Control, Diets, and The Power of Making Small Changes

Got food issues? Got control issues? Me too. I love being in control and always find myself fighting hard to hold onto it, in every aspect of my life. For me, diet and exercise regimes have always been easy substitutes for actual control. For example, instead of making the decision to go to bed early so I feel rested and stop craving sweets, I make a sweeping decision that I will eschew sugar for 12 weeks and join a sugar detox group. Instead of deciding to go for a walk whenever I feel like moving my body, I decide that a rigorous, self-punishing exercise plan, commencing at 5am every day for 12 weeks is the only way to go. Instead of listening to my body’s subtle hunger and fullness cues, I decide to weigh, measure, and track my food using apps like Weight Watchers or My Fitness Pal. All to feel just a little more in control over my life.

See what I mean? In reality, I just want to feel normal: alert, full of energy, well rested, loved and appreciated. And instead of assessing what I was doing to help me feel great in each of those areas, I make sweeping blanket changes to assume ‘control.’

This time, despite the fact that I am craving control like crazy, I am going to focus on little changes that I know will make a big difference. I am going to find pleasure and meaning in the little things, I am going to be mindful and engaged when I play with my kids, I am going to eat foods that I know make my body feel good, I going to go to bed on time, and I am NOT going to make grand, sweeping changes for the sake of getting a smaller body or finding a false sense of control. And I am inviting you to join me!

In May: join my intro to Intuitive eating program. We are going to focus on learning how to sense hunger and fullness, eat mindfully, slow our automatic negative thought patterns, figure out where our dieting history comes from, and how to fix our negative relationships with food. (Spoiler Alert: It’s by eating anything you want, without restriction!)

In June: we will focus on making little changes that will help us feel calm, organized, well-rested, happy and fulfilled through a 21-day Vibrant & Alive group coaching program. Again, you will eat the food you love without restriction, and add in fun challenges to make you come alive and feel your very best for the summer!  

Want to join me in either or both of these group programs? Shoot me an email and I will tell you how to get started :).


Sweet + Spicy Popcorn Seasoning

Anyone who knows my family well knows that popcorn is a huge part of our lives. Ever since I was a little girl, I remember my dad making big bowls (or paper bags….) of popcorn for road trips, movie nights, or camping trips.  We ate it the usual way: liberally seasoned with butter + salt. This is usually my go to. But, after spending a week in Kauai earlier this month and trying some amazing local kettle corn seasoned with nutritional yeast and bee pollen, I started thinking that maybe I should ditch my usual recipe and make my own seasoning instead!

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A few notes about ingredients:

  • Bee Pollen: get it on amazon through a reputable company (aka the one I’ve linked) OR even better, source some local stuff! Bee pollen has some fascinating nutritional benefits: it can act as an antioxidant and reduce inflammation, it can boost immune function, and support healthy hormone balance.
  • Nutritional Yeast: I know, it sounds terrible. But it tastes delicious! A little cheesy and a little salty, it is the PERFECT compliment to popcorn. Bonus: 2 tbsp also adds a whopping 8-9 grams of protein, which slows the blood sugar jump when you eat carb-y popcorn. It is also high in B vitamins, which keep our hair, skin, and nails healthy and helps to support our nervous systems.
  • Popcorn: use organic, non-GMO popcorn. Corn is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, and organic isn’t much more expensive.

Here it is:

Sweet & Spicy Popcorn Seasoning

Delicious popcorn seasoning that boosts protein and B vitamins!

Course Snack
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp bee pollen
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder or cayenne!
  • 1 tsp Himalayan pink or sea salt

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a high powdered blender and blend until a fine powder forms.

  2. Season your popcorn and enjoy!

This recipe makes about 1/3 of a cup of seasoning, so just add a teaspoon or two to your popcorn, along with a drizzle of butter, avocado, or coconut oil of course!

 

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The services and recipes provided are at all times restricted to informational purposes and are intended for general well being. They are not meant for the purposes of medical diagnosis, treatment or prescribing of medicine for any disease, or any licensed or controlled act which may constitute the practice of medicine. Further, the contents of this website are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 


Sesame + Spice Dynamite Sauce

I combined the best qualities of harissa and za’atar in this delicious, must-put-on-everything, sesame and spice dynamite sauce! Never tried harissa or za’atar? Doesn’t matter at all, you will probably appreciate this recipe more…. It is super simple to make and you won’t believe how tasty it is. I swirl it into warm hummus, dip fresh peas in it, smother scrambled eggs with it, and even eat it by the spoonful.

Nutritionally, it is packed with sesame seeds, which are full of calcium, magnesium, and fibre. Those qualities will keep you relaxed and regular ;). It is also loaded with herbs and spices, which are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients to keep you healthy.

