Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Some people don't like coconut.

I'm not one of those people.

I've always been a fan of dried coconut (as a kid, covered in chocolate and called Bounty and as an adult, unsweetened and toasted). But within the past year or so, coconut has crossed my path in other forms. Take coconut oil, for instance. After learning about the potentially harmful effects of cooking with olive oil (and other vegetables oils, if you didn't already know), I made the switch to cooking predominantly with coconut oil.* Coconut oil is far less damaged by heat than olive oil and therefore seems to be the ideal choice for cooking.

Some other ways that I like to enjoy coconut oil is on toast instead of butter (try it with a bit of raw honey and cinnamon - you've got cinnamon toast!) or as a treat, tossed with air popped popcorn and a bit of sea salt. Consuming a teaspoon of coconut oil on its own is also known to help with digestion and immunity.

Hands down, coconut oil has become one of my favourite pantry staples.

That said, coconut oil also has many uses and health benefits outside of the kitchen. Although there are literally dozens of uses for coconut oil, my favourites are as an overall moisturiser, particularly for nails and cuticles.

Aside from coconut oil, I've also recently become a big fan of coconut milk. It's rich and delicious, and for that reason, I find a little goes a long way.

I've been meaning to share this recipe for a while now. It's one my good friend G adapted from Jamie Oliver, and it's kind of really delicious (and so easy!).

Coconut Curry Shrimp with Roasted Vegetables

1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tbsp. curry paste
1 shallot, minced
1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled
1/2 small butternut squash, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 green bell pepper, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 can coconut milk
juice and zest of 2 limes

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread vegetables on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Once vegetables are cooked, prepare the rest of the dish.

2. In a large pan, heat coconut oil on medium-high heat. Add curry paste and mix with the oil until well combined. Add shallot and cook until fragrant.

2. Add shrimp and cook for about five minutes, just before they are completely cooked through.

3. Next, add vegetables, then coconut milk. Stir well.

4. Add lime juice and zest, and let simmer for a few minutes.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Try This: This recipe can easily be modified. Try using chicken in place of the shrimp, or a green curry instead of red. 

*Check here for my favourite coconut oil!

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, 15 November 2012


Just a quick recipe post for you today. Easy, delicious, Paleo, and Zoey-approved, it's the perfect way to switch up the dinner menu this week:

Crispy Coconut Shrimp

1 lb. raw white shrimp
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
coconut oil
lime wedges

1. Line a dish with paper towel and set aside.

2. Grab three bowls. In the first bowl, mix together coconut flour and salt and pepper. In the second bowl, crack eggs and whisk. Finally, place shredded coconut in third bowl.

3. One at a time, take a shrimp and coat it first with the flour mixture, then the egg, and then the coconut. Set on a plate and continue with rest of shrimp.

4. Once all shrimp have been coated, fill the bottom of a large skillet with coconut oil (I used a couple of tablespoons, you just want to make sure there is enough oil coating the pan so that the shrimp lightly fry and don't stick to the pan or fall apart). Heat oil on medium-high, and once hot, fry shrimp until golden brown on each side - usually 1-2 minutes total cook time.

4. Transfer cooked shrimp to dish with paper towel from earlier. The paper towel will help to absorb excess oil. Wait until shrimp have cooled, top with a squeeze of lime juice, and enjoy!

Try This: You'll notice that this recipe for coconut shrimp does not contain any sugar. I prefer my shrimp like this - I find that coconut already has a sweet flavour on its own. If you would like to add something for that extra sweetness, though, my suggestion is to add a bit of raw honey to the whisked eggs. 

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, 13 November 2012


Do you ever feel like not leaving the house just because it's raining out? Yeah, okay, don't lie to yourself.

That's how I felt a couple of weeks ago. It was a super soggy day out, and the idea of gearing up and walking to Muay Thai wasn't sitting nice with me (it's only a half-hour walk, but I was having none of it). Usually, I'm more disciplined with getting out the door and off to my workout, especially if it's a scheduled class. But, when the weather gods rally together and decide it's time to make a little wind and a whole lot of rain, I sometimes often change my  mind about leaving the house to squeeze in a good workout. After all, why can't we just workout at home?

Whether it's because you don't like going to a gym or you can't afford a gym membership, there's no reason that you can't work out at home...for free, and without any equipment (like I show you in this workout). And even for people like me, who do have a gym membership and no exercise equipment at home, it's okay to want to work up a sweat without leaving home.

