fitness

5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Seeing Results from Working Out

Working out is a great way to improve your overall health and create a healthy lifestyle. Research suggests that exercising has many mood related benefits such as reducing anxiety, depression and improving self-esteem. Aside from all of the amazing mental benefits, some people may wonder why they aren’t seeing physical results right away. So today, I wanted to write a quick blog on 5 key reasons why you may not be achieving your fitness results just yet!

1. Too many animal products in diet, not enough fiber

Okay so one of the most important things when wanting to achieve physical fitness results is making sure that you are consuming the right foods! The first thing that I recommend to new clients is to try to reduce their intake of animal products, and to up the intake of whole plant-based foods. The great thing about plant based foods is that they are low in calories, but high in fiber and volume which will keep you feeling full for longer. Animal products are often high in calories and contain unnecessary additives such as sulfates and sodium nitrate. Additionally, animal products contain cholesterol which can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.

Research supports that the plant-based diet reduces oxidative stress, inflammation and the risk of developing certain conditions later in life. To look healthy, you have to actually be healthy on the inside too! And one of the best ways to start is to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet! Try doing Meatless Mondays or just simply being more conscious of the foods that you put into your body.

2. Need to Switch-Up Exercises

Many people stick to doing the same exercises if they’re trying to target a certain muscle group, however the best way to build strength and achieve noticeable results is to try different exercises! Our bodies are great at adapting, so if you’re doing sit-ups every night, your body will eventually get used to the motion and they won’t be much of a challenge anymore.

Changing up your routine will allow your body to build new muscles, prevent overuse injuries and increase the intensity of your workout. If you’re looking for easy at home exercises, check out my brand new Youtube Video for some inspiration! I love doing these exercises because they’re simple, quick and don’t require much space or equipment!

3. Not Being Consistent

Consistency really is key! Taking a day or two off is fine if you’re just not in the mood to be active, however it’s so important to stay true to your goals and remember why you started! Being consistent with your diet, lifestyle and long-term goals is what will get you a step closer to achieving physical results.

If you have trouble staying consistent, try creating a schedule for the week or buying an agenda. Creating lists and goals are a great way to stay motivated and stay on top of things.

4. Not Setting Goals & Lack of Organization

Setting goals is important because it allows you to actively track your progress while seeing what you may need to work on. If you get into a new workout routine without documenting your weight or measurements beforehand, it may be hard to notice any difference.

The best way to start achieving (and noticing) your results is to set very specific goals. If you want to lose weight, document how many pounds that you want to lose, if you want to build muscle, specify which muscle group and create a plan of action. Always be organized and honest with yourself so that you know exactly what you want and how you can accomplish it!

5. Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

And lastly- unhealthy lifestyle habits! Living a healthy lifestyle means eating at regular times, not eating late, not drinking alcohol excessively, getting adequate sleep etc. Yes, working out and generally eating healthy is amazing and a step in the right direction, but it’s so important to follow healthy habits as well for your general well being!

This means making sure you meet all of your nutritional requirements, getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night and avoiding things that cause you to feel stressed. The reality is that these things can be triggers for you to overeat and therefore throw off your results. For example, if you didn’t get enough sleep, you may eat something sugary the next day to keep you awake. Or if you are going through an emotionally stressful time in your life, you may over indulge in sweets.

Setting boundaries, being organized and staying consistent are all great ways to start developing a healthier way of living!

Takeaway

Thank you so much for reading my blog! Be sure to follow me on my other social networks for more health & fitness content ✨

Sources

American College of Cardiology President: Why Cholesterol Still Matters. (2019, January 13). Retrieved from https://www.forksoverknives.com/wellness/why-cholesterol-still-matters/

Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 08(02), 106. https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a

Sodium Nitrite: Indications, Side Effects, Warnings. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/cdi/sodium-nitrite.html

What You Need to Know About Sulphites. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Food-technology/What-you-need-to-know-about-sulphites.aspx

Recipes

Vegan Fluffy Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes

Pancakes have always been my favourite breakfast food! But ever since I went vegan, I had trouble finding a plant-based recipe that I actually liked. I found that some recipes lacked flavour, while others produced pretty flat looking pancakes (which isn’t my thing)!

Until, I found a recipe online and modified it! It turns out that the secret to fluffy and delicious buttermilk style pancakes is actually apple cider vinegar. When you combine apple cider vinegar with milk, it produces somewhat of a thick mixture that is perfect for achieving that cloud like texture that I’ve been craving!

This recipe is actually pretty simple and easy to make. I made sure to only include ingredients that most people already have at home, with the exception of apple cider vinegar. So without further ado, here’s your new favourite plant-based breakfast recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of plant-based milk (I used Vanilla Almond Milk)
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter (+ a bit extra for cooking)
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 a cup of chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Start by combining the milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside and let sit for at least 5 minutes, while you measure out the dry ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and baking powder. Mix until all of the ingredients are blended together.
  3. Add the milk mixture into the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix using a whisk. Be sure to smooth the batter out as much as possible! Once the batter is smooth, add in the chocolate chips.
  4. Prepare a lightly buttered pan on medium heat and use a big spoon to scoop your pancake into the pan once it’s heated.
  5. Flip using a spatula after about 4 minutes, or until the underside looks golden brown.
  6. Let cook for an additional 3-4 minutes and remove from heat.
  7. Serve hot with maple syrup, fresh fruits and icing sugar!

