|When I mention “green things,” what do you think of first?|
Last week in my free FB community, Level Up Your Mom Life, we were chatting about incorporating more green foods into what we eat each week, so that’s where my mind went first.
But then I started thinking about the radio program I was listening to on the weekend and it was all about the environment and things we can do to create more green spaces to enjoy in urban areas and how often they are missing in community developments.
And next I thought about how I have to file my income tax return (argh!) and began to ponder financial wellbeing (people often refer to money as “green”).
Finally my mind settled on health and wellbeing and how the colour green is often associated with physical health.
SO MUCH GREEN-NESS!
And St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t too long ago and my ancestors are from Ireland so that was thrown into the mix in my brain too, lol!
It’s funny how a colour can have so many different things associated with it. And how important ALL those things are!
So here’s a few tips to support each of these:
1. Green-Finance: do you work with a budget to manage your household finances or do you wing it? There’s no shame in not having a plan! It can be hard to face your money situation sometimes and we might just subconsciously chose to ignore it and hope for the best (believe me, I’ve been there!). This week, how about if you simply write down on a piece of paper what your monthly income is (estimate if it fluctuates). Include all sources. Then, if you feel like it, you can come back to that number at the end of the month to see how accurate it was and maybe consider looking at your recurring monthly expenses next.
2. Green-Environment: do you use reusable shopping bags? Many places are doing away with single-use plastics and shopping bags like the ones at the grocery stores are included. If you don’t already use reusable bags, you can find some lovely ones (shameless artist promotion here… I have created a line of canvas tote bags with my art on them if you are interested. Just give me a shout and I’ll send you the info.) I also use some big rectangular shopping totes/Rubbermaid bins. They stack nicely in my car. Saying bye to single use bags will help the environment. It might seem like a small thing, but remember, those small things all add up!
3. Green-Health and Wellness: have you been making time to do something to support your own health and wellbeing lately? When things get busy it is too often ourselves that get shoved to the end of the attention line, right? One simple thing you can do to support your physical health this week is to make sure you are going to bed on time. What’s on time? It’s going to be different for everyone, but ideally setting yourself up for 7-9 hours of sleep will do you a world of good! See if you can get your household on board with you on this and start quieting things down a good 30-45 minutes before bedtime so you have a better chance of easing into a good sleep when you actually hit the pillow.
4. Green-Food: I shared a recipe for a green smoothie bowl (yes bowl) with my group last week which I’m sharing with you as well. I hope you enjoy getting more greens into you! It is quite yummy 🙂
Green Smoothie Bowl
(Makes 1 serving)
2 cups (60 g) spinach1 frozen banana½ cup (125 ml) unsweetened non-dairy milk½ avocado1 tbsp chia seeds
Ice (optional)Toppings of your choice.
Place all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend till smooth. If you want a thicker consistency, add ice.
Pour into bowl and add your fav toppings: fresh fruit and pecans work great!
So what do you think? Are you into greening things up a bit? Let me know by replying to this email (easy peasy) … and also let me know what you’re looking at in the list of green options!
Always from the heart,
PS – if you want to check out the online wellness coaching programs I’m offering to support women’s health and wellbeing, head on over to my website and click on The Real Life Reset System. I’ve taking my group coaching program and have shifted it to be self study (you can still get private coaching with me!). I’ve also broken the full program into bundles covering specific topics so you can choose what is best for YOU!
The Times They Are a’Changing…
I know it’s not just me.
The past few years have been chockablock full of new things, different things, weird things… you know. You’ve been here too.
The world has changed a lot. My life has changed a lot. The women I know and work with experienced a tonne of changes too. When things change, we can either fight against the changes, or adapt to the changes. I’ve experienced both situations. There’s been excitement and despair. Hope and fear. Learning and unlearning.
It’s been A LOT!
Personally, I’ve had to adapt to loads of changes in a short period of time (but also over several months and years), and one of the most challenging things for me was having an injury followed by a serious illness that absolutely knocked me flat. It was the proverbial one-two punch. Both the injury and the illness affected my nervous system. It took almost a full year to start feeling like myself again and even still, I am very aware of the sensations that are now recognized by me as the “signals” that I’ve been doing too much or that there’s been too much stress in my world. In the past, if needed, I could always just power through and then rest later if I still felt I had to. But now, I’ve learned (the hard way I have to confess) that if I don’t mind these early-warning signs to rest and recharge, then my body will force me to do so. For several days. Not just one or two.
