Juicy Ginger

When I was feeling a little under the weather while battling a nasty cold a couple of weeks ago, I grabbed a green smoothie at Whole Foods. In between sneezes, I tasted the most fabulous green drink. One of the key flavours was ginger and as I drank the last drop I wondered why I’ve never added ginger to one of my smoothies? It’s good for upset tummys, anti-aging and so, so delicious.

So here is the gingery concoction I came up with to try to duplicate the uber-yummy Whole Foods smoothie:

Green Ginger Smoothie

  • handful kale
  • handful spinach
  • one diced apple
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • heaping tsp. diced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup organic apple cider

Ginger berry goodness…

green ginger

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Java Love

 

Scenario One: It’s a lazy Saturday morning. Jazz is playing in the background and you’re sipping a dark, velvety cup of coffee as you settle back on the sofa. Maybe you’re perusing your emails, or maybe not. The rich, tantalizing aroma is wafting deliciously throughout the room, slowly and sweetly awakening your senses. You know the kind of morning I’m talking about. You have nowhere in particular to be and can happily lounge around in your pj’s, doing whatever you want for as long as you want. A slice of weekend bliss.

Scenario Two: You’re sitting on the sidewalk patio of a quaint, little European style café. It’s late afternoon, the sun is shining on your face, birds are chirping in the trees and you’re taking a break from your busy day to watch the world go by. You’re wearing red lipstick, big, movie-star shades and having an Audrey Hepburn moment a la Breakfast at Tiffany’s. You sip a creamy, frothy latte, sweetened with a drop of honey and topped with a perfect, milky, latte art heart, enjoying every last mocha drop.

Scenario Three: You and a friend have just finished a mouth-watering, three course dinner at your neighbourhood’s trendiest new restaurant. It’s been a dining marathon and now you need just the right ending for such a beautiful meal. The server places a crisp, white china cup of dark, delicious espresso is placed on the table in front of you, freshly brewed with silky mocha bubbles floating on top. You lift the cup to your lips and taste pure java perfection.

As you can see, I love coffee. Not a little but a LOT. Some of my favourite moments in life involve me holding a yummy coffee in my hot, little hand. I can’t quite imagine my day to day life without it and nor would I want to really. I’m thoroughly addicted. I get severe headaches any time I’ve half-heartedly tried to give it up and I’m pretty much okay with being an addict. Things could be much, much worse: think heroin, crystal meth or double vodka martinis.
coffee

The only cloud in this happy existence is the health risks of drinking too much of my beloved caffeine. So, the facts that have brought me to this place of that difficult word, moderation, are below. If you have a big joe addiction like me, maybe give the list a quick look and see if you have any of these pesky, overly-caffeinated symptoms. I, unfortunately, have a few.

  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty sleeping, insomnia, restlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Flushed face
  • Acid stomach
  • Headaches
  • Increased urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Irregular heartbeat

So I’ve realized that it’s time to attempt to cut my caffeine consumption in half. Sad face. This blog is all about experimenting in happy, healthy living, so I’m going from four big, strong cups of coffee a day (don’t judge) to two. Sigh. I’ve never done moderation well. All? Yep. Nothing? Sure. Moderation, however, is not my strong point.

Not to mention that I’ve been reading articles about the, eeeeek!, aging effect of too much caffeine and the havoc it plays on female hormones. Also, remember that coffee vendors like Starbucks serve mega-sized coffees so if you’re thinking one of their monster coffees is only a cup, it’s actually closer to two or three. A standard cup of coffee is measured as 6 ounces and a Starbucks Venti has 20 ounces. Good to remember when grabbing a cup on the go.

So, after perusing the internet for something, anything, that may help ease me into a less caffeinated life, I found Dr. Oz’s natural, energy-boosting bars:

Dr. Oz’s No-Bake Energy Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quick-cook oats, uncooked
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries, blueberries or cranberries
  • 1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl.

Spread the mixture in a pan and refrigerate for 2 hours. Grab one whenever you need a little extra non-caffeinated boost!

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So, as much as I prefer extremes in almost all areas of my life, I guess it’s time to see if I can embrace a little moderation in my somewhat over-the-top caffeine consumption. All things in moderation? We’ll see…

If anyone else has tried to cut down/give up caffeine, I would love to hear your experiences, successes, and tips for grappling with society’s omnipresent drug of choice.