So, the next time the weather keeps you inside (or you decide that you'd rather put your gym membership fees towards saving up for a vacation), don't let it be an excuse not to get sweaty. You can still work out at home, just as I did when I created this mini workout inspired by conditioning I might have done at Muay Thai.

Muay Thai Conditioning I

Jump Rope 1 minute
Sit Ups with Punches x 30
Jump Rope 1 minute
Squat Kicks x 20
Jump Rope 1 minute
Sit Ups with Punches x 30
Jump Rope 1 minute
Squat Kicks x 20
Jump Rope 1 minute

then complete this circuit 4 times through:

50 Lying Leg Raises
50 Crunches
Super Burpees 1 minute

Try This: Instead of 1 minute of super burpees, hold a wall squat for 1 minute. 

images via bah humpug

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, 9 November 2012


Ever since I eliminated processed sugar and grains from my diet, I have always chosen brown rice over white rice. For the same reasons that anyone else might choose brown rice over white rice, I have always assumed that brown rice was healthier because it contains valuable vitamins and minerals (found in the bran and germ of rice granules), which white rice does not. However, if you read my last post, you'll know that I recently faced some nutritional confusion when I was told that brown rice was not as healthy as I had initially thought.

Who told me? One of my fitness instructors and the writer of Sisyphus No More, A. If you haven't already checked out A's blog, I highly recommend it. He has some really good tips and advice about diet and fitness. But, not only that. I really appreciate A's approach to diet and fitness, because he emphasizes the importance of finding what works for you as an individual, a mantra to which I also adhere.

But, never mind that. What about this brown rice versus white rice dilemma? When it came to exposing the truths about these starchy grains, I couldn't not ask A to share his knowledge and opinion (after all, he was the one who brought it up in the first place).

So, here it is. My very first guest post, A from Sisyphus No More:

Before I write an article, regardless of how much I think I already know, I research the topic for a few days.
There is so much (too much) information out there – from studies, to experts, to doctors, etc. - that finding
the “right” information is often not as simple as one might think.

As with many health topics, the deeper you dig, the more you find. And more often than not, there is no Brown or White answer. There is only opinion.

**Before I continue, it should be stated that I am a Paleo diet advocate. Meaning, I avoid all grains. It should also be stated, however, that after a ridiculously hard workout, I will eat White Rice.**

As most of you know, White Rice is simply milled and polished Brown Rice (i.e. The Rice Bran, Germ, and
Aleurone Layer have all been removed), whereas Brown Rice contains both the milled seed (White Rice) and all the other supposedly “good” stuff.

Brown Rice impressively contains Fibre, Iron, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Thiamine, Niacin, Manganese, and

• Brown Rice contains anti-nutrients called Phytates. Phytates bind to vitamins and minerals and render
them “un-absorbable.” And as such, many of the above mentioned minerals in Brown Rice don't actually get
absorbed by your body.

• Brown Rice also contains Lectins. Lectins can cause autoimmune issues, block nutrient absorption, and
damage the intestinal lining (Leaky Gut). This is not that serious an issue as cooking will neutralize most of the
toxicity of Lectins. But it does beg the question, “Why should I have to neutralize the toxicity in my food before eating it?”

• Brown Rice is a starch (I won't get into this too much, but suffice it to say, a high starch diet is not ideal).

• None. It has very few nutrients or health benefits.

• White Rice is a starch.

Our bodies can recognize, understand, and process the starch in White Rice just as it would the starch in Vegetables (White Rice, however, contains considerably more starch than leafy greens).

In my everyday life, eating White Rice after a HARD workout, when my glycogen stores have been depleted and when I'm highly insulin sensitive, is a good thing. I can replenish glycogen, enjoy rice (which I absolutely love), and assuming I don't eat too much, still stay relatively Low Carb / Paleo.

The reasons I don't eat Brown Rice:
• Because of the Phytates, I'm not getting many of the minerals in it. I'd rather just eat White Rice and a plate of choice Vegetables.
• I'm not a fan of de-toxifying a potential “poison” in order to make it harmless and edible.
• I'm still getting the same amount of starch as I would with White Rice.

I don't look at Rice as a health food. Brown or White. I don't eat it for it's minerals, fibre, or health benefits.

For me, Rice is just starch, and I consume it as such - strategically throughout my week.

One last thing: it used to be (and probably still is) common belief that Phytates would bind to other minerals from other foods, making your entire meal less nutritious. But research has shown that Phytates - in Brown Rice, for example - only bind to the minerals found within the Brown Rice, and nothing else.


