Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte

I am a huge pumpkin spice fan.  Huge.  In fact, I look forward to this time of year – all the time!  I am obsessed with everything pumpkin and I love me a good pumpkin spice latte.

Pumpkin-Spice-Latte

That being said, although I love a good PSL, they aren’t the healthiest option and are loaded with sugar (and who knows what else!).  So, if I deem myself favoring one, it is definitely a treat.  In the meantime, if I feel like I want to partake in the seasonal goodness, I make my own healthier version of a Pumpkin Spice Latte (I made one this morning).

Here’s what you need

  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1-3 tbsp pumpkin purée (I went on the side of 3 tbs)
  • 1 tsp of pure vanilla (not vanilla extract)
  • ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
  • tiny pinch ground nutmeg
  • tiny pinch ground ginger
  • ½ cup strong coffee
  • *1-3 dates
  1. Add the milk and pumpkin to a small pot. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture begins to simmer. Add in the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg (*if you like your latte a bit sweeter, this is where you add the dates. Let them simmer in the wet mixture and they will literally sweeten the pot). Whisk the mixture until it becomes frothy.
  2. Add the coffee to a large mug, and pour the milk mixture on top.
  3. If you fancy yourself a Frappuccino type, let both the pumpkin mixture and the coffee cool (make the night before and let sit in the fridge), toss in the blender or Bullet with some cubes of ice and blend away.

If you want to make your drink even fancier by adding whipped cream, make this healthy version:

  1. One can of full fat coconut milk (Put in freezer to freeze). Once it’s frozen, remove and let sit in room temperature for 30 minutes.  Flip the can upside down and open from the bottom.  The coconut water separates from the milk (you can save the water to drink or for other recipes).
  2. Dump the coconut milk into a mixing bowl (or blender) and whip it on high until you get a nice whippy, fluffy consistency. Add in a little vanilla (or a dusting of Stevia or teaspoon of date water if you prefer it a bit sweeter) and continue whipping.
  3. Add the whip to your drink and dust with cinnamon.

~FB

Advertisements

Whole 30 Experience – Days 5, 6, 7, & 8

Day 5 

I managed to stay up this morning and get my walk in.  In fact, I was up before my alarm was due to go off.  Even better.

For breakfast I had my regular coffee, 2 eggs, and the last slice of the prosciutto.  You likely won’t hear my talk about the prosciutto anymore.  I only bought it on a whim because it was on sale.  😝

Once I got to work I sipped on a black iced coffee from McDonald’s. and at 10:30 I had some coconut chips to munch on and a little after 11am I had half a blueberry smoothie.

For lunch I had mixed grilled veggies and chopped up hamburger patty.  There were Timbits floating around my office but I steered clear.

After a Friday afternoon gym sesh I headed out of town for the weekend.  My beau and I picked up a small rotisserie chicken for dinner and I had some watermelon and plantain to go with it.

Day 6

Today was rest day so aside from my coffee I didn’t bother to eat until later – for brunch I had 1 egg, 1 sausage round (compliant), and a small salad with garlic olive oil.

For dinner my beau took me out for anniversary dinner and I had pan-fried haddock, mixed veggies, and some home fries.  Thank goodness white potatoes are compliant (now).

In the evening we had a movie date and while popcorn was going around, I snacked on some plantain chips and salsa.

Day 7

This morning I had breakfast of two eggs and some prosciutto (look at that, more prosciutto) and, of course, coffee.

I hit the gym early afternoon and then spent the next few hours at my BFF’s working on new videos for my online boot camp (starting September 4!).  I was super exhausted and struggled to get through the video exercises and then realized I hadn’t had any carbs.  Whoops.  So bestie grabbed us each a pear to chow on.  Thank goodness because by that point my sugars had also dropped and I was dizzy.

For dinner I made a pork burger (aka I chopped a pork chop in half) on a sweet potato bun (complete with avocado, dill pickle, and tomato {I forgot the lettuce}) with a side of cauliflower mash.  It was so delicious.

