6 Easy Ways to Sneak More Greens Into Your Day

 

This was the scene outside my front door yesterday.

 

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Most brutal winter in recent memory, especially for those of us trying to train for spring races. Constant onslaught of cold temps, ice, snow storms and wind. It’s been a seemingly unending cycle of misery.

Now, we all know we should be eating our leafy greens. Packed with vitamins and minerals, they truly are superfoods. I love my salads but who wants a meal that leaves me shivering even more than I already am?

This doesn’t mean no greens until spring hits. It simply means do a  little planning and fire up the imagination to replace those cold salads.

Thought I’d share a few ideas for sneaking more of those health supporting greens into your daily routine.

1. Homemade Vegetarian Pizza - Who doesn’t love pizza? But it can take some time so yes, I do use a shortcut. I use this spelt crust by the ShaSha Bread Company

pizza

spelt_crust

 

 

and turn it into this

 

 

 

Super quick and easy, I topped this crust with tomato sauce, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, red onion, black olives and a sprinkle of goat cheese. Makes a great meal in about 15 minutes. YUM!

 

2. Garlic Roasted Broccoli – I can’t believe it took me so long to discover this delicious way to eat broccoli. My kids now eat way more than just 2 or 3 spears. Just wash and pat dry 1-2 heads of broccoli (you don’t want it to be soggy so do dry it). Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic and sea salt to taste. Roast at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes and watch it disappear.

OvenRoastedBroccoli

 

3. Add greens to your soup – Aside from a nice hot bath, nothing soothes and warms like a steaming bowl of homemade soup. This time of year, I make a big pot at least 2 or 3 times a week. Soup is so nutritious and easy. Don’t you love when you come home and all you have to do is warm it up? Here’s  one of my favourite recipes for White Bean Quinoa Kale Soup. I think I’ll whip up a batch later today.

 

4. Kale Chips - Remember this post? This was when I confessed my struggles in learning to love kale but these kale chips did it. And they’ve been a hit with everyone else I know who’ve tried them. Go ahead, feel free to eat the whole batch. They are addictive indeed. They’re one of those things that taste like a treat with the added bonus of getting all that green nutrition into you. Kale chips rule.

 

5. Green up your frittata - It’s true, eggs are not just for breakfast. They’re definitely one of my most favourite foods any time of day. Add a bunch of sauteed veggies and you have a complete and nutritious meal. Some of the combinations I love: sweet potatoes, spinach and onions; asparagus, mushrooms and tomatoes; peppers, zucchini, onions and swiss chard.

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Play around with whatever you have in your fridge, just don’t forget the greens.

 

6. Warm Arugula Salad with Grilled Portobellos and Spiced Pecans -

Sometimes I still just want my salad. Adding warm ingredients and spiced nuts is a fabulous way to get rid of the chill. Here’s what you need to make this yummy salad:

 

  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, rinse and pat dry
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1/4 cup sliced red onions
  • 1 large pear, sliced
  • 1-2″ piece of goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup maple spiced pecans

Brush portobello mushrooms with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Grill or roast in your oven, 350 degrees, for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare your dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients and set aside.

Wash and pat dry arugula leaves.  Arrange in a salad bowl with the red onion, sliced pears, goat cheese and spiced nuts.

When the mushrooms are ready, slice and place warm strips over the salad.

Toss with dressing and savour the flavours!

 

 

 

Posted in anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, athletes fuel, dinner, eggs, gluten-free, Healthy snack, kale, recipe, soup, spinach, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Beat Those Cravings Once And For All

 

Sugar is not your friend. Sorry to say it, but there it is.  I know, I know, it’s yummy and how bad can it really be? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but to convince yourself that “all things in moderation” means you can feed your addiction with a regular sugar hit is a slippery slope.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love the occasional bowl of gelato or a slab of chocolate cake at a birthday party. What I’m talking about is the daily habit of succumbing to that little voice that tells you “you’ve earned this glass of wine” or “how much harm can a few jellybeans do?”.

yogurt

 

Maybe what’s even more insidious is the hidden sugar that you don’t even know you’re eating, when you really believe you’re making healthy choices. Beware of your morning orange juice, those fat-free hazelnut lattes, the so-called fibre and protein bars, the white bagels and, of course, vanilla yogurt (even if it claims to be full of probiotics and low in fat – that’s a whole other post).

 

The truth is if you find that later in the day you are struggling with cravings, your body is sending you a message loud and clear. That message is “I need more nutrients”. The solution may be more simple than you think: eat real food.

Why is sugar so bad for you anyways?

