Posts tagged with healthy:

Enjoying the Sweet & Sour

Hey guys! Apologies for the lack of updates recently, all I can really say for myself is that I’ve been busy! Life has thrown a lot of curve balls my way over the past few weeks and months and I’ve been spreading myself a little too thin trying to manage it all. There’s soo much to catch up on and share with you guys! 

If you were to ask me a year ago what my ‘dream job’ might be, I would probably have told you something involving copious amounts of fruits and veggies, clean food and helping people get healthy! Somehow, through the power of intention and a little personal magic, I found a way to make that a reality. Without even realizing it! I found two amazing ways to fuel my passions; volunteering with a local organic food distribution company called Globally Local (more info coming in the next post!) and working at the brand new, 100% raw, organic & cold-pressed juice shop; Pulp & Press Juice Co.! Life is so juicy sweet and I am very thankful for these opportunities that are so in line with my passions and allow me to fuel my creative fire. 

Working at the juice shop

My studies, personal goals and relationships had taken a back-seat to the madness and excitement of it all for a while there, but things are settling into a new pattern of organization now, and it feels refreshing. This winter was especially long, hard and drawn-out and now that the warmer weather has finally started springing up here in London, Ontario, I’m excited to start fresh with my healthy habits.

And my writing habits for that matter! I began writing an ebook several months ago, but have neglected it quite a lot since. So in a mild effort to get some work done on the project, I’m committing myself to writing a page a week - which should be easy enough to sneak in, even when I’m feeling lazy or uninspired. Slow progress is better than no progress, the way I see it. I also promise to post on the blog at least once a week from now on, even if it’s just a quick little blurb like this one letting you know what I’m up to. :) 

Three links I love week:

Hope the weather is clearing wherever you are in the world too! What are some fresh habits you’d like to start up now that Spring has sprung? 




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A Heartfelt Meal

The two words that seem to be on everyone’s mind (and social media feed) this week are ‘Valentines Day’! And while I can’t say I’m a particularly big fan of the holiday per se; I believe that actions speak louder than Hallmark Cards, I still couldn’t help but throw together a simple but fun & romantically inspired dish - perfect for nutritionally spoiling your loved ones and your taste-buds! ;)

This is another example of my spiralizing skills gone wild in the kitchen! I can’t help but marvel at the veggie-noodles every time I use my spiralizer! It’s just fun to watch them thread their way through! This dish is a basic melody of:

  • 3 rainbow carrots (purple, white & orange)
  • 2 small red beets

The ends needed to be fairly flat to work with my spiralizer - but my arms appreciated the mini-workout and got the job done quick. There are a million different types of spirlaizers on the market - you can check out Amazon for a few cheap varieties - mine is the ‘Asian-Spiral Slicer’. 

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The sauce can be done raw with almost all the same ingredients*, but for this round I chose to include a couple cooked ingredients as well. It’s completely up to you how you wish to treat your taste-buds and your body. <3 And always know that you can throw in any flavours that you prefer over my suggestions at any time!

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The Sauce:

  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 handful of fresh basil 
  • 1/2 a chopped red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 spoonfuls of cinnamon
  • 1 small chopped beet
  • chilli flakes
  • 3 spoonfuls of tomato paste*
  • 1/4 cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes*

It makes for a rich, creamy and a little spicy dressing for your crunchy pasta! Alternatively, if you’re not catering to a raw foodie, you can bring a small pot of water to a boil, place your spiralized carrots and beets into a strainer and dip into the water for 15-30 seconds or until tender. Some folks who prefer cooked pasta dishes, or just want something hot in their belly will enjoy the warm and familiar texture. 

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Let me know what you think! I always love a hearty pasta dish and I think there’s something about beetroot that’s just deliciously romantic! ;) Whatever your plans are this Valentine’s Day, I hope you have a great love affair with yourself and with your food! <3 

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What Clean Eating Means to Me

These days it seems like there’s a lot of different opinions as to what the term “healthy” means. If you browse through some tagged photos on instagram or briefly through your twitter feed, you can easily find some recipe that claims to be ‘healthy’ and ‘clean’, but contains overly processed and nutrient-deficient foods! I guess my definition of clean eating might be a little extreme for some people - and that’s fine, but I believe we simply need to set the bar higher when it comes to our health. 