Quick Tips:

  • If you want your pancakes to be extremely fluffy, try using an electric mixer instead!
  • Using vanilla flavoured milk will make your pancakes taste better.
  • Make sure the pan is fully heated so the pancakes bubble a bit on the sides when you add them in!

nutrition

5 Foods That Cause Bloating & What to Eat Instead

Bloating is one of the the most common adverse effects that many people experience after eating certain foods. Approximately one in ten Americans report that they regularly suffer from bloating even when they haven’t eaten a large meal.

Abdominal bloating is characterized by the stomach feeling full, tight, or swollen. Oftentimes, bloating is typically caused by one’s diet and is rarely a sign of a serious medical condition. So today I wanted to talk about some foods that can cause bloating and what to eat instead!

What exactly is bloating and what causes it?

We’ve all felt it after our digestive system is triggered by a certain food or beverage. So why exactly do we feel bloated?

Abdominal bloating occurs when the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is filled with air or gas. This is typically caused by a mild intolerance or allergy which causes excessive gas production, and as a result the air gets trapped within the intestines. The most common intolerances are wheat and dairy, scroll on to learn more!

Aside from eating particular foods, simple reasons for bloating can include:

  1. Overeating: Eating too much can make you feel uncomfortably stuffed. In addition, fats and animal products take longer to digest than proteins, which can keep the stomach feeling full for longer.
  2. Eating too fast: Drinking or eating too quickly can increase the amount of air that you swallow, which leads to buildup in the GI tract.
  3. Chewing gum: When you chew gum, you end up swallowing more air than usual which increases bloating. Also, sugar free gums can contain ingredients such as xylitol and sorbitol which can ferment in the gut.

Now that we’ve talked a little bit about what bloating is and some common triggers, let’s talk about some foods and better alternatives!

Top 5 Foods & Beverages to look out for

1. Wheat

Wheat contains a protein called gluten which is pretty well-known nowadays as the bad guy. Gluten can cause bloating, stomach pain, gas and diarrhea for some individuals. In addition, sensitivity to gluten can be due to celiac disease which affects about 1 percent of the American population. Although some people are not necessarily gluten intolerant or celiac, it still can negatively impact the digestive system.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity affects up to 6 percent of the population according to a report in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Gluten also contains little to no essential nutrients. Foods that commonly contain gluten include bread, pasta and baked goods. It’s also found in many grains such as wheat, barley and rye.

Alternatives to wheat that may not cause bloating include pure oats, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice and coconut flours. 🌾

2. Dairy

Dairy includes a range of products from milk, cheeses, yogurts and baked goods. Although many people consume dairy daily in various foods and drinks, up to 75 percent of the world’s population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy and therefore are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is the impaired ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Interestingly enough, affected individuals typically have difficulty digesting fresh milk, but can consume certain dairy products such as cheese or yogurt without discomfort. This is because these foods are processed using methods that break down much of the lactose.

Nonetheless, many people do experience adverse effects from dairy and animal products such as weight-gain, digestive issues and inflammation. In addition, there are much healthier sources of calcium that do not contain animal proteins and cholesterol.

Alternatives to dairy include plant-based milks such as soy, almond or rice milk. There are also plenty of plant-based cheeses and yogurts available so be sure to check your local grocery store! 🥤

3. Beans

Beans are full of fiber, protein, healthy carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Although beans are very healthy for you, they do cause bloating and flatulence (gas). This is because beans contain raffinose which is a non-digestible carbohydrate that is also found in cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Raffinose is poorly digested due to the the lack of an enzyme called alpha-galactosidase in the digestive tract.

As a result, raffinose can pass through both the stomach and small intestine, and enter the large intestine where it is fermented by gut bacteria. This causes the production of gases and therefore bloating.

But don’t let this discourage you from eating beans! They are still very healthy and can be enjoyed in moderation. Adzuki beans, mung beans and lentils can be a great alternative that is easier to digest! 🍲

4. Carbonated Beverages

Carbonated beverages such as sodas and sparkling water contain carbon dioxide which is what creates the bubbles. These bubbles may be fun and games while enjoying a drink, however the gas goes straight to your digestive tract, where it can cause bloating. In addition, many carbonated drinks contain artificial sweeteners, artificial flavours and colourants.

Alternatives to carbonated drinks include lemon water, fruit juices or tea. You would be surprised by how many tasty teas there are out there! 🫖

5. Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar

We all know that artificial sweeteners and sugars are bad for our health, however did you know that they can also cause bloating? Xylitol and sorbitol are amongst the most popular chemical sweeteners today that can be found in anything from candies to gum. These sweeteners provide no nutritional benefit and are not easily broken down in our digestive system. Therefore, they reach the large intestine unchanged where gut bacteria can feed on them. Research from BMC Obesity links these sweeteners with an unhealthy lifestyle and contributor to obesity. So not only does chewing gum cause bloating, the ingredients do too!

Alternatives to artificial sweeteners include dates, coconut sugar or raw honey. Instead of chewing gum, try a healthier alternative such as eating apple slices or a mint every so often. 🍃

Foods that Reduce Bloating

Since we talked about some foods that cause bloating, I wanted to quickly mention some foods that can naturally reduce the associated symptoms!

Foods that are naturally high in fiber, potassium and water content all have the natural ability to reduce bloating. Fiber is important because it helps to regulate digestion, while potassium helps regulate fluid balance and foods high in water content keep you hydrated.

However, it’s crucial to note that not all foods high in these nutrients reduce bloating. Apples are also high in fiber and water content, but can cause bloating because they contain fructose- a sugar that many people find it difficult to digest.

Pears can also cause bloating because they contain sorbitol which can ferment in the gut.

If you do enjoy apples and pears and they cause you to feel bloated, try boiling them first to make them easier to digest!

