Category Archives: DIET/NUTRITION

Eating Clean in 2016!

eat clean picture

DEFINITION OF EATING CLEAN: Eating clean is a good way to refresh your eating habits: it’s about eating more of the best and healthiest options in each of the food groups—and eating less of the not-so-healthy ones. That means embracing whole foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains, plus healthy proteins and fats.


eating clean

The older I get the more I feel an enormous connection between what I put into my body and how my mind and body feel as a result.  I used to be able to skip breakfast, eat a burger and fries for lunch and then wolf down some ramen noodles or a Subway sandwich for dinner (basically my College diet) without noticeably feeling horrible.  But all that has changed now that I’m approaching my late 30’s.

I now feel the need to eliminate fast-food, processed crap and refined sugars from my diet as much as possible, in order to feel energized and healthy.  Eating processed/fast-food literally makes me feel tired and sluggish and even moody.  Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE a good greasy burger, a bag of potato chips, chocolate ANYTHING and even the occasional poutine, but these foods are now eaten more rarely as a treat as opposed to being part of my regular diet.

I didn’t start out eliminating processed food from my diet in order to feel better.  I started to decrease my ‘crap food’ intake because I wanted to lose weight.  But the more I substituted processed foods for healthy ‘natural’ ones the more I realized there were SO many other reasons to eat well besides weight loss (although that is a great reason).  Basically, eating well makes me MUCH healthier, happier and more energized.  I also look better when I’m eating well.  I notice a significant difference in the appearance of my skin, my hair and even my nails.

Another important reason I’m trying to embrace eating healthier, more natural foods is because of my kids.  I want to ‘live what I preach’ and set a good example.  I have found that they are generally willing to try almost anything I’m eating and they usually really LIKE what I introduce.  I have them eating chia, flax and sunflower seeds, all kinds of nuts and a wide variety of beans/lentils along with a wide variety of fresh fruits,vegetables and fish.  I honestly thought it would be more of a battle than it has been but they’re really embracing the healthier foods and it makes me feel much better about our weekly pizza night, the occasional hot dog from Costco, or their nightly dessert (:

So now when I, or my kids, are feeling lethargic or snackish, instead of reaching for a sugary, fatty snack, I/we reach for a handful of nuts and dried berries or throw some seeds and fruit onto yogurt and we’re good to go!

My 4 year old adding chia and flax to his morning yogurt (:

My 4 year old adding chia and flax to his morning yogurt (:


 

I almost ALWAYS eat a ‘clean’ nutritional breakfast within an hour of waking up.  This sets the tone for the entire day and makes me feel GREAT.  (My go-to breakfast is quick-cook oatmeal with 1/2 a cup of frozen blueberries, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, 1 tsp of flaxseeds and 1 tsp of chia seeds.  It’s the PERFECT breakfast to keep me full and energized for the entire morning and amazing for a pre-workout meal or snack).

My go-to pre-workout breakfast!

My go-to pre-workout breakfast!


 

Below I’ve found some GREAT links to really interesting articles that are related to eating clean:

  • I watched an episode of The Nature of Things on the link between micro-organisms in the body and obesity and it blew my mind.  It was one of the most interesting and thought-provoking shows about the how our body processes food that I’ve seen in a long time.  It’s a MUST WATCH if you’re struggling with your weight or just want to be educated on how our bodies process food!  I HIGHLY recommend it!

http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/it-takes-guts

  • This is a GREAT (and short) article I read in Bon Appetit on how to be a healthy, political savvy, environmentally friendly eater (:

http://www.bonappetit.com/entertaining-style/trends-news/article/environmentally-friendly-food-sam-kass

  • In the winter particularly, it can be difficult to stay happy and energized.  Below is a great read about foods that actually help to make you feel happy!!

http://greatist.com/happiness/nutrients-boost-mood


 

  • Lastly, I’ve included links to some of my favourite ‘clean’ recipes!  Here’s to a healthy, happy, AMAZING 2016 and many more to follow!!

