Wednesday, 31 October 2012


During my Whole30, it was important that I maintained variety with my meals. It can get boring eating the same piece of meat with the same seasoning or marinade, prepared the same way, week to week.  

This recipe for shepherd's pie is not only a great option to varying the ways in which to enjoy meat and veggies (Whole30-compliant or not), but it's also a hearty dish that can be made ahead of time and frozen for a quick meal fix for later on. 

Rustic Shepherd's Pie with Sweet Potatoes

2 sweet potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth 
olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

olive oil
1/2 lb. lean ground pork
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth 
1 heaping tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried rosemary
salt and pepper
1 cup roasted eggplant, 1/2-inch pieces

1. Wash and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a small amount of olive oil in a large frying pan. Saute onions over medium heat until tender. Add  pork and saute until cooked through. Add peas.

3. Add tomato paste, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Add broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for ten minutes. Finally, add the roasted eggplant. Heat through and remove from stove top.

4. Mash potatoes with broth, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

5. Place pork mixture in a 5" by 9" glass baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top.

6. Cook in a 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown, 30 to 40 minutes.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Try This: Maximize the flavour! For added dimension, include warming spices in your sweet potatoes, like cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger. 

Stay tuned for my Whole30 reintroduction phase update!

image via bbc good food

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Today, I'm redirecting your attention to Sisyphus No More, a blog by one of my fitness instructors, A. He has a lot of really informative posts about diet and fitness (all based on his own experiences/trial-and-error). It's definitely worth checking out!

He recently wrote about metabolic conditioning - what it is and how it can benefit you - and, of course, included a workout.While you can find the workout with accompanying videos on his blog, I've also included it here for your convenience and under the WORKOUTS tab for future reference.

If you complete this circuit three times through, your entire workout could be anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes. Depending on how much time you have on any given day, you can alter the number of rounds you do. As for the dumbbells (and kettebell), I recommend using a weight that is challenging. In order to know what is challenging, follow Sisyphus No More's general rule for metabolic conditioning - keeping it tough. As he says, this workout is "supposed to push you way past your comfort zone. If you're not seriously out of breath and tired after one round of this workout, then your weights are too light or you're going too slow - or both." 

Perform each complex followed by 45 seconds rest, 1-3 times through
TOTAL: 15-20 minutes once through

Complex 1
Alternating Lunge Presses x 12
Lunge Curls x 12
Alternating Plank Extensions x 12
Double Lateral Jumps x 25
Complex 2
Lateral Squat Presses x 12
Snatches x 12
Leg Up Push Ups x 12
Power Jacks x 40
Complex 3
Super Burpees x 12
Around The World x 12
Tricep Lunges x 12
Single Arm Swings x 30
Complex 4
1/2 Man Maker Burpees x 12
Bent Over Rows x 12
Half Cleans x 12
Squat Jumps x 25
Complex 5
Super Burpees x 12
Clean & Press x 12
Stiff Legged Dead Lifts x 12
Mountain Climbers x 75
Complex 6
Pass Pass Pass Shoot x 12
Cleans x 12
Renegade Rows x 12
Kettle Swings x 30

Because of the intensity of metabolic conditioning, I don't usually do these types of workouts on my own - the primary reason being that I find it super difficult to motivate myself to actually push as hard as I can (if I'm not going as hard as I can, there's not much point). If you're the same, grab a buddy and get them involved, too. It's amazing how much working out in pairs or a team can help motivate you to work harder than you would on your own!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

Monday, 22 October 2012


After discussing the Whole30 with a few friends who have tried it/done it, I think it's safe to say that while, in the grand scheme of things, it's not that difficult of a challenge, it isn't easy either. Sure, it's fine if you have the time, focus, and commitment to plan and prepare all of your meals so that they're Whole30-compliant. But, when some of your favourite foods contain dairy (cheese and ice cream, anyone?) and/or you're used to six small meals a day instead of three, things can become a little tricky. You can forget about enjoying that hot sauce on your scrambled eggs in the morning, because it just so happens to contain sugar. And hey, your go-to bevvy from David's Tea? It has stevia.