  • It feeds the “bad bacteria” in your intestinal tract which can lead to digestive disturbances such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea.
  • It suppresses your immune system (70% of which is in your gut). Do you often come down with colds or flus?
  • It interferes with the absorption of Calcium and Magnesium
  • It stimulates fat storage. That muffin top is more likely the result of refined grains, sugars or alcohol, NOT fat consumption.
  • It triggers hormone imbalances which can result in sleep disruptions, mood conditions (anxiety or depression), PMS, fatigue, weight gain
  • It feeds inflammation, a biochemical cascade that in the long term can be linked to heart disease, cancer, dementia

The good news is that you can beat the cravings. You may experience some nasty withdrawal symptoms at first. In fact, the worse you feel the more dependent you probably are. But the headaches, lethargy, cravings will all pass in a few days. Here’s how:

My Top 5 Tips to Beat Sugar Cravings

 

  1. Stop Counting Calories - When we become too conscious of calories we tend to itemize and calculate the cost of everything that goes into our mouths. This often leads us to falling prey to the marketing geniuses behind packaged processed nutritionally empty psuedo-foods. Low-fat foods also tend to be high in sugars (go on, read the label). Result: you’re still hungry an hour later.
  2. No Skipping Meals – I see this fairly often. Either we’re too busy to eat or we’ve decided it’s time to “detox”.  Again, this backfires. Best way to keep hunger at bay and control the late day binges is to feed yourself several times throughout the day. Take the time to pack up some snacks so you’re not tempted by the junk sitting around the office. Fresh fruit, homemade trail mix (nuts, seeds, dried fruits), hard boiled eggs, veggies and hummus. Believe me, if you’re nibbling on these all day long you won’t have time for any cravings.
  3. Boost Your Protein Intake – This is a biggie. Most people I talk to don’t eat enough protein in the earlier part of the day, which leads to those carb cravings in the afternoon or at night. I especially recommend higher protein intake at breakfast: eggs – not just 1 but 2-3; plain organic greek yogurt with berries, nuts, sunflower seeds; protein smoothie; last night’s dinner! I do this all the time – leftover chicken or fish with avocado slices and a serving of fruit. I am full and happy for hours. Protein helps control your appetite and builds a lean body.
  4. Eat More Greens – Remember, nutrient dense foods nourish your body and help minimize its cries for more energy. You may be amazed. Example: just one cup of cooked spinach will give you the following percentages of your Recommended Daily Intake: Calcium 25%, Iron 35%, Vitamin K 1000%, Vitamin A 300+%, Manganese 80%, Folate 60% and Potassium 24%. PLUS 5 gms of protein. Need I say more?                                                                                                              **Teaser – next blog post will discuss how to get more greens in your daily diet
  5. I saved the best for last - Awareness and Accountability. This is often the turning point, where the balance shifts. If your mind is not in the right place, if you keep making excuses for yourself it is almost impossible to making lasting changes. When you shift your thought patterns and commit to yourself, the cravings no longer control you.

 

Posted in breakfast, cravings, digestion, eggs, energy, Healthy snack, immune system, protein, sleep, spinach, Sugar | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Step by Step Smoothies – Making Yours Healthy AND Delicious

 

I’m sorry, I disappeared again! I do love blogging and sharing my journey but I suppose we all have certain good habits we try struggle to maintain. Obviously, this is one of mine.

The beginning of the new year becomes the time when many of us swear this is IT. THIS is the year when the good habits will stick – we will eat right, lose weight, get healthy. Problem is we don’t always know how to make those changes last.

My suggestion: take baby steps. You don’t have to overhaul absolutely everything. Start with 1 or 2 simple achievable goals. Chances are you’re more likely to see some of the results you’re looking for and that’s what keeps us going.

One of my favourite starting points is the smoothie. It’s the perfect way to sneak in all kinds of goodness into your daily routine. Key thing – you have to like them so you keep drinking them. Because I get so many requests for how to make that smoothie taste great, here are a few tips to help make yours super yummy, super satisfying and super healthy.

Building Your Base

Start with any liquid (or combo) that you like – I usually use about 2 cups of liquid for a nice big glass.  Options include:

  • plain filtered water
  • almond or rice milk (plain unsweetened please!)
  • fresh squeezed orange juice (from an orange, not a carton)
  • coconut water

Fruits and Veggies

This is the heart of your smoothie, where you can add lots of flavour, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Use your imagination and throw in anything you love. Don’t be afraid of tossing in some veggies. If that scares you, start with even a teensy amount. My go-to’s include:

  • frozen banana (half or whole, keep a bunch in your freezer)
  • frozen organic berries
  • pineapple chunks – one of my favourites!
  • diced apples, mangoes, kiwis or orange sections
  • diced cucumber or celery
  • a handful (or two?) of organic baby spinach or kale

Now the fun part. People think think we’re done at this point but now we get to add all the extra goodies that take your smoothie from okay to amazing!