It’s not the only major change, although it has directly impacted a multitude of other aspects of my life; things such as my ability to work, my finances, my home life, my educational goals, my relationships…
I’ve also dealt with situations with loved ones who have been ill, loved ones struggling in other areas of their lives, and the stresses that those events leave in their wake not just for the loved ones themselves but also for everyone who cares about them as well.
I’ve found that options that were previously always available to me to teach have become less available or viable, and that various employment opportunities changed or disappeared as well.
It’s been one bump-in-the-road after another, and as I mentioned earlier, I know I’m not the only one.
One of my favourite quotes of all time is:
BLESSED ARE THE FLEXIBLE, FOR THEY SHALL NOT BE BENT OUT OF SHAPE.
Am I ever grateful that I am flexible!
And you know what I’ve learned? In all the turmoil of the last few years, there’s been gifts to be found.
I’ve gotten very clear about what I’m willing to spend my energy, my time, and my money on. I am far more focused now than I’ve ever been before. I’ve been paring things down to their simplest, most basic, achievable goals and actions. At first it felt as though I was being severely limited, but now I feel just how freeing it has been for me!
So here I am. Rolling with Life’s punches and adapting in ways that work best for me and my loved ones. And in ways that, I hope, will serve all those I care about (including YOU)!
I’m focusing on ease-of-access. Making things easier for the women who I love to work with. Being true to myself.
Back in 2015 (how long ago was that?!?!) when I was teaching up to 12 yoga classes a week, I started to dream about how I could better serve the women I so loved teaching and working with. The reality was that not all locations or class times worked for everyone who wanted to take part. Far too often I’d hear “oh, that sounds great but I can’t make it…” It was then that I started looking into online offerings and took a few virtual training programs myself with mentors/teachers such as Seane Corn and Hala Khouri, so I could not only continue my own education while being a single mom with little time to travel, but also to find out for myself what it would be like to be an online student. I loved it! Opportunities that I couldn’t take advantage of because of taking care of my young family were now open to me because location wasn’t an issue anymore. I wanted to do the same for others. There was skepticism and a bit of disdain from some fellow practitioners in my local community who felt you couldn’t properly serve people unless you were in the same room as them, but I knew we weren’t reaching a lot of people who wanted to connect with us but couldn’t because they couldn’t be in the same room… at least physically.
I wrote my first online program in 2018. It was far from perfect, but I got great feedback from the participants. I listened to their suggestions and made changes. Then did it again. More suggestions, more changes. That was the process.
And then… 2020… well, we all know what happened then, don’t we?
Suddenly everyone was putting their classes and programs online and things got super saturated but they allowed for more acceptance and accessibility. Technology improved. It was then that I took time to expand my coaching programs, continue my own education, and kept adapting to better suit the times.
So, moving forward, and always being open to change of course, I’m putting a pause on my group coaching program, The Real Life Reset System. It’s both a pause, and a re-do. I’m not going to put it on the shelf completely because I know how helpful it is for moms who are done with feeling frazzled and tired, and those who want to level up their energy and enthusiasm to make the most of their Mom-Lives.
I’ll be offering The Real Life Reset System as a self-study program with optional individual coaching. That way, people can chose what works best for them, and it will be more financially-friendly! #betruetoyou I feel that after connecting with so many women in the past few months who are wanting the knowledge but who are facing a lack of time, finances, or both, that the self-study option is a better fit for the current times. As well, I’m working on a selection of shorter programs so that the women in my world can choose what they feel they need the most support with right now. The Real Life Reset System covers so much, and I developed it to touch on the many aspects of Mom-Life so it would be a one stop program, but we all have different needs at different times in our lives. So I feel strongly right now that offering shorter, more specific programs will allow me to help more women.
The first of these shorter, more focused offerings will be on MINDSET, GOALSETTING, and CONFIDENCE BUILDING, and will be followed by options such as Sleep Well, Stress-Less, Organize Your Life, and Nutrition & Active Living.
I can’t even begin to say how excited I am about all this. I’m currently making the changes to my website to support ease of access to the online offerings and I hope to be launching the new options in the next couple of weeks! This signals a return to my original vision of how I wanted to evolve my health and wellness business.
So that’s what been “a-changing.” Here we are, together, at the start of something exciting! My heart is full, my vision is clear, and I’m feeling fantastic about where things are headed… I hope you’ll be joining me on this new wellness adventure!
Always from the heart,
Chaotic or Calm? What’s the vibe as September rolls in?
How is it September already???
