drive-thrus are for lazy people.

Living my healthiest and most holistic life, without a drive-thru !


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Swap {THIS} for {THAT}

Hey!

I wanted to give you all a few simple “swaps” that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. By making these switches, you’re detoxing your current routine and moving towards a more healthful approach! Might I add, that these are all quite cost effective as well (save a $ here, spend it somewhere more useful!)

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Why would you want to make these switches, you ask? Read on to find out…

1. Ditch the “table salt” in favour of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt.

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Why?

Sadly, table salt has been processed enough that it no longer contains all the wonderful minerals that salt should – pink salt is rich with 80+ minerals. Your table salt has been enriched with Iodine and often times sugar is added to it – check your labels!

2. Toss out your chemically-laden moisturizer in favour of coconut oil.

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I’ve discussed this in a previous post which can be accessed here!

Once again, I can’t say enough good things about coconut oil. If you haven’t tried it yet, get yourself some next time you’re at the grocery store! It can be found in the health food section.

3. Make your own household cleaners!

Why?

Store-bought cleaners are full of chemicals. These chemicals are harmful to you, and everyone else who lives in or visits your house. These seemingly harmless products can cause skin irritation, allergies, respiratory irritation, hormone disruption… The list goes on and on and on.

You can read more about it on The Organic Consumers website here.

Solution?

D.I.Y – It’s beyond easy once you’ve invested in the supplies (and will save you $ in the long run!!). Get a squirt bottle; vinegar; baking soda; some essential oils… etc.

Living Well Spending Less blog gives you some great links to homemade cleaners for all areas of the house

5. Swap out store bought salad dressings for homemade dressings

Free of additives, preservatives, and nasty gunk – a homemade salad dressing tastes better and is more cost effective. You can keep it simple with this recipe from Vega, or go with something a little more complex!

This dressing is dee-lish, if you’re interested!

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6. Ditch the St. Ives Apricot Scrub (guilty!) and make a DIY facial scrub (2 Tbsp. White Sugar + 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil; just be gentle with it)

David Suzuki has some great resources on homemade cosmetics.

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Vega One Product Review

A product that I can’t get enough of and fully support is the topic for this post.

I’ve been meaning to write up a post about Vega Plant-Based Nutrition for quite some time now, but my writers block has been getting the best of me (does this happen to all bloggers?)

Over the past 6 months, I’ve been playing around with my diet to try and find what works best for my body. Whether it be an omnivore type diet, vegetarian, vegan – I was open to experimentation, and still am. I naturally have moved away from eating all meats (except for the occasional free-range/organic/antibiotic free bit). I’ve also started to shy away from much dairy, unless it’s all natural as well. I do feel strongly about these choices, but take into account that I live in a society that eats anything and everything. I am only human, and it’s useless to pick a title for my dietary habits because they are always changing. I may not fall under the label of veg/vegan etc. but I do now call myself an informed consumer who makes a conscious effort to know what’s going in to my body.

Ever since I’ve made these changes in my diet, I’ve noticed a few things…

  • Ensuring that I have enough protein in a day can be HARD (especially when avoiding meat/dairy and teaching exercise classes 2x/day)
  • I don’t miss meat, at all…
  • Dairy + Sugar upsets my stomach
  • I feel my best when I eat a fruit and vegetable based diet
  • I am not bloated/cramped/gassy when I eat clean/raw foods

And much more, but those are a few that came to mind.

Without diving too far into my personal eating habits today, I’m really here to express my thankfulness for a 100% natural plant-based protein powder called Vega.

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They have so graciously sent me a whole whack of their new (and old) products, and I am happy to endorse them because I use these products myself in everyday, busy/crazy/chaotic  life.