In the past 27 days, I have dealt with bittersweet goodbyes (or "see you later's") to some of my favourite foods and slip ups, too: Thanksgiving dinner, friendly lunches, and most recently, the footy awards banquet, where I ate both roasted white potatoes and the teeniest amount of cheese (gasp!). I've learned to approach food as fuel and sustenance, not just as comfort and indulgence (but okay, indulgence sometimes, and for the duration of my Whole30 this means dates and dried coconut).

But all that aside, while it can be challenging (at first) to map out your Whole30 diet and figure out what you can and cannot eat, let's get real. It's only 30 days. And, now as the end draws nearer, I'm planning my next line of attack: the reintroduction phase.

Starting Wednesday, I will slowly reintroduce the foods and food groups that were eliminated from my diet 30 days past: alcohol, dairy, grains, legumes, and sugar - but wait, I'm kind of in a pickle hereIt Starts With Food recommends that you reintroduce dairy on day 1, gluten-containing grains on day 4, non-gluten grains on day 7, legumes on day 10, and so on and so forth. But what if you already know how certain foods affect you? What if I already know that highly processed sugars make my joints ache and my thinking foggy? What if I already know that I have probably one of the lowest tolerances for alcohol out there and that when I have just three sips of wine, I start to get tipsy? I am already aware of these effects, just as I am familiar with the ways in which wheat or gluten also has an impact on my health and well-being. Therefore, I am most interested in the reintroduction of dairy, non-gluten grains, and legumes. So, my question is: can I reintroduce dairy alongside sugar and alcohol if I already know the effects of the latter two? That is, can I go back to consuming sugar and alcohol (in limited quantities, of course) right away and on the same day, while at the same time, reintroduce dairy?

Okay, you caught me. The truth is, R and I are celebrating Halloween this weekend with a party at our place and I'd like to have a sweet or two with a drink or few (woah, rhyming!), and I've stocked the fridge with a load of cheese.

And, so.

Technically, you're supposed to reintroduce the eliminated foods or food groups one by one, but the approach that I've decided to take is to only schedule the reintroduction of foods with which I have yet to experience any symptoms. Again, these are dairy, non-gluten grains, and legumes. First up? Dairy (if you've read any of my Whole30 blog posts, this should really come as no surprise).

image via cannelle et vanille

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

Friday, 19 October 2012


A recipe for cabbage rolls can only mean one thing: I was craving comfort food.

When I think of cabbage rolls, I'm reminded of my childhood, of home, of my mother and my grandmother cooking late into the night. Cabbage rolls are one of those classic dishes you don't serve to dinner guests, but share with family.

Keeping with my Whole30, these cabbage rolls don't contain rice or any grain, for that matter. Instead, I used nutrient dense butternut squash and spinach, making these cabbage rolls a fabulously healthy addition to your fall menu.

All right, so my cabbage rolls don't photograph well (at all), but they're delicious nonetheless!

Cabbage Rolls with Butternut Squash & Spinach

1 cabbage
2 cups ground pork
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 cup butternut squash, cubed & roasted
1 1/4 cups chopped spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

1. Separate cabbage leaves. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop cabbage leaves in the pot and let cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain well and set aside to cool.

2. For the filling, heat a pan with olive oil. Add the onions and sauté until softened. Add the ground pork and cook through.

3. In a large bowl, combine onions and pork, squash, spinach, garlic, and the rest of the seasoning ingredients. Mix well.

4. In a large crock pot, pour 1/3 of the crushed tomatoes and spread around so the entire bottom of the pot is covered.

5. Place a small portion of the filling in the centre of each cabbage leaf and roll leaf around filling (like rolling a burrito, since you do that all the time, uh). Neatly pack filled cabbage rolls in the crock pot. After completing one layer of cabbage rolls, pour another 1/3 of the crushed tomatoes to completely cover the rolls. Continue to fill and pack cabbage rolls, and finish with the last 1/3 of the crushed tomatoes completely covering the very top of the rolls.

