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.

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?

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!

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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3 fermented food recipes (for people who don’t like fermented foods)

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of speaking to a group about nutrition and at one point in the conversation, we got on the topic of our microbiome and the importance of fermented foods.

One lady spoke up to say she didn’t like fermented foods. She was totally turned off by kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha etc and I totally get it! They are acquired tastes and despite all of the health benefits, they aren’t going to appeal to everybody. That said, they are such an important addition to our overall health that it’s important to find a way to enjoy them. Our bodies will thank us.

Adding new foods to your diet can seem daunting and overwhelming especially when your first impression of them is not so great. The truth is is that consuming fermented foods is a very traditional way of eating and we need to bring it back

When it comes to our health, our gut and digestion is at the core of it all. The gut has even been nicknamed the second brain because it dictates so many responses in our bodies, right down to the foods we crave! I’ve said this in a previous blog post, but 2000 years ago Hippocrates famously said “All disease begins in the gut”, and all this time later we are finding out just how true that really is. The addition of fermented foods benefit us in so many ways. Here a few of my favourite key benefits:

-Supports our immune system. Did you know 2/3’s of our bodies immune system lives in the gut?
-Supports healthy and proper digestion. A friend of mine recently said in a blog “you are what you absorb, not what you eat” which is so true! We want our bodies to efficiently be breaking foods down so we can actually make use of their nutritional benefits. The healthy bacteria release enzymes that in turn help us break down our foods much easier.
-Helps us stay regular. No it’s not glamorous, but what goes on in the bathroom is a huge indication of our health! If you are irregular, try the addition of these foods and chances are they’ll help you out.
-The gut is where we synthesize various different vitamins including mood supporting B Vitamins, the healthy bacteria in our system play a key role in this
-Help combat leaky gut and maintains the integrity of the gut lining.
-Help combat chronic inflammation which is thought to be at the root of most disease

On the Go Gut Loving Smoothie:

When I need something quick, whether its for breakfast, a snack or even a late night dinner, a smoothie is my go to and I am loving this good-for-my-gut combo:

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This smoothie features two fermented good for your gut ingredients: Genuine Health’s Fermented Vanilla Protein powder and organic kefir. The fermentation of the protein powder and dairy are much easier for digestion as compared to an unfermented protein powder and dairy product.

To recreate this smoothie: Genuine Health’s Fermented Vanilla Protein, organic kefir, organic blueberries, banana 1 tbsp milled flax seed, cinnamon, optional topping of extra berries and bee pollen!

Tempeh Brunch Bowl:

This can be thrown together so quickly as tempeh is super easy to cook. This is a perfect addition to a brunch spread or for a satisfying lunch.

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Tempeh is a complete protein source made from fermented soy beans. (When it comes to soy foods in general, I recommend they’re consumed fermented for easier digestion) It’s a great source of plant based protein and a great alternative for meat.

To recreate this bowl: organic roasted sweet potato, baked marinated organic tempeh, avocado and hardboiled or poached egg. Top with black pepper, sea salt and chopped green onion

Creamy Coconut Miso Veggie Soup:

It’s grey and dreary out today where I’m from and I can’t wait to warm some of this up for dinner. I’m always mindful not to bring miso to a full boil, just gently warm it to maintain full benefits.

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A while back I was in Victoria, BC with one of my best friends and went to Bliss Cafe. I had theeee most amazing coconut miso veggie soup that I have been dreaming of ever since. It was incredibly delicious. I did my best to pull from memory what this soup consisted of and fortunately I was completely happy with how this turned out. Miso is fermented paste of soybeans. Most people know it as a soup but it’s actually fairly versatile! There are many different varieties which have different flavours and lend to different things: you can create sauces, soups, salad dressings, dips etc with it.

To recreate this soup: Genmai miso, full fat coconut milk, organic low sodium vegetable broth, veggies of choice: I used radish, green bean, portobello mushroom, carrot, zucchini. Top with seaweeds: I used a blend of wakame, dulse and sea lettuce and nori. This addition may be easily overlooked if you choose to recreate this recipe but I highly recommend adding them! They are a fantastic source of vitamin and minerals.

There are plenty of different foods and ways to the enjoy the incredible powerful fermented foods. They may take some time to get used to but keep at it. They are amazingly flavourful but most importantly so vital to our overall health. In fact, the bacteria in our body outnumber the amount of human cells we have! Have you tried fermented foods?

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?

what I ate today

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?