Monday, 10 June 2013


To (finally) conclude my Paleo Confessions series, I wanted to revisit each of my reasons for abandoning a strictly Paleolithic diet with a  few final points final rant.

Reason 1. Nutrition: Nothing is perfect, including legumes and their anti-nutrients. Apparently neither is brown rice, despite what we've been told about it's health benefits. But, what about white rice? It's no better? Each food has its own nutritional qualities that make it good or bad or healthy or less healthy, and that's okay. Nothing is perfect. And, not only is this true for different types of foods, but also specific diets. Who is to say that the Paleo diet is perfect? What about vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-calories diets? Nothing is perfect (!), and that's why we have to find what works for us, as individuals.

While we might be able to analyse the nutritional content of specific foods and in doing so, learn which foods may or may not be healthier for general consumption, nutritional needs are personal. Just because Paleo advocates ban beans for their anti-nutrients and even though nutrition professionals advise of a Paleo diet for those living with an auto-immune disease, doesn't necessarily mean that I need to ditch legumes and only eat meat. What works for that guy isn't necessarily going to work for this guy. By the way, soaking legumes (and cooking them, for that matter) helps to eliminate anti-nutrients. And, because there is no single food with absolute perfect nutritional qualities that we can therefore consume only this food in order for our health to flourish (at least, I don't think so?), we must find a balance between many different kinds of foods.

Nothing is perfect and no two diets are the same - discover your own unique nutritional map.

Reason 2. Variety: I love Meatless Mondays (and other days when I declare vegetarianism). My argument: the Paleo diet lacks variety, and including plant-based proteins in your diet offers more options. For me, this is completely true. However: (1) the same could be said of other diets, and (2) there are ways to get creative in the kitchen (there's a plethora of Paleo diet blogs nowadays). But, my reasoning also has to do with affordability and convenience of plant-based options (see Reason 3: Sustainability).

Ugh. Let's just cut to the chase. I've reintegrated non-Paleo foods back into my diet, primarily gluten-free whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, and plant-based proteins, like beans and the occasional tofu. And, if you're wondering about what meals I like to enjoy post-Whole30 / post-Paleo attempt n, it includes a wide variety of foods, many of which are plant-based proteins. My go-to breakfast right now is either sweet potato hash with garlic black beans and eggs or quinoa sautéed with kale and shallots with a poached or fried egg. I usually have some kind of fish later in the day, usually tilapia, salmon, or shrimp. And, for one meal a day, I'll enjoy either chicken, some lean pork, or even a hamburger (that was yesterday). But, there's nothing wrong with a bowl of quinoa salad for an afternoon snack or even dinner, so I've invested in some of my favourite good-quality whole grains and plant-based proteins for delicious snacks and meals all week long.

It's about eating fresh, whole foods, and a little bit of a lot.

Reason 3. Sustainability: Animals are expensive.
Sure, you could argue that a vegetarian, vegan, raw, or any other diet is also expensive. So, for me, it's about finding that balance (also see Reason 2: Variety). Because I care so much about what goes into my body, a large part of my weekly expenditure is on food. And, while I don't buy organic produce all the time (more on this in a later post), I do try to purchase higher quality meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. These products are obviously more expensive and so I like to supplement purchasing animal protein sometimes with foods containing plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, quinoa, wild rice, and the occasional brick of tofu. Especially when purchased in bulk, these foods cost a small fraction of what many grass-fed, free-range animal products do. Right now, this is what suits me best.

Prioritize your health! Spend more money on higher quality, healthful foods now  rather than medical bills later.

Reason 4. Enjoyment: Everything in moderation (including chocolate).
This point coincides well with the idea that nothing is perfect. From beans and chocolate, to the Paleo diet and my diet, your diet, nothing is perfect! For me, that nothing is perfect and that we should enjoy a little of a lot of things translates to making the healthiest choices possible. Of course, this is going to vary, whether I'm living my day-to-day life or I'm living in Italy for three weeks - I'm not, by the way...but you can understand what I'm getting at. In my everyday life, I strive to enjoy whole, nutrient-dense foods, the foods that I'll truly get the most bang for my buck, because they're nutritious and delicious (sometimes this is Paleo, sometimes not). If and when I am in Italy for three weeks, I'll still strive for quality foods made with whole, fresh ingredients, and if that includes an extra scoop of gelato, so be it. 