6. Season with red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Turn crock pot on low-setting and let cook for 6-8 hours.

Makes 20-25 small cabbage rolls.

Try This: There are different ways to prepare the cabbage leaves (and I think I took the more difficult route). If I am correct, you can actually cook the entire cabbage head and then separate the leaves, rather than the other way around. This might make separating the leaves easier, and therefore avoid rips and tears along the way.

The alternative to making cabbage rolls in a crock pot is, of course, the oven. The standard temperature and cook time for (most) recipes is 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes. 

What's your go-to comfort food?

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012


I like running. I like running on a crisp autumn day. I like running to clear my mind (and how a good long run can magically turn my irrational thoughts rational). I like running for fitness, both the superficial and heart-healthy kind. And, I like running with a buddy, who can motivate me even on the earliest (and sometimes chilliest) of mornings.

Thanks to my friend L, I've been running a lot more lately. And when I run a lot, I tend to burn a lot of extra calories and lean out quite nicely (!). That said, while most of us are happy to lose a few inches around our waists, when I'm running as much as I have been lately, I start to fear the loss of one thing: my butt.

Oh no, you didn't.

If there's one thing I don't like about running, it's the potential to lose that nicely formed curvature I've worked so hard for just to be left with this blah bump flat surface that limits any potential of filling out a string bikini and warrants very few dance moves (what's the point?!). Plus, as an actor, you can understand how wanting to "look good" might play a factor in all of this.

I spent one summer running a lot. And while I was able to lose the extra weight I put on in the first two years of my undergraduate degree, my backside had dwindled down to nothing. There I was - ten pounds lighter and without a single curve. No posterior. No derrière.  No junk in the trunk. Nada. It was gone.

Genetically, I think I could go either way on the butt bandwagon. Round or flat? I'm Portuguese and Chinese, you figure it out. Regardless, running as much as I did that summer really showed me what a lot of cardio and a lack of strength exercises can do to shaping my natural physique (whatever that may be). In order to get my butt back, I employed a couple of simple exercises. Cue: squats, lunges, more squats, even more lunges.

Obviously, I began  to worship squats and lunges.

And now that I'm running a lot more again, I've amped up my workouts to always include some kind of lower body exercises (squats and lunges evidently being my favourites).

I threw together this lower body workout a couple of weeks ago. I like it because it's quick and straight forward. It's 100 reps each of five different exercises, for a total of 500 reps (hence Lower Body Blast 500).  It is entirely up to you how you would like to complete the 500 reps. If you find it too difficult to do all 100 reps of one exercise at a time, split the workout up into two, three, or even four rounds. For example, you could do 25 reps of each exercise four times through, still completing a total of 500 reps.

This workout is meant to exhaust the leg muscles and get that booty burning, so regardless of how you complete the workout it should be very challenging. I chose to do 100 reps of each exercise straight through, and was definitely struggling near the end.

Include this routine as part of a larger workout! Or if you don't have much time, this routine is also great on its own. By the time you're finished, your legs and butt should be burning (my hamstrings were sore three days later!).

Lower Body Blast 500
Do 100 reps of each exercise:

Sumo Squat Kicks

Jump Lunges

Jump Squats

Dumbbell Deadlifts

Single-Leg Pulses

As you can see, there's no video for this workout. Instead, I've included a link for each exercise. In case you're not sure what the exercise is or you just want some further instruction about form and function, click on each exercise and it will take you to a short demonstration.

Hey, look! My love for a shapely behind isn't anything new - check out this post from my former blog.

image via women's health mag

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

Monday, 15 October 2012


I'm two-thirds of the way to completing my first Whole30 and while I had a few slip ups during week two, I've stayed strong since - and so why give up now, right? The next week and a half should feel like a piece of cake.