Takeaway

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, I hope you learned something new! If you experience bloating, try eliminating certain foods from your diet and see if you are able to determine the culprit. Oftentimes, minor health problems can be solved with a quick change in diet!

If you’re interested in talking about nutrition or learning new ways to become healthier, feel free to book a free consultation with me! 👩🏻‍⚕️📲

Sources

Di Rienzo T;D’Angelo G;D’Aversa F;Campanale MC;Cesario V;Montalto M;Gasbarrini A;Ojetti V; (2013). Lactose intolerance: From diagnosis to correct management. European review for medical and pharmacological sciences. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24443063/.

Gunnars, K. (2018, June 28). 11 proven ways to reduce or eliminate bloating. Healthline. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-ways-to-reduce-bloating#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4.

Igbinedion, S. O., Ansari, J., Vasikaran, A., Gavins, F. N., Jordan, P., Boktor, M., & Alexander, J. S. (2017, October 28). Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: All wheat attack is not celiac. World journal of gastroenterology. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5677194/.

Raffinose. Raffinose – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (2014). Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/raffinose.

Staff, F. E., & Rice, A. (2021, July 7). Bloating – bloated stomach – what causes bloating? familydoctor.org. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://familydoctor.org/condition/bloating/.

Winther, R., Aasbrenn, M., & Farup, P. G. (2017, December 27). Intake of non-nutritive sweeteners is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle: A cross-sectional study in subjects with morbid obesity. BMC obesity. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5745623/.

nutrition

5 Herbs to Spice up your life this Winter

With the seasons changing and the temperatures decreasing, it’s important to make the appropriate changes to your diet. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we use warming herbs in the winter, and cooling herbs in the summer months in order to create a balance within the body. So today I wanted to write a quick blog on 5 different herbs that you can add to your diet in order to warm your interior, boost your immunity and promote optimal health this winter season! ❄️

I just want to start off by saying that herbal medicine that originates from the Traditional Chinese Medicinal system is a lot different than how most people think of herbal indications. Take cinnamon for example, we generally think of cinnamon as beneficial because it has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. We also associate it with its ability to reduce inflammation.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we actually refer to cinnamon as Rou Gui which basically just means cinnamon bark. It’s renowned for its ability to warm the interior, expel cold and alleviate pain due to its specific temperature and taste. Rou Gui is acrid and sweet and flavour, and hot in temperature which is perfect for when the temperature outside decreases. It also assists in the generation of Qi or energy and blood. In TCM terms, that means that it’s great for boosting immunity and energy levels within the body.

So without further ado, let’s talk about some interesting and useful herbs that are a great addition to any diet during the colder months!

1. Rou Gui (Cinnamon Bark)

I briefly mentioned Rou Gui, but I would like to talk more about this amazing herb because it has so many benefits! Rou Gui is a warming herb that is apart of the category of herbs that warm the interior and expel cold. It’s great for boosting immunity, reducing inflammation and reducing pain. Because it’s hot in temperature, it does a great job at pushing the cold out and moderating the effects of cooling foods that we eat!

As someone who is plant-based, I eat a lot of salads, fruits and drink a lot of smoothies- all foods that are “cold” or “cooling” in nature. In the winter months, eating just cold foods can cause stagnation, pain and therefore cause illness. I typically sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on my fruits and add some to my smoothies to balance it out!

2. Sheng Jiang (Fresh Ginger)

In TCM, there are two different kinds of ginger: fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang) and dried ginger (Gan Jiang). Gan refers to dried, while sheng means fresh- today we are going to talk about fresh ginger!

Sheng Jiang is big in Chinese Medicine with good reason- it’s a great herb for boosting the immunity, warming the middle and stopping vomiting. Because of its slightly warm temperature and acrid flavour, it has the ability to release the exterior and promote healthy digestion. We all know that fresh ginger does not taste the best 😅. But because of it’s unique qualities, it has very unique indications!

Drinking ginger tea when the weather gets colder is beneficial because it has the ability to boost your immunity and regulate digestion. Next time you feel yourself coming down with something, try making yourself a cup of warm ginger tea!

3. Jiang Huang (Turmeric)

Turmeric or Jiang Huang is one of the main herbs used in herbal medicine for reducing inflammation within the body. In addition, its active ingredient is curcumin, giving turmeric its yellow colour. Interestingly enough, Huang means yellow, which you can see displayed in the Traditional Chinese Herbal name above. Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory that can help improve many conditions such as heart disease, cancer, digestive disorders and even degenerative diseases. 

In TCM, Jiang Huang is apart of the category of herbs that regulate the blood. Its temperature is warm, and its taste is considered acrid and bitter. Bitter herbs generally have the function of moving blood, therefore this herb is also great for reducing swelling and pain! It’s also used in many complex herbal formulas to address menstrual conditions such as amenorrhea or dysmenorrhea. 

I add Turmeric to my diet by buying it fresh at my local grocery store and cooking it into curries and sauces. I sometimes do juicing as well and it’s a great addition that will make any juice glow! ✨

4. La Jiao (Cayenne Pepper)

I actually had to ask around about what this herb is called because it’s surprisingly not mentioned in many Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal books! So as much as I love cayenne, I’m not sure if it’s used that often in herbal medicine. But I thought it was definitely worth mentioning!

Aside from adding a lil spice to meals, cayenne pepper has so many health benefits! The active ingredient that gives these peppers their medicinal qualities is called capsaicin. Capsaicin has metabolism boosting properties! Because cayenne peppers are naturally hot in temperature, they have the ability to increase the amount of heat that your body produces, therefore naturally burning off calories. This process is called diet-induced thermogenesis which causes an increase in your metabolism and metabolic function. Many isolated studies have demonstrated that people who add cayenne pepper to their meals typically burn a few more calories than those who do not. Although the effect is small, I still find it interesting that cayenne pepper has this indication! 