I gave up coffee once. It’s almost worse than giving up a lover. – Sandra Bullock

 

Flu Shots

The flu season from hell is upon us and, if you’re like me, and don’t believe in or want a flu shot, you’re in of need some alternative ways to fight this annoying and tenacious little bug.

I’ve been hit twice by the nasty virus this year and I am so done with the fever, chills, sore throat, fatigue, pasty face complexion and endless coughing it brings. So, with a few natural remedies (no big pharma flu shot required), I managed to kick it to the curb for good. If you have the flu or want to make sure you don’t get it this winter, check out my best weapons below…

  1. Oil of Oregano – burns like the fires of hell going down but this natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal works and works fast. It feels like it would burn right through any virus or bacteria unlucky enough to cross its path.
  2. Zinc. An ingredient in most over-the-counter medicine. Why not go right to the source and just take the supplement, right? Zinc cuts down the length of a cold and is a celebrated anti-aging mineral as well. Win/win.
  3. Oranges. Jam packed with Vitamin C, the biggest, baddest cold/flu killer.
  4. Garlic Paste on the bottom of your feet! I just tried this for the first time and it really works. It’s stinky but if you’re sick, hey, you can’t smell that well anyway, right? mash a couple of garlic cloves, mix with a tsp. of coconut oil (or your fave oil) apply to soles of your feet. Wrap in gauze and put socks on over, then go to sleep. Do this for two nights and I almost guarantee your cold/flu will be gone. This Italian Mama remedy is magic!
  5. And, I’ve saved the best for last. A Kicking Horse shot. My personal “flu” shot. Served at my neighborhood juice bar, Krokodile Pear, it’s my secret weapon. Like Oil of Oregano, it burns like HELL but will fill you up with good stuff and blast those bugs right out of your bod! A combo of cayenne, lime juice and ginger. Woah!

flu shot

So there you have it. My flu fighting arsenal.

 Bottoms up!

Nud Fud

Do you find some Sunday evenings that you just don’t feel like preparing healthy, home-made snacks for the week ahead? Maybe you had a busy day running errands, maybe you went on an extra long hike, or maybe you sat around with a couple of friends, drinking a little wine and watching the Golden Globes…

Whatever the reason may be, I have an awesome packaged goody, called Nud Fud (pronounced nude food) for those times that you just don’t want to be in the kitchen prepping and cooking but still want healthy food at your fingertips.

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Nud Fud, featured on The Dragons Den, is a proudly Canadian product. It’s made with love in beautiful, downtown Toronto and is nutritious, delicious and my current fave food on the go. I couldn’t even wait until after I took a photo to start snacking. Yep, it’s raw, vegan flavour is that good!

Traditional packaged foods tend to frighten me a bit, with numerous ingredients, including sugar, GMO’s and MSG hidden in a myriad of ways and those creepy, five syllable additives at the end of the list that you can’t pronounce and sound like science experiments. Whew! Thank goodness for run on sentences and ugh! Why would we want all of that junk in our beautiful bodies? With Nud Fud, there are only four ingredients: banana, coconut, sesame and spirulina, that’s it. All raw and all organic.

It’s simple, whole food and I can’t say enough good things about this product. If you want to check this yumminess out, you can buy it online here. Delicious snack food in the Nud.

Cheating

The new year has begun! New year, new beginnings and Rob (let’s say Rob Ford for a great visual) is looking for a lifestyle make-over. He wants to lose his extra Christmas weight, as well as the muffin top he acquired munching on chicken wings and slurping down beer throughout the year, and he is motivated!

 Rob is a man with a mission. He begins a solid workout regime, maybe running a few times a week combined with a bit of weight training. He’s eating clean, chowing down on fruit and veggies, lean protein and dark, delicious whole grains. The next thing you know, Rob Ford is starting to transform. His waistline is coming back into sight and his facial puffiness and pallor is turning into a healthy glow. Friends and co-workers start complimenting him. Rob Ford is feeling pretty darn good about himself!

So why then, a few weeks later do we see Rob back in the pub with a huge beer, greasy, cheese-laden pizza in front of him and a big, bbq chicken wing dangling from his mouth? Why, Rob, why?

Why exactly do so many of us cheat after getting promising results with our new-found healthy lifestyle? Giving up refined sugar, excess salt, MSG and white carbs is not an easy thing to do, that’s why.