I absolutely love the summertime – it feels free and more fun and spontaneous! Where I live, the days are LONG so it feels like there are actually more hours in a day, but I have a strong appreciation for September and getting back to my tried & true routine. A fresh start if you will.
The energy in September feels like a Second New Year to me!
When everyone in my house is back to the daily and weekly schedules they need to adhere to, whether it is work or school, my time management and budgeting tools get put into use full force.
In the past, when I tried to just wing it when dealing with everything my family had to do… well, let’s just say things didn’t go well!
As far as my TIME MANAGEMENT goes, my planner is how I keep things together for sure. I’ve tried many and have found one that works best for me (and it is creative and inspirational too). For me, its a physical planner that I write in but you need to Be True to YOU and if a digital planner is a better fit for you then go for it! But it really REALLY helps to have everything in one place for easy reference when life gets super busy.
I also use my calendar and reminders function in my phone to help with it all.
And this year, more than ever before, BUDGETING is happening big time to help me make the most of my family finances since things have gotten more expensive across the board this year.
What does this look like?
I know how much I bring in as far as income sources, it doesn’t change too much so I have that in mind then I deduct my monthly expenses (like water, hydro, gas, car) so I have a pretty clear idea what I’m working with for everything else.
Groceries have been the most challenging the past few months but I’ve been working on trying new recipes, and I definitely shop the sales! This week my grocery store is having a case lot sale so I was able to stock up on some of my staples for a much better price and because it is a bulk-buy I won’t have to buy those things as often as I usually do freeing up a bit more money in the next couple of months.
I know a lot of people aren’t fans of planning ahead. Heck, I used to be one of them! But I’ve found that doing so actually reduces my stress because I’m not feeling like I’m spinning out of control trying to deal with the next crisis. I found FREEDOM in having a solid routine to set the foundation of my days.
That said, flexibility matters too… more on that in an upcoming blog post.
I recently asked the women in my online community a question: On a scale of 1-10, how much does time management and budgeting impact your quality of life?
Do you feel like you’ve got a good handle on it? Or are you caught up in the chaos?
Here’s some tips to help make it a little easier on yourself:
- Have a consolidated space where all your and your family’s activities, etc. can be viewed (planner, digital app, wall calendar… whatever works best in YOUR world.
- Make use of the calendar app and set reminders on your phone.
- Clean out and assess your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Make a “cheat sheet” of the items you use and need to buy regularly and get into the habit of checking your stash before ordering or going to get groceries.
- Try meal planning. It can seem overwhelming when you want to get started, but once you have a firm grasp of what you’ll be making for dinner in the coming week you’ll know what you need, how long it will take to prepare it, and if there’ll likely be leftovers to make use at another mealtime.
- Take a good look at your finances. (I know, this can be tough sometimes.) Do your best to determine your usual monthly income, what your set monthly expenses are, and how much you have to cover all the rest after that. It might be a real wake up call for some, but it will help you plan ahead. If money is tight, be firm about what you can let go of either temporarily or permanently. (I paused our Netflix and Audible subscriptions to help make ends meet during a recently financial set back… little things add up!)
As a Solo-Mom and as a Life Coach, finding solid useable practices to help lessen stress levels is super important to me. The tools shared here are all things I personally make use of and can say they’ve helped improve the quality of my mom-life immensely!
Always from the heart,
A New Way to a Familiar Destination
I was planning on writing a blogpost about boundaries this week; their importance, why we struggle with setting appropriate boundaries, tips on how to get going… but this morning I realized that one was going to have to wait.
Instead, I feel the need to write about the “baby-steps” I’m taking to rebuild my strength after a crappy experience of being very ill this past winter.
So BABY STEPS it is!
Those who follow me on social media or who receive my newsletters might remember that I came down with shingles after injuring a nerve on the top of my head last November. (If you’ve ever had the chickenpox, you have the virus that can cause shingles sleeping in your nervous system. With all my heart, I truly hope it never “wakes up” so you don’t have to experience shingles.) Anyway, I was surprised as the only people I’d known of who had shingles were all women in their 70s – I’M NOT THERE YET – and I didn’t realize a nerve injury could trigger it, although in hindsight it makes perfect sense.
So, I had shingles on my scalp, my face and in my right eye. I have never been so ill in my life. I literally laid on the couch for almost 2 full weeks. I didn’t even sleep in my own bed because I wasn’t really sleeping. The pain was incessant and unpredictable. I’m not one for taking medications if I can help it, but let me tell you I was keeping track of every painkiller I took so I knew when I could take my next dose and even then they just dulled the pain they didn’t eliminate it.