5. Ding Xiang (Cloves)

Cloves or Ding Xiang is typically used in herbal medicine for warming the interior and expelling cold. It’s apart of the same category as cinnamon, however it has a few varying indications. It’s great for the stomach with conditions caused from eating too much cold. Like I mentioned earlier, adding any warming herb to your diet during the colder months is beneficial because it allows your circulation to move more effortlessly throughout your organ systems. In TCM, we have a diagnosis called “Stomach Cold” which manifests as abdominal pain, vomiting and aversion to cold. This is a great herb for that exact indication as it’s warm and acrid in nature! 

I love adding cloves to my diet by making my seasonal gingerbread cookies. The best way to buy them is whole and then grinding them down yourself using a mortar and pestle. 

Conclusion 

Thank you so much for reading my blog on herbal qualities! I personally love combining Traditional Chinese Medicine with modern day nutritional needs to balance out my diet. Herbs are great way to do that because they have such specific tastes and temperatures that can be used for many different indications. 

However, I think it’s important to mention that the purpose of this blog was to teach you a little bit about herbs and some medicinal uses they have. If you’re interested in adding warming herbs to your diet, please do so in moderation like you would with any ingredient! Just like eating too many cold foods, eating too many warming herbs is not the best for your body. The key is being mindful and taking note of what works for you. 

Thank you again for reading, please be sure to subscribe to my website and stay tuned for my new personalized services! 🌸

Sources

Bensky, D. (2004). Chinese herbal medicine: Materia medica. Eastland Press Inc.

Deng, Z.-jia, Zimmerman, G., & Ye, Q.-bo. (2014). Chinese medicinal formulas. People’s Medical Publishing House.

Maciocia, G. (2005). The practice of Chinese medicine: The treatment of diseases with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Churchill Livingstone.

Healthy Living

I am officially a Graduate of Traditional Chinese Medicine!

I am so happy to announce that I have officially graduated from the Traditional Chinese Medicine program at Humber College! For those of you who have been following my journey on Instagram, you know just how much this means to me! For those of you who are new, or solely following my blog- let me me tell you, it has been a crazy experience to say the least 😅

Through studying full-time for four years, taking 44 different courses and completing over 500+ clinical hours, this diploma was well earned!

My next plans…

I have always been so passionate about natural health, nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. Throughout my studies, I was most interested in courses based on nutrition, herbal medicine and using tongue diagnosis to aid in treatment plans. I really like how TCM views the body system in a completely different way and uses alternative therapies to restore balance within the body!

My plan is to incorporate everything that I have learned into brand new services offered under Natural Glow Wellness. As a natural healer, I see great potential in using food as medicine to promote optimal health. In short, my all natural treatment plans will combine modern day nutritional needs with concepts from Traditional Chinese Medicine diet.

I also plan on offering all natural beauty treatments such as Gua Sha facials, facial cupping and virtual tutorials to teach my clients how to incorporate ancient skincare tips into their routine ✨

I do have some big plans, and I am so excited to start working on everything! As a practitioner, I am really excited to start promoting a healthy lifestyle and teaching others how to achieve optimal health through simple tips and tricks.

The Future of Natural Glow Wellness

Natural Glow Wellness will always encompass the idea that the earth has everything that we need to thrive. My business will always be based on being kind and providing my clients with the best services with one goal in mind- to promote optimal health.

I am so excited for this new chapter in my life, to begin formulating new treatment plans and to get new clients on board! Thank you so much to everyone who has believed in me, trusted in me and supported me! Your support honestly keeps me going and motivates me to create new content.

If you have any questions, feedback or would even like to chat about natural health- feel free to email me at NaturalGlowellness@gmail.com. I am always looking to network!


Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and stay tuned for my upcoming new services and the relaunch of my Natural Glow Wellness Instagram page

Shoutout to @Clairview.Studio for the professional photos, be sure to check them out for all of your headshot needs! ⚡️

Healthy Living

5 Breakfast Foods That You Should Never Eat Again + Healthier Alternatives

We have all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and rightfully so! It’s the first thing we eat after about 9 hours of resting and replenishes our body with glucose which powers our brain.

However, with such a fast paced society it’s easy to choose a quick and easy option that typically contains little nutrition or to just skip breakfast all together! So today I wanted to write a blog on why breakfast is so important, some popular breakfast foods to avoid and various healthier alternatives to fuel your day- so let’s get into it! ⚡️

Why is Breakfast Important?

As the name suggests, breakfast “breaks” the overnight fasting period. In the morning, we feel tired because our bodies lack glucose- the body’s main energy source. Without this important molecule, the body breaks down fatty acids in order to get the energy it needs. This in turn actually reduces energy levels and leads to excessive hunger later on in the day!

Research suggests that eating in the morning helps maintain a healthy weight because it prevents overeating and impulsive eating. When you skip breakfast, you’re more likely to be tempted to reach for a quick fix such as fast food or vending machine snacks.

The key is choosing a healthy, nutritious breakfast that will replenish your body and not overwhelm it ✨

Breakfast Foods to Avoid

1. Eggs

Having an egg or two for breakfast is surprisingly not that healthy. Just two eggs contain 369 mg of cholesterol and 190.4 mg of sodium. Research suggests that consuming high amounts of cholesterol and sodium contributes to obesity, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. It’s also useful to know that the daily recommended amount of sodium per day as set out by The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily. This amount can easily be exceeded in the morning by having eggs, bacon and toast.