Balance. For me, it's about making the healthiest choices given my circumstances, all while enjoying life, too - and now that's just common sense.


Heck, maybe my biggest issue is putting a label on it. When someone says they "eat Paleo," I assume that means no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no sugar, and no alcohol. Later, I'll learn that they consume sweeteners on a regular basis ("natural" sweeteners, but sweeteners nonetheless), certain grains everyday, and peanut butter each morning. I know, I know. They could be following the 80-20 rule: 80 per cent of the time, they're Paleo; 20 per cent of the time, they're not. But, if you're going to label your diet, then you should follow that diet. Otherwise, just eat your diet. Perhaps this is just the obsessive-compulsive in me. As soon as I realized I was consuming non-Paleo foods even 20 per cent of the time, I no longer deemed my diet Paleo.

There are certainly parts of the Paleo diet that I agree with, that I benefit from, and that I would even recommend for some (for instance, I think we could all do with a little less gluten and a lot less sugar). That being said, choosing what foods to eat or which diet to follow really comes down to your own nutritional needs. And once again, that's why it's so important to find what works for you. You don't have to follow any one diet. It's about trying different diets and tweaking them to suit your needs. My takeaway from trying Paleo is:

a. don't eat processed foods
b. eat grass-fed, organic, high quality animal protein

But, don't get caught up in all of the restrictions (of any diet!). If you can eat dairy, grab a bowl of yoghurt. If you're not allergic to peanuts, happy day!

Strive to become your own personal health guru and to figure out what is required for your optimal health and function. Find a diet and lifestyle that is nutritious, includes variety, is sustainable, and most importantly, that you can enjoy. Do that, and you can label it whatever you want.

image via mostly green

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, 27 May 2013


Everything in moderation (including chocolate). It's something I tell everyone who ever asks me either (1) what kind of diet I follow, or (2) what diet advice might I recommend for them. Not only is this general rule of thumb something that everyone can follow, but it leaves wiggle room for slip-ups and somersaults off of whatever diet bandwagon we're riding. For me, this translates to having a little bit of this or that without any guilt. It's about enjoyment.

Sure, there are still foods that in my everyday life I will avoid like the plague. But sometimes, you've just got to say, "when in Rome..." The Paleo diet restricts a lot of foods. I love food and food is a big part of my life, and so I want to be able to enjoy it as more than just fuel.

It's all about moderation.

But, there's a problem with this word, 'moderation.' The problem is that most people (at least amongst those who follow a typical Western diet) don't understand what 'moderation' means. This problem is in large part due to the fact that we aren't properly educated about ideas such as these. Or, perhaps we are misled, as we're served massive portions at restaurants. Either way, we're confused. You're confused, I'm confused.

We're constantly bombarded with nutritional advice and information. We don't know what's the right side up. Plus, we're encountering this information at such a rapid pace that we aren't able to digest the right things - figuratively and literally, we don't have the knowledge to understand what sources of information are trustworthy, what information is valid or adequate, and what foods we should be consuming. As a result, we make choices that might not be the healthiest. The truth is, however, a lot of us don't know any better.

It's one thing to make a conscious decision to consume something that we know and understand isn't the best or healthiest choice. It's an entirely other thing, however, to consume these same foods without a proper understanding of what we are eating. I'm not suggesting that you learn anything and everything about diet and nutrition, but I am recommending that more of us take it upon ourselves to make more conscious decisions in our everyday well-being.

In regards to understanding moderation, I do believe that like our individual biology, this is unique to each and every person. But again, it's necessary that we realize what moderation in diet (and our health overall) truly means to us as individuals. I know what moderate means for me, and I know when I have crossed the line of moderation.

For me, the notion of "everything is moderation" also reflects the idea that no food is perfect, and too much of anything is too much. Period. After all, there's such a thing as too much water (although, I can wager that most of us don't drink enough of it, including myself).

A little of most things is fine.

The more I talk to people about diet and nutrition, the more I realize how little the average person knows about these topics, about their own personal diet and nutrition. It's appalling and kind of really terrifying.

That being said, the goal is not for all of us to follow a single diet. The goal is for each and every one of us to find what works for us as individuals. Educate yourself, read a lot, become your own personal health guru, and find what works for you.