We’ve all had those moments of fried-food self-sabotage, where we re-learn the lesson: "you are what you eat". Our food is our fuel and what we eat can have such a drastic impact on not just our physical bodies, but our mental state as well - why WOULDN’T we want the best for ourselves? 

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Clean Foods

Clean food is natural food; it comes in the perfectly designed package of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre. It is easily and readily digested and absorbed into the body with little to no effort. Intuitively we can already determine which foods are the best for us to consume: they’re usually brightly coloured, naturally attractive and easy to collect or harvest. Clean food leaves you feeling light, energized and vibrant. 

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • leafy greens
  • whole grains
  • nuts & seeds

It’s also important to keep in mind the source of your food. Organic is obviously preferred over conventional and local foods are generally higher in micro-nutrients. 

'Dirty' Foods

I don’t really like to think of any foods as good or bad in such black and white terms, and limiting or eliminating all or any of these foods from your diet may or may not be right for you. But it is important to realize that there are many food items on our shelves that do not promote health in the body and many in fact cause dis-ease.These foods generally require a great effort to digest and are lacking in absorbable vitamins and minerals. They are difficult to obtain by natural means and require more natural resources from our planet to produce. These items may also cause a number of minor physical side effects including bloating, weight-gain, dehydration, fatigue, headaches, constipation, phlegm & mucous build up to name a few. 

  • oils & salts
  • packaged & processed food items 
  • meats
  • dairy
  • beige or bleached foods
  • heavily fried foods

Balance is Key

I’m not about perfection, or restriction - I treat myself  and thoroughly enjoy it and I encourage you do to the same. I just try to re-asses my idea of what a treat is for my body. Is it just about the temporary satisfaction of flavour or is there a pleasure in treating your body to a health buzz as well? 

Personally, I chose a vegan lifestyle because of ethical reasons, but I eat a plant-based diet for health. I have seen and experienced first hand the benefits of a cleaner body and mind and for me, it’s just not worth it to go back. I think there’s a lot to be said for the type of satisfaction you get by treating yourself to a clean-conscience too! ;) 

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Wherever you are on your health journey, becoming more aware of your food and in-tune with your body is ALWAYS a positive thing. You don’t have to change anything overnight. I find it best to take it one meal at a time and seize the opportunity to create a healthy body with each and every bite! It makes for a very rewarding and exciting experience! Your taste-buds and your waist-line will thank you! <3 

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Veggin’ Out in Ontario

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When I was growing up as a lonely vegetarian kid in rural Ontario, the idea of an entirely vegetarian restaurant was unheard of - let alone a completely VEGAN one! I was always ‘the odd one out’ when it came to social gatherings and dinning at restaurants; I asked the waiter one too many questions and was just a little too picky to make eating out a truly satisfying experience. Now in my home-town of Owen Sound, there are plenty of veg-friendly locations and plant-based options. There’s even a new juice bar called 'The Bleeding Carrot' that recently opened up on the main strip! It’s wonderful to see healthier trends becoming so high in demand! People are no longer simply eating out to spoil their taste-buds, but we’re becoming more conscious of our food choices and how they affect us AND the world we live in! 

Now I’m lucky enough to live in a bigger city, where there are lots of choices when it comes to cruelty-free dinning. Since moving to London about a year ago, I’ve discovered a few solid smoothie spots, juice bars and vegan-friendly locations. But the place that takes the dairy-free cake has got to be 'Veg Out' - London’s only 100% vegan restaurant! I’ve been there more than just a handful of times and I keep coming back for their spectacular menu and commitment to quality. 

This week we choose a rather blustery night to make the trip downtown, but it was well worth suffering the sub-freezing temperatures - not long after our arrival we were offered complimentary hazelnut hot chocolates to help warm us up! In my opinion, it’s that kind of added touch that makes the difference between a regular meal and an eating experience! 