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(I am not being compensated to write this post – all opinions are my own from personal experiences)

What I love about their products is that they have abseloutly nothing to hide. No fillers, no chemicals, no artificial colours or flavours. These products are built for the athlete, but usable by ANYONE. One scoop of their Nutritional Shake provides you with 50% of your daily vitamins and minerals (covering MANY key nutrients that you may otherwise be lacking through your diet), and their products can help you achieve the energy levels necessary for optimal sports performance (or even just for feeling better in your every day life)

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That being said, as a student studying Holistic Nutrition – I always look to FOOD as my first source of daily nutrients. Again though, I am only human and often lack the time to whip up the type of nutrient rich meals that I need to teach a high energy spin class. These shakes are especially good to me at 6a.m. when I can barely even think about cooking breakkie. So, shake it is…

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(Pictured above: Vega One All-in-one Nutritional Shake in Berry flavour)

A scoop of this stuff offers you…

  1. 15 grams of protein (the same as 2.7 eggs)
  2. 1.5 grams of Omega-3 (same as 2.3 servings of salmon)
  3. 1 billion Probiotics (same as 1 cup of yogurt)
  4. 6 grams of Fiber
  5. 3 servings of Greens (same as 3 servings of veggies)
  6. 2.7 cups of Antioxidants (same as 2.7 cups of blueberries)
  7. 50% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamins & Minerals

Not bad, huh?

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All kinds that I have tried have tasted great. I normally don’t like ‘fake’ flavours, so I was hesitant to try these ones – but the natural flavoring is bang-on. Not to sweet, just subtle enough to be enjoyed.

Call me boring though, I  still like the ‘Natural’ Nutritional Shake the best. The rich yet mild taste goes perfectly into a banana + kale smoothie.

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Protein powders are not for everyone, so do your research before you go drop $ on a tub of this.

Those of you with soy/gluten/dairy/sugar allergies – not to worry… Vega One is free of all of them. You’re good to go!

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Sacha Inchi Seeds.

Never heard of them? Well listen up!

These bad boys are the richest plant-based source of Omega-3’s on the planet! What a perfect healthy indulgence. They come in Karmalized, Natural or Choc-o-lot flavours.

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Vibrancy Bars.

A combo of raw and sprouted ingredients and 180 calories, these make a great on the go snack. In fact, I chowed down on Chocolate Decadence one today after my workout.

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Maca Chocolate.

Eat it sparingly, and enjoy it. Yes, there are health benefits to eating this organic chocolate bar.

Maca is a root plant native to the Andean mountains which has a whole lotta benefits which I won’t even try to explain better than Vega does, right here.

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Truth be told, I could write a whole lot more – but I know you’ve heard enough for one blog post!

If you have any questions, you can always send me an e-mail or respond to this post in the ‘comments’ section =) I love hearing from you guys.

If you’re interested in Vega products, check out their website

In addition, you can explore Brendan Braziers (the creative mind behind Vega) ‘Thrive Forward” program which introduces you to plant-based eating, and cleaning up your diet. Heck, even if you’re not interested in the program it’s still a pretty website with some fabulous recipes.

Have you tried Vega products? Which are your favourite?

How do you like your Protein? Food sources or supplement sources?


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Dear Green – you’re a wonderful colour.

There seems to be a common theme already on this lovely Thursday…

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No, not a luscious forest with overgrown trees (I wish that was part of my day…)

The common theme to my day so far has been the colour green. It keeps popping up and it’s only 9:30am in the morning! I don’t think it’s any coincidence though….

The colour green is so much more than just my morning smoothie =)

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Aside from my post-workout breakky (which contained rapini, kale, banana, chia seeds, almond milk, coconut water, multivitamins: shown above) – I gave a little bit of tender love and care to my plants today (green). Sunlight, water, and a new location in my room.

It made me think of something that my teacher mentioned in class, comparing plants and humans…

When you think of your plantswhat do they need in order to stay alive and look healthy

Here’s a few things off the top of my head.

