Healthy Substitutes

Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy ALL of the things we crave without falling off the wagon? Have no fear, because recipe swaps like these will allow you to enjoy your favourite treats while staying lean, clean and green!

– PANCAKES: Try mixing 2 eggs, 1 mashed ripe banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Delicious!

– Need a healthy whipped cream to put on top? Vanilla greek yogurt whisked with a bit of cinnamon makes a delicious, decadent pancake topper!

– What about a dairy-free option?  Try placing a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight (Try not to shake it or move it around so has time to settle), then open the can and gently scoop the top layer out. Give it a whisk. It looks just like whipped cream only it is good for you. Add some vanilla extract and a touch of stevia and BAM! Deliciousness!

– Are you a cookie addict? Try mixing 2 ripe mashed bananas with 1 cup of gluten-free quick oats until everything is wet. Option to add a few extra healthy ingredients (like crushed walnuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, cinnamon). Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. You’re welcome. 🙂

– Do you love sipping gatorade after a workout? Try coconut water instead! It replenishes the body and keeps you hydrated just like gatorade, only it doesn’t have added sugar or chemicals, and it is actually GOOD for you! If you struggle with the taste at first, try adding a bit to smoothies or dilute some with filtered water.

– Are you a pasta-holic? Lots of people love spaghetti squash as a substitute for noodles, but I’ll be honest with you. I prefer ZOODLES. (And no, not the kind from a can.)I like zucchini noodles! They have a thicker, more solid texture than I get from real pasta, but they’re nutritious and beneficial to the body. I add them to my favourite healthy sauces and salads, I make a GREAT healthy pad thai recipe with them, or I will even eat them raw! If you’ve never tried zucchini noodles, get to it! They are definitely worth adding to your weekly veggie rotation!

– Do you crave salt like it’s going out of style? Are you a potato chip addict? You my friend should give kale chips a try! Yes, it sounds totally gross, but let me tell you something – Kale chips are amazing! There are tonnes of tutorials online on how to make them, too.  They have the crunch and saltiness of a chip, but they’re a superfood! Score!
– COFFEE LOVERS REJOICE! There is an alternative to cream and sugar that tastes even BETTER! Try a splash of coconut milk