As far as tools go, I use a food processor to make dips like this, but I also have this
high powered blender that works great for pulverizing the sesame seeds a but more, depending on the texture you prefer. One other thing that might be fun to try with this recipe is toasting the sesame seeds and whole spices before you process them! I haven’t done it yet, but I imagine the flavour would be richer and smoother. Let me know if you try it :).

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Sesame + Spice Dynamite Sauce

Sauce for everything: eggs, veggies, hummus, crackers, you name it.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (you want it saucy, so add enough oil to reach that consistency)
  • 3 cloves garlic (peeled + smashed)
  • 1 tbsp coriander seed
  • 1 tbsp cumin seed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  1. Add everything to the bowl of a food processor fitted with an 's' blade or a high speed blender.

  2. Process/blend until well mixed and seeds start to pulverize, but retain most of their shape.

  3. Serve at warm or at room temperature.

 

 

 

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My #1 Tips to Make Meal Planning A Breeze

One of the most frequent questions I get from my regular clients is about best tips for meal planning. Most of us know that nutrient dense food makes us feel our best. We know that. And we know that the best way to eat delicious, nutrient-dense food is to meal plan ahead of time. But we often don’t make the time to prioritize it. It just feels too hard, too overwhelming, and maybe even, dare I say, too wasteful when you prep healthy meals and end up throwing them away because they got ‘old looking’ in the back of your fridge in your mason jars. Yep, I’ve done it too.

I know, we all want meal planning to be gorgeous and delightful. But, it isn’t always pretty and it isn’t always easy. So, that said, I have a few tips to make it a smidge simpler, more cost effective, and more DELICIOUS.

Here we go:

First, meal plan when you are a little bit hungry and food sounds amazing. That way you’ll pick foods that you actually want to eat. Sure, we all love the look of mason jar salads, but if you’re anything like me, by the time Tuesday rolls around, that salad you prepped on Sunday isn’t looking very appealing and I am looking for something tastier. I also know that if my lunch is anything short of amazing, come 3 o’clock I will be meandering the halls, pining for cheezies from the vending machine….

Second, meal plan when you have about 15 (or better, 30!) minutes of uninterrupted time. I typically meal plan during nap time, my lunch break at the office, or after the kiddos head to bed.  I need to be able to hear my own thoughts, something I find insanely difficult with a toddler.

Third, be realistic about the meals you’ll be making and cut yourself some slack. Look at the week ahead (yes, I mean open your calendar and consult it) and plan accordingly. For example, if Tuesday evenings are crazy, plan a simple meal that needs very little prep. Use pre-prepped veggies (no shame). Plan quesadilla night. You get the idea.

On to the actual pen to paper strategies:

I made up this fun little crafty shopping list/meal planning sheet that I use every week. I keep trying cute stationary or fancy meal planning sheets, but they never last. This system does.

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As you can see, I fold the paper down the centre and then turn the sheet hotdog style. On the left half, at the top of the paper, I write: Meals. Below that, I list the days, then at the bottom, make little boxes for breakfast and lunch. Once this structure is set up, I fill in the dinner ideas next to each day of the week. Then, I typically pick 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches to rotate through each week. This amount of variety works for me. Find what works for you. I prefer to shop just once a week to save money and trips to the store, but we are definitely not perfect at that. Again, find what works for you and your family.

On the right, I write Buy. Then, I list all of the ingredients that I need to buy to make those meals happen. I am a total nerd, so I list the groceries in the order of my local store: produce items first, then frozen fruit, dairy/eggs, etc. I find this insanely helpful when I go to the grocery store, especially when the girls are there with me and I don’t have time to think about anything.

 

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And finally, the hands-on meal prep strategies:

Once I get home, I unload the groceries, leaving out the items that I need immediately for meal prep. I arrange them in little piles throughout the kitchen and get to work. I usually plan for 1-2 hours of meal prep a week for our family of four.  I make this happen quickly by making sure my kitchen is clean and ready to be worked in, by washing dishes by hand as I go, involving my kiddos as much as is reasonable (!), making sure the hubs is on kiddo duty, and by having fun (listening to podcasts in my earbuds, playing music, etc.).

During this time, I usually focus on making all of the breakfasts and lunches (or ensuring the prep for them is done) for the week ahead. Then, I just make sure that dinners are simple to prepare. I don’t do much prep for them because I am not a big fan of pre-chopping onions, garlic, or other veggies for 2 reasons:

1) they start to lose nutrients and fresh flavour as soon as you cut into them
2) they start to look drab in the fridge and I know that I won’t use drab looking veggies. I just won’t. Wish I could. I already know I won’t.

These are my own hang-ups though. They don’t need to be yours. The important thing here is to know what the deal breakers are for you. If you know you won’t eat rice after it has been chilled, then don’t prep it, no matter how much you like the idea. It is better to spend a bit of extra time preparing homemade meals that you’ll love, right when you need them, than spend a bunch of time prepping food you’re going to end up wasting.