My rash didn’t clear up until 5-6 weeks later and my eye is almost completely healed. There is a small patch in my vision where it feels like I’m looking through a smudge on my glasses but it is very tiny and I can live with it!
I barely ate. I barely slept. The pain was unimaginable. I’m so fortunate to have loved ones nearby who could help me out with groceries and getting to appointments as I wasn’t able to drive for weeks.
Recovery was slow. Especially given that it had gotten into my eye. So I tried to go slow as I eased back into my “regular” life.
It took so much longer than I expected!
I should also mention that while not single, I am a Solo Mom and the past few years – even before the pandemic – had been very challenging. I went into this illness already maxed out as far as stress-levels were concerned.
The first time I really realized how hard everything had been on my body was when I went snowshoeing in early January (almost 2 months after getting ill). I have been very active during the winter for 10 years now so going snowshoeing wasn’t anything new to me. We weren’t doing anything difficult, just a nice little loop that would take us less than an hour. Well, my body did NOT enjoy that and I ended up getting extremely ill afterwards which set me back a little bit as far as getting back into the swing of things to say the least.
My nutrition was up to snuff (I have the BEST supplements and shakes which truly got me through the worst of my sick days because I honestly could barely eat anything but my body desperately needed the nutrients to fight the virus and heal), so no worries there. However, my physical stamina was nowhere to be found.
How could this be? I didn’t understand fully because I’ve never been that ill before, so I started asking questions and looking into options to help me heal to a point where I feel stronger and more capable than I had been for a few months.
WHEN WE FIND OURSELVES IN NEW SITUATIONS WE NEEDTO BE OPEN TO FINDING NEW WAYS OF APPROACHING THINGS.
I found I could not do a full yoga practice as I am used to doing. After about 25 minutes I would feel drained (and while I am a yoga teacher and have been for many years, I typically practice a slow-flow sequence so it wasn’t like I was Power-Yoga-ing and then feeling pooped, lol!) So I created mini practices for myself #babysteps. Depending on how my energy levels were, they are between 10-20 minutes which I am just now able to combine to enjoy a half hour practice. Yay!
I discovered that my cardio strength had really diminished and it was keeping me from hiking all the gorgeous trails near where I live. But the weather, my family responsibilities, work schedules, etc made it challenging as to when I could actually get outside while it was daylight. I’m the kind of person who likes to have a regular routine as it makes things so much easier to stick to!
What new way could I build my cardio and stamina from home? One that DIDN’T cost a fortune or take up a lot of room as my home is tiny… I found an old-school stationary bike! And I love it! It is compact, easy to use, and didn’t cost me a fortune. To be honest, I found it for $50 on Marketplace. Yay!
I started slow, because I had experienced what happened when I tried to push myself too far too fast. Ten minutes in the morning and 10 minutes after work. Just enough to get my heart rate up a little! The next week I did 15 minutes twice a day. Now I’m up to 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after work and I’ve been able to increase the tension for a better workout! Again, #babysteps to the rescue!!!
Do I feel bad about myself because of how I’ve had to scale back what activities I do or how long I do them? NOPE. I feel proud of myself that despite coming up against new challenges and obstacles, I’ve been able to find ways of healing and improving my health that work with how things are NOW.
Things change. We need to be able to change too.
Different isn’t bad, its just different. And sometimes as we shift into something new and different, we need to do so gently and let ourselves take Baby Steps.
Always from the heart,
PS – if you’re looking for some help figuring out your own best next-steps to make positive changes in your life, I’m here! I’m certified in wellness, life, and sleep science coaching and I’ve been teaching yoga for almost a decade. Give me a shout at email@example.com
Catching Some ZZZs (and why how you fuel your body matters!)
Most likely its come to your attention at some point in your life that there are certain things we should avoid if we want to get a good night’s rest. The most common thing we’re warned about is CAFFEINE and I know its a tough one to give up (or even cut back on). So I’m not going to tell you to go cold-turkey on that unless you want to… but I am going to let you know that because caffeine has a half-life of 8 HOURS, you’re gonna want to make sure you aren’t having any coffee, tea, pop or energy drinks a good 8 hours before bedtime to give you your best shot as sleeping well. Oh, sadly I need to add chocolate to that list as well as it contains caffeine too. Have your treats a little earlier in the day!
In addition to caffeine, eating too much food, or having fatty foods like burgers, pizzas, or fully loaded nachos late in the day can stress the digestive system and wreck havoc on your nighttime rest by causing indigestion and/or bloating. Best to enjoy in moderation, maybe by enjoying a good sized salad along with a piece of pizza or smaller helping of nachos. Keep it a bit more balanced and less taxing on the tummy.