Day 8

Whoot!  Made it thru week one with no cravings.  Although, I did have some really bad belly bloat that lasted most of the week that I’ve never really experienced before.  I’ve heard about people having issues with bloating and other things while getting thru the first week or so of Whole 30.  But this was my first time.

After a 40 minute walk this morning, for breakfast I had two eggs and some prosciutto (I swear I only got it again because it was still on sale!) and coffee.

A little after 11am I had 6 cherries to snack on.  I still feel hungry but I’m trying to hold out for lunch.

Lunch today is leftover cauliflower mash and a 1/4 chopped up pork chop (leftover).  I snacked a bit throughout the afternoon on a combo of plantains and cherries.  And about an hour before teaching my boot camp class I shoved a banana in my face. #fuel

For dinner I made – FROM SCRATCH – coconut chicken tenders (slice a b/s chicken breast into strips and dip them into melted ghee and then into coconut (I also added in a bit of salt, pepper, and garlic & herbs) and zucchini noodles.  I also made a dessert/snack of sweet potato brownie:  sweet potato (cooked and scooped from the skin shell), melted coconut butter and nut butter (I used almond-hazelnut), and cocoa powder.  Mix it all together and pop it in the oven.  I made enough for a single serving.  It was actually really good and tasted like a warm, gooey brownie.  I know I’m not technically supposed to be having dessert, but, I’m recovering and refueling.

~Cheers

 

 

If It’s Too Good to be True…

My social media feeds are sometimes flowing with sales pitches for things like skinny wraps and magic teas and this and that – all for the benefit of losing weight.  Let’s be real people – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Most of these products want you to either eat or drink nothing for days, all while boasting “you’ll lose 10 pounds in one week!” or “Drop a dress size over night!” <– WTF??  Seriously?  This one’s not gonna happen.

BULL SHIT

This post was in my Facebook feed a while back and the so-called story behind it is that she spend hundreds of dollars on skinny wraps and greens and all that jazz and ended up like this.  I.Call.Bull.Shit!

Whatever happened to not putting all kinds of shit in your mouth and actually working for your weight loss.

Put down the cookies.  Put down the beer.  Get up and go for a walk or to the gym or to a class.

Those “magic” products aren’t really going to guarantee you lose weight AND CERTAINLY aren’t good for your health.  (And let’s be freaking honest – any weight that you may lose is going to be water weight – especially if you’re drinking teas or sweating if off in wraps! You’ll gain it right back.).  And those products that boast “cleansing” or “detoxing” – um, you have a liver for that!  Seriously.  Don’t waste your money.

Skinny Wrap

No, airhead, you should have not eaten that whole bag of chips and laid on the couch all day – you SHOULD HAVE gotten some exercise and had a healthy snack.

Instead, look at YOURSELF as an investment and if you really want to slim down or get healthier, invest in yourself – whether it’s money or time or effort.

Remember when Oprah said there is no such thing as a magic pill to make you lose weight because if there was she’d be on it.  Well – she’s right.  There is not.  You have to work for it. And working for it means watching what you eat and making better decisions about your food choices and finding the time to exercise.  Even if it’s for only 20 minutes a day.  How many times do I have to say it: twenty minutes a day can change your life!

The next time you’re inclined to spend some hard earned cash on a quick fix wrap or tea, reconsider.  Use your money wisely.  Invest in yourself and make some real changes that will benefit you long term – not just for the quick fix.

You’re worth it.

~FB

 

Whole 30 Experience – Day 1

Since I am a huge fanatic of the Whole 30 program, and have blogged and bragged about starting the program this week, I have decided to journal my experience with it. As you may know, this is not my first rodeo with the Whole 30. And, of course, results will vary each time and for each person. But I am stoked about this time around and could not wait to get started. (Don’t think, however, that I didn’t ram my face with some chocolate last night.)

Meet-Fruits-Vegitables-Nuts

Day 1 – My alarm went off this morning at 6am and I jumped out of bed to get rolling for my morning walk. Already was filled with excitement about my food path for the next 30 days. Once I returned home, I started my morning brew and once I was showered, I drank my coffee with a little unsweetened almond milk, and cooked up 2 eggs. Just plain. Fried in a pan. Simple and delicious.