What's your 'moderation'? 

image via eat your books

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, 17 April 2013


Here's reason #3 for why I'm not (just) Paleo:

Animals are expensive. From my pet cat to a pasture of cows, animals can be costly buggers. For a glossy coat and a happy digestive tract, Zoey eats quality cat food. Cha-ching! After she's consumed all of her food, she needs somewhere to dispose of it. Cha-ching! Oh, and don't get me started on her constant shedding. She costs time spent cleaning just from the amount of fur she leaves laying on the couch, on our clothes, on our clothes after we've sat on the couch. Cha-ching!

As for those cows, they can be costly, too. Sure, you can find inexpensive meat at your local grocery store, but what kind of meat is it if it's from animals that lived in cramped pens surrounded by their own faeces while feasting on processed grains and being injected with steroids and hormones to prevent them from getting "sick"? Mm probably the inexpensive kind that also costs very little to produce. Do you really want to be consuming that meat?

Okay, so choose the higher quality meat that's grass-fed, free-range, free-pasture, and free of steroids and hormones, and you're looking at a much heftier price tag. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather pay more for meat that I can feel good about, physically and ethically, but it can be costly. That said, in order to achieve adequate protein intake within my budget, I like to supplement cuts of meat with tofu, nuts, hemp, quinoa, and the occasional bean or two. While some of these foods (ie. nuts, hemp, and quinoa) might seem more expensive to some, a little goes a long way. A serving of any of these foods doesn't need to cost a lot. And, while the same goes for that higher quality meat, it can still cost more than many of these plant-based options.

The Paleo diet can be very expensive if taken to its extreme - that means grass-fed, free-range, free-pasture, and generally, healthier meat (and perhaps more importantly, healthier animal fat). The accessibility to such product at an affordable price is much harder to come by within an urban centre. My parents live in a smaller town and get most of their meat from friends with a farm of their own. They know exactly where their meat is coming from and can therefore trust the quality of that meat. For someone like myself, who lives in the city, the Paleo diet remains costly. That said, by including some plant-based proteins in my diet, I can now afford a little of the best kind of animal protein. Here, it's quality over quantity.

Learn why else I don't just do Paleo here and here, and stay tuned for my Paleo Confessions conclusion!

image via pinterest

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, 10 April 2013


I love Meatless Mondays (and other days when I declare vegetarianism). The truth is, I enjoy vegetarian options (almost) as much as I enjoy meat-lover options. I like the added variety that consuming plant-based proteins provides. I like the affordability that comes with many of these plant-based proteins. I love coming up with new and delicious ways to cook with these foods. And of course, one of my favourite lunch spots is Fresh.

Oh, and did I mention the added variety?

As noted in my last post, the Paleo diet excludes legumes and grains, two food groups that typically play an important role in a vegetarian diet. Paleo advocates argue that legumes and grains contain anti-nutrients. But, did you know that soaking your legumes in water prior to preparation and consumption can eliminate or reduce these anti-nutrients, not to mention unlock valuable nutrients that make them more nutritious than in their raw form?

Can beef do that?

Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy a good steak and am a huge fan of fish, but since reintroducing legumes to my diet, I haven't experienced any major side effects, therefore giving me no reasons to exclude them. For me, including plant-based proteins is a great way to switch up my menu week to week. After all, chicken can only be prepared so many ways. And with no serious side effects from consuming these foods, what's stopping me from enjoying a chickpea or two?

Diets modelled after a Paleolithic one are said to be the best choice in order to alleviate symptoms of inflammation and therefore, the most beneficial for those who suffer from autoimmune disorders. However, even with my lupus, I refuse to label my diet "Paleo" for fear of restriction and limitation. I choose to consume real, whole foods. Sometimes, this includes dairy (non-Paleo) and sometimes it means a glob of hummus (also non-Paleo). But most of the time, I know exactly the ways in which consuming certain foods will affect me. Just because the Paleo diet has served so many so well, doesn't mean it's the right option for me (or you). The Paleo diet has re-taught me what foods and/or food groups I should avoid, but also what foods I can consume without serious side effects, at least in moderation.

As I'll say over and over again: it's about finding what works for you. 

Despite avoiding certain foods all together for reasons important to me (ie. gluten), I choose to consume everything in moderation. Variety. These foods that presumably contain anti-nutrients aren't typically finding their way on to my plate on a day-to-day basis. Why? Variety.