A couple final points in closing:

  1. The instant pot is a lifesaver: I love making lentil soups and bean/grain bowls for lunch and this is the best way to do that quickly and efficiently.
  2. Did I mention to cook food you love??? Hopefully you realize how important that part is.
  3. In a rut? I offer meal inspiration! For $75, I send you 5 breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas and corresponding recipes, as well as a smattering of snacks and sides. The meal plans are customizable to your specific dietary needs, and already come vegetarian and gluten-free. The idea is that these ideas will help you branch out of your usual favourites and try some new, delicious foods. Shoot me an email if you’re interested.
  4. Finally, have fun with it and figure out what system works best for you, your family, and your life. Remember that this system will change over time and that is okay. The only important thing here is that meal planning only exists to make your life easier. If it doesn’t do that, then don’t do it!

 


Vegan, Gluten Free Peanut Butter Surprise Chocolate Cookies!

Yep, Vegan, Gluten Free Peanut Butter Surprise Chocolate Cookies. Holy moly: what a mouthful (literally! bah!). I was inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s recent post about peanut butter balls delightfully hidden inside delicious chocolate cookies and decided that I needed to do a natural sugar, vegan, gluten-free version of these tasty morsels as soon as possible. I also happen to be enrolled in an amazing gluten-free baking course that is teaching me how to *actually* be good at gluten free baking, so I used some of those tricks to help make these cookies.

So, before I get to the recipe, I have a lot to say about these gems. First, they are filling. I can’t remember the last time I made a batch of cookies and didn’t eat at least 2 immediately. I couldn’t do it with these guys. I’m gonna attribute that to the fibre in them. More on that in a minute. Second, eat them cold (I would argue that about most cookies though). That said, I know you’ll want to try them straight out of the oven. Sure, do it if you have to, but promise me that you won’t judge them until you’ve tried them cold. Bonus points for eating them frozen. Third, they are labour intensive. Please don’t let that stop you from making them. But, be forewarned that if you have little kids who are not interested in baking, who are demanding your attention, this might not be the recipe for you….until nap time.

As usual, a few notes about ingredients:

  • insert my usual peanut butter rant: use a brand with only salt and peanuts in it.
  • coconut palm sugar: it has trace minerals, has some fibre and isn’t quite as empty as white sugar. No, I wouldn’t call it a health food. But we are making cookies, right?
  • psyllium seed husks: we usually need an egg to bind gluten free cookies (or any cookies…) together. Since this is a vegan recipe, I used psyllium husks. They clump up in water, are FULL of fibre, and aren’t heat sensitive like chia and/or flax ‘eggs’.
  • brown rice flour: a gluten free baking staple
  • oat flour: made from ground oats 🙂
  • arrowroot powder: helps to bind everything together and has a super mild flavour.
  • cocoa powder: to make them rich and chocolatey!
  • gf baking powder: yep, lots of baking powder has gluten in it. If you are trying to avoid gluten, make sure to get the gluten free version.

On to the recipe! Hope you love them <3.

Vegan, Gluten Free Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

These are just sensational. Really sensational cookies. 

Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

Peanut Butter Surprise!

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Chocolate Cookies!

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 tbsp psyllium husk
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 2/3 cup cacao or cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • up to 1/3 cup warm water (1 tbsp at a time)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate sprinkles (for topping)

Instructions

Peanut Butter Surprise

  1. Mix all ingredients together until well incorporated. Spoon into tablespoon sized balls, place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and freeze until the cookie dough is ready.

Chocolate Cookies!

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  

  3. Put the sprinkles in a separate bowl and keep them for later.

  4. Using a food processor fitted with the 's' blade (or by hand!), mix the coconut oil, peanut butter, palm sugar, and vanilla powder until uniform.

  5. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together, ensuring they are well blended. 

  6. Sift the dry ingredients into the food processor (make sure you sift!) and mix until a dough forms.

  7. If your dough is dry and crumbly (like mine was!), then add warm water, 1 tbsp at a time to the food processor until a soft dough forms. Do this quite carefully!

Assemble the cookies!

  1. Once you have a nice dough, put it in a bowl for easy access. Take one tablespoon at a time, flatten it in your palm and put a ball of peanut butter filling in the middle. Make another cookie disc and cover the top of the peanut butter ball. 

  2. Pinch the edges together to seal in the peanut butter. 

  3. Roll the cookie in the sprinkles. 

  4. Lay on the cookie sheet and flatten slightly.

  5. Bake for 9 minutes.

  6. Let sit on the pan for 10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.

  7. These cookies are DEFINITELY better when they are cool. In fact, I think they taste best straight out of the freezer. So freeze them fast so you can eat them sooner. 

 

 

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