So, how disappointed are you now that these "truths" about brown rice have been exposed? Stay up to date with nutrition advice and information by doing your own research and finding what works for you!

images via pinterest and the way the cookie crumbles

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, 7 November 2012


I was out for dinner with friends recently, when the topic about what's "healthy" versus what's not (and how we're supposed to know these things) came up. It got me re-thinking about the nutritional confusion that so many of us face on a regular basis.

On a side note, I was having this discussion with friends from my gym, who are all more or less interested in eating a whole/clean/health-ier diet and who, therefore, would consider themselves fairly knowledgeable about diet and nutrition.

The thing is, even though some of us (yes, myself included) think that we know what's "healthiest," we're just as confused as the next guy about whether it's healthier to consume white or brown rice (truth: this was one of our debates last weekend, and even I'm surprised and confused about the outcome). When someone debunks our school of nutritional thought with contradicting opinions and information, who or what are we to believe? And wait, all this nutrition advice keeps changing?! This, my friends, is the sometimes frustrating reality of the world of health and nutrition: a constant flux in nutrition advice and information.

There is no perfect diet. Everyone needs to shape a diet specific to his or her needs. There is no right way. There is only the right way for you. Just like religion and politics, there are numerous perspectives and approaches to health and nutrition and it's up to you to find what works best for your own personal needs.

We're always going to be confused.

This is a statement that my friend G made the other day when we were talking about diet and nutrition, and I couldn't agree more. Keeping in mind what Gyorgy Scrinis says about nutritionism, and considering the fact that nutrition advice and information is constantly changing, I think G's conclusion is bang on (right now, gluten-free is all the rage, but for how long?). That said, if we're always going to be confused about nutrition, how can we each, as individuals, comply to a single diet even in our own lifetime?

We probably won't.

Think about it. What did you eat as a kid? How does that differ from what you eat today? It's likely that you will have to make some changes to your diet as you get older, too.

I get asked a lot about my "health and nutrition approach" (except people don't call it that, they just ask: "what the hell do you eat if you can't eat sugar?!"). A lot of the time, my answer includes a run down of some of the things I eat, but more importantly, I always make the point to say that like most people, I'm still learning.

Ever since first altering my diet in 2008, I have done back flips and somersaults trying to figure out what works for me and my body, nutritionally.  I eliminated processed foods, including grains and sugar. I tried to go without carbohydrates. I even tried the whole low-fat/low-sugar craze, which was probably one of the worst ideas I ever had. Four years later, my diet is still a work-in-progress. Even with a lot more knowledge under my belt (not to mention a clearer perspective on the world of health and nutrition), I'm still trying to determine what works best for me. That said, I do feel that I have a firmer grasp on my health in general and can therefore confidently say that I think I'm headed in the right direction.

I'm currently experimenting with a Paleolithic diet, which is something I've thought about trying in the past but  never took seriously until recently, when reading about the benefits of a hunter-gatherer diet (particularly for those suffering from an auto-immune disease) in Jack Challem's The Inflammation Syndrome (2010). After completing my Whole30 - which is essentially a Paleo diet - and feeling indescribably well, I can't think of any other nutrition approach to suit my needs. When following this diet, free from grains, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and legumes, I feel more well-rested in the morning, more energized throughout the day, satiated at meal time, and tummy troubles? What tummy troubles?

So, for me, this is  probably my best, most nutritionally-valuable and healthful choice. At least until something else ("something better") comes along.

And, that's all we can do. Find what works for us now - and get to the bottom of this whole white versus brown rice thing.

What have you been "nutritionally confused" about lately? What are you doing to navigate your way around contradicting nutritional advice and information?

image via google

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, 5 November 2012


Just over a week ago, I set out to reintroduce the foods/food groups of which I completely eliminated 30 days prior. The only problem? I kind of, sort of, totally, completely disregarded any reintroduction schedule. 

I didn’t mean to, it just happened! 

Okay, I have no excuses. But, wait! It's not that I disregarded any reintroduction schedule. It's just that my idea of reintroducing grains, sugar, and dairy all at the same time may have been a bad one...whoops. 

So, long story short: I consumed a whole bunch of bad  sugar,  a bit of wheat (the worst), some dairy, and washed it down with a drink or two or three, and WHAMMY.