As I'll reiterate in a later post within this series, the old adage of "everything in moderation" is key to living a healthy and happy lifestyle. It's that added variety I keep talking about, right?

Check out one of my favourite foodie links My New Roots for Meatless Mondays, and my recipes page for vegetarian options, including Four Cheese Macaroni and Sweet & Spicy Tofu Stir Fry.

And, if you're interested, Kim at Yogitrition offers a great summary of why we should soak our legumes.

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 April 2013


After completing the Whole30 and reintroducing any eliminated foods and food groups, after declaring the continuation of my diet Paleolithic according to Cordain's 85-15 rule, and after sliding down the slippery slope away from a Paleo diet and towards one that includes non-Paleo foods, I'm slowly starting to (finally) conclude what kind of diet serves me best - for now at least.

Back in December, I wrote a guest post here entitled Paleo Confessions. In this post, I talked about my experience during the Whole30 and my transition to a (predominantly) Paleo diet, including any challenges I may have encountered. Now, I want to share with you the reasons why I've decided to not fully adopt a Paleo diet, a choice that I've made not only based on personal diet and health, but finances, convenience, and well,  just life, in general.

In the next few posts, I will be writing about my reasons for ditching Paleo and adopting the best diet that works for me, a nutritionally-dense one with an emphasis on real, whole foods and balance.

These are my confessions in Paleo, part II. So long, Paleo.

To start with:

Nothing is perfect, including legumes and their anti-nutrients. Those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet find comfort in knowing that foods such as legumes and whole grains can provide adequate protein. They consider legumes and grains as healthful additions to a plant-based diet, full of fresh vegetables and fruit. In contrast, and for the purpose of this discussion, Paleo advocates strictly avoid the consumption of legumes and grains, with the reasoning that these foods contain anti-nutrients that inhibit the body from absorbing healthy nutrients and are therefore, considered harmful when consumed.

But, must we completely exclude legumes and grains? Or can we enjoy them on occasion? After all, these foods are known to have many health benefits as well. While on the one hand you could argue that legumes and some grains should be avoided for their anti-nutrients, you could also argue that meat should be avoided for lacking particular nutrients found in plant-based protein sources. Or, you could say that those who choose a plant-based diet and who, perhaps, consume an increasing amount of soy are putting themselves at higher risk for other health ailments (read here). There are all kinds of different arguments that you could make about the nutritional value of specific foods. After all, it's what the food industry wants.

The food industry wants us to remain in this constant state of nutritional confusion.

But, back to my main point. Just like legumes and some grains with their anti-nutrients, soy with its increasingly negative hormonal effects, and processed foods with their high salt, sugar, and fat content, nothing is perfect. Legumes boast beneficial nutrients. Soy, if fermented, can actually help stop the effects of certain anti-nutrients and is beneficial to our gut health. Processed foods, although not recommended and are the one thing that should be excluded from any diet, get a pass in exceptionally moderate amounts (the problem is, most people don't know what moderate means - and this is another topic for another day).

But again, nothing is perfect. Not even the Paleo diet - for a number of reasons, I'm sure, but the ones that come to mind for me are (1) it's expensive, and (2) it's difficult to maintain within our current social environment. From eating out at restaurants to family dinners and other social functions, a true Paleo diet can be extremely limiting and our social surroundings can't always be accommodating of that. I'm not saying don't give it a whirl - finding a diet that works for you is all about experimenting.

Don't knock it 'til you rock it. 

Bottom line (and you'll hear it again in numerous posts to come), I like having the option of consuming plant-based proteins. I don't eat these proteins all of the time, but I also don't eat animal protein all of the time. I've found a balance that works for me.

I think that so many of us get caught up in following a particular diet, one that is prescribed for us by others who might not necessarily know what works best for our individual body. For me, the best way to determine what diet I should follow is to experiment. I have tried a lot of different approaches, and I'm finally starting to feel like I'm making progress in terms of what works best for me - what's best for my health, a lifestyle that offers nutrition, variety, sustainability, and above all, enjoyment.

Stay tuned for parts 3 through 5, or 6 or 7.

info and image via dr. mercola, wellness mama, and super human

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, 21 March 2013


Several weeks ago now, Toronto saw it's greatest snow fall of the season. Despite Torontonians braving the chilly temperatures and conquering the heaps of snow that never seemed to end, I officially declared it a snow day and didn't leave home. Instead, I had a Girls marathon, caught up on some reading, and made some onion rings.