So just by skipping out on eggs for breakfast, you also skip out on unnecessary cholesterol, sodium and saturated fats! 🥳

2. Bacon

Bacon is by far one of the unhealthiest breakfast foods out there! With high amounts of sodium, cholesterol, fat, oils and nitrates- bacon should definitely be avoided for breakfast. In fact, The World Cancer Research Fund released a statement which advises the population to eat as little red meat or processed meats as possible. This is because there is a strong correlation between red or processed meats and colorectal cancer. There’s also evidence that eating meat and dairy causes inflammation within the body. Inflammation can manifest as pain, redness, swelling and acne.

If you’re looking to make a healthy food choice that will have immediate health benefits, leave bacon off of your plate tomorrow morning!

3. Cereal

Cereal is one of the most common breakfast foods and the first thing that many people eat in the morning to start their day! However, cereal is actually not that healthy for you as its highly processed and contains high amounts of refined sugars, additives, preservatives and even artificial colourants. Not to mention, most cereals are advertised as healthy so it’s hard to be completely sure.

If you enjoy eating cereal in the morning, try finding a brand that doesn’t contain colorants and ingredients such as BHT. There are also much healthier and more filling options below so be sure to scroll on down! 🙌🏼

4. Yogurt

I’m sure you’re surprised that yogurt is on this list considering it’s advertised as a low-fat nutritious breakfast. But the thing is that most yogurts are actually not very healthy for you at all! And, you should also be very careful if you ever see “Low-Fat” on food packaging. In the US, foods labelled “fat free” must have less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving, while “low fat” must adhere to 3 grams of fat or less per serving. Seems simple enough right? Well most fat free/low fat foods lack taste, so to make up for that, other ingredients are added such as sugar, flour, thickeners and other artificial ingredients.

Not to mention, dairy products are not environmentally sustainable and contain unfavourable “ingredients” such as white blood cells or pus excreted from the cow during the milking process. A litre of milk can contain up to 400,000 somatic cells before it is considered unfit for people to drink! Not very appetizing!

5. Breakfast Sandwiches

And lastly, let’s talk about breakfast sandwiches! Whether you make one at home or pick one up from Tim Horton’s before work- breakfast sandwiches contain a bunch of heavy ingredients that are bound to overwhelm your body. The typical sandwich contains white bread, eggs, bacon, cheese and sometimes even sausage. Just one Bacon Breakfast Sandwich from Tim Hortons has 1000 mg of sodium, 155 mg of cholesterol and barely any fiber at just 2 grams. Fiber is what makes us feel full, so not only will you still feel unsatisfied after a breakfast sandwich, you will also feel bloated and will be more likely to eat junk food later.

So just to put that into perspective- just one of these sandwiches accounts for 50% of your sodium intake without accounting for lunch, dinner or in between snacking!

There are much more healthier, filling and satisfying breakfast options!

Healthy Breakfast Options

1. Oatmeal

One of my personal favourites is oatmeal. It’s cheap, easy to make and can be made into so many different combinations! It’s also a great way to eat fewer calories and therefore lose weight. This is because oatmeal contains beta glucan which is a naturally occurring type of fiber that slows down digestion and keeps you feeling full for longer. One bowl also contains a healthy amount of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate and B vitamins!

So next time you go to the grocery store, grab oats instead of cereal! They’re much healthier and contain lots of healthy plant compounds and antioxidants 🌱

2. Fruit Smoothies

Fruit smoothies are surprisngly filling and will provide you with vitamins, minerals and even plant proteins! I typically use soy milk because it’s one of the healthiest plant milks and contains phytoestrogens which are greatly beneficial to our health. I also usually add 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter to add protein and to make my smoothies more thick and creamy 😋

Check out my Breakfast Smoothie blog for three different healthy and tasty smoothies that you can try tomorrow morning! 🙌🏼☀️

3. Refried Black Beans

Refried black beans are a healthy and protein packed breakfast option! Just one cup contains 15 grams of plant proteins and 15 grams of fiber which is great for weight loss. Research suggests that diets high in fiber help maintain a healthy weight, support healthy digestion and lowers cholesterol levels. Refried black beans are also so tasty and inexpensive- one can costs just under one dollar!

Try frying up some onions, garlic, soy sauce and black beans for breakfast instead of two eggs which negatively impact your cholesterol levels 🙌🏼

4. Avocado Toast

Avocado toast is a nice and quick option when you have ripened avocados around! Avocados are a healthy source of unsaturated fats, potassium, fiber and other vital nutrients such as vitamin K. In fact, many controlled studies have demonstrated that avocados can reduce total cholesterol levels significantly, reduce blood trigylcerides by 20%, lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22% and increase HDL (the good) cholesterol by up to 11%.

Try putting some sliced avocado on some whole grain toast with olive oil, pink salt and turmeric for a healthy and delicious breakfast!

5. Fruit Bowl

You can never go wrong with a fruit bowl! Fruits are a nice and light breakfast that will provide your body with the perfect fuel! Melons, berries and fruits such as bananas all contain beneficial compounds, nutrients and vitamins that aid in healthy digestion. Fruit is also high in fiber and natural sugars which prevent blood sugar fluctuations.