One more thing to be mindful of as far as what you’re consuming close to bedtime… alcohol. Yup. I know it can be super tempting to pour a nice big glass of chardonnay or something to help unwind at the end of the day, but hold off. While a bevvy like this might seem like it helps you drift off to sleep quicker, it actually interferes with you getting quality sleep at night. So yes, you might be snoring away in bed for the whole night but you’ll like wake up feeling like it was only for 4 hours. Best tip if you are looking to improve your nightly slumber? Avoid the bedtime drink or have it at least a couple hours before you’re going to tuck in.
Okay, so those are the thing you want to try to reduce or eliminate to improve how much rest you’re getting at night. Happily there are certain things you CAN have closer to bedtime to help make things better!
Try adding a nighttime snack of a handful of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, or pistachios. These all contain natural melatonin which helps regulate our sleep/waking cycle. Your grandma’s standby of a warm glass of milk before bed is actually a good idea if you like milk! It contains both tryptophan and melatonin. CHERRIES were such a lovely surprise to me in my research to find sleep-supporting foods! This fantastic fruit is a powerhouse of sleep support. Cherries contain 4 different sleep regulating compounds: melatonin, tryptophan, potassium, and serotonin. Finally, while I advised against caffeinated tea above, chamomile tea IS recommended and has been used traditionally as a remedy to help insomnia. Chamomile contains a flavonoid compound called apigenin which has sleep-inducing properties… but just have one cup – you don’t want to be waking up in the middle of the night because you’ve had too much tea and need the bathroom! LOL!
On that note, staying hydrated throughout the day will also aid your sleep at night. When you are dehydrated, it can cause leg cramps and sore joints which can wake you or prevent you from dozing off easily. One last note on fueling your body for better sleep quality… sometimes our diet simply might be lacking in a nutrient that our body is low on or has trouble assimilating so we need an extra boost. This was a big discovery for me as I made my way on my own wellness journey. I spent a decade trying to ditch my exhaustion and get some decent sleep and everything I added to my daily habits helped, but it was finding the right supplement that finally clicked everything together for me. That final missing puzzle piece, if you will.
Magnesium, B12, Calcium are just some of the supplements that can help improve quality of sleep. As I always say, “We are all built from the same stuff, but we are all put together a little differently.” And we all have differing life circumstances. If you feel like you might need to supplement to give your body a nutritional boost, I highly encourage you to check in with your healthcare practitioner to see what you might be lacking. I’ve taken supplements pretty much my entire adult life because I was aware of some gaps in my nutrition. Now that I’ve found a super simple and effective 3 step supplement system that I can get done as soon as I wake up in the morning has made all the difference in fueling my body well. If you’d like to know more about the line of nutritional supplements I’ve fallen in love with, check out the Nutritional Support page at http://www.breezewellnessbc.com
Soooo, are you up for taking a good look at what you’re putting into your body and how it (or lack of it) might be impacting your sleep? It is one more step you can take in setting yourself up for sleep success with a routine you can stick with!
Cheers to catching those quality ZZZs!
Because I’ve Been There…
Why did I choose to create a wellness coaching program just for moms?
Because I know what it feels like to have the bulk of parenting responsibilities fall to you in addition to working and keeping a home.
I know the struggle of sleepless nights, daily exhaustion, and feeling like everything is out of control.
I’ve experienced the despair and feelings of inadequacy when the day slipped by yet again with little quality time with my children and the overwhelming sense of “missing out”.
I turned all those things around for me and my family through a lot of trial and error, by connecting with experts in the fields I needed help most with, and via ongoing education until I had a system in place that I could easily work into my life and stick with!
I don’t want any other moms to lose years to struggling like I did.
THAT’S why I created The Real Life Reset System – to help moms ditch their daily exhaustion, level up their energy, and find the focus they need so they can do all that they have to do (and WANT to do) in their busy mom-lives
It’s all online, so it can work into any mom’s schedule
If this sounds like something you want to know more about, I invite you to book a free 30-minute Mom Life Clarity Call. At the end of our call together, you’ll leave with a better idea of what your best “next steps” can be regardless of whether or not you choose to join The Real Life Reset System.
Looking forward to chatting with you!
Always from the heart,
Prebiotics 101 – what the gut needs
Yes! They’re the food that we feed our probiotics, the friendly gut microbes that are oh so important for good health.
