How I Get back on Track With My Diet

It’s not something I like to admit, but like anyone else I’m susceptible to falling off the track when it comes to healthy eating. Busy schedules, traveling, getting struck by a cold, feeling down… you name it, there are plenty of reasons why despite our best efforts we slip up. No matter how much we may beat ourselves up in the process, the fact of the matter is that we are really just human after all. Rather than stress out too much, I’ve come to trust the resiliency of the body and focus my energy more on getting back on track.

As you can imagine as I sit writing this blog post, I myself encountered a stretch of feeling off track with my health and diet. Here are a few ways I motivate myself to get back at it:

Clean out my fridge: Ok, not the most fun way to kick off this list but maybe the most effective. I am definitely the kind of person that is affected by my environment and bizarre as it sounds, my fridge is certainly a part of this. Opening my fridge to see a big cluttery mess of old leftovers and general mess does nothing to inspire me. Fun fact, I grew up in a household where the fridge was cleaned out very regularly. It’s funny how we see parts of our parents come through in our own character as we get older! Being able to see fresh, beautiful food in a well laid out fridge inspires me to cook and leads to less food waste!

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serious fridge goals from Lee From America

Make use of those cookbooks: Am I the only one that has a bad habit of picking up a cookbook and barely touching it? To counteract this bad habit, I’ve made a point of once a week flipping through my books to find something that catches my eye that I have yet to try. It’s a good way to make use of your books and keep yourself inspired and growing in the kitchen.

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What I eat in a day videos: People logging what they eat in a day in video format has become a popular genre on youtube. Who knows why these types of videos are so entertaining, all i can say is that they certainly prove to be inspiring. Some of my favourites include Niomi Smart and Hot For Food

Invite some friends over and cook up a storm: I love treating my friends and family to good, healthy home cooked and creative foods. It sounds so superficial but to have someone provide the appreciation and compliment your food inspires me to keep cooking and sharing my food. Maybe your not the biggest fan of cooking or your kitchen skills are slightly lacking, in that case one of my favourite things to do is to cook with a friend!

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Empower yourself with knowledge: Sometimes I need to bring it back to basics and remember why exactly its so damn important to treat our bodies with love and respect (aka good healthy food and a healthy lifestyle). Empowering yourself with knowledge comes in a variety in forms, be it picking up a book, watching a documentary, or attending workshops or classes online or in person are just a few of my go to options. Equipping yourself with knowledge helps you know how to make the right decision for yourself.

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Of course at the end of the day we need to figure out how we can reinspire and motivate ourselves best. It’s inevitable that we can’t be perfect every day, but its all about how we persevere and stay consistent in the long run. After all, “We are what we repeatedly do” 

Confused about where you should start? Shoot me a mesage! I’d love to help.

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easy buckwheat banana blender pancakes

I’m often caught between wanting to sleep in a few extra minutes and wanting a wholesome, balanced breakfast. Not going to lie, I struggle to be a functioning human in the morning. I have never been a morning person my entire life due to sleep issues so I have to be able to find a balance between getting the sleep that I need a quick breakfast that’s both equal parts delicious and healthy. Despite working on weekends, there is something about taking the morning a bit slower and cooking yourself a nice breakfast. Lately I have been gravitating more toward protein rich breakfasts, but every once in a while a sweet comforting food like pancakes just needs to happen!

Enter in these gluten free buckwheat banana pancakes that take only a few minutes to throw together with minimal mess! All that is really required is throwing a few ingredients into the blender to mix up a batter and cooking them as usual.

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Of course you need to allow yourself some time to cook them up, but the prep is so easy that it cuts down on time and cleaning up afterwards.

The recipe is enough to feed one very hungry person and is easily doubled or even tripled based on how many mouths you are planning to feed.

Ingredients:
1 ripe banana! The spottier the sweeter.
1/4 c buckwheat flour* – you can grind your own buckwheat groats to ensure freshness if you wish
1 egg
1 – 2 tbsp milk of choice. I have used coconut, almond, cashew… all work great. The amount of milk will depend on how thick you’d like your batter. Allowing them to be a bit thinner means less cooking time to ensure the middle is cooked through… and potentially being a runny mess, so be careful not to overdo it. I don’t generally measure out the milk… just a quick splash and I am good to go.

*I also use oats for this recipe often in place of the buckwheat flour. In this case, I don’t typically add the milk as I don’t find it necessary.

Once you have thrown everything into your blender, blend together for 45 seconds or until well combined.
Meanwhile, melt some coconut oil in a pan on medium heat.

Make sure your pan is hot (not too hot!) and pour right from your blender into your pan. These only take a couple minutes each side before they’re nicely cooked.