  • Provide them with consistent water (keep them hydrated)
  • Provide them with the right light (some need more than others)
  • Feed them (with some sort of fertilizer)
  • Love ! If you don’t give the plants some love, who will? Break your plants heart, and they will probably wilt away as revenge!

These can apply directly to humans as well. If you don’t nourish YOURSELF with all 4 of these steps – you too will wilt away, or become ill.

  1. Keep hydrated EVERY DAY.blog 009(On the “Green” Theme – Green is the colour of my lemon water glass today)

This does NOT include consuming coffee, beer, processed fruit juice, diet coke, etc. Drink clean, fresh water – and drink it liberally!

2.  Provide yourself with LIGHT. From the sun, not indoor lights or tanning beds.

If you spend time in nature, you’ll spend time in the light – it can make the world of difference in your mood.

3. Feed yourself with something HEALTHY.

If you pureed a  Big Mac and fertilized your plant with it, what do you think would happen? I have no idea, but I imagine that it’s better to puree some fresh carrot if you’re going to try anything…

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4. Love and have healthy relationships!

Plants need them and so do humans. Unhealthy relationships = unhealthy life. Soak in the good and leave out the bad…

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Finally – the colour of the 4th chakra (heart chakra) that is our central powerhouse and gives us the ability to love, is GREEN!

Go figure. You can read more about the heart chakra and whether yours is balanced or imbalanced right here on Mind, Body, Green.

All this being said, try and notice where the sources of green in your life come from (besides 20$ bills)

Veggies, Trees, Indoor Plants, A room in your house, using ‘greener’ appliances, having a garden, wearing green scarves, etc.

I think I like this colour a whole lot more than I used to!

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Eat Clean for Better Sex?

I just finished listening to Tosca Reno on 102.1 The Edge Toronto — talking about how to increase your libido/sexual health through diet.

Anyone else listen to this segment? I loved the fact that Dean Blundell was endorsing the facts that men need to Eat Clean for better sex!

If that’s not motivation for us to clean up our diets, I don’t think anything will work!

One thing that Tosca said that stuck with me was that “You can eat your way out of health, or you can eat your way IN TO health” – It’s ultimately your decision. Nutrition is a KEY component in your future health, so why are you still eating the junk?

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My fave – “Morning Greens Smoothie”… I literally CRAVE it each day now!

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Eating a nice veggie-rainbow! Clean Eating – yes! (Cilantro, Tomato, Zucchini, Red Onion)

If your not ready to do a full overhaul of your diet, start to think about a time that WILL be right for this. Make a few little changes each month, and cut the crap from your kitchen slowwwwly!

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In other news – it’s Bell Let’s Talk day today— which is raising awareness for Mental Health.

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I’m super intrigued by this topic, especially since I just finished studying it in school. We must realize that the faces of mental illness are not just certain stereotypes of people— it actually affects a whopping 1 in 5 people, making it an extremely important issue to become aware of. Everybody can think of someone affected by Mental Health issues, and today is a time to bring awareness to it…

A quote from Bell Let’s Talk…

“Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities”.

Spread the word (and the love) people!

Relating this back to nutrition– ZINC is a commonly deficient nutrient in people with mental health disorders. Zinc is in every body cell and it’s necessary for the proper action of your hormones. It plays an especially large role in the development of Alzheimer’s and Anorexia.

Ways to get your Zinc?

(Yes you can take a good multi-vitamin, but let’s talk food…)

  • Oyster (you best source!) – but since I don’t eat Oysters, what else ?
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  • Pumpkin Seeds – these little green guys are VERY high in Zinc
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  • Ginger Root
  • Pecans
  • Whole Wheat/Rye
  • Oats
  • Brazil Nuts

How Do You Like YOUR Zinc?

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The ever-debatable topic of… GLUTEN. Do you eat it? Do you avoid it? Thoughts welcome!

Happy Thursday everyone !