CABBAGE SOUP

http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/cleansing-ground-turkey-cabbage-and-caraway-soup/

BROCCOLI SALAD

http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/broccoli-and-lemon-salad-with-feta/

MINESTRONE SOUP

http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/hearty-organic-garden-minestrone-soup/

FARRO AND VEGETABLE PILAF

http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/vegetable-farro-pilaf-with-fresh-mint-and-parsley/

BEET SALAD

http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/beet-orange-salad-walnuts-goats-cheese/

OVEN ROASTED VEGETABLES

http://www.frugalfreshfood.com/oven-roasted-vegetables-herbs-parmesan-served-vegetarian-favourite-meat/

eating clean 2016

 

 

 

 

Sneaky ways to get kids to eat more vegetables without them even noticing!

 

no veggies for me

I’m always striving/struggling to ensure my family gets enough fruits and vegetables in their diet.  In a perfect world my kids would joyfully eat whatever vegetables I serve, but unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.

I find it so much easier to get my kids to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the summer when the Farmer’s Markets are overflowing with colour and beauty.  Everything is less expensive and perfectly ripe and my children are much more eager to experiment with new tastes and textures.  The cold weather months are another story, however.  I find it amazing (and frustrating) that my son couldn’t wait to eat the zucchini he picked from our backyard garden this past summer but when I presented the same thing from the grocery store the other day he proclaimed that he ‘hates zucchini’.  Ugh.  Another vegetable currently on the ‘no bueno’ list.

Despite my boys whining and complaining when they have to eat vegetables other than corn and raw carrots, I make them eat them anyway because I know they need the vitamins and nutrients from a wide assortment of vegetables during the cold winter months more than ever.

To make it less of a ‘chore’ for them – and for me (I CAN’T STAND whining at the dinner table), I try to ‘hide’ vegetables a little better when they’re more inclined to complain about them.  They stay healthy.  I stay sane.  Win win.

vegetables

Below are some of my favourite and sneakiest ways to incorporate vegetables into their meals without them blinking an eye!  (;

  • I have found that zucchini and cauliflower are two of the easiest vegetables to sneak into just about anything without kids noticing.  As long as you grate/shred/puree it so they won’t notice the texture, they can go practically unnoticed because they really don’t have much flavour to begin with.  I shred zucchini on a cheese grater and/or puree raw cauliflower in a food processor and add it to quinoa or rice.  I Just garnish with feta or parm cheese and the kids never even know it’s in there.
  • I make homemade tomato sauce and instead of just using tomatoes, I sneak some mushrooms, carrots, mixed bell peppers and/or zucchini in which turns it into more of a marinara sauce.  The tomato completely overwhelms the taste of the other veggies and if you puree it all, they’ll never know it’s not just tomatoes.
  • I dice very small pieces of bell peppers into everything.  My kids don’t mind bell peppers so this is an easy one for me.  However, if I try to add large chunks or strips they seem to pick at their food more.  I cut peppers up into teeny-tiny pieces to make it nearly impossible for them to detect them or pick them out.  I add peppers to soups, sauces, wraps, quinoa, rice, farro, pasta and anything else I can think of.  I especially like to add them into cream sauces where they don’t notice them at all.
  • I puree broccoli/cauliflower and/or peas and add it into the cheese sauce in a casserole.   When I make casseroles, or even lasagna’s, I puree green veggies into the cheese sauce (or tomato sauce).  My kids will eat anything with enough cheese on/in it!
  • I make zucchini and parmesan fritters – just tell your kids they’re cheese fritters with herbs.  The zucchini is just a side note to the cheese so the kids love this recipe.
  • I make Turkey burgers with sautéed veggies added into the mix (mixed bell peppers, cauliflower, corn…).  They can’t see the vegetables so they have no problem eating them.  I even do this with beef burgers when I want to add extra nutrition.  Again, add some cheese on top and you’re good to go!
  • I make delicious homemade chili LOADED with vegetables.  My kids will eat just about any vegetable mixed in with ground beef.  I top it with cheddar cheese and sour cream or Greek yogurt and they love it when it’s cold outside.
  • There’s nothing more comforting in the cold than a nice hot bowl of homemade soup.  I puree the veggies into the soup broth of homemade soup then add pasta and chicken to it because my kids don’t like eating chunks of stuff in their soup.
  • I puree spinach with basil to make a pesto and add to their favourite pasta.  My kids absolutely love this pesto with linguine.  I add fish or chicken to it and it’s a delicious and simple meal filled with tonnes of spinach.

