pretty wrapped up in watching youtube videos about zero waste living. Although I can’t say I’ll ever be as proficient as some of the people I’ve come across, it left me feeling inspired and drew an awareness to something that can be so easily overlooked. The intention and message resonated with me and I knew very quickly it was time to consider a bit deeper the impacts of my buying habits and consumption.

In hopes of keeping myself accountable [and hopefully inspire some others!] I wanted to put together a list of simple swaps that with little upfront effort / change will add up to
make quite a difference over time. Some of these things may seem so straight forward (and admittedly some are things that I have already embraced) but I really think that’s the beauty of it! As I wrote on instagram, the changes you embrace don’t have to be revolutionary. Little efforts add up and it may just motivate you to carry on to implement more and more changes.

◦ Purchase some reusable straws, either glass or stainless steel. I ordered a pack of 8 off of amazon that were fairly inexpensive most recently. I ditched the single use straws long ago and the beauty of it is you only need to purchase reusable straws once and then you are set.

◦ Grab a few reusable tote bags and take them with you whenever and wherever you shop. Keep a couple in your car or in a basket by your door to avoid accidentally forgetting them.

◦Purchase reusable produce bags. Produce bags are such a pet peeve of mine. I get it, we are trying to avoid germs and keep things grouped together but it just seems SO unnecessary to me. I’m so happy that I now have reusable produce bags. I store them inside the totes I use for grocery shopping. Added bonus, if you find some with fine enough mesh you can also use them to make homemade nut milk! I also came across the idea of taking a flat sheet that is not longer being used and sewing produce bags out of the sheet! That way you are cutting down on purchasing new items, saving a bit of money and making use of something that was otherwise not serving much of a purpose.

◦ Embrace a “make your own” mentality! There are so many things that we tend to buy out of convenience when in truth we could make them healthier, for less money and far less waste! Almond milk, granola bars, muffins, growing sprouts, toothpaste, deodorant, cleaning supplies… When did we decide to put our own personal convenience above just about everything?! I get that this may seem daunting to those that are not as well versed in the kitchen and are tight on time, however I would encourage people to consider things a little more big picture and you may just notice a shift in your priorities. It is incredibly fulfilling to have the satisfaction of knowing YOU created something!

◦ Grocery shop from the bulk section: Take those reusable produce bags and make use of the bulk section! Beans, lentils, grains, nuts & seeds, even honey and maple syrup as well as SO much more can all be purchased from the bulk section. Most places I shop offer this and taking advantage of this will dramatically cut down on the amount of packaging we purchase during our food shop.

◦ Shop in store vs. online: I know I just mentioned that I purchased my reusable stainless steel straws from Amazon, however I’m selective about where and what I shop for online. If its something I can easily get in person, or perhaps isn’t even something I really need, I think twice. The truth is that the item you are having shipped to you will be in far more packaging to reach you safe and individualized than it would had it arrived bulk to that brick and mortar shop.

◦ Swap liquid hand soap and body wash for bar soap: Bar soap may not be as nice to use to some people, but it comes in far less packaging (if any at all), can be easily found with clean, non toxic ingredients (easier than liquid body wash or hand soap in my opinion) and you can find some amazing bar soaps!

I really feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ways we can cut back on the amount of waste we produce. If there are any ways you can think of that I haven’t mentioned above, please post below!

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2016 Highlights

With another year coming to a close, it only seemed right to reflect on some of the moments that helped make 2016 the year that it was. If I had to sum up this year in three words, they would be challenging, motivating and GROWTH. I spent a lot of time reflecting on who I am as a person, who I want to be and what I want my life to be and this took me on a journey of self discovery and as this year wraps up, if anything I think I’ve gotten to know myself on a deeper level than I ever have which is a deeply satisfying feeling. This year brought with it lots of ups and downs as any period of time does but here are some of my happiest moments to reflect back on:

10.  Getting outside and summiting mountains with friends

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9. The perfect best friend trip to Victoria, BC

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8. Road Trip to Whistler, BC for The Wanderlust Festival

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7. Nutrition Lectures for Wymbin Teacher Trainees

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6. Exploring new cities in Italy

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5. Connecting with (nearly) all my friends in one spot for Christmas Brunch

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4. Spontaneous trips to Vancouver with Dan

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3. Sunrise hikes

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2. My first solo trip to London, UK

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1. Connecting with new, amazing people and being a part of an amazing community made possible through this blog and social media!

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Happy 2017 everyone! I hope your year is already off to an amazing start xx

Planning for The New Year 2017

Like many people, I love the fresh start of a new year and the opportunity it provides to realign myself with my intentions and goals. Yes, I am 100% a New Years Resolution kind of person, and I always have been. Truth be told I love goal setting and intentional living at any point in the year and certainly don’t wait until January 1st to act on all my intentions but I also can’t deny that I spend a bit of extra time reflecting and planning in the last week of December to prepare myself for the New Year.

For those that need it, the internet is full of prompts and sources of inspiration to help you reflect and prepare for the year ahead. Along the way and over the course of the last few years I have discovered a few resources and tools that have helped me hone in on what I want to achieve and come up a plan to turn all those big dreams into a reality.