It’s amazing how on my days off, I can literally consume myself in nutrition blogs/articles /websites. There is SO much information out there, you barely have to actively seek it – it just seems to find you once you dive in! And my problem is, that there is no way out once I start… but hey, that’s what days off are for right?

After teaching spin class today, I decided I wanted to check out a fabulous bakery that I had been to back in November. It’s called Cobz in the Kensington Market of Toronto.

It is abseloutly phenomenal – especially if you’re a baked good addict like me (it was nearly impossible not to buy out the ENTIRE store once I walked in!)

I ended up picking up loaf of freshly baked (still hot) loaf of whole grain chia bread. It was pure bliss when I tried it before, so I knew I had to get it again…

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This bread is literally the best thing sincewell, since sliced bread

(I guess that expression doesn’t work in this case!)

Besides the chia seeds and whole wheat flour, it contains dates, raisins, sunflower seeds and cinnamon. Dreamy combination, I know!

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Besides the fact that you should go out and splurge on a loaf – I also wanted to blog about the after effects of me eating this…

I try to avoid Gluten on a regular basis for a few reasons…

  • It’s a common allergen for many people, though you may not even know it
  • It makes me feel bloated
  • I enjoy the taste of Gluten-Free products, often more so than regular versions
  • My Mom is Celiac so I’ve become accustomed to eating GF products, and think that I might have a sensitivity to it as well (though not necessarily a full blown allergy like my Mama)

Oddly enough, I did have a Gluten Allergy test done about 3 years ago (I was curious if I had it, like my Mom)

Problem was that I had cut Gluten almost entirely out of my diet for the months leading up to this test (because I knew it didn’t make me feel the greatest), and of course what I didn’t know at the time was that you actually have to be EATING whatever you’re getting tested for in order for the results to be accurate.

Seems obvious, right? Clearly not for me at the time. It would have been nice for the doctors/nurses to specify that!

The test came back negative. So I figured I had no problem with Gluten – and went on consuming it at my leisure…

But lately, I’ve noticed that often times when I do eat baked goods made with regular flour – or have a beer… My stomach is noticeably upset with me!

Without further detail, here are some signs that you might be Gluten-Intolerant…

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  1. Digestive Upset after consuming products which contain Gluten (Soy Sauce, Beer, Bread, Muffins, Lunch Meats, CousCous) – without being too descriptive this could include gas, bloating (looking like you’ve got a baby on the way, perhaps?!), and problems in the bathroom
  2. You’re tired and lethargic after consuming it (this could be a result of many foods, gluten is a potential culprit though)
  3. Your moods change after eating it – possible feelings of sadness or anxiety
  4. Inflammation in your body (puffiness, joints swell up, etc.)

On the topic of inflammation, I read a really great/moving/sad/happy article from the NY times. It’s really long, so clear some time to read it though if you can. It’s about a Mom whose son was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of 3 (sad, right?) and was put on medication at such a young age. She basically refused to see her son dependent on medication for the rest of his life, so she started to seek out Alternative Medicine. After much heartache, there was triumph… and they were able to treat his arthritis WITHOUT MEDICATION, and through diet and natural supplements instead.

Here is the article, if you want to read it!

Anyway, if you do suspect (like me) that you are either Gluten Sensitive or Intolerant – you can look into doing an Elimination Diet (on my to-do list) or you can get an IgG or IgE test which will examine all foods, and show you every allergy that you have.

My  Mom did one, and found out that she was extremely sensitive to eggs – but never knew it all her life. It’s best to cut out these foods, since they are likely causing inflammation in your body (which is not pleasant for anyone)…

Anyways… that’s just more food for thought, I guess. Take it with a grain of salt and choose your battles of what bandwagon to hop on in regards to dietary choices.

On my menu tonight, I’m going to try this recipe from Joyous Health.ca … Hopefully it turns out!

 

 


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Breakfast-Makeover

What do you normally eat for breakfast?