By 11am I was starting to feel a little hungry. This really is nothing new for me. Since I’m up so early and work out so often (I hit the gym yesterday morning for an hour and a half, then went on an 8.5 k walk like night, and up early this morning for a 3 k pre-work walk), I’m usually hungry all the time. Instead of stuffing my face with something, I settled my stomach growls with another cuppa joe (with almond milk). I also drink water consistently throughout the day.

My lunch consisted of a small portion of chicken breast and some mixed veggies which I made in advance. One sort-of challenge about Whole 30-ing is that I do find I have to actually meal prep. Especially if I am going out of town for a night or two. I can’t just skip down to the deli to grab a quick meal as almost everything is processed (breaded or sauced or mixed). So, last night I made a nice, healthy meal for lunch. My coworker and I also went on a good walk during out break (which I thought I might collapse from heat stroke, but alas, I made it) and I did stop at the grocery store to grab a few things…including a peach for a walk-back snack.

Yesterday was about 34 degrees with the humidex and our AC was spazzed out at work. I had to teach boot camp after work so around 4pm I ate an apple. I needed something cool and fresh and carby. After my class (where I guzzled about 7 gallons of water), I ate dinner of small pork chop and a cauliflower pancake (riced cauliflower, one egg, garlic).

cauliflower-pancakes1

I had also meal prepped for the next few days since I’ll be out of town and made my first batch of cabbage rolls (recipe to follow). And, once they were finished cooking and since I was still quite hungry, I had one.

And that completes day 1 of my Whole 30.

~FB

My Top 5 Wellness Favorites

wellness

I was asked recently about favorite personal wellness tips and as I’ve been reflecting on my regular routine, I’ve been able to narrow them down.  Here are my top five favorites:

1.

Exercise and nutrition/clean eating.  Obviously I have a passion for fitness and good basic nutrition.  They have become such a huge part of my life that it is more than apparent that they would be number one on my list.  And, since I believe fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand, I have joined them as top rank.  I am a huge lover of cardio, but for the past 8 months, I have been completely obsessed with my strength training and have been focusing most of my gym time on that.  I would encourage everyone to add a strength training routine to their regular fitness regime.  I’m also a cheerleader for clean eating and following the Whole 30 program.  I am not a clean eater 100% (I literally just ate a handful of salted caramel chocolate chips), but I often try to stay away from processed and junk and fast foods as much as possible.  In fact, I am gearing up for a Whole 30 in a few weeks.  I also love starting my day off with some form of exercise.  It used to be a crazy Insanity workout or other form of cardio, then it was yogo, and this summer it has been early morning walks.  I am so in love with my early morning walks for a few reasons but the biggest one is the solitude in the mornings.  It’s usually just me out there and I love the stillness and the quiet and the fresh air in my face.  I also love the little feeling of accomplishment in the mornings and the walks have been giving me that.

2.

Water.  Lotsa water.  I love water.  It’s my favorite drink.  In fact, aside from a morning coffee or the occasional glass of wine, it’s the only thing I drink.  And I drink a lot of it. Water is essential in every day life – you can read here a past post on why water is important.  I love water and I constantly have a glass of it on the go, whether I’m at work or working out, I try to continuously guzzle.

3.

Sleep.  Sleep is right up there with water – it’s essential.  And it’s a big part of how I’m going to function.  I hate not getting enough sleep.  About 5 years ago I had a bad bought of insomnia for months on end and it was terrible.  I was barely functioning.  I was a walking zombie.  I’ve written two posts previously on sleep and I stand by my word (you can read them here and here) and there’s also plenty of research being done by companies, like Elysium Health , on the science behind sleep—you can learn more about their findings on cellular health and NAD+ and their connection to sleep here .  I love sleep.  I try to get as much as I can but it doesn’t always work for me.  A good night would have been sleeping 7 hours but most nights, according to my FitBit, see me sleeping anywhere from 5 to 6 hours.  Eventually, when I’m exhausted enough, I’ll manage a good 7 or 8 hours, but I will always strive.

