I’m Your Wild Girl! White Chocolate Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb Smoothie Bowl [Local Product Feature, Part 2]

This past summer I had the opportunity to sample some lovely locally-produced plant mylk. I loved playing and making new recipes with it.

[You can find one of those recipes here. [Local Product Feature, Part 1]

Hippie Mylk, which you can find at Ottawa farmers’ markets and now in select health food stores, most definitely also passes the smoothie test! It’s creamy, naturally just a little sweet, and high in protein and healthy fats (you know I’m all about those #healthyfatsftw).

IMG_20180822_155222_171Something I’ve noticed with a handful of clients is that while they love the idea of smoothies, they don’t always feel satisfied having “just” that. This poses a problem, as a lot of the time, smoothies are actually really well-loaded with good stuff, and are indeed meal-sized in terms of calories and macros.

So what’s going on?

Our bodies like to chew!

Chewing helps rev the digestive engines – i.e. enzymes, which are released into your spit to start breaking down carbs in particular. A pretty common thread with a lot of smoothies is fruit, which are high in naturally-occurring starches, fiber, and sugar.

If you’re prone to getting gassy after having a morning smoothie, check in with your ingredients. This next bit’s for you.

Try holding your mouthful of smoothie in your mouth for 15-30 seconds before swallowing it. If your smoothie happens to have little pulpy bits, like apple skin, chia seeds, cacao nibs, maybe a chunk of date or mango here and there – definitely try this, and even try chewing it. You may find taking smaller mouthfuls helps with this.

Avoid just guzzling it all down as quickly as possible. We invented travel mugs and iced drink tumblers for a reason! (I’ve coveted the really big, venti/trenta size iced tea travel cups at SBux, which look big enough to hold even massive smoothies.)

Another solution to encourage slowing down and chewing your smoothie is to turn it into a smoothie bowl!

The trick with a smoothie bowl is in how much liquid you add to it to balance how much stuff you want to put both in and on it. I tend to like a 1:1 ratio of “solid” smoothie ingredients to liquid, erring on the side of a bit more of the solids, by which I mean the fruit, nut butters, seeds, greens, etc.

If the smoothie seems too thin for my liking to serve as a bowl, I’ll add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more frozen fruit or a teaspoon of flax or chia to help thicken it up to taste. Adding flax or chia post-blending is helpful too, especially if the bowl is left to stand for a bit.

Smoothie bowls also don’t have to be overly complicated and don’t need 70 ingredients to be impressive! I loved using Hippie Mylk to make this simple but so satisfying White Chocolate Cherry Bomb Smoothie Bowl – so much so that I even added the recipe to the 3rd edition of my holiday recipe ebook!

[Get the ebook here for 40% off through Giving Tuesday November 27]

You can get a peek at this chill brunch-ready recipe right here. Then just try to get “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways out of your head after making it.

20180823_211933Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup cacao butter
  • ¾ cup frozen organic sweet cherries
  • 1 cup original plant milk of choice (I used local-made Hippie Mylk; Ripple would also work well)
  • 2 Tbsp. smooth almond butter
  • 1-2 tsp. maple syrup to taste, optional
  • Pinch sea salt, optional

Melt the cacao butter slowly using a double boiler (or melt in a pan on the stove), about 10 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, combine the remaining ingredients, then add the melted cacao butter. Blend immediately before the cacao butter re-solidifies. (If your blender has a removable cap in the lid, start blending the ingredients and slowly pour the melted cacao butter in while it’s running.)
Pour the blended mixture into a serving bowl.
Sprinkle on toppings, such as goji berries, dried cranberries, fresh halved cherries, dried coconut, cacao nibs, slivered almonds, hazelnuts, etc.
Tips: Smoothie bowls are best served thick! Adjust the amount of liquid as needed. To serve multiple guests, double or triple the recipe. Make the smoothie base ahead of time, storing single servings upright in small Pyrex containers. Allow your guests to add their own toppings (a la sundae bar).
Makes 1 large or 2 small servings. Prep time: about 15 minutes.