When I think back to the past 5 years of my breakky-history, I can see how I have slowly evolved to more hearty, healthy and ‘real food’ breakfasts (as opposed to what I would call fake food = store bought bagels, slim fast shakes, etc). It’s been quite the path to get to where I am today though, but I am so glad that my preferences have evolved (my body thanks me as well)...

History of my Breakfasts.

Back in high school, I skipped breakfast and maybe stuck with an apple or a bagel.

In University, it was a bowl of fruit or maybe Vector Cereal and greek yogurt.

While I was away traveling, it was sugary oatmeal or greasy pancakes (had no control here, so I ate what was given to me!)

And now, my breakfasts look like this…

This was  oats, chia, sunflower seeds, banana, berries and a few other add ins…

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Kale and an Egg

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Green Smoothie! My new favourite!

My recipe usually includes; KALE, banana, frozen or fresh fruit, almond milk, chia seeds, and any other veggie I have laying around.

 

 

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A friend from work also shared with me a delicious-sounding recipe for an evening more nutrient-rich green power smoothie (thanks Franny!)

2 cups kale
1 cup pineapple
1 whole apple (de-cored)
1 frozen banana (slice pieces of banana for easy access.)
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups water (add more if to thick, can use coconut water)
1/4 cups orange juice
2 table spoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons ground flax
2 teaspoons maca
protein power (optional)

How good does that sound?

THIS recipe is also another good one to try! My problem is that I never have all of these ingredients, grr!

Omelet (lots of veggies packed into here)

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Green Smoothie AND and omelet! Best combo

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On-the-go. Bowl of mixed nuts and berries.

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There are still times when I accidentally skip breakfast or have a below-average meal, but I make a conscious effort to include something extra nutritious into my mornings.

The benefits (in my opinion) of having a power-breakfast;

  • You’ll be less tired throughout your morning, because you’ve energized yourself with nutrient-rich foods
  • Your cravings for certain foods later in the day will decrease
  • Looking and feeling more alive, instead of walking around like a zombie
  • Getting your day started on the right foot – with healthy foods at the core of this (by starting your day with lots of fruits, veg, whole grains, nuts, etc. you will hopefully be more motivated to continue this pattern for the rest of your meals that day!)

Maybe it’s time to give your breakfast a makeover?

 


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Lost and Not Found…

Is it possible that I can STILL be super-full from the holidays?

I’ve lost my usual hungry appetite, and cannot find it (along with my iPod… R.I.P 3 year old baby with all of my spin music – heartbreaking…)

My meals may seem small and weak, but I just haven’t felt really hungry since January 1st!

Dinner last night was mm mmm goood. You can’t go wrong with sweet potato fries (these ones were sprinkled with cinnamon and avocado oil).

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Side of quinoa + kale… Bland, but I still ate it all

Breakfast this morning was fruity… Banana, almond butter, coconut, berries

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Now I’m in hibernation mode getting my study on! I’m making good progress so I can’t complain!

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The opportunity to do these “case studies” for my program is proving to be really beneficial – because you treat your subjects as actual clients. Recommendations must be practical, realistic, and within the clients comfort zone. Right now, I’m doing a case study on my amazing 80 year old Grandma who has Type II Diabetes and Osteoarthritis.

Though I thought these 2 diseases would pose a serious challenge, I’m really enjoying the added research that I get to do while trying to understand them better and make proper recommendations.

It’s pretty amazing how many natural remedies there are for diseases like this that get so often overlooked. Sure, they may not work for everyone – but reading about them makes me a sure believer in trying them out on patients.

If you know anyone suffering from either of these diseases, 2 books I recommend reading…

  1. Diabetes & Hypoglycemia: Your natural guide to healing with diet, vitamins, minerals, herbs, exercise and other natural methods – by Michael T Murray

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  2. Healing Arthritis: Complementary Naturopathic, Orthopedic and Drug Treatments by Penny Kendall-Reed and Stephen Reed

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