Healthy Fats

This is where we boost the anti-inflammatory benefits of your smoothie and help make it more satisfying and filling. Experiment and see which ones you like.

  • coconut oil (See this post for why I love it)
  • almond butter
  • avocado slices – add a nice creamy texture
  • flax oil
  • ground flax seeds – added bonus: a nice scoop of fibre

Super Energize Your Smoothie

Next we throw in some “super foods” to boost antioxidants, phytonutrients and alkalinizing ingredients. My favourites:

  • cacao (this post will tell you what this is and why you should be eating it)
  • lemon juice – alkalinizing and yummy
  • ginger – immune boosting and anti-inflammatory
  • hemp seeds – protein packed and good source of Magnesium (the calming mineral)
  • chia seeds – Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, fibre, protein – need I say more? Read here for the full story + a green smoothie recipe
  • parsley or cilantro – naturally detoxifying and highly alkalinizing, which supports bone and immune health
  • pomegranate seeds – in season now! Rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C

Sweeten It Up!

Depending on what you’ve already thrown in you may want to add a little more sweetness. Every once in a while my smoothie is a little bland or even a bit too “green” tasting. If that’s the case I may add in one of the following:

  • fresh orange juice or pineapple chunks (if you haven’t already)
  • raw honey – I think it’s a superfood. Here’s why + another smoothie recipe
  • cinnamon – anti-inflammatory, helps balance blood sugar and sooooo deelish! See below for one of my new favourite recipes
  • 1 Mejdool date – super sweet, you won’t need more than one. Great source of iron and fibre

Couldn’t be easier! This morning I put together this yummy Banana Chocolate Smoothie. Rich in warming cinnamon flavour and full of antioxidants, fibre and alkalinizing minerals it was perfect after my morning run.

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Banana Chocolate Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cacao
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Blend at high speed for 1 minute, sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and enjoy!

So easy and so deelish. Hope you can make this habit stick!

 

Posted in anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, athletes fuel, breakfast, energy, healthy fats, Healthy snack, immune system, recipe, recovery | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Carbs I Can’t Live Without

More carbs! Yup, you heard it here. This summer I am all about increasing the amount of carbs I eat and no, I haven’t gained any weight. Truth is, I’m feeling pretty darn good!

I’m less than 5 weeks away from marathon #7. It’s going be my first marathon in 4 years and the first since having become a certified and registered nutritionist 2 years ago. And yes, I’m starting to get nervous!

In terms of nutrition, however, I’m feeling very confident. The combination of what I’ve learned both through my studies and through my practice has led me to the conclusion that carbs are, indeed, an athlete’s best friend. Most sports nutrition experts recommend that 60%, even up to 70%, of food intake should come from carbohydrates.

Where we tend to go astray is not necessarily in eating too many carbs but in eating the wrong kinds of carbs. And by “wrong” I mean processed white-flour products that tend to be high in sugar and low in nutrient content. They tend to promote inflammation and leave us feeling lethargic, bloated and still hungry. I’m talking pizza, white pasta, bagels, packaged cereals, coffee shop muffins. We are surrounded by them.

It is true that your body’s preferred fuel source is carbohydrates. If you’re feeling a little fuzzy-headed by mid-afternoon (or at the end of a 20 mile run) it’s very possible that your brain is starving.  And of course, any physical activity also needs to be fueled by carbs. My focus, for this season, has been to keep my fuel tank and glycogen stores topped up as much as possible. Just not by any of the foods I just listed above.

If you’re not training for a marathon, you probably don’t need to have your carb intake quite as high but it should still account for 45-60% of your food intake. Between the nutrients they provide and the energy they leave behind, here are 5 of my favourite carbs I’ve been enjoying all summer.

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Black Bean Quinoa Burger? Yes please!

 

Happy belated Canada Day! I know I’m a little late but lucky me gets to spend the first week of July every year up at our family cottage. These days tend to be filled with lazy morning cappuccinos in the “Muskoka” room and epic Monopoly and Scrabble tournaments in the afternoons. So of course I don’t turn my computer on very often.

Since the Canada Day weekend was a little chilly and overcast up here we didn’t spend as much time as we would have liked down at the lake. But as true Canadians we still hung on to our traditions of big hearty breakfasts, buttertarts from the local bakery, evening bonfires and, of course, the quintessential summer meal – big juicy burgers.

Last Sunday I capped off my highest weekly mileage in over 2 years with a 17 mile hilly run that left me both euphoric and famished. We all know I love to eat and by the time I was finished I was ready to sink my teeth into some real food. And in my world, sink-your-teeth-in good food  does not have to be greasy or guilt-inducing. The Black Bean Quinoa burger recipe I’m about to share with you is so hearty and yummy no one will be left asking “where’s the beef?”

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