The LPFL Plant-Based Holiday Solutions 3rd edition ebook is available now through December 17 2018. $5 per sale goes to the Ottawa Food Bank! 40% off through Giving Tuesday November 27 2018.

When You Haven’t Changed Anything… But Your Pants Don’t Fit

I’m no stranger to that struggle.

You’re positive that you’re not eating more food or “junkier” food but you’re still gaining weight. And you don’t think you just shrunk your clothes, are PMSing, or haven’t taken a good poop. How could this happen?

You’re not going crazy. You’re not alone.

Here’s why your favourite seasonal fashion staples might be feeling a bit snug these days.

The “calories in, calories out” argument is an overly simplistic, outdated view of how weight management works.

There’s definitely more to it than just how many calories you’re eating, right?

A lot of this comes right down to your metabolic rate which is affected by things like your activity level, history of dieting, body composition, and what you eat.

But let’s go beyond the tired “eat less and exercise more” advice and dive into some of the less obvious underlying reasons why you may be gaining weight even though you’re eating the same way you have for years.

Things like:

  • Aging
  • Hormones
  • Sleep
  • Stress

Aging

Funny things happen the older we get. People commonly experience lower energy levels, more digestive discomfort, and weight gain, as well as aches and pains. If you work an office job at a desk, you might also be particularly familiar with those aches and pains.

Aging can result in hormonal changes for both men and women. And these can contribute to loss of some lean muscle mass, as well as increases and changes in fat storage on our bodies. Women tend to pack more around the hips and thighs, while men more so around the waist.

The good news is that this is very common and not your fault.

Hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism and as such can be a massive contributor to your weight gain. There are several things that can affect it and throw it off-course.

When your thyroid gets off-course and produces fewer hormones, your metabolism slows down. And when your metabolism slows down, you can gain weight… even though you’re eating the same way you always have.

Pro Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your hormones tested. Oh, and try the thyroid-friendly recipe that I created for you at the end of this post.

Sleep

There’s plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.

And as we age it can become harder and harder to get a good night’s sleep.

The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night at consistent times as much as is possible to help avoid weight gain.

Pro Tip: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. The first place to start is by implementing a calming bedtime routine, like listening to a guided meditation, enjoying a soothing cup of herbal tea (I love lavender and rooibos), and keeping the lights dim.

Stress

You’re not imagining it – it’s everywhere! So many things that can cause stress responses in your body.

And you know that stress hormones are not going to help you sustain healthy habits or maintain a healthy weight, right?

While you can’t necessarily change all your stressors you can try to adjust your stress response to them.

Pro Tip:  Try meditation or yoga, mindful eating, journaling. What about those new adult colouring books that are all the rage now? You may even want to look at your work or living situation and do what needs to be done to make a change, even if that might be drastic.

Conclusion:

There are lots of factors that can affect your weight, even if you’re eating the same way you always have. Aging, hormones, stress, and sleep are all interconnected to each other and can all contribute to weight gain, even if you’re eating the same way you always have.

We go deeper with this in my LPFL Body Alchemy program! Learn more here.

Seaweed Sushi Bowl

IMG_20181029_195930_537

Serves 2

  • 1 cup cooked rice (I used black Japonica rice)
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • ½ red pepper, julienne/matchsticks
  • 2 small carrots, julienne/matchsticks
  • 2 Tbsp. dried seaweed (such as nori or arame; I used 4 squares of olive oil SeaSnax, torn up – wasabi flavour is also amazing here!)
  • Small handful microgreens such as broccoli sprouts or pea shoots
  • 4 strips tempeh, cut into small pieces (can use plain or marinated – I like Lightlife smoky BBQ or Tofurky brand sesame garlic); can substitute chickpeas or jackfruit if desired
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp. plain or seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger

Divide the first eight ingredients into two bowls.