Huh, did someone say cake?

Okay, I'm not really craving sweets so much, but cheese? Yes, I still talk about cheese - a lot. That being said, I still haven't given in to temptation. I handle cheese pretty much all week when I'm watching the kiddies and I have yet to dive into a mound of mozzarella or gnaw on a thick slice of Gouda.  I've come so far, after all. Why call it quits now?

And, hey! If there's one thing (or two or three) that I've learned while doing my Whole30, it's that food can taste really good, even without grains, sugar, legumes, dairy, or alcohol. So, what's the big deal right? Sure, I miss my weekly cheese binge, but what about all of the tasty things I can eat?

Since starting the Whole30, I've discovered that sometimes simple is better. Take this recipe for Almond Chicken. It's my take on the ol' Shake 'n Bake classic, but it's completely grain-free. The recipe only requires a few ingredients and about a half hour in the oven, and voilà! They're a delicious alternative to ordinary roasted chicken (and if you're doing the Whole30 or a similar challenge, chicken stir fry).

(Grain-Free) Almond Chicken

1 pkg. (5) chicken drumsticks
1 cup coconut flour
salt and pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 egg
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup ground almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil and set aside.

2. Grab three bowls. In the first bowl, mix together coconut flour, salt and pepper, and paprika. In the second bowl, whisk together egg and mustard. Finally, place ground almonds in the third bowl.

3. One at a time, take a drumstick and coat it first in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, and then in the ground almonds until completely coated. Place on baking sheet, and do the same for the rest of the chicken pieces.

4. Lightly dress the coated drumsticks with a bit more olive oil (you could even use an olive oil cooking spray here, the idea is to add a bit of oil to the chicken so that the coating turns golden and crispy).

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, turning once.

Makes 5 drumsticks.

What's your favourite way to prepare chicken?

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

Thursday, 11 October 2012


As the days get shorter and the evenings cooler, our bodies start to crave hearty comfort foods in place of summer's lighter fare. That said, ditching salads for baked pastas and roast beef isn't always the answer. 

Although it's nice (and completely necessary) to indulge every once in a while, it's also important to maintain a healthy diet, and not just during bikini season but throughout the cooler months as well. This recipe is for Hearty Chicken Stew (adapted from Clean Eating's Chicken Pot Pie), a simple yet satisfying and nutritious lunch or dinner. Made using fall food staples like onions and carrots, this recipe is quick enough to whip up in time for a last-minute dinner and easy enough to duplicate (or triple!) and pack and freeze for later.

Hearty Chicken Stew
adapted from Clean Eating

olive oil
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp. coconut flour, or any other flour for use as thickener
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat a large saucepan on medium-high heat, add olive oil. Sauté onions until fragrant.

2. Add chicken and carrots. Sauté until onions are slightly browned and chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add peas and sauté for another minute until thawed.

3. Stir in broth, orange juice, and bay leaves and cook until broth is warmed. Sit in coconut flour* and reduce heat to medium. Stir constantly until broth is thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

*if using potato or corn starch, be sure to dissolve the starch in about 1 tsp. of water before adding it to your stew

Try This: The original recipe uses chicken breast, which would be a leaner option. For something like a stew, I like to use chicken thighs because of their extra flavour.

The orange juice is my own adjustment to the recipe and I find it adds a really nice sweetness to the chicken and vegetables. Feeling adventurous? Try pineapple juice instead!

And, if you want a more filling stew, try adding sweet or Yukon gold potatoes.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


I'm half way to completing my Whole30 and I'm feeling great! 

After the first week of my Whole30, I already felt that I had more energy. This was most noticeable in the afternoon, when I used to get tired and have cravings for sugar/caffeine/both. Now, I seem to coast through the afternoon without any exhaustion, light-headedness,  irritability, or cravings. 