Motivation Monday – tips to avoid overeating the Halloween Candy!

Halloween Candy Everywhere

Halloween Candy Everywhere!!

Welcome to Motivation Monday!

Another Halloween has come and gone.  My boys had an amazing night.  They RAN from house to house and stayed out until the lights started going out around the neighbourhood!  It was THREE hours of frenzied candy collecting.  We have SO MUCH JUNK FOOD in the house now it’s insane.

The problem with Halloween candy is that there’s such a huge variety.  I can eat five times as much as I normally would without getting sick of it.  Those little chocolates are just so easy to pop into my mouth in one bite.

Sadly, depending on which chocolate bars you’re eating, just 2 or 3 of them have the same amount of sugar, calories and fat as an entire regular size chocolate bar!  (I’m sorry.  Don’t shoot the messenger.  It upsets me too!).  The average mini bar has around 75 – 90 calories!  This fact has always shocked me because I can easily eat 10 – 12 of these a day until they’re gone.  Very easily.

Although some day in the not-so-distant future I will no longer have to worry about a huge surplus of chocolate and candy in the house every November, for now I cannot deprive my kids of their Halloween stash just because mommy has no self-control.  Instead I use a few ‘tricks’ that help motivate me to stay away from their loot.  It doesn’t always work because when you ‘have to have it, you have to have it’.  But it helps.  This way I only gain around 2 pounds every year in November, instead of 10, which is a good thing considering Christmas is coming up next and that means Holiday baking, Rum, Bailey’s and Eggnog are right around the corner!!  I can already feel my jeans getting tighter…

Below are some helpful tricks to avoid overeating all that Halloween candy!

  • You’re often thinking about the next piece of candy before finishing the one you have. To slow down and enjoy each piece of candy as you are eating it, eat with your opposite hand (if you are left-handed, eat with your right). This will help prevent you from mindlessly popping candy into your mouth. Research indicates that this simple swap can cut down on how much you eat by approximately 30 percent!
  • Research has found that if you want to avoid overeating, strategically place the candy. If it is in your line of sight, you are more likely to eat it. Putting candy away and off the counter can cut down significantly on mindlessly eating it.  I keep mine in the garage and each morning before I’m craving sweets I let the kids pick the 2 or 3 pieces they want for that day and pick 1 or 2 things for myself.  Then no more trips to the garage!  This encourages mindful eating.  I try to really enjoy my small portion of chocolate instead of mindlessly eating way too much of it.
  • According to Robyn Benson, doctor of Oriental medicine, craving sugar is a sign of some imbalance in your system and happens more frequently in people who over consume any and all carbohydrates. The antidote is to eat more fat and even sour and spicy foods while staying away from processed foods.  I try to load up on even more vegetables and lean proteins and fibre rich foods than normal and try to eat less starchy foods like pasta and bread.  If I’m going to over-indulge in chocolate, then I try to save calories and sugar in other areas to balance things out.
  • Sometimes, you just need to chew on something to help with stress eating. Try eating some homemade pumpkin seeds that you have dried out and roasted. Pumpkin seeds contain L-tryptophan, which can help keep away depression and will also help fill you up, not out!  I also like to keep a bunch of pre-cut vegetables around so when I want that chocolate I eat a cup of vegetables or a piece of fruit first.  I also down a big glass of water to help hydrate bye and fill me up.  I’m much less likely to overeat candy afterwards.
  • Lastly, hold yourself accountable.  Be conscience of what you’re eating and how much.  Once I actually think about how many calories I’m about to consume and how much I will have to exercise to compensate for it I find that I’m MUCH less likely to eat more than 2 or 3 mini bars a day.  Guilt is a very powerful tool!  lol.

Having said that, in my humble opinion, there’s nothing wrong with a small amount of chocolate or candy every day!  For myself it prevents me from binge eating.  Give yourself a break and make sure you ENJOY eating your sweets.  Don’t feel guilty for a little indulgence.  Just try not to go way overboard.  Everything in moderation!  …And if you DO go overboard (I do all the time), just try to fit a little more exercise in than usual to help make you feel better!