After all, it seemed like the only logical thing to do.

These onion rings were oven-baked and crispy, but most of all, delicious! With just a few ingredients, you too can enjoy the low-carb crunch of this great snack.

Thanks to Lindsay at Delighted Momma for this simply wonderful recipe that continues to make appearances in my kitchen, snow day or not.

Try This: Use different seasoning or spices in your crumb mix for different flavours!


image via modern paleo warfare

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, 18 March 2013


I'm not a doctor. I don't have any qualifications in nutrition whatsoever. However, I am very interested in health and well-being based on my own experiences, and as a result, I'm often approached by friends and family to offer advice on such topics.

Most recently, a girlfriend of mine - who we'll refer to as D - approached me about toning up and getting into shape. She asked if I could recommend some exercises and/or workout routines, but most importantly, a nutrition plan. Well-knowing that she keeps a very busy work schedule, I took it upon myself to list some general rules and suggestions for a healthier lifestyle through diet and fitness.

D has always been an active individual, growing up and playing sports all her life, including varsity sports throughout university and now in her everyday life. Strength, activity, and athleticism are not challenges for D, but rather, her weaknesses lie in maintaining a healthy diet. That said, it's not necessarily what she eats that is her biggest challenge, but when and how much. Generally, D claims to eat too little throughout the day (and after talking to her about what a typical day of eating might entail, I would agree that this is the case).

So, instead of provide D with a structured nutrition plan, I wanted to offer her a list of guidelines and suggestions for what she might introduce (if she hasn't already) to achieving her health and fitness goals. Here's exactly what I sent her:

(with suggestions for a gluten-free diet)


Here are some guidelines to consider for optimal weight loss.


Enjoy 5-6 small meals per day*

Strive for nutrient-dense foods that are rich in fibre, protein, and vitamins

Include protein with every meal, even with snacks (ie. an apple with raw nut butter or carrots with hummus or a hard boiled egg)

Include healthy fats in your diet that will contribute to satiety, helping you feel full for longer

Eliminate sugary beverages and instead, choose unsweetened beverages, such as herbal teas and water; if you need to sweeten your tea or coffee, do so minimally

Eliminate all wheat, gluten, and highly allergenic foods from your diet, or at the very least, avoid them as much as possible: wheat, white flour products (baked goods, cookies, pastries), barley, rye, kamut, teff, spelt, soy, pasteurized cow’s milk products, couscous

Eat more raw foods, including vegetables, fruit, and nuts

Eat more vegetables, in general

Limit sugar and fructose; when I do consume sugar, I prefer lower-glycemic “natural” sweeteners, such as raw honey, coconut sugar, stevia, and pure maple syrup

Avoid artificial sweeteners

*this doesn’t work for everyone, because (1) some people find they’re too busy to constantly be eating (while I might see this as an excuse, I’m realistic and understand that in a busy work world, this is often the truth), and (2) they actually don’t need to eat that much. If you find you’re not hungry enough to constantly be eating (remember, these meals are small), then find what works for you. It will also depend on what you’re eating and how active you are. Personally, I find that when I consume a higher protein and higher fat diet, I’m less likely to require snacks in between meals. When I (used to) consume a low fat-low carbohydrate diet, I felt I was constantly hungry. There’s also different variations to “low fat” and “low carb,” so again, find what works for you – this may take some experimenting.

Whole Grains*

*assuming you follow a gluten-free diet, your “high fibre” complex carbohydrates (required for energy) will include brown rice and potatoes, preferably sweet potatoes. Even though white rice (as well as rice pastas/noodles) and regular potatoes are gluten-free, their nutritional value is close to nothing. I still enjoy these foods on occasion, but if you want to maximize healthy eating, try to avoid these foods.

Here is a blog post a friend of mine wrote about white rice versus brown rice. His information and comments can be applied to a lot of different foods, but he just talks about rice – take what you want from his notes, it’s not for everyone.

Lean Meat
Raw Nuts

*if you’re avoiding dairy, ignore all mention of yoghurt and cheese

Olive Oil
Coconut Oil

Here are some meal ideas:

Note that these are not necessarily complete meal ideas; you can include fruit with your omelet or a hard boiled egg with oatmeal. It's entirely up to you and your nutritional needs.