I've also noticed a change in my energy level first thing in the morning. For a long time now, I've been strict to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. I felt that this was especially important once I started to have these afternoon fits of exhaustion. But even then, with 8 hours of sleep, I was still exhausted by 3pm. Since starting my Whole30, I not only have more energy in the afternoon but also first thing in the morning. I don't feel sluggish in the morning, but rather, well-rested and energetic.

Could it be the change in diet?

While I'm enjoying the positive effects that this change in diet appears to be having on me, I am anxious to reintroduce certain foods to see if whether or not they trigger any symptoms. This brings me to my first Whole30 confession: the slip ups. You might call them cheats, I call them unavoidables-for-the-sake-of-loved-ones. 

Having been (Canadian) Thanksgiving this past weekend, you can understand the difficulty in participating in something like the Whole30 while attending a family dinner or other social function (where there's an array of delicious foods to eat!). Every year for Thanksgiving, R and I go to his parents' for dinner. R's dad is an amazing cook, his food always flavourful and full of fat. Yes, fat. He loves to cook with butter, which I wouldn't usually be opposed to (it's better butter than margarine, right?) but when I'm supposed to have eliminated dairy as part of the Whole30, this gets a bit tricky.

No, I did not request that my meal be cooked separately, nor did I pack my own food. Instead, I enjoyed the little bit of butter that dressed my brussel sprouts and savoured the gravy (which most likely had cornstarch, another Whole30 no-no) that sat upon my perfectly cooked turkey. I avoided the mashed potatoes all together and politely turned down the gluten-free baguette (another family member is celiac), and instead of pie for dessert, I opted for mulled apple cider (the perfect combination of just apple and spices).

And, how'd I feel? Well, to be frank, a little bloated. Okay, a lot bloated. I'm not sure if it was the richness of the vegetables (ahem, butter), but I definitely felt a little uncomfortable as the evening lingered on. That said, the meal was delicious and I don't regret a thing. I'm only half way through the Whole30 challenge, and I've learned a great deal about my body and food, and that even when following a strict diet like this one, it's not the end of the world if you slip up or make a mistake. That said, I realize that the whole point of the Whole30 is to completely eliminate particular foods and food groups from the diet in order to "clear" our system of them and then slowly reintroduce them thereafter, but I don't think a bit of butter or a teaspoon of sugar is any reason to call it quits.

Regardless of your dietary and/or health needs, the important part about falling off the wagon is that you get back on.

How about for eating out at restaurants? Sure, you can request to have your salad dressing on the side, but do you know what ingredients are in that dressing? I went out for a lunch with a friend last week and ordered poached eggs with Rowe Farm sausages and salad. While it was pretty obvious that they had used something sugary to sweeten the salad dressing, how do we know what ingredients are in the sausage? Even if the sausages are from a supplier whose products are antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and nitrate-free, this doesn't mean they're free from grains, dairy, or sugar. I don't actually know, but from my experience with cured meats, I'm sure that the sausages I ate have sugar in them. Sigh. Another slip up, you might say.

(for the record, I'm a huge supporter of Rowe Farm products)

Whether you're in the midst of completing the Whole30 or you're following a clean diet, or you're just trying to eat healthier in general, there's no point in beating yourself up about enjoying a swipe of butter (if you're avoiding dairy) or some sausage that just happens to contain a bit of sugar. No, I wouldn't have bought these sausages at the grocery store for as long as I'm participating in the Whole30, but when your options at a restaurant are limited, you have to work with what you've got.

It might as well be the holiday season, which means lots of social gatherings to come! This doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your health or your social life. Find a happy medium that works for you. And remember: if your veer off track, just get back up and try again!

We can't always control what goes into our food - at restaurants, dining at a friend's or family member's place, and even foods and food products from the grocery store. 