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I can quite honestly say I’ve ordered just about everything on the menu at one point or another and their weekly specials are always a delight. They’ve had a hard time putting a meal in front of me that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy - everything is top notch with very fair prices and delicious seasonal ingredients. This particular evening, for our appetizers, we ordered the spicy tempeh wings and poutine with daiya cheeze and shiitake mushroom gravy. This is the kind of meal that I indulge in with gusto! I went vegetarian at such a young age that there are some more traditional dishes that I simply never tried; like chicken wings and poutine. 

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Even as a proud Canadian girl, I had never experienced traditional poutine with the cheese curds and gravy, so when I found these vegan versions here, I of course HAD to see what all the fuss was about! And I was NOT disappointed! Definitely not the most nutritious selections but absolutely packed full of flavour! :) 

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For the main course, it was a sunflower seed pate sandwich for him…

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And a raw zucchini pesto pasta salad for me! This is currently my favourite dish on the menu. It offers lots of greens and healthy veggies with sprouts and sesame seeds for an added crunch and protein punch! 

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If you live in London, or ever find yourself in the area, I highly suggest you check this place out. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or just trying to eat a bit more consciously, this joint is a gold mine of flavours and you’re sure to find something that truly satisfies your body and soul!

You can Find & Follow Veg Out here for the latest news & specials:

Please Note: Veg Out is a fur-free restaurant. If you drop in for a visit, please refrain from wearing fur. 

Do you have a favourite vegan, vegetarian friendly or all-organic dinning location you like to visit? :) Let me know in the comments below! I always LOVE finding new spots to check out - even if I might not live close, we can share our love of plant powered foods by supporting the businesses that support our lifestyle! <3  

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Alternative Holiday Ideas

My family has always gathered at Christmas time, no matter what the weather; outside or in our hearts. We’re an interesting crew to say the least, having changed a lot over the years and though our eclectic attitudes may clash loudly at times, we always come back to that big wooden table to laugh it out and celebrate the season. 

My family is very supportive of my dietary and lifestyle choices and they do extremely well at accommodating me and encouraging me to share with them my thoughts, ideas and recipes too! Especially now that they’ve witnessed the results unfolding in and around me on this crazy "healthy food kick". As a lot of my readers will know, I really believe that special occasions and holidays are the PERFECT opportunities for sharing healthy and clean food with friends and family! But I think there’s a lot to be said for healthy gift-giving mindset too! 

Image Source: 30bananasaday.com

Far too many of us get into a stressful whirl of shopping and budgeting that we forget what the season really is all about. Depending on your beliefs you might have specifics that differ from me or the next guy, but when you get down to the real nitty-gritty of it, under the packaging, decorating and frosting of it all, the real reason for the season is just simply: love. Gathering together with family and friends; giving, receiving and acknowledging the love that connects us. 

Here are a few alternative holiday gift-giving ideas that can help us get back to the root of what Christmas is all about; so you can spend more time with your loved ones and less time in the malls!  

Handmade 

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! A lot of people have hidden talents that even they might not immediately be aware of. If you stop and think about it for a minute, I bet you can think of at least two or three things that you’re really good at! If you get a little creative you can come up with all sorts of innovative ways to share your gifts with others over the holidays!

  • If you’ve got a skill for web design, does a friend need help with their business? 
  • Can you crochet, knit, sew and/or stitch? I bet there’s a friend or family member who would seriously LOVE handmade warm mittens, a scarf or socks this season - my father’s face still lights up every time he gets a pair for Christmas! 
  • Handy in the kitchen? Try out some new recipes and find some cute box or bag to keep them in - people are always grateful for tasty treats this time of year.
  • If you know your way up and down the piano keys or guitar strings, why not write a song to commemorate the occasion? Something funny about the family? Or a love-song for a sweetheart? There’s something about music that brings people together! Perfect for the holidays! 

For more DIY inspiration check out www.instructables.com, especially their ‘Homemade Gifts' section. You can also look on handmade websites like my personal favorite: www.etsy.com for unique hand-crafted items AND you can use the ‘Shop Local' option to find sellers near you to keep the love close to home! 

Experience vs Gifts

A great way to steer the focus away from senseless spending and back onto each other is to share memories! Instead of necessarily exchanging a bunch of gifts this year, you could ask your partner, friend or family if they’d want to go for a sleigh ride, a hiking trip, visit an animal sanctuary, or if you really want to be traditional: go caroling! There are so many ways to show you care that don’t have to be quite so material.