Veggie Omelet
Eggs (scrambled, boiled, poached)
Oatmeal with Almond Milk (or milk of your choice), Berries or Banana, Raw Nuts, and sweetened with Raw Honey
Apple Cashew Oatmeal
Sweet Potato Hash with Peppers

Salad with Lean Protein, such as Chicken Breast, Fish, or Steak
Soup or Stew
Lean Protein with Brown Rice or Sweet Potato and Vegetables or Side Salad
Last Night’s Leftovers
Crustless Quiche with Spinach & Sausage

*you can obviously have sandwiches and wraps every day, even on a gluten-free diet. However, with my experience, (1) gluten-free bread isn’t that great, and (2) many store-bought gluten-free breads are full of other ingredients that you don’t need. To compensate for the lack of gluten, a lot of these breads include added sugars or starches. Read your labels!

Hardboiled Egg
Rice Crackers (gluten-free)

Lean Protein like Chicken Breast, Fish, Steak, Pork Tenderloin, Shrimp
Sweet Potato, Brown Rice
Meat and Vegetable Stir Fry with Brown Rice
Brown Rice Pasta (Salad or with Tomato/Pesto Sauce)
Rice Noodles**
Asian Lettuce Wraps with Chicken

*if your meal isn't a large salad with lean protein in itself, try starting dinner with either a small bowl of soup or a side salad - not only will you help fill your belly before your main course, but you'll consume some extra nutrients in the meantime!

Healthy Chili with Lean Ground Beef and Veggies, can serve with Brown Rice (or my recipe for Vegetarian Chili)
Chicken or Beef Danube with Sweet Potatoes
Soups with Lean Meat, Vegetables and Brown Rice or Brown Rice Pasta (ie. homemade chicken noodle)


In addition to cardio sessions (remember to start slow), aim to incorporate weight training or other strength and conditioning exercises 3 times per week.

Bodyrock / The DailyHiit is a website/company that has really evolved in the past couple of years; and if the workouts are still the same, they’re super intense and all under 20 minutes long.

Tone It Up also has fantastic mini workouts that you can take on the road for travel with work.


     As you can see, a lot of the advice and information I've written about you've already heard. But sometimes, in order to reassess our efforts for a healthy lifestyle, we have to remind ourselves of these basic guidelines - guidelines that we've heard over and over again, and that may or may not work for you. 

     What I've shared with you here are guidelines that have worked for me. These guidelines have enough structure to get you started, but plenty of flexibility to be moulded and transformed to fit your specific needs. Like anything, take what you can from my recommendations and make them your own.

     Happy Monday!

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, 5 February 2013


In search of a little something special that will wow your next dinner guests, but that's also easy to throw together in a jiffy? Look no further than homemade pesto!

After putting off making my own pesto for months, I finally gave it a shot. And, it's one of the best culinary decisions I've ever made! It was quick, easy, and oh-so-delicious.

This recipe is inspired by a kale and oregano pesto by Sunflower Kitchen that I purchased earlier this month. However, my recipe includes arugula instead of kale and oregano, and raw cashews and almonds instead of sunflower seeds. Note that this pesto is also dairy-free. While I'm not anti-dairy, I have been avoiding the stuff as of late (as I continue to experiment with a Paleo diet, etc.). However, I don't doubt for a second that this recipe would be made even more delicious with a good quality Parmiagano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese. Try it.

Arugula Cashew Pesto

4 cups arugula, thoroughly rinsed
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor until forms a smooth paste. Add more olive oil for a more fluid consistency.

2. Enjoy pesto immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Storage Notes: Transfer your pesto to an airtight container and cover the top of the mixture with more olive oil. This top layer of olive oil will help preserve the flavour and colour of your pesto. Keep in mind that a fresh pesto like this one will, on average, keep for about a week, but could keep for longer. Another great way for storing pesto is to transfer it to an ice cube tray (again, topping each "cube" of pesto with olive oil) and freezing. Once frozen, you can remove the cubes from the tray and transfer to a plastic bag, which can then be kept in the freezer for later use.

Try This: Using arugula, cashews, and almonds instead of kale, oregano, and sunflower seeds (or instead of the usual basil and pine nuts of a classic pesto) made me realize that there are so many other variations of pesto that you could make. Why be boring? Mix your greens, herbs, nuts, seeds, and oils, and try something new! Let me know what other lovely combinations you discover!