What approach do you take to ensuring that what you are eating meets your standards of nutrition and health?

image via celebrations at home and somewhere splendid

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

Friday, 5 October 2012


Here are some more ideas of what I'm been eating during my Whole30:

Crustless Quiche with Spinach & Sausage

Pecan Encrusted Basa
chicken stew
cabbage rolls with sausage, butternut squash & spinach
coconut shrimp

fruit (raspberries, banana, apple)
raw nuts
almond butter
coconut chips

Sides & Veggies
roasted sweet potatoes
roasted carrots
sauteed kale

And about how I'm feeling these days?

The diet is a lot easier to follow now than it was for the first few days. Although there are still some foods that I miss (cheese, anyone?), I'm content with the foods I am allowed to eat and I'm finding a lot of creative ways to prepare them. From Crustless Quiche with Spinach & Sausage to Pecan Encrusted Basa, I'm taking old favourites and giving them a facelift with whole ingredients like seasonal vegetables and raw nuts.

Now, you might look at my list of lunches and dinners from this week and think, how was I able to make all of this? Where'd I ever find the time? Well, to be honest, I only work part-time right now with my mornings free. But regardless of this, I don't find the time. I make the time for food preparation, something I think that anyone who is looking to eat healthy should do.

Try it: one day a week, do as much advance food preparation as you can for the entire week. No, I'm not kidding.

Yeah, you already pack your lunch every night, but try planning and preparing in advance your breakfasts, snacks, and dinners. Here are a few pointers to help get you started:

Plan and go shopping (yes, shopping!). Decide what meals you are going to prepare for the upcoming week and make a list of all of the ingredients that you'll need. I actually check the flyer for my local grocery store to see what's on sale that week, and create my menu based on that. If you need inspiration for what to cook, check out Pinterest (you can find my healthier recipe pins here) or fire up the ol' Google. There are also a number of food blogs on my blogroll, including PaleoOMG, The Food Lovers Kitchen, and Health-Bent, all of which have a Paleo- and/or primal-focus.

Pick a day, any day. I like Sundays, but since R has been getting busier and busier with work, I often opt to spend Sundays with him. Luckily, I don't have to pick up the kiddies until 3 each day, so if I don't get my food preparation done on the weekend, I always have Monday morning. Whichever day you choose, try to be consistent.

Make a list of everything you need to make and make it. Easier said than done? If you're just starting out, the planning, shopping, planning some more (never mind actually cooking the stuff) might feel a bit overwhelming. I love to cook and so thinking up new ways to enjoy food is exciting for me. If this isn't the case for you, advanced food preparation might be like pulling teeth. In which case, making a list is even more important.

Take baby steps. Do what works for you. Referring back to the list-making tip, maybe your list is only comprised of a few items to prepare, maybe it's ten pages long. Start slow and do only meal preparation for breakfasts. Then, when you're feeling more ambitious, take on snacks and dinners, too.

I was only kidding about the whole "you already pack your lunch every night, woopity-doo." If you pack your lunch everyday for school/work, you're already headed in the right direction. I realize advanced meal preparation does take some organization, but it's really not that difficult once you make it a part of your weekly routine.

Here is my sample list for this past week's food preparation:

-chop and boil sweet potatoes
-chop carrots
-chop onions
-cook ground pork with onions & spices
-make Crustless Quiche with Spinach & Sausage
-roast butternut squash
-prepare cabbage rolls and refrigerate
-transfer shrimp to refrigerator to thaw

The Crustless Quiche with Spinach & Sausage serves as a great meal any time, although I mostly stuck with it for breakfast. I used half of the carrots and onions in a chicken stew I made for Monday evening. My pre-assembled cabbage rolls sat in the refrigerator overnight and went straight to the crock pot Tuesday morning for dinner the same day. Even though I got home a little later than usual on Wednesday, I made a quick batch of coconut shrimp. Last night, I ate leftover cabbage rolls (I've been eating them for four days...) and tonight, R and I will enjoy some salt and pepper ribs.

And that's that.

With a little planning, I've got meals for the week. I generally try to prepare dinners that yield leftovers, so that I have lunch for the following day.

So, what are you waiting for?

Happy food prep!