If you’re looking to add more fruits to your diet, check out my tips for healthy eating on a budget! There are plenty of ways to add more nutrient dense foods to your grocery list that won’t necessarily cost you much more ☺️


Takeaway

I hope that this post has inspired you to start making healthier breakfast choices! It’s so important to realize how much our first meal impacts our entire day. Be sure to always start your mornings with the right fuel, and you will be able to tackle just about anything! ☀️😎

Thank you so much for reading and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more healthy eating posts 🌱

Healthy Living

Tips & Tricks for Healthy Eating on a Budget

Healthy eating is one of those things that many people may assume is expensive- but the reality is that it’s actually pretty affordable! As someone who has been plant based for 5+ years, I’ve had to navigate my way through different grocery stores to find fresh fruits, vegetables and other health foods. And let me tell you- I’ve learned a lot!

I used to spend a decent amount of money on foods like veggie burgers, fruit juices or even salad mixes but was finding that I was coming home with barely any food. When I got into reading ingredients on labels, I realized that most foods advertised as healthy literally costed pennies to make which inspired me to start buying ingredients rather than pre-made foods.

So today I decided to write a blog on some tips to help you make healthier choices at the grocery store on a budget!

1. Write out a list of recipes beforehand

One of the best ways to stay on budget and preplan healthy meals is to write down a list of recipes you would like to have throughout the week! I start by writing out the days of the week and what I plan on making each day. I then break down each recipe into ingredients that I will need- it’s the perfect way to buy the exact amount of everything without being wasteful!

For example, you could have black bean burgers for lunch one day this week, which would require you to buy basic ingredients such as black beans, soy sauce, onions and garlic which don’t cost very much. And same goes for writing down a recipe such as chickpea tuna– all you really need are chickpeas, some seaweed and plant based mayo which can be found at most grocery stores. The main thing is to start being mindful of the foods you buy, what you spend and what you’re choosing to eat weekly!

2. Get familiar with your local grocery stores

Another great way to eat healthy on a budget is to become familiar with your local grocery stores. There are certain stores that I would never buy produce from because it’s much too expensive (such as Sobeys, Metro or Loblaws) unless I really needed to. And other stores that I do most of my shopping at such as Fresh Co and No Frills. It’s important to get to know which stores are near you and becoming comfortable with the idea of shopping at multiple shops to find the best deals!

This also allows you to compare pricing. You’ll get used to to seeing the price point of foods you typically buy and allows you to spend more consciously!

3. Do the majority of your shopping in the fresh fruits and vegetables section

The reality is that the grocery store is full of processed foods and health items that claim to be good for you when you don’t need them to stay healthy. If you’re really looking to adapt to a healthy lifestyle, 80% of your grocery shopping should be done in the fresh fruits and vegetables section where most things are only a few dollars a pound. You can get a decent amount of bananas for $2.00 or a bag of carrots for less than $3.00!

I typically buy vegetables such as eggplants, onion, garlic, tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms and others, and it doesn’t cost very much. I also buy fresh fruits such as apples, bananas and oranges because they’re always in season and generally affordable! But as I mentioned, get familiar with your local grocery stores and check around for deals. You never know- maybe the bananas are cheaper at one store but the apples are cheaper at another!

4. Buy more beans and lentils

I’ve talked about the health benefits of black beans, lentils and even chickpeas in recent blogs but they’re also a great way to save money- they’re such a cheap health food! Packed with plant proteins and vital nutrients, beans are an amazing addition to your diet. There are two varieties: dried or canned. Dried beans are much cheaper but take longer to cook if you don’t have a pressure cooker. Whereas canned beans cost a little bit more, but still very affordable and are ready to use in recipes right away!

Whatever variety you choose, beans are a great addition to your diet and are affordable either way. I personally love dried lentils because they don’t take nearly as long to make as dried beans but are just as nutritious!

5. Check the price tab to compare pricing

A lot of people don’t know this (or maybe I just learned this late 😅) but the price tabs at the grocery story actually have a breakdown of price per weight. If you look closely under the price, you will see how many grams or millilitres an item is, plus how much it costs per weight/volume.

I find this particularly useful for bulk items to see if it’s actually worth it! A lot of the time when bulk items are on sale, it’s not much cheaper to buy more or the bigger size. And the little fine print under the price is the perfect way to find out!

I know this seems like pennies, but it’s honestly a great way to reduce your grocery bill and cut costs. We all know that things add up but taking the time to read pricing is a great way to make sure you’re putting your money to good use.

And above all: read ingredients

This one is important- if you’re looking to make healthier choices, always read the labels of anything you buy! I typically only buy items such as natural peanut butter, baking items and cooking seasonings but I always check the ingredients first. Knowing what you put into your body is a huge step to better health and allows you to be a more conscious consumer.

If you feel lost, keep in mind that most foods shouldn’t contain a list of ingredients and preservatives! You can also check out my blog on reading ingredients here.

Other helpful tips:

  • Avoid shopping when you’re hungry. I know this sounds ridiculously simple but it’s the best way to avoid impulse buys.
  • Avoid buying soft drinks, juices or pop. Making your own juice at home is much cheaper and healthier!
  • Don’t be afraid to buy ahead: if the avocados aren’t ripe yet but they’re a good price, buy them and ripen them by your window. Chances are the price will increase once they’re ready to use.

Takeaway:

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog on healthy eating! I hope that I inspired you to make some healthier choices this week because all it really takes is a bit of will power ☺️

Be sure to follow my Instagram page for updates and check out my other blog posts here. ☀️

Recipes

Vegan Crunchwrap Supreme Recipe

Okay so this isn’t my healthiest recipe, but it is healthier than Taco Bell’s version! I always encourage my clients to reward themselves for staying on track and being consistent with their health- and this is the perfect way. This recipe is 100% plant based and gives you that cheesy goodness that we all crave 🤤.