Our gut microbes are alive, and they need to eat too. Their favourite foods are called “prebiotics” and include dietary fibre and resistant starch. The same fibre that keeps us feeling full slows down digestion and provides roughage that keeps us regular. Resistant starch helps promote healthy blood lipids. Both of types of prebiotics (fibre and resistant starch) are linked with many health benefits.
Technically-speaking, a prebiotic has three qualities:
- It needs to be undigested and reach the colon intact;
- It needs to be digested by our gut microbes; and,
- It needs to stimulate our health-promoting good gut microbes.
Now that we know what prebiotics are let’s dive into their health benefits.
Health benefits of prebiotics
Prebiotic fibre helps keep us regular by bulking up our poop. It gives it substance and form, so it’s not too runny or liquid. In fact, more fibre is often recommended to help with symptoms of diarrhea. Prebiotic fibre used to be thought of like a broom that sweeps food through our guts, but we’re learning more about its health benefits beyond this role.
For example, prebiotics can also help to maintain normal bowel structure and function, and even enhance blood flow to the cells of the colon.
Those are some of the health benefits of prebiotics themselves. But we get even more health benefits when our friendly gut microbes eat and digest them.
For one thing, our gut microbes use prebiotics to make short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs (e.g., butyrate) can feed the cells of our colon to keep them healthy. SCFAs also inhibit the growth of bad gut microbes, and can even increase mineral (e.g., calcium and magnesium) absorption. These effects are all linked to the slight acidity caused by the acids in those SCFAs.
Dietary fibre also binds to healthful phytonutrients (phyto = plant). These phytonutrients are lost when the fibre is removed from the food. But, when we eat the prebiotic fibre, our gut microbes release these phytonutrients so we can absorb and use them.
Where to get prebiotics
Dietary fibre and resistant starch are the main sources of prebiotics.
Prebiotic fibre is found mostly in plants; both fruits and vegetables.
Resistant starch is any starch (a type of carbohydrate) that goes through most of our digestive tract without being digested. It’s not broken down by our digestive enzymes because it’s “resistant”… until it gets to our gut microbes in the colon. Resistant starch is found in starchy foods like whole grains and potatoes.
One of the big differences between fibre and resistant starch is that all of the fibre we eat is undigestible. All of it reaches our colons. Resistant starch, on the other hand, is just a small percent of the starch we eat. Most starch is digested and absorbed along our digestive tract, and that part is not considered to be prebiotic. Only the small amount of starch that is resistant to digestion and makes it down to the colon to feed our probiotics is prebiotic.
Prebiotic fibre is found in fibrous fruits and vegetables. It’s essentially what’s removed when we make juice – the pulp. It’s one of the reasons why eating whole fruits and vegetables is more healthful than replacing them with juice.
Here are some great sources of dietary fibre:
Resistant starch is found in:
- Whole grains (e.g. oats)
- Green bananas
Starches can be made resistant by cooking and cooling these foods before eating them. The cooling process allows the starches to re-shape themselves into a structure that is harder to digest (i.e., more resistant).
Prebiotics are fibre and resistant starches that feed our gut microbes. And when we feed our gut microbes, they help keep our gut healthy and have other health benefits too.
Do you ever juice your amazingly healthy fruits and vegetables and have a ton of leftover pulp? What do you do with it? I have a great recipe for using that oh so healthy prebiotic fibre in a delicious way.
Recipe (Juice pulp): Brownies
¾ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened (prebiotic)
3 tbsp coconut flour (prebiotic)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 cups juice pulp, firmly packed (prebiotic)
½ cup coconut oil, melted
½ cup maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8”x8” baking tray with parchment paper.
Add cocoa powder, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large bowl. Stir to combine.
Whisk eggs, pulp, oil and maple syrup.
Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine well. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the baking dish.
Bake for 30 mins until the top is firm and edges just start to pull away from the dish.
Allow the brownies to cool.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: I like to blend the wet ingredients in my blender to make cleanup easier.
Eating… Mediterranean Style
I absolutely adore the Mediterranean diet! So naturally I’m thrilled that it seems that study after study shows that it’s great for health on so many different levels.
And it is!
But what exactly does it mean? Is adding a glass of red wine to dinner enough? Does it require a cucumber salad every day? Do I have to give up my favourite foods?
In this post, I give you a simple list of Mediterranean diet foods to eat, and foods to ditch. And a couple of important lifestyle factors to consider too.
And I have a non-salad one-dish dinner recipe for you to try!