4.

Me Time.  It’s really important – no, make that crucial – that every person take some “me time”.  Although my morning walks and other workouts can often be accounted for as me time, I like to find time during the day just for me.  Time far away from chaos and hustle and bustle and social media.  This me time is usually my reading (or writing) time.  I am an avid reader and become completely enthralled in my books.  And I look forward to curling up under the summer sun or before bed to leave where I am and, instead, get lost in the words of my book.  I urge everyone to take 20 minutes (at least) each day to themselves.

Sparkles

5.

Quality Social Time.  I am a social being.  In fact, my nickname has always been social butterfly.  Just as it’s important to take me time, it’s also important to have social time with other people.  I love spending time with my family and my friends and my co-workers and my workout buddies.  Getting out and enjoying the company of others (and allowing them to enjoy your company) is very important to maintaining good mental health.  And mental and emotional health are just as important as physical health.  Having fun or having a good cry (if required) are important to keeping us healthy and balanced.  And this means getting social in person – not hopping onto Facebook to chat.  Your mind, body, and soul need you to interact with other human beings.  So, whether you go to a fitness class or a Bible study or book club or just get together with your friends or family, ensure that you do it.  Often.

mind-body-soul_design

So, that’s it.  Those are my personal top 5 (I’m sure there are more) favorite wellness tips to living a healthy life.  What are yours?

~FB

 

Start

Happy Monday Morning!!

Today is the start of a brand new day…and week.  So why not make the decision that today will be the day you change your life.

Bad Workout

Deciding to start a fitness program or healthy lifestyle does not mean you have to commit to running a marathon or hitting the gym every day or signing up for an intense boot camp class (though, you’re more than welcome to come to mine!).  You can start your brand new life by going for small walk around your block or adding in the Commercial Break Workout to your TV watching routine or even, since it’s summer, going for a swim.

Just do something.

I promise you that if you started adding a little fitness (and healthier eating) into your life your body will thank you.  And soon enough, your body will crave it.  Chances are you will feel more energized and happy and excited…and proud.

So, Happy Monday!  Make today the day you change your life.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veggie Spring Rolls

This afternoon I got a hankering to make my own spring rolls.  Something I had never done before.  But, I said I’d do it…and I did it.  I wanted something that I could take to work for lunch, something yummy and interesting and I believe I succeeded.  It was actually really simple and cheap and they were delicious.

I picked up a package of rice paper at the grocery store – the only required necessity – and a few more vegetables to add to what I already have in my fridge and went on my merry way.

Rice paper

You dunk the rice paper rounds in warm water for about 20 seconds then spread them out on a plate or platter

I had a gorgeous repertoire of veggies – and an apple for a little bit of sweetness and added crunch and chopped everything up perfectly.

Veggies

Red and orange peppers, red and green onion, cabbage slaw (because I’m really cheap and really lazy to buy it all separately), tomato, cucumber, and apple. 

I tossed heaps of all that beautiful and healthy goodness onto my rice paper and rolled like a pro.

Veggie Rolls

Beauties.

I left most of them cold and raw but wanted to try a couple of them warm so I tossed them in the skillet and sauteed them.

Skillet Rolls

This one looks like it’s had a rough night, but I promise it was just as delicious.

There you go!  An easy meal option when you want to eat healthy and try something new.  (If you have kids you can fake like it’s Taco Tuesday and let them make their own rolls – super fun!)

I’m not a big fan of people who say eating healthy is “expensive”, “too hard”, “gross”, etc. and use that as an excuse to eat junk.  The package of rice rolls was around $3 and I think has 12 or 15 rolls in it.  I made 6 rolls in total – 2 or 3 would be enough for a meal on it’s own (1 or 2 if you’re having it as a side to something).  I have plenty left over for lunches.  AND, you can put as much fillers in as you want – as long as you’re gentle and don’t tear the paper.  Cheap and easy and healthy and decadent.