It’s important to realize that it is completely okay to eat junk food sometimes! If you always ate health foods such as lentils, beans and fruits, you would become very bored with your diet and eventually not want to follow it anymore. So my advice? Eat the foods that you crave- in moderation!

The great thing about this recipe is that it actually is healthier than a Crunchwrap from Taco Bell. I used soy in place of beef, and plant based cheese instead of cheese made from cows milk. Using your own veggies at home tastes a lot better than eating toppings that have been prepared for a fast food restaurant, too!

So without further ado, here is my fresh plant based version of a Crunchwrap Supreme! 🌮

Ingredients:

For the Base

  • 1 white onion
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Half of a green pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cup of plant based beef (I used Gardein)
  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons of liquid smoke
  • Taco Seasoning

For the Toppings:

  • 1/3 head of lettuce
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 avocados
  • Vegan sour cream (optional)
  • About half a cup of plant-based cheddar
  • 4 soft tortillas
  • 3 taco shells broken or tortilla chips for the crunchy layer

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Serving size: Makes 4 crunchwraps

Directions:

  1. Start by preparing the base: chop onions, garlic, mushrooms, green peppers and grate the carrot.
  2. Place base in a saucepan over medium heat with soy sauce and liquid smoke. Let cook for 2 minutes and add in the plant based beef.
  3. Mix in a bit of water with taco seasoning and let cook for 5 more minutes, remove from heat.
  4. Now it’s time to prepare the toppings! Chop the lettuce, slice the tomatoes and mash avocados and place on either a plate or bowl to make it easier to prepare your crunchwrap.
  5. Prepare a lightly oiled pan on medium heat so that it will seal nicely as soon as it’s ready.
  6. Take a soft tortilla and layer your ingredients in the centre (make sure you leave enough room to fold the edges over) I started with avocado, then added the plant based beef, cheddar, soft tortilla chips, tomatoes and lettuce. But you can customize yours however you like 😎
  7. I watched this video to learn how to properly fold a crunchwrap and although it’s very random to watch Taco Bell training videos… I highly suggest it for this purpose haha.
  8. Transfer your masterpiece to the heated pan, folded edge side down. It should make a nice sizzle. Reduce heat to medium-low to allow all of the ingredients inside to properly melt and cook.
  9. Flip after about 3 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cook the other side for about the same amount of time and remove from heat.
  10. Cut in half and voila! You have a delicious, healthy version of the Crunchwrap Supreme made by you👩‍🍳👨‍🍳✨

Quick Tips:

  • Watch the video that I linked above to learn how to properly fold the edges over, it will save you a lot of time!
  • My Crunchwrap honestly looked far from perfect after folding it, but once I put it in the pan on medium heat, the edges sealed nicely and it ended up turning out better than I thought! So don’t be discouraged if it looks like an absolute mess at first- the cooking process is what really brings it together.
  • Thank you for reading my recipe! Check out my Recipes page for more plant-based goodness 🥰
Recipes

Black Bean Burgers

One of my favourite plant based meals to eat is black bean burgers!! Just one cup of black beans will set you up with 41 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein, and various other nutrients that all aid in healthy digestion and keep you feeling full for longer!

Cooking with dried black beans is also very cost efficient, with one cup only costing about $0.30 you can’t really go wrong!

The key is to use an Instant Pot if you have a bit of time to spare. Instant Pots are amazing because they can cook dried beans under 40 minutes without having to soak them overnight. They also retain nutrients and are one of the best methods for cooking dried beans, lentils and raw veggies into fresh delicious meals!

But if you don’t have an Instant pot or are short on time, you can use one can of black beans instead.

Ingredients:

For the bean burgers:

  • 1 cup of dried black beans
  • 3 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke flavouring

Toppings:

  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • Romaine lettuce (I used 3 pieces)
  • Half a cucumber, sliced
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • Ketchup
  • Vegan Mayo
  • Burger buns

Preparation time: 45 minutes using dried beans or 20 minutes using canned beans

Serving size: Makes 4 burgers

Directions:

  1. Start by measuring one cup of dried black beans and placing them in your Instant Pot. Select Pressure Cook and set the timer to 35 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, start preparing your veggies and toppings. Chop the mushrooms, white onion and garlic. Grate the carrot and slice the cucumbers and tomatoes. Set aside.
  3. When the Instant Pot has a few minutes left, heat up a saucepan on medium heat with a bit of oil.
  4. Add in the mushrooms, onion, garlic and half of the grated carrot. Let simmer with the soy sauce and smoke flavouring for about 5 minutes.
  5. Drain the black beans and add directly into the saucepan. Mix until all of the ingredients are combined within the pan. Cook for a few more minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
  7. Start forming 4 nicely sized patties with your hands and place them on a baking sheet. No need to oil the pan!
  8. Bake for 8 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and now it’s time to assemble your masterpiece! Add your favourite toppings and enjoy!
  10. You can store the other patties in a container in your fridge and re-bake them again! They will stay fresh for about 1-2 days.

Quick Tips:

  • If you have never cooked with liquid smoke flavouring before- you should totally start! I order mine from Amazon or buy it at Food Basics. It’s a great addition to any food and adds that delicious smoky flavouring 😛
  • You can also add cheese to the bean burger mix and bake it in! It tastes delicious and is a great substitute to a regular cheese burger ⚡️
  • Thank you for reading my recipe! Be sure to check out my Instagram page for more healthy lifestyle and nutrition tips 💪🏼
nutrition

Proteins: Why You Should Choose Plant-Based Sources

When you search the word “protein” on Google, what’s the first thing that comes up on images? Meat and eggs. I can understand why most people only think of animal products when it comes to proteins, but today I am here to change that and prove that there are so many amazing plant based sources of protein that contain all of the amino acids that we need!