*all new recipes coming soon!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.


One thing about the Whole30 that really stands out for me is its emphasis on avoiding processed foods, even for the simplest things like coconut or almond milk. For example, full-fat coconut milk is recommended over the light versions, because the lighter coconut milk tends to have additives. Likewise, store-bought almond milk isn't advised during the Whole30, because it also (usually) contains additives. In this way, participants of the Whole30 are not only eliminating certain foods from their diet, but also additives and preservatives (so long as they do avoid these processed foods). And, so long as they're consuming grass-fed meat and organic produce, they will also be avoiding the consumption of some hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. The Whole30 therefore considers all aspects of what we are ingesting, not just the food or nutrients themselves.

Another point about the wholeness of foods consumed during the Whole30 pertains to the ways in which we might actually prepare these foods. The Whole30 is highly against "paleo-fying" recipes. For instance, just because coconut flour on its own is Whole30-approved, the program itself does not advise using coconut flour to make say, pancakes or pizza dough. This would be considered "paleo-fying" a recipe. That said, coconut flour is Whole30-approved for use as a thickener in sauces and stews.

Okay, so even if I use coconut flour, coconut sugar, and coconut oil, I can't make doughnuts while I complete the Whole30. But, what counts as "paleo-fying" a recipe? What about pulverizing nuts to make a fine crumb to coat fish fillets? Well, I did it. I figured that it's not so much paleo-fying breaded fish as it is just making a nut encrusted fish (this is when you nod your head in agreement).

This recipe is for Pecan Encrusted Basa, what I would argue is better than any breaded fillet I've ever had and not "paleo-fying" a recipe, but making something totally its own (and incredibly delicious, I might add). The buttery flavour of the pecans compliments this already delicious white fish beautifully. And, while I kept the recipe simple with pecans, salt and pepper, you could easily add some spices to your flour for an entirely different dish.

Pecan-Crusted Basa

2 large basa fillets (or any firm white fish)
1 1/2 cups raw pecans
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a large baking pan.

2. In a food processor, blend pecans until a medium-fine crumb. Transfer ground pecans to a dish large enough to accommodate your fish fillets.

3. In another dish, combine the coconut flour and salt and pepper. In a third dish, whisk the eggs.

4. Coat each filet in coconut flour, then egg, and then pecans. Place on prepared pan.

5. Bake for about 35 minutes or until fish is cooked through and crust is slightly crispy.

Makes 2-4 servings.

Try This: Use a different nut! Try walnuts or macadamias. Feeling even more adventurous? Add a spice or combination of spices to your nut mixture. I'm thinking pecan and cinnamon - yum!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Just a quick recipe post for you today! It's what I've been eating for breakfast this week:

Crustless Quiche with Spinach & Sausage

6 eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk (or any kind of milk)
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 cup ground pork sausage, cooked
1/4 small onion, chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie plate and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Add milk, spinach, sausage, and onion. Mix well and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

3. Pour mixture into pie plate. Bake for 35 minutes or until firm.

4. Remove from oven and cool before serving.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Try This: This is an easy recipe to alter. Get creative with your add-ins! Try chicken with bell pepper or crab meat with scallions. 

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012


Before beginning the Whole30 challenge, I knew that I had to have my pumpkin pie and eat it, too! 

(mostly because I knew that I was going to have to miss out this weekend for Canadian Thanksgiving)

Below, you'll find a winning recipe for the Paleo version.* The original recipe called for butter in the crust, but I opted for coconut oil instead. That being the case, the crust that I made was soft and crumbly. Although I didn't mind the consistency, it wasn't very pie-like

Post-Whole30, I'll definitely give this one another whirl. In the meantime, try it out for yourself! And, if you have any other Paleo pie crust recipes you'd like to recommend (how about with ground almonds or pecans?), leave it in the comments!