~FB

Healthy Snacking

Quite often people ask me what I snack on, especially when I’m on a Whole 30.  In fact, when I tell people about the Whole 30 I am usually met with “what do you eat?”.  I’m finding that people don’t realize how much nasty crap they’re eating until I really spell it out for them by explaining what I eliminate and why.

Because I’m on the go so much and, it seems, pretty much living at the gym, I’m always hungry and need to be prepared for when hunger strikes and for pre-workout fuel.

So, for those of you who are interested, here’s the short-list for my snacking staples:

  1. Dates – You can almost always find a bag of dates in my desk drawer at work, and somewhere in my house.  I love dates.  Dates are a great pre-workout fuel, since they’re rich in glucose (a simple carb).  Glucose travels directly to the liver for immediate energy transport – meaning the body doesn’t have to convert it to a different form of energy in order to utilize it.  Sometimes, if I’m feeling a little draggy during the day, I’ll pop a few dates for quick (and sweet) energy.

Dates

2. Larabars

Larabars

I LOVE me a good Larabar.  There are so many different flavors to choose from and they are made (mostly – some of them have chocolate or peanut butter) from 100% natural, clean ingredients.  And since the primary ingredient in a Larabar is dates, they’re an excellent source of energy.  You can be certain there are always a few Larabars stuffed in my gym bag.

I often make my own Larabars…especially when I’m rockin’ a Whole 30.  It’s inexpensive and I can ensure they’re compliant.

Homemade Larabars

3. Fruit – Fruit is usually my number one go-to for snacks.  I usually have apples and bananas in my fridge at home and at work.  If I have a big workout coming up, I will usually have one of the two a bit in advance.  I often will throw an apple in my gym bag as well.

Fruit

You really can’t go wrong with fruit

I also like to have tropical fruit – mango, papaya, pineapple, dragon fruit – for occasional snacking sweetness.

4. Plantain Chips – I am addicted to plantain chips.

Plantain

I get these dudes at Walmart for $2

Okay, I may not be addicted, but I do enjoy plantains – home-cooked or store bought.  They’re low in calories and fat, and are sugar-free.  I sometimes keep these in my desk drawer (where my coworkers steal indulge in them) and in my cupboard at home.  They are so good and since they are Whole 30 compliant, I usually have them on hand for “emergency” snacking.

As you can see, my snacks are all Whole 30 compliant.  But there are also options available for people who are looking for snacks that are organic, or gluten-free, or vegan.  The company GoMacro offers products that meet all of the above.

GoMacro

GoMacro is a family-owned company that “put their heart and soul into a natural, whole-food based lifestyle”.  Their pursuit of health thus became a path of living in balance with themselves and nature.  (Seriously, do yourself a favor and go read their story – it’s truly inspiring!!  <3)

Their products are, as I mentioned, gluten-free, organic, and vegan (they’re also kosher). They are cold-pressed and nut-butter based and made from simple, clean ingredients.  These little bars are perfect for throwing in your gym bag or your back pack or your purse.

MacroBite

I can almost taste the nom nom nom

Unfortunately, GoMacro Bars are not yet available in Canada (they’re working on it), but if you’re living in or visiting the US, you can order them here or pick them up in select stores.  (GoMacro peeps – feel free to send me a sampler. 🙂 ).

Well there you have it.  What I eat.  What I want to eat.  A few healthy snack ideas that you can consider keeping on hand and getting you through your workout, especially if you’re struggling to maintain compliance in a Whole or clean or vegan diet.

Cheers, ~FB

 

 

Begin (Confessions)

I saw this post in my Facebook feed this today and knew I had to write something about it.

Beginner

…Because this is truth.

We all have to start somewhere.  We are all beginners.  We will not know our full abilities until we try.

When I first began my fitness journey I could not do a full three minutes on my elliptical.  In fact, I found it so hard that I gave up.  I was winded and sweaty (I still sweat like I’m burning in Hell) and, frankly, I was embarrassed that a mere three minutes of cardio nearly killed me and I gave up!