This blog will get into what proteins are, the differences between plant and animal sources, the daily recommended amount and 5 high plant based sources of protein⚡️

What are proteins?

First things first, what exactly are proteins and why do we need them? Proteins are one of three macronutrients that the body requires to properly function. The other two are fats and carbohydrates. Proteins play an important role in various bodily processes such as fluid balance, blood clotting, immune system responses and hormone regulation. They are crucial building blocks in our bodies and are also responsible for muscle mass.

Proteins consists of large chains of amino acids- there are 20 of them in total. The human body is capable of synthesizing (or creating) 11 of them and the remaining 9 are known as “essential amino acids” that must come from our diet.

A common argument against consuming plant based proteins is that they are incomplete and must be paired together in order to create complete proteins. Complete proteins are foods that contain all of the 9 essential amino acids. They are typically associated with animal products, however many plant based foods are complete proteins as well such as quinoa, buckwheat, hemp and soy. In addition, it’s important to note that all 9 essential amino acids can be found in plant based foods, in varying amounts.

Meaning that if you follow a whole food plant based diet, you will have nothing to worry about as you will be consuming a wide variety of plants which all contain varying amounts of essential amino acids!

Animal Proteins vs Plant Proteins

Okay so now that we talked a bit about what proteins are and why they’re important, let’s get into why plant based sources are healthier than animal sources.

Plant based sources of protein tend to be lower in calories and fat than animal sources, and higher in fiber and essential nutrients. Therefore, by transitioning to plant based sources of protein, you will increase your nutrient profile and reduce your daily caloric intake.

Take a peanut butter sandwich and 3 eggs for example. Both are popular breakfast foods and you would be very surprised to find out that they contain about the same amount of protein but very different nutrient profiles. A peanut butter sandwich is packed with whole grains, healthy carbs and nutrients whereas eggs contain unnecessary cholesterol, sodium and animal fat.

Plant based sources also keep you feeling full for longer as they are higher in fiber which promotes healthy weight loss and digestion. In addition, when you consume animal products, your body undergoes oxidative stress which depletes the body of beneficial nutrients to neutralize cell damage.

How much protein should I consume?

With any nutrient, it’s possible to consume too much or too little. With protein, it’s no different. However, unlike other nutrients, proteins have a very interesting threshold that one must stay within in order to obtain just the right amount for their body weight and fitness desirability.

It’s very rare to become protein deficient in our society. Essentially all of our foods contain protein, it’s just a matter of choice between plant based sources vs animal sources. The tricky part is getting too much protein. So many body builders, gym fanatics and fitness coaches advocate for eating more protein to get more muscle mass. But getting more protein than the daily recommended amount hasn’t necessarily been proven to build more muscle mass.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the amount of protein that each person should consume is based on their age, sex and level of physical activity.

The general guidelines for a healthy amount of protein ranges from 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight (2.2 lbs) to 2 grams for more active individuals.

Consuming more protein per kg of body weight has been linked to weight gain, constipation, and increased risk of cancer and heart disease. But this is mainly because most individuals associate protein with animal products, meaning that someone who is trying to obtain more protein will most likely do so through consuming animal products.

But as mentioned earlier, if you swap plant proteins in place of animal proteins, you will increase your nutrient profile and boost your metabolism at the same time.

5 Healthy & High Sources of Plant Based Protein

Here are 5 amazing sources of plant based proteins that are both healthy and delicious! Beans and lentils are great additions to add to any diet as they contain a healthy amount of protein, carbs and fiber. These nutrients and macronutrients are great for weight loss, better digestion and a faster metabolism!

  • Peanuts: Just one cup of peanuts contains about 25 grams of protein. But if snacking on them isn’t your thing- two tablespoons of peanut butter contains 8 grams of protein. Match that with 2 pieces of whole grain toast (4g protein each) and you already have a breakfast containing 16 grams of healthy plant based protein! 😋
  • Black Beans: Black beans are delicious and a great addition to any meal! Just one cup contains 15 grams of protein and lots of fiber which is great for weight loss.
  • Chickpeas: Chickpeas are one of the best plant based sources of protein with 39 grams per cup. Check out my chickpea tuna recipe for a creative way to incorporate them into your diet⚡️
  • Lentils: Lentils are so tasty and perfect for when it’s chilly out. My favourite thing to do is pressure cook one cup of dry lentils with soy sauce, onions, mushrooms and garlic. Just one cup of these bad boys contain 18 grams of protein.
  • Tempeh: Tempeh is the perfect substitute for bacon. If you’ve never tried it before- you definitely should! It can be found in the vegetarian/vegan section of most grocery stores. Just one block typically contains 19 grams of protein.

Conclusion

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog on proteins- I really hope that you learned something that will benefit your health! The main reason why I wrote this blog is to change the way that people think of protein! Animal sources are not the only sources of protein out there.

There are so many amazing plant based sources that contain all of the amino acids that we need! It’s just a matter of consciously making those swaps 🙂


Sources:

Macho-González, A., Garcimartín, A., López-Oliva, M., Bastida, S., Benedí, J., Ros, G., Sánchez-Muniz, F. (2020, July 20). Can Meat and Meat-Products Induce Oxidative Stress? Retrieved January 10, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7402184/

Hernandez-Alonso, P., Salas-Salvado, J., & Ruiz-Canela, M. (2015, April 07). High dietary protein intake is associated with an increased body weight and total death risk. Retrieved January 10, 2021, from https://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(15)00091-6/fulltext