Paleo Pumpkin Pie
slightly adapted from Mark's Daily Apple

Pie Crust
2 1/2 cups walnuts
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup coconut oil

1. In a food processor, blend the walnuts, baking soda, and salt until finely ground. Add coconut oil and pulse until fully combined.

2. Scrape walnut mixture into a 9-inch pie plate (or tart pan). Using a rubber spatula and your fingers, smooth the mixture over the bottom and sides of the plate. It's better to spread the mixture thinner across the bottom of the plate and thicker around the edges of the crust.

3. Place the crust on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F.

4. Remove crust from the oven and pour your filling inside. Return pie to oven until filling is done.

Pumpkin Filling
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
4 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. potato starch
3 eggs, whisked

1. Combine all ingredients. Pour into the pre-baked crust. Don't overfill the crust - there will most likely be leftover filling.

2. Bake for 50 minutes. The centre of the pie should be fairly firm and only jiggle a little bit if you shake the pan.

3. Let the pie cool completely before cutting into it. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, and enjoy!

Makes 8 servings.

Try This: As the original recipe notes, you'll probably have more than enough pie filling (be sure not to overfill the pie shell). I had plenty left over, so I poured it into small baking dishes, placed them on a pan, and baked them just like the pie - they're like little pumpkin puddings! 

*similar to the Whole30, the Paleo diet does not permit sweeteners of any kind, but the occasional sweet treat using unprocessed, "natural" sweeteners is sometimes Paleo-approved (it depends on your source/s and your own approach - do what works for you). This recipe uses pure maple syrup, a "natural" sweetener used in many Paleo or primal recipes. Other popular "natural" sweeteners include raw honey, stevia (unprocessed), and coconut sugar.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.

Monday, 1 October 2012


It's been a long time coming, but after numerous requests from readers of my previous blog, I finally have a workout video to share!

I get asked a lot about what I do to stay in shape, and I think the best answer I can give to anyone is that in order to exercise effectively ("effectively" being the development of cardiovascular and muscle strength, as well as overall physique - I am an actor after all), I am constantly changing my workouts. Not only do I like to switch up which muscle groups I exercise, but I like to change how I exercise them.

Right now, my weekly workout regime is a combination of running, HIIT/circuit workouts, yoga, and Muay Thai. I just finished my second season playing Australian Rules Football, and somewhere between Monday and Friday, I'm looking to throw in a morning or two of swimming. Let me assure you, I'm not crazy. In fact, this being only my second season of playing Aussie Rules, it will also be my last. Loved ones have finally convinced me that a full-contact sport isn't a wise choice for someone with rheumatoid arthritis. As for my other activities, I only kickbox once a week and am careful when running or doing HIIT. Bottom line: I'm a lot less intense than people think.

But, enough of that. You wanted workouts and I'm here to share mine.

I love this workout because it requires no equipment and can be completed anywhere. So, even if you don't have a gym membership, you now have zero excuses! 

This workout can also take you as little as 10 minutes (no time? no problem!), or you can make it more challenging and do two or even three rounds. I like to do the circuit three times through, with 1 minute rest between each circuit.

This video is in collaboration with one of my fitness instructors A, whose blog can be found here.

45s work with 15s rest
TOTAL: 10 minutes

Roll Ups
Low Plank to High Plank Walk Ups
Power Jacks
Jump Skating
Mountain Climbers
Jump Over / Crawl Under Rope
Squat Kicks
Push Up Jacks
Squat Jumps

Try This: For anyone new to interval/circuit training, take your time and move at your own pace. This video just shows me doing one round of the circuit. By round three, I'm struggling through the exercises and sweating buckets. It's important that you have good form when doing any kind of exercise, so focus on this rather than trying to do a lot of repetitions.

I'll be posting this and other workouts under the WORKOUTS tab.

What's your favourite workout? And, do you have any suggestions for the types of workouts you'd like to see on the blog?

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist, physician, or any kind of health professional. Everything that you find on my blog is based on my own knowledge and opinion. If you require specific health and fitness advice, please seek a qualified health professional.