I had bought that elliptical on a whim of trying wanting to be healthy (read: skinny) and I failed.  And, apparently, at that time I was okay with failure.  But then one day, that one particular day, I made a decision and my life changed – forever and for the best.  I swear to God, that elliptical saved my life.  I saw this with all seriousness and certainty.  I was on a path that was destroying me.  My self-esteem was shot, my mental health was in the toilet, and I was overweight to a degree that I should never have let happen.

And I jumped on my elliptical and had my first real workout.

And, although I swore I would never publicly show this photo – I realized, “well shoot!  This was me!  This is what I looked like!”  So, here goes:

Side by side

Left: Before / Right: After 

Yep!  The pic on the left with the scratched out face and the really, really badly blonde hair is me.

And you know what’s sad?  I I don’t even recognize that person on the left and I’m ashamed that I allowed myself to treat my body that way. After A Lot of hard work, dedication, and discipline, the pic on the right reflects closer to where I am today. But each day I grow in my fitness. I’m so much stronger and adventurous in my exercising. And I look forward to challenging myself daily.

Once I started exercising regularly and eating healthier, I started feeling better on the inside too.  I know not everyone gets this or agrees. But this is 100% true for me. Exercise helped bring me out of a 10 year depression. It helped with my self-esteem and confidence.  There are days when I still struggle with these but overall, I’ve become a different person.  (Give it a chance….you might be shocked to find that exercise can help you too.)

Mood changer

When I look back to those years ago and hopping on my elliptical and failing miserably at my first attempt of working out, I almost feel glad,  Because I was doing it for the wrong reason.  As I said above, I wanted to start exercising to get thin, not to have a better life.  And it wasn’t until I decided to change my life that my life changed.  That’s when I really began.

So, don’t be afraid to begin.  Even if it means you’re starting over or beginning again.  It’s when you’re really ready that you will make the effort.  As you know, my mantra for years has been “If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight.” (Thank you Shaun T!)  Again, #Truth!

So, don’t be afraid.  Go ahead and begin.  And if you have to, begin again.

~FB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eat the Doritos*

Chips

Last year a friend was telling me how she had fallen off the fitness wagon.  She was busy with work and her kids and her life was consumed with normal life things.  Then she told me that the week prior a friend of hers was diagnosed, at age 30, with ALS.  She was so sad about this news and she said to me “I know that I need to stay fit and healthy and on track, but sometimes, I just want to eat the Doritos.”

Last week this same friend buried her mother.

This week one of my closest friend’s father passed away from a sudden massive stroke.

Several weeks ago my brother was injured badly in a motorcycle accident.  He just returned home a few days ago after spending 16 days in the hospital.  He’s very fortunate and blessed to still be with us, but he’s got a long road of recovery ahead of him.

Needless to say, the last few weeks have been overwhelming with so many tragic and stressful events all heaped together.  And believe me, I wanted to eat the Doritos!  All of them.  Well, maybe not Doritos but I certainly wanted to bury my emotions in chocolate.  And maybe I did…a little.

I am a very emotional person and I am a bit of a crybaby and sometimes when I’m trying to hold it all together I feel more and more like I’m going to fall apart.  I felt that way a bit with my brother’s accident.  He is a very strong person, physically.  He always has been.  He lifts weights and he boxes and runs and bikes and he wrestled.  He’s done it all.  And seeing him in such a state of vulnerability and completely busted and broken was, not only terrifying, but also a bit unknown to me because I don’t recall ever seeing him like that. (Not that he didn’t still have his moments of being an ass!)  So I buried most of my fear and sadness inside, had a breakdown once or twice, and then spent the rest of the time eating chocolate – followed by regular workouts.  Because I’m a bit of a freak and it seems that exercise is really the best way for me to get my aggression out.

Life is about balance.  There are times when you need comfort and sometimes food is the only place you can (or want to) find it.  And that is okay.  It’s about moderation.  You can have the Doritos, you can have the cake, you can have the Tim Bits.  You just can’t have it all all the time.

So, go ahead and eat the Doritos.

~FB

PS I’m not affiliated with Doritos