(it went a little something like this)

Days 1 & 2: Sugar & Grains
Because I've experienced symptoms from consuming sugar and/or grains in the past, I was already expecting to feel miserable during this part of the reintroduction phase. And, sure enough. After reintroducing sugar and grains, I felt like garbage. I felt sick. I felt tired. This most recent experience further validates the negative effects that these foods/food groups have on me and gives me more reason to avoid them as best I can.

So, that's what I'm doing. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), it took me a few days to completely eliminate sugar again. Even after just a couple of days of reintroducing sugar, my body was craving the horrid stuff, making it extra difficult to return to simpler days sans sugar. But, after a few days, I jumped back on the no-sugar train, and I already feel better.

What about wheat? My reintroduction to gluten was no wise choice, either. While it may have probably played a role in my increased fatigue, I am positive it was the leading culprit in my tummy troubles over the weekend. And so, like sugar, I've axed the nasty villain.

Days 3-5: Dairy, Non-Gluten Grains, & Legumes
As for dairy, non-gluten grains, and legumes? I may have to re-write my reintroduction schedule for all three. While I managed to reintroduce small amounts of all three food groups over the weekend, feeling ill the way that I was, this really doesn't do me much good in telling me what, if any, of these food groups are triggers to any or all of the symptoms I experienced. 

A part of me believes that the dairy I consumed (a variety of soft cheeses and some butter) may have contributed to my upset stomach.Hence why I've decided to rule out dairy for at least another ten days, and then reintroduce it properly and without companions.

For legumes, I consumed a very small amount of soy sauce. I don't even know if it's enough to say that I reintroduced it, but if we're confessing everything, I'm guilty.

Finally, it actually wasn't until the end of the weekend - when I was on a mission to help cure my tummy troubles - but I consumed brown rice pasta, and I actually believe that it helped make me feel better. Not better as in "I should eat a great big bowl of brown rice pasta everyday for optimum health and wellness!" but because my stomach was upset (from either the sugar, gluten, or dairy), I needed something that would help to neutralize whatever crummy business was going on in my gut. For the short term, I do believe the brown rice pasta helped (at least helped to make me feel better).


Now that I'm back to my Whole30 ways - at least until I can properly reintroduce dairy (and later, soy) - I'm already feeling more energized, and my belly more happy. 

But, will I continue on like this forever?

Since completing It Starts With Food, I have read Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet (2010) and The Inflammation Syndrome (2010) by Jack Challem, both of which outline diets for specific lifestyles. What I like about all three of these books and their authors (not to mention other writers/critics/foodies/health enthusiasts* within the field) is the approach they each take with their proposed diets. The Whole30, the Paleo Challenge, eating for a specific health condition...it's not just a diet. It's a lifestyle, and no lifestyle was mastered overnight. It takes time. In the same way that one must take baby steps towards completing the Whole30, he or she must also take baby steps towards completing a Whole60 or Whole90. And, gradually over time, they might make this “diet” a concrete and permanent part of their lifestyle.

Moving forward, it is my hope that with everything I've learned during the Whole30 about food and nutrition, my body, and my relationship with food, I can maintain a diet similar to that of the program itself. The Whole30 is essentially the Paleo Challenge, and so it is my goal to adhere to a Paleolithic diet. And, even though I'm already a part-time Paleo participant (say that five times fast), I know that it will take time for me to fully adapt to this diet. That's why I've also chosen to follow the 85-15 rule suggested by Loren Cordain*, which will allow me to enjoy the occasional cheat food without losing the diet's overall health benefits (this includes foods not typically a part of the Paleo diet).

My Paleolithic lifestyle starts here and now. Actually, it started yesterday when I made this for a super easy and delicious dinner.

Hopefully, unlike with my reintroduction phase, I'm a little more successful.

Have you ever considered a Paleolithic or Primal diet, or any other diet, for that matter? If so, was your experience positive or negative? I'd love to hear your stories.

*before the Whole30, the only dairy I consumed was cheese, yoghurt, and butter, but thinking back, my cheese consumption was usually an indulgence over the weekend and most every weekend, my digestion would feel wonky.

*Loren Cordain; Sarah Fragoso; Julie & Charles Mayfield

*it's typically very difficult to eat a pure Paleo diet 100% of the time. The 85-15 rule allows individuals to reap the same amazing health benefits by observing the Paleo diet 85% of the time. That said, Cordain suggests that for people with severe illnesses or autoimmune diseases (like me...) should try for 100 per cent compliance. It's going to take some time. 

images via sequined serpent and the parsley thief

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.