  • Fill a photo album with a series of photos that tell a story and maybe write captions below. Parents and grandparents love gifts like this - especially if you can get children or pets involved, it really ups the cute-ness effect!
  • Create a coupon book full of IOU’s and freebies that the receiver may exchange for various acts of kindness, favors or outings. This makes a great gift for lovers and spouses; we all know everyone could use a ‘get out of jail free’ card every now and again! ;) Use things that your partner might not expect: coupons for date nights, we-time or ‘Dishes Cleaned - No Questions Asked' usually get a positive response. 
  • Use money that might otherwise be spend on gifts and decorations to take a family trip or weekend away. Visit some relatives, friends, or just escape to the country for a few days! 

Give To Others

Giving to others who might be less fortunate than we care can be so rewarding! Find ways in your area to help out where it’s needed or even make small gestures in your social community that help each other out.

  • Donate your time and/or finances to a charity or organization of your choice.
  • Ask a lonely friend over for your festive celebrations, make someone feel welcome and appreciated.
  • Shovel snow for your elderly neighbors.
  • Showcase your musical or theatrical talents at the local retirement home or hospital. 
  • Adopt an animal from your local shelter to save a life. 
  • Donate your blood to save more. 
  • Sponsor an animal or endangered species, or organization that preserves our natural lakes and parks. 

Even just small acts of kindness; the simplest thing like re-connecting with an old friend over Facebook and wishing them the best in the new year can be enough to put a spark in someone’s day. And that little gesture, however so small, is a gift that truly keeps on giving. <3 

Other Ways To Simplify The Season:

1. When it comes to home decor and lighting, go for the minimalist approach. Choose natural trimmings, like clippings from local evergreens and holly bushes. Use candles and incense scents like: pine, frankincense, myrrh, cedar, mug-wort, rosemary and lemongrass to create a cozy and festive atmosphere.

2. Cut back on paper by using alternative gift wrap and DIY Greeting Cards. Wrap gifts in reused paper and bags, newspaper comics (kids can color them in), old maps, or other used paper. Reuse magazine photos, old postcards and past holiday cards to make new ones!

3. Prepare and enjoy sustainably made meals. Use as many seasonal, locally grown and organic foods as possible.

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However you choose to spend your holiday season, I wish you lots of love from my heart to yours! <3 Let me know what alternative Christmas ideas you’re getting into this year to keep the spirit in season! :) 

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Ruby Red Grapefruit Salad

These days when you mention the word ‘salad’ most people think of the classics; Greek, Caesar and (God-forbid) Garden. These boring and lack-luster displays of GMO greenery are not only aesthetically deficient, they’re in desperate need of some nutrient variety! Cucumbers, tomatoes and ice-burg lettuce is just not how I roll when it comes to getting my greens in. Tonight I threw together what I would say is a solid salad. It doesn’t involve anything too complex or detailed, but it offers more flavor and variety than your usual side dish. 

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As always there’s plenty of wiggle room with the recipe and I invite you to play around with the ingredients and figure out what you like best! For example, I know a lot of folks don’t like grapefruit (I absolutely HATED it until just a few months ago) so feel free to swap it out for a preferred citrus fruit such as oranges, clementines, tangerines, blood oranges, tangelo etc. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 chopped apple
  • 1 grapefruit, cut into 8ths
  • 1 cup of dehydrated apple slices
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup of red grapes
  • 1 cup of celery greens 
  • 4 cups of mixed organic greens; spinach, arugula, romaine, red leaf etc.

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For the dried apple slices, I pulled out my mom’s old dehydrator; an rustic looking thing with 5 round trays and two settings - on and off. No idea what temperature it may or may not reach. I just chopped up a few granny smith apples and left the slices in the trays for about 8 hours or so rotating the trays twice. Dehydrating is a great way to preserve tasty fruit for the colder months when it might not be available in your area; mangoes for example are one of my favorite dried fruits! 

And yes you can eat your celery greens! The leaves are packed with five times more magnesium and calcium than the stalks! They’re also a rich source of vitamin C and potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. I like to mix them up with some parsley usually, but tonight I was fresh out. 