Mediterranean Diet 101
The Mediterranean diet is one of the most studied diets out there.
It’s based on the traditional foods that people who lived around the Mediterranean Sea ate about 50 years ago. Back then, in the mid 20th century, researchers noted that people in Spain, Greece, and Italy lived longer and healthier than Americans. And they had lower levels of heart disease, the #1 killer.
So, they set out to find what was so healthy in this part of the world. And the research keeps coming in. And it’s pretty impressive.
Eating a Mediterranean diet is linked with
- Less overweight and obesity (it’s better than low-fat diets)
- Better blood sugar control (for diabetes and metabolic syndrome)
- Lower risk of heart disease and stroke (and blood markers like cholesterol and triglycerides)
- Reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
- Fewer cancers (breast & colorectal)
- Less premature death
Overall, it’s simply really good for you.
PRO TIP: Recent research even links the Mediterranean diet to better gut microbes! This makes sense when you feed your friendly gut microbes their favourite foods including fibre, fruit, and vegetables.
Here’s another bonus: Many people who start eating a Mediterranean diet can stick with it long-term.
How’s that for a healthy whole-foods health-promoting not-so-restrictive diet?
What to eat and drink on a Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet is chock full of healthy whole foods.
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Fish and seafood
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Herbs and spices
These foods are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre. And they’re often eaten in social settings where the food (and the company) is enjoyed.
The go-to beverage for the Mediterranean diet is water. Coffee and tea are also regularly consumed (without the addition of lots of cream and/or sugar). And yes, red wine (about 1 glass per day) is very commonly enjoyed.
Some foods and drinks that are eaten in moderation include:
- Cheese and yogurt
Red meat, unfermented dairy (e.g., milk), butter, and salt are rarely consumed, if at all.
What to ditch on a Mediterranean diet
There are many foods and drinks that are not part of the Mediterranean diet. Not surprisingly, this includes many highly processed and unhealthy foods like:
- Processed meats
- Sauces and gravies
- Sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juices
- Refined grains and oils (including hydrogenated oils)
- Too much salt
- Added sugars
And if alcohol is a problem, you can also ditch the wine.
The Mediterranean diet also incorporates a different lifestyle. Some things to ditch are being too sedentary, eating alone, and being overly stressed.
The Mediterranean diet is a very healthy way of eating. It is a whole-foods diet based mainly focussed on plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains). It also contains fish, olive oil, and herbs and spices. The Mediterranean diet is high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre; all of which are health-boosting from your head to your heart… and the rest of your body.
Don’t forget that health involves more than just food. The Mediterranean lifestyle also incorporates regular exercise, eating with people whom you care about, and overall enjoyment of life.
Do you think you could add or ditch certain foods to get closer to the Mediterranean diet? Do you have a favourite recipe that embodies this way of eating? I’d love to know! Add it to the comments below.
Recipe (Mediterranean): One Pan Roasted Dinner
4 cod fillets
2 handfuls asparagus, ends removed
1 cup black kalamata olives, drained
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
4 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
3 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin2 tsp dried dill2 dashes freshly ground black pepper1 lemon, sliced
Preheat oven to 450ºF and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.Place the fillets in the middle of the pan. Add the asparagus, olives, garlic, and tomatoes around the fish.
Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with dill and pepper. Slice lemon and place one onto each fillet. Squeeze juice from the rest of the lemon onto the vegetables.Roast in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Check if fillets are opaque all the way through and flake easily with a fork. If not, then cook for another few minutes.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can substitute another fish for the cod (e.g., salmon).
Nordic Seed Bread
As promised, here is the recipe I use to make this DELICIOUS “bread”.
NORDIC SEED BREAD
I need to preface this by letting you know that I’ve tried a few different recipes and ended up combining them to make my own. The short summary is that you need 5 1/2 cups of whatever combination of nuts & seeds in this recipe plus the 6 eggs.
1 C. Almonds (I used some whole and some sliced.)
1 C. Sunflower Seeds
1 C. Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 C. Hazelnuts or chopped Walnuts
1/2 C. Whole Flaxseeds
1/2 C. Sesame Seeds
1/2 C. Poppy Seeds or chopped Pecans
1/2 C. Chia Seeds
6 Whole Large Eggs
How To Make It:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. If you don’t have any, you can lightly coat the inside of a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside. Personally I prefer the parchment paper as it makes clean up a breeze!
Place all of the nuts and seeds together in a large bowl.
Add the eggs and stir to combine.