Good luck!  (;

The boys playing in Halloween candy

The boys showing off their Halloween candy

 

 

Motivation Monday – the health benefits of nuts

thumbs_Almond-Heart

My last few ‘Motivation Monday‘ posts have been related to physical fitness.  However, finding the motivation to eat right can be just as challenging as finding the motivation to exercise.  You  can’t achieve a healthy, balanced lifestyle without incorporating both physical activity AND healthy eating habits into your daily/weekly routine.  Diet is just as important, if not more so, than exercise when it comes to staying mentally and physically healthy.

Lately I’ve been trying to incorporate a lot more ‘raw foods’ into my diet.  Nuts and seeds in particular.  I have increased the amount of nuts I’m eating over the last month or so and the results have been amazing.  Not only are they a quick and easy way to get tonnes of stuff into my body that’s good for me, they also keep me feeling full throughout the day so I’m much less likely to reach for that cheese bun or bag of chips at 3pm.  I find that if I snack on a few nuts before working out I’m performing better overall.  I am also finding that if I snack on a few in the afternoon I eat smaller portions of dinner and am less fatigued into the evening.

Why should you eat nuts?…

A golf ball-sized portion (about 30g) of unsalted nuts makes a vitality-boosting snack and, unlike most other options, contributes a mix of valuable vitamins and minerals. All nuts have different nutrition credentials and will offer various health benefits.

Nuts are underrated as nutritious snacks — particularly raw tree nuts, such as almonds, cashews and walnuts, which have been linked to lower cholesterol, better heart health, weight control, and even a lower cancer risk.

Unfortunately, too few North-Americans eat nuts regularly: They account for less than eight percent of daily antioxidant intake.  That may be because people are afraid of the fat and calories in nuts, but they shouldn’t be!   A small handful can pack your diet with filling protein, fiber, unsaturated fats, and important vitamins and minerals.

Below are some of my favourite nuts and the health benefits they provide.  Hopefully this will motivate you to incorporate more into your diet!

ALMONDS

Almonds are a great choice to ensure you’re getting enough calcium. Almonds are also high in vitamin E, a nutrient which helps to improve the condition and appearance of your skin. For some extra heart help, swap flaked almonds for the whole nut – with the skin intact – because the almond’s skin is full of heart-protecting compounds called flavonoids.

CASHEWS

Because they contribute a good level of protein and are a useful source of minerals like iron and zinc, cashews make an excellent choice, especially if you’re following a vegetarian diet. They’re also rich in the mineral magnesium, which is thought to improve recall and delay, age-related memory loss.

PECANS

Heart-friendly pecans are packed with plant sterols, valuable compounds that are effective at lowering cholesterol levels. Pecans are also antioxidant-rich which helps prevent the plaque formation that causes hardening of the arteries. They’re rich in oleic acid, the healthy fat found in olives and avocado. As a good source of vitamin B3 pecans are the perfect option if you’re fighting fatigue because this vitamin helps us access the energy in our food.

WALNUTS

Their superior antioxidant content means walnuts are useful in the fight against cancer. They’re also a good source of mono-unsaturated, heart-friendly fats, and studies show they help to lower the bad form of cholesterol (LDL). Finally, they’re rich in omega-3, so they’re a great alternative if you don’t eat oily fish.

PEANUTS

Peanut kernels are good source of dietary protein; compose fine quality amino acids that are essential for growth and development.

Research studies have shown that peanuts contain high concentrations of poly-phenolic antioxidants, primarily p-coumaric acid. This compound has been thought to reduce the risk of stomach cancer by limiting formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach.

Peanuts are an excellent source of resveratrol, another polyphenolic antioxidant. Resveratrol has been found to have protective function against cancers, heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and viral/fungal infections.

The kernels are an excellent source of vitamin E. The nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. 100 g of peanuts provide about 85% of RDI of niacin, which contribute to brain health and blood flow to brain.

The nuts are rich source of minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

Just a handful of peanuts per day provides enough recommended levels of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, and protein.