For a dressing you can do as you wish, though this time I blended up:

  • 1 small chunk of grapefruit
  • 1 cup of grapes 
  • a few raspberries
  • 1 medjool date, pitted

And the end result was a chunky fruit concoction that really hit the spot! I love it when my dinner tastes like desert! Haha! If you try this recipe out let me know what you think! Thanks for reading! Here’s to never having to eat another ‘garden salad’ again! ;) <3 

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The ‘Angry Banana’ Smoothie

I went to the Western Fair Farmer’s Market yesterday with a friend to stock up on a few weekly essentials. We had a great time; bought some delicious juices and checked out the new organics. I was also pleasantly surprised to find some organic rainbow carrots and purple kale among the stalls and as soon as I got home I felt inspired to create some sort of violet, magical concoction with my dark, leafy friends!

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make a juice or a smoothie, so I got creative and went for a little bit of both! I juiced the kale, with some beets, a carrot, apple and an orange, then blended up some bananas with sprouts, kiwi, lemon juice, blueberries and a few leaves of basil. Mixed ‘em together and this vibrant super-drink was created! 

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Ingredients: 

Chop up the following and run through your juicer. Alternatively, if you don’t have a juicer at home you can use a blender and strain it through a cheesecloth after. Be warned: this juice will be very deep in color and stains easily - if you’ve juiced beets before you know what I’m talking about - just be a lil extra cautious about where you wipe your hands. This should yield ~500mL of fresh juice depending on the size of your produce.

  • 2 beets
  • 1 bunch of purple kale
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 apple
  • 1 orange

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Next, mix the following ingredients in your blender (keeping the greens on the bottom to eliminate any big leafy chunks) and slowly add the juice to the mix to even out the consistency. 

  • sprouts (here I used pea tenders)
  • 4 bananas
  • handful of basil leaves
  • 1 kiwi, with skin
  • 1/4 cup of blueberries
  • juice from 1 lemon

Pour it into a big glass and enjoy! The recipe takes a bit of extra work but it’s surprisingly smooth & rich! Has a nice, light Earthy flavor & I really am pleased with it! And it definitely packs a nutritional punch! ;) Let me know if you give it a whirl and what you think! What’s your favorite way to use purple kale?

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Feelin’ the Green Smoothie Love

Like I said I would in my last post, I’ve hopped back on the green smoothie train and never felt better! I’ve lost the few lbs I gained last month and I’ve bounced back into my training routine; yoga 20-30 minutes a day, weights 5 x a week, cardio 3 x a week. I’m chugging back the water, eating clean and lord help you if you get in the way of my 8 hours of beauty sleep. ;) It feels good to be energized again. 

As some of you might know, my usual routine is fresh fruit, juices and/or smoothies for breakfast. Over the past couple weeks I’ve been putting the emphasis on the big green smoothies to super-charge me throughout my day. Kale, spinach, parsley, basil, broccoli, chard, kiwi, celery… Basically anything green I’ve been tossing it in and hoping for the best! I have so many combinations that I LOVE but this one was especially tasty and simple, so I thought I’d share it with you guys!

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 russet apple 
  • 2 cups of chopped spinach
  • 2 bananas 
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 1 kiwi, with skin
  • juice from 1 lemon 

**Remember to put your leafy greens on the bottom when you load up your blender. It helps ensure that they get pulverized and not left in chunks. Gives it a smoother, creamier texture! 

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Try it out and let me know what you think!  What’s your favorite green smoothie recipe? A quick Google search shows literally thousands of different shades of green for you to pick from, so no matter what your taste preferences you can always find a smoothie that tantalizes your taste-buds AND gives you your daily dose of chlorophyll! Kale and spinach are my two favorites that pack a punch! I also like adding herbs like parsley, basil and mint into my smoothies for a well-rounded flavor and sometimes a surprising kick! 

After having at least one green smoothie per day this week, I’m definitely feeling the green smoothie love! My body is thanking me with more energy, my hair and skin are hydrated and smooth and my mood has definitely brightened! I think I’ll be keeping up my green-themed breakfasts for a while! ;) 

Do you feel the love? <3 

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