Pour the mixture out into the prepared loaf pan and place it into the oven to bake for 55-65 minutes. Remove loaf from the oven and give it a tap – the bread should sound hollow when it is cooked. Remove the pan from the oven once done and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Turn the pan upside down onto a plate to remove the bread.
Once it has cooled it is easier to slice. I leave mine whole and just slice off what I need each day. The loaf will keep up to one week, stored in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge.
This recipe is sooooo good! You can enjoy it “sweet” with cream cheese and jam, or you can enjoy is “savory” with smoked meats & cheese. You’ll love it!
How About a Lovely Cuppa…?
Tea has some great health benefits. Its antioxidant abilities make it heart-healthy and reduce the risk of developing cancer and diabetes.
But, does the type of tea matter? Is green tea that much better than black tea? And what difference does adding milk and/or sweeteners do to it?
I give you the goods on the green tea vs. black tea. And the healthiest way to drink your tea.
Yup, we’re talking tea today. But I’m not going to give you a recipe to drink tea. Nope, not this week. This week I have a special (and awesome) way to eat your tea.
Green Tea vs. Black Tea
Tea is said to be the most popular beverage in the world. It’s been consumed for thousands of years by millions, perhaps billions, of people.
Tea has also been shown to have many health benefits. And some of these benefits are thought to be related to tea’s antioxidant properties. These properties are from its flavonoids known as “catechins.” Flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and have a range of health benefits that I talk about in this post.
Green tea vs. black tea – What’s the difference?
What do green and black teas have in common?
First of all, they both come from the camellia sinensis shrub that’s native to China and India. Green tea contains slightly more health-promoting flavonoids than black tea. How is this?
The difference lies in how they’re processed.
If the leaves are steamed or heated, this keeps them green. The heat stops oxidation from turning them black. Then they’re dried to preserve the colour and flavonoids which are the antioxidants.
Hence you have green tea.
If the leaves are not heated, and are crushed and rolled, then they continue to oxidize until they’re dry. This oxidation uses up some of the flavonoids’ antioxidant power, so black teas have slightly less ability to combat free radicals than green tea does.
PRO TIP: Adding milk to your tea reduces the antioxidant ability.
Both green and black teas contain about half of the caffeine in coffee. That translates to about 20-45 mg per 8 oz cup.
Green tea vs. black tea – Health Benefits
Tea drinking, in general, seems to be associated with good health.
Heart health – For one thing, both green and black tea drinkers seem to have high levels of antioxidants in their blood compared with non-tea drinkers. Green and black tea drinkers also have lower risks of heart attacks and stroke. Drinking green tea, in particular, is associated with reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL oxidation, all of which are risk factors for heart conditions.
Overall, drinkers of green and black tea seem to have a lower risk of heart problems. Green tea has also been shown to reduce risk factors (i.e., blood lipid levels) a bit more than black tea has.
Cancers – Antioxidants also reduce the risk of many cancers. Studies show that both green and black teas can reduce the risk of prostate cancer (the most common cancer in men). Also, green tea drinkers have a lowered risk of breast and colorectal cancers. Black tea is being researched for its potential to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
Overall, antioxidant flavonoids in tea seem to help reduce the risk of some different cancers. Green tea may have a slight edge over black tea, but both seem to be associated with lower cancer risk.
Diabetes – Both green and black teas can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They also reduce diabetes risk factors, like elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. For example, some studies have shown that both green and black teas can help reduce blood sugar levels. Other studies have shown that green tea can also improve insulin sensitivity.
Once again, green tea seems to have a slight edge over black tea, but both are blood sugar friendly (just don’t overdo the sweetener).
Both green and black teas are from the same plant, but are processed differently. Green tea retains more of the beneficial antioxidants than black tea does; but both are associated with better health than non-tea drinkers.
Overall, both green and black teas are healthy drinks, and tea drinkers, in general, seem to have fewer health conditions than non-tea drinkers. Green tea seems to have a slight edge over black tea when it comes to measurable risk factors of some common diseases.
When you enjoy your tea, try to minimize or even eliminate adding milk and/or sweeteners; these reduce some of the health-promoting properties of tea.
I’d love to know: Are you a tea drinker? Which tea is your favourite? How do you like to enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below.
Recipe (Green tea): Matcha Energy Bites
Serves 6 (makes 12-18 bites)
1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
4 tbsp almond flour
1 tbsp matcha green tea
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil
Add all ingredients into food processor and pulse until blended.
Shape into 1-1.5″ balls.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: If you use sweetened coconut, then you can eliminate the honey/maple syrup.