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, 30 January 2013


Back in December, I wrote a blog post listing my favourite lower body exercises. Since then, a lot of my friends have been asking about what upper body exercises I do, particularly for toning my arms. And, because so many of you have kicked your workouts up a notch in anticipation for an early summer (or spring beach vacation, whichever), I thought I'd share with you my favourite arm exercises that target the biceps, triceps, and shoulders.

Aside from the tricep dips and push ups, these exercises will require a set of dumbbells. Depending on the exercises, I use between 5 and 15 pounds.

Hammer Curls

Tricep Kickbacks

Tricep Dips

Tricep Push Ups

Standing Shoulder Press

Lateral Raises

Upright Rows

Complete three sets (aim for 12-15 repetitions per set) of these upper body moves 2 to 3 times a week every other day. Combine with cardiovascular exercise and a nutritious diet, and you'll be sporting tank top-worthy arms in no time!

Try This: For quicker results, I might use a heavier weight than I'm used to and/or comfortable with, yielding fewer reps. That said, sometimes I like to do a different workout that consists of less weight, more repetitions, and smaller, slower movements. The idea here is to use slow and controlled movements to exhaust the muscle, similar to Pilates.

What are your favourite arm exercises?

image via fitness magazine

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, 28 January 2013


Here are a few bits from the kitchen that I think you outta try:

Apple Chips - my parents own a dehydrator and make the best beef jerky. However, their most recent concoction using the dehydrator is apple chips. When I was home, I got to try theirs - so delicious (and addictive)! I devoured an entire large freezer-size Ziploc of them, and my Mom sent another bag back to Toronto with me. Since then, I've made my own using this recipe.

Veggie Fritters - last autumn, I had some leftover spaghetti squash and so I decided to make veggie fritters. They were tasty, but I'm still working on perfecting my recipe as mine was lacking that wow-factor! Do you have any good recipes that you'd recommend? How about using carrots and zucchini instead of spaghetti squash? What other vegetables could you use?

Kale Pesto - within the past couple of years, I have fallen in love with kale. I never used to like winter produce in Canada but since discovering kale, I've changed my mind. Not only is kale a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K, but it's delicious, too! Plus, you might be surprised to find that there are tons of ways to use kale - in salads and soups, baked as chips, in place of tortilla wraps, and my personal favourite, in a simple sauté with garlic. I recently purchased a Paleo-approved kale and oregano pesto from Whole Foods, and it was simply delicious. However, at $5 for a small container, I took it upon myself to make my own using arugula and cashews - stay tuned for the recipe!

What's one new thing you made in the kitchen recently or are planning on making?

images and info via a beautiful mess, homegrown, and world's healthiest foods

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, 22 January 2013


After running my first half marathon last spring, I never thought I'd ever want to run another race. Period.

But, when you take 21.1 km and package it up all pretty with a race route that includes views of the mountains and the ocean, a post-race brunch that's not just a banana and bagel (I've heard things), and yoga and more yoga, there's really no denying such an experience.

Registration for The SeaWheeze Lululemon Half Marathon officially opened last Friday! I usually head back to BC closer to the end of summer to visit my parents, so I thought what better opportunity than to take part in what looks to be a very exciting weekend!

I've heard a lot of fantastic things about The SeaWheeze - everything from a guided training program and regularly updated runspiration on their Facebook page to being treated like a rock star all weekend and cashing in on awesome swag (I suppose you pay for it in the registration fee, but swag nonetheless).

Aside from all the perks, I'm also looking forward to running alongside my eldest brother, whose fastest time might as well be half of my best time.

And finally, this race will be a great way to experience Vancouver like I never have before - running! 

Do you have any races coming up? Join me in Vancouver!

image via the seawheeze

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, 21 January 2013


All right, team: we're three weeks into the New Year.

How's everyone doing with their New Year's resolutions? Or, maybe they aren't resolutions at all. Maybe it was just a matter of getting back into your regular routine.

Whatever the case, it's time to check in.

For some, it may feel too soon to be checking in on your progress. For others, this is your personal lifesaving device, because let's face it...someone out there is on the edge of physical (and mental) burnout and struggling to keep their hand out of the cookie jar.