Put the rest of the ingredients in a small jar or bottle and shake well to combine.

Pour the dressing over the sushi bowls. You may have some extra.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip:  This is a great lunch to take on the go. Keep dressing in a separate container so you can give it a shake before adding it onto the sushi bowl.

[LPFL Body Alchemy starts as a group online on Wed Nov 28 2018! Use code “alchemytea” at checkout through Nov 26 to get a free tea with your purchase of Body Alchemy.]

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/lose-weight-in-menopause/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/sleep-stress-and-fat-loss

Coconut Oil: Madness or Magic?

Short answer: super magical.

But what exactly is it about coconut oil that makes it so magically healthy? And which type is best?

Science!

Coconut oil is fat and contains the same 9 calories per gram as other fats. It’s extracted from the “meat” of the coconut, and it’s a white solid at room temperature that easily melts into a clear liquid on a hot day, or when it’s in contact with your skin (assuming you’re not a frost giant).

The idea of adding coconut oil to your diet is NOT to add on to what you already eat, but to substitute it for some of the (possibly) less-healthy fats you may be eating now. There are of course exceptions, such as if you’ve been seriously fat-deprived since the fat-free craze of the Acid Wash Neon Scrunchie Era (i.e. the 80s and 90s). Fat-free belongs in the bin with beepers, landlines, and dial-up.

If you’re going to include (more) fats in your diet, coconut oil belongs in your party.

And here’s why: because not all calories or fats are created equal.

Coconut oil contains a type of fat known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). In fact, 65% of the fats in coconut oil are MCTs.

What makes MCTs unique is how your body metabolizes them: they’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream by your gut, go straight to the liver, and they’re burned for fuel or converted into ketones.

This metabolic process, unique to MCTs, is what sets coconut oil apart from other fats, but the magic doesn’t stop there.

MCTs from coconut oil have also been shown to have a few different fat loss benefits.

First, it can help to increase feelings of fullness, which can lead to a natural reduction in the amount of food you eat.

Second, because of their unique metabolic route, MCTs can also increase the number of calories you burn – this happens when you compare the calories burned after eating the same amount of other fats. A few studies show that coconut oil may increase the number of calories you burn by as much as 5%.

Third, some studies show that eating coconut oil can help reduce belly fat (a.k.a. “waist circumference”). It’s great for reducing insulin resistance – which is a top contributor to visceral fat gain, and one of the major problems people with PCOS might face, so adding some MCT-rich coconut oil to your daily menu is not a bad idea for supporting your health with this condition.

Just remember not to add coconut oil to your diet without reviewing and reducing other fats and oils! Many of the studies that showed increased fullness, increased metabolism, and reduced belly fat only used about 2 tablespoons per day. You probably don’t need any more than that.

Now, there are so many coconut oil options available in grocery stores these days that it can be difficult to know which is best.

I generally recommend you stay away from “refined” ones, and opt for “virgin” coconut oil. That’s because virgin coconut oil is processed at lower temperatures and avoids some of the chemical solvents (like hexane) used in the refining process, and helps to preserve more of the oil’s natural health-promoting antioxidants.

Bonus points if you can get it fair-trade and in a glass jar over plastic!

One thing you should also consider is that each oil has a specific high temperature that you should avoid surpassing (e.g. its “smoke point”). For virgin coconut oil, that temperature is 350F. That means you can safely use it on the stovetop on a low-medium setting, as well as in most baking.

And definitely avoid “hydrogenated” coconut oil. It can be a health nightmare because it contains the infamous “trans fats.”

I’m ready to cast some magic with coconut oil – are you? Check out the recipe below.

Homemade Healthy Chocolate

Serves 12

  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup cocoa/cacao powder
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 dashes salt
  • 4 tablespoons slivered almonds

Melt coconut oil, and whisk in maple syrup, salt, and cocoa/cacao powder until smooth.

Stir in slivered almonds until evenly distributed.

Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Store in fridge or freezer to avoid melting.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Substitute other seeds, chopped nuts, or dried fruit instead of the almonds if you wish.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/

https://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-oil-and-weight-loss/

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-most-weight-loss-friendly-foods/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/coconut-oil/

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-brain-coconut-oil

Comfort Food Grows Up [Local Product Feature, Part 1]

I’ve written about comfort food before. So you likely know that I’m not opposed to including a handful of favourites in your meal repertoire for those rainy afternoons, those #selfcaresaturdays, those “just ‘cause” moments.

I get a warm nostalgic feeling when Continue reading “Comfort Food Grows Up [Local Product Feature, Part 1]”

Is My Poop Normal?

There’s actually a reason I ask every client I see about their poop.

(Totally unrelated aside: my job is so glamourous, peeps.)

You might already know that your poop can reflect your physical – and sometimes even emotional – health.

You may get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you,” or when you’re super-nervous about something. Maybe you even find you need to go 3+ times in the 2 hours before your end-of-semester graded recital with staying in your program on the line. Maybe this accurately describes my own life in university with performance anxiety. Maybe that’s TMI. Maybe we’re moving on now…

Continue reading “Is My Poop Normal?”

[Recipe Post] Lower Cortisol with Dessert? Yes Please!

STRESS!!!

Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Would you agree?

Our natural “fight or flight” stress response is supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after we’ve, well, fought or flew. But, in our society, with stressors basically ever-present – it becomes a long-term reaction. It becomes chronic.

You might already be familiar with the main stress hormone, called “cortisol.”  It’s released from your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning to get you going, and slowly fades during the day so you can sleep.

Now did you know that too-high levels of cortisol are associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and even lowers your immunity?

Do you experience any of these? Keep reading – I have a list of foods, nutrients, and lifestyle recommendations to help you lower this stress hormone naturally! Continue reading “[Recipe Post] Lower Cortisol with Dessert? Yes Please!”

[Recipe Post] Cafe-Style Summer Drinks, without the Cafe Lines and Name Typos

With the warmer weather comes patio season, and that often intertwines with frosty cafe beverages with or without caffeine. While I am no stranger to these cafe offerings (especially on a lovely day out or a little walk amongst the shops), it does get pricey to buy one each time. Not to mention the amount of wasteful packaging that might accumulate in your bins, if you’re like us and try to remember to bring a tumbler but don’t always manage (it’s a work in progress).

My classic ice-cold bev tip for when you want that cafe taste but not the expense or the trash OR the questionable additives:

Continue reading “[Recipe Post] Cafe-Style Summer Drinks, without the Cafe Lines and Name Typos”

[Recipe Post] Nostalgic (and Dairy-Free!) Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

I have been dairy-free for over 10 years. Before I broke up with milk products, for the sake of animals as well as my skin and immune system, a favourite food while living at home and eventually on my own was cream of mushroom soup.

You know the kind – condensed and canned, that you need to add however much milk to it to make it “edible”. (And not remotely healthy.)

But I loved it. Continue reading “[Recipe Post] Nostalgic (and Dairy-Free!) Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup”

My 3 Favourite Plant-Power Breakfast Foods + A Savoury Recipe to Try

Do you love your breakfast?  Do you have a short list of “go-to” recipes?  Do you need a bit of inspiration to start eating breakfast again?

Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, metabolism and weight loss.  This is because protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolize it.  So I’m going to show you how to get the protein, as well as some veggies and healthy fats for your soon-to-be favourite new “go-to” breakfasts. Continue reading “My 3 Favourite Plant-Power Breakfast Foods + A Savoury Recipe to Try”

Stay in Bed… All Night Long (for the Other Good Reason)

Do you feel like you’ve had a messy breakup with sleeping through the night?

Are you feeling exhausted or basically running on fumes all day?

Keep reading! I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) to help you stay in bed all night long… for the other good reason. *ah-wink* Continue reading “Stay in Bed… All Night Long (for the Other Good Reason)”