I also love that these pancakes are easy to flip. Some of the other “non traditional” pancake recipes I’ve tried end up more like a pancake scramble when I try to flip them.

Buckwheat is a naturally gluten free psuedo-grain but still has that “wheaty” flavour. I also love that the sweetening ingredient in this recipe is full of benefits as opposed to a refined sugar that can actually end up stealing your bodies reserves of vitamins and minerals. Bananas are an amazing source of potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Using whole food sources to sweeten our food – banana in this case- also means they are coming with the enzyme our bodies require to help break the food down (amylase) which aids in digestion  (not to mention also takes a load off our pancreas. Processed food constantly calls upon the body to provide the necessary digestive enzymes. Eating processed and highly refined foods constantly can lead to a strained pancreas. Fresh produce will contain enzymes to help break down the food.)  and dietary fibre that is also good for digestion and will slow the release of sugar into the blood. They are absolute staples in my house because you can use them in countless ways not to mention they are quick easy snack all on their own.

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I like to top my pancakes with coconut butter. There are so many forms of coconut available – this particular variety is pure ground coconut flesh. It contains the fats, proteins and the sugars from the natural coconut and as such is a really balanced addition to the meal. When warmed it melts slightly hence the “butter” name. It has a subtle natural sweetness too. Paired with the banana in the actual pancake, there is really no need for additional syrup (on occasion I do add a drizzle of maple syrup, how could I not). Rather, I top it with whatever organic berries I have on hand, which are generally frozen but thaw out quickly enough from the warmth of the pancake.

If you’re looking for something new to add to your breakfast repertoire, these are an easy healthy addition that can be made without a ton of time or mess. I hope you give these a try!

I am always looking for ideas: what are your favourite go to healthy breakfasts when you’re running late?

My Skincare Philosophy

Your skin is a good indicator of what’s going on internally, so what is your skin telling you?

Just like anyone else, I’m certainly no exception when it comes to breakouts. This seems to be a more prevalent issue as I get older and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t experience a lot of frustration and that my confidence didn’t take a hit when this happens. I’m sure I’m not alone in this!

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What if we switched the perspective we have on breakouts? What if we chose to see it as a sign of what’s going on internally, and an opportunity to address it?

When I find myself with a breakout, here are the typical questions that I pause and reflect on. Breakouts are anything but fun, but they do allow us an to learn more about ourselves on a deeper level. Our skin is truly doing us a service by letting us know that something is up! A breakout is a sign there is some sort of imbalance going on and it’s up to us to listen to what we’re being told and address the root issue before it develops into something further.

How’s my water intake? •  What foods have I been using to fuel my body? • Have I been exercising lately? • What kind of products am I using on my skin and in my home on a day to day basis? • How are my stress levels? • What time of month is it for me? Is there a hormonal imbalance at play?

I’m certainly not suggesting that everything can be solved with reflecting on a few simple questions, but oftentimes when I stop and ask myself these questions, I realize something has slipped. I am totally guilty of getting caught up at work and realizing at 5 pm that I haven’t had a sip of water, a bite to eat, and I’ve barely moved from my desk for most of my day. HELLO hormonal rollercoaster and stagnant lymphatic system.

The study of nutrition at its core is the recognition of the interconnectedness of our body’s systems. More and more we are starting to realize that no system works in isolation and we have to work today harmony between all systems. Mental health lately is getting a ton of attention about this. Why do we treat our skin like its a separate entity than the rest of our body? Balancing our hormones, a health whole foods diet, avoiding inflammatory foods, taking notice and care of food sensitivities and supporting healthy detox pathways in our body will be reflected with glowing skin! It takes trial and error, time and persistence but eventually our efforts will be reflected. If not, I really believe there is still some work to do.

All of this is not to say that we can ignore a healthy skincare routine. I really love taking care of my skin, especially after diving into the world of clean and natural skincare products. My Aunt stressed to my cousins and I the importance of a good skincare routine at a young age and I will truthfully say from then on it would be sacrilegious for me to end my night without first looking after my skin.

Finding the right products takes time and is ever evolving as our skin and needs change, but what I will stress the importance of is selecting products with carefully curated ingredients that don’t compromise the state of our health internally. There is so little regulation in the beauty and skincare industry so as consumers we have to stay well informed of the ingredients we are choosing to apply directly to our body’s largest organ. 

My whole philsophy stems from lifestyle and diet first, and products second. Of course there is no one size fits all approach to skincare, but for the sake of sharing stay tuned for my favourite skincare products and my current routine!

Till then, I would love to hear your number one skincare tip!

 

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?

cardamom-smoothie

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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