For me, returning to my usual diet after the holidays wasn't that difficult. I assume it's because I didn't fall far off track from my usual diet - other than when I insisted on poutine for my recent birthday breakfast, followed by homemade nachos and gluten-free brownies for dinner, oops! That aside, it was tough getting back into a workout regime where I felt challenged, yet capable. I took a lot of time off of my regular workouts during (and before) the holidays, which had a significant impact on my fitness come the new year.

So, this check-in isn't only for you. It's also for me.

I think that so many of us get excited/inspired/eager about our New Year's resolutions, particularly those having to do with diet, fitness, and overall health that we often set goals that are unrealistic. We eventually lose sight of these initial goals and therefore, set ourselves up for failure. Of course, this isn't everyone. Some of us do set short term goals and move at a pace that makes long term goals more easily attainable.

Whether you chose to dive head first into a new workout plant that's far beyond your starting fitness level or you attempted to quit smoking cold turkey (the rookie), or you're completely confident in working towards achieving your health and fitness goals for 2013 that a "check-in" hardly seems necessary at this point, because it will take at least 4 weeks in order to see any results (the veteran)...

Aside from drinking tons of water and getting lots of sleep (R's incredible 95-year-old grandfather's claim to good health), here are some of my tips for tackling your New Year's resolutions three weeks later:

Re-write your goals. If you haven't already written down your health goals for 2013, do so right now. Write down bigger (long term) goals, and smaller (short term) goals. If you have already written down your goals, write them down again in a different place. Maybe you  keep a journal, maybe a day planner, or maybe you type and save everything into your phone. If you've saved your goals to a note on your computer desktop, now write them down on a piece of paper and put that paper somewhere that will remind you every day why you set that goal in the first place. Seeing this written goal is intended to inspire you. If it helps, compile different images that also inspire you and construct an inspiration board - you can make one on Pinterest, or in real life.

Add daily challenges. For the rookie, you  may be overwhelmed. Perhaps, you underestimated the amount of effort it would take for you to wake up at 6am every day and go jogging. After all, you really enjoyed sleeping in until 10am during the holidays. Set daily challenges until you achieve your goal. In this case, if you're used to waking up at 8am, try getting up a half hour earlier than your used to, and maybe skip the early morning runs until your body is well adjusted. After a few days of waking up a half hour earlier, try moving your alarm clock to another half hour earlier (the half hour is just a guiding point - find what works best for you!). For the veteran, you have a handle on your workouts and your diet. Now, you're looking for other ways to aspire to your best self this year. Well, no one's perfect, so you must have something you need to work on, huh? For me, it's to drink more water and to remember to take my vitamin supplements every day. It's simple, but it's something.

Make your changes last. I don't just mean for 2013, but for life. I realize that as we get older, our bodies change and we therefore may have to make changes to our diet and activity levels. Our beliefs in lifestyles and different approaches to our health might also change. But, even for the health goals you might set out to achieve this year, my advice is to approach them with the intent that they must be maintained for life. Rather than see any successful changes to your diet or exercise regime as temporary, view them as long lasting - something to hold on to and to cherish. Again, I'm not saying that the changes you make today have to stick around forever. My only suggestion is to approach them this way insofar that this so-called approach - based on my experiences, at least - is a healthy one. Be realistic in your healthy choices and changes. Before you decide to start drinking all of your meals for effective weight loss, perhaps reconsider.

Be adventurous! So, you're following this rigorous workout plan and maintaining a healthy diet, but you didn't think about how bored you'd get from enjoying the same menu week to week and going to the gym the same days every week and doing the same boring workouts. Not only is it important to constantly change up your exercise in order to see physical results, but it's also important for your mental well-being. Instead of going to the gym today, why not go for a long hike? Instead of working out alone, try a group fitness class. Or, do your usual workout, but try some new exercises at the end. Maybe it's just a yoga pose you've seen done before, but have never been able to do yourself - why not give it a shot? The same goes for your diet. It's important to have variety, and depending on the diet that you follow, it's also important to indulge every now and then. No, your love handles won't get bigger if you have an extra scoop of ice cream - if you have an extra scoop of ice cream every day? Then, maybe. Bottom line: play! Switch up your workouts, add variety to your menu, and most importantly, have fun! 

Here's to a year full of health and wellness bests - may all your goals be achieved for a healthier, happier you! What goals have you set for 2013?

images via inspire fitness, make it count, and pinterest

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.