Unfortunately these less than healthy foods set our brain’s feel-good chemicals on fire, giving us an instantaneous boost of the warm fuzzies. Shortly after eating a meal at, say, McDonald’s we feel happy, satiated and relaxed as dopamine and serotonin course through our brain. The problem with the McD meal is that the hit is short lived and when it’s gone, we crash. When we crash, what’s the quickest fix to feel good again? More junk food. So, after a few months of eating like this we become chubby, complacent “junk food junkies” and our quality of life starts to deteriorate. We’re lethargic, we don’t have enough energy to work-out or be active anymore and we have almost constant cravings for salty, sugary and fatty food that give us a temporary high and energy boost. And when the artificial boost nose-dives into an energy slump, we crave it all again. A vicious cycle.

cupcakes and wine

Leaving this vicious cycle isn’t as easy as it seems. We are all creatures of habit and eating the way I’ve described above is a bad, bad habit that your system has gotten used to. It’s also been scientifically proven that it takes a minimum of 30 days to break a habit. So if you’ve been living this way for a while, guess what? The habit is ingrained. Since we’re talking chemical reactions powerfully triggered in our brains, it may take more than willpower to get you on the right path.

Check out my list of feel-good, healthy, brain boosters below. Next time the golden arches or your local pancake house start calling your name, do something on the list below and in no time you can kiss the peaks and valleys of junk food addiction bye-bye and get on with your fabulous life.

Seratonin and Dopamine Boosters

Eat complex carbs. Quinoa, real whole-grain bread and brown rice give our brain a serotonin boost.

Give someone you like a great big bear hug.

Drink a big glass of water with a squeeze of lemon. Something citrusy always perks up our senses.

Eat a generous amount of fruit whenever you have a refined sugar/dessert craving. You’ll be amazed how quickly your craving disappears and you’ll have consumed a ton of yummy, healthy fiber and vitamins.

Eat natural, sugar-free yogurt. A key ingredient is tyrosine, an amino acid that encourages your brain to release dopamine.

Consume lots of Vitamin B as it relaxes your nerves. Plentiful in beans, whole-grains, meats.

Eat Omega 3 fats. Essential for healthy brain functioning. Fish is brain food after all.

Do something nice for someone. Be generous and give someone a gift – a friend, a homeless person, anyone. It’s a scientific fact that they will be grateful and happy and so will you, the giver.

Go for a run. Hard at first, but your brain will be popping with happy chemicals after.

Climb a mountain. Or, less extreme, go for a walk in the woods. It’s been scientifically proven that a walk in nature (untouched by man) soothes and heals our souls.

Do yoga. It calms and alkalinizes the body.

Cuddle up with someone you love or Ryan Gosling. Either will work.

ryan gosling

And there you have it, a few tips to help you stay on your happy, healthy eating plan.

Dark, Delicious Chocolate Banana “Pudding”

Every so often visions of luscious pastries dance through my mind, one by one, clouding my sugar-free judgement in a serious way. When the pastries start dancing, this is what I do…

Step One: Run to my blender.

Step Two: Whip up a serving of this rich, delicious pudding. Luckily it takes about 2 minutes.

Step Three: Have a few bites and feel my pastry cravings magically disappear in a poof.

Rich Chocolate Banana Pudding

  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk, unsweetened almond milk, or cows milk
  • 2 tsp or T of raw cacao, depending on how chocolate-y you would like it
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • if you like a sweet/salty flavour, you can add a small pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt

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This yummy, healthy dessert gives you an abundant supply of potassium, and a dopamine-producing hit of cacao which will boost your mood and help ward off refined sugar cravings. So, savour the rich sweetness of this dessert knowing you’re paving the way for a healthy, happy you!

New Years Detox

There’s so much to love about the holidays. Big, delicious family dinners, with second and third helpings. Bottles of bubbly. Nights on the town, dressed to the nines, enjoying way too many cocktails. Fragrant, home-baked, gingerbread cookies, fresh out of the oven and irresistible. Boxes of dark chocolates beckoning to you as you innocently walk by.

But what happens when the new year rolls around and you’ve got a depleted bank account, a bulging muffin top?

It’s detox time.

Drink the recipe below every morning to kick-start your healthy eating plan and I guarantee in a week or two you’ll have your energy and your waistline back, ready to make 2014, the year of the horse, the healthiest, happiest, most vibrant year ever. xo

2014 Power Detox Smoothie
◾1/2 bunch parsley
◾6 kale leaves
◾1 cucumber, peeled
◾2 stalks celery
◾2 organic apples
◾1 cup blackberries (or blueberries)
◾1 cup pomegranate juice
◾juice from 1/2 lemon

Blend. Drink. Glow.

smoothie