In an effort to keep things a bit more simple this year, here is what I used as prompts to help me get sorted and discover exactly what I want to focus on in 2017

Marie Forleo is one of my favourite people and she has three questions to help you reflect on your year

Anthony from Break The Twitch on Youtube talks about two short term actions we should be thinking about in order to achieve our ideal lives. I thought this perspective was simple yet genius and it’s made me realize that I am a lot closer than I realized to spending my days exactly how I want to be. I took the time to write down a typical day and what that looks like for me at this point in my life. Beside that, I wrote down my ideal/perfect day in as much detail as I could really think of. How do I want to spend my time? Where am I? What am I eating? When am I waking up? Who am I with? What’s my dream job? I then took two different coloured highlighters: yellow for investment actions and pink for immediate actions. Anything that I had written down on my ideal day that I could start doing immediately, I highlighted pink. Anything that I wanted a part of my ideal day that simply isn’t feasible at this point in time (like that dream job) was highlighted in yellow and I know that is something I need to actively work toward by using investment actions, whatever that may be for that particular aspect. I love the simplicity of this and how it calls on us to be intentional with our daily actions. I’m a big believer that we don’t get where we want to go by chance, we have to work hard and having some semblance of a plan on where to focus our efforts helps us from spinning our tires and getting nowhere. I can’t wait to see how mapping out my ideal day and setting intentional actionables helps me achieve all my big plans and dreams!

Lastly, I wanted to mention something that I have spent a minute or two of each day in 2016 doing each night before bed. This Q&A a day book was a gift from my boyfriend in 2014 and prompts you with the same question on the same day for 5 years. As you go through each day year after year you get to see where you evolve and grow and where you stay the same. I love this book because so often I do my big reflections at the end of the year and never touch them again. This is a great way of keeping track of brief glimpses of yourself and your year without a huge time commitment.

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Happy dreaming and scheming, I hope 2017 has big, amazing things in store for all of you

What’s your favourite way to get ready for the New Year?

My thoughts on FEAR

Over the last year or so I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the idea of fear and what it means to me.

In this reflection I made a choice that I wanted to reach a point in my life where I operated out of excitement, love, intention but I didn’t want to be a person that always made decisions based on fear.

I’m sure I’m not alone, but I’ve always had a suffocating fear when it comes to what people think of me and failure. There’s been so many things in life I have held myself back from because I was afraid of judgement and I’m terrified of the idea of failure.

I’ve always been incredibly shy and terrified of putting myself out there in any capacity. There’s been points in my life where this fear of judgement and fear of failure has felt completely debilitating to me. In university one of my finals was a presentation I had to give in front of the class. I purposely didn’t show because I couldn’t fathom the idea of speaking in front of 30 people. Naturally, I failed that class and had no one to blame but myself. Of course this is just one example and looking back, I recognize that a lack of passion about what I was learning played a big role in this, but this is a prime example of how I let fear get in the way.

One of the things I love about the internet is the opportunity to connect with some truly beautiful people. Around 4 years ago (actually to the month) I came across Ange Peters, founder of Hol:Fit on youtube and instantly felt a connection with her. Our stories aligned in so many ways (pursuit of a healthy lifestyle after both our fathers had died from Cancer) that I just couldn’t help but reach out to her via email and I’m so glad I did. Ange has been one of my go-to resources for inspiration in my life and the value she has added to my life is immeasurable. Through her I’ve been introduced to many others that continue to inspire me and challenge who I am as a person. I’ve watched her business with essential oils grow right from the very beginning and with her success she somehow continues to just get better and better.

This might seem like this post is turning into a bit of a love letter, but that’s ok, I’m all for sharing gratitude for the great people in my life. I kind of knew it would when I started this post because I had a moment yesterday where all the dots started to line up for me.

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Fast forward from the person who would stop dead in their tracks because of fear and felt stuck and stagnant wishing for more to someone who now pushes through their fears because they know it’s always worth it. Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking to a group about nutrition for kids. Despite my nerves I got up and did it anyways because it’s a topic I’m passionate about and I’ve had people like Ange teach me the value of pursuing what matters to you and pushing through your fear.

Yesterday morning before I met the group I was full of anxiety. I put on some of my favourite essential oil blend and put on an old periscope of Ange’s to help ease my nerves and I was overwhelmed by the feeling of gratitude I had for her when I realized all of the tools I have now to push through moments like this.

My definition of both fear and failure have changed considerably and while I still get anxious and full of self doubt, I now recognize that those feelings come to me when I’m dealing with something that truly matters to me and I want to be able to do it justice. I feel so passionate about delivering the message of a healthy lifestyle that yes, it caused me anxiety but it just proves to me how important it is to me. I’ve never been someone with amazing self confidence but I can see now how pushing through these moments of fear play into building that confidence up and why failure is just a part of the journey.

Let’s be honest, I probably sounded like a babbling idiot for the first 10 minutes of my talk, but the point is that I got up there and did it when a few years ago I was too afraid to even start a blog because I wasn’t sure what people would think.

I look back and feel a great sense of sadness for the little girl who was too afraid to try out for soccer and volleyball because she was too afraid of failing and not making the team, and all the other countless moments I held myself back because of fear. However in this moment and this point in my life, I am grateful for the growth that I have experienced and for people like Ange who constantly push boundaries and call on us to be better.

Fear and failure still have their places in my life, but in changing my perspective of them I’ve in turn taken the power away from them and given it back to me. I still have my moments. In fact this very blog post calls on me to make the conscious choice to disregard that “What will people think?” feeling that is so familiar to me and just post anyways because I think it’s a message worth sharing. I think it’s so important to recognize growth and of course to be grateful for those that have supported us along the way.

Check out Ange and learn what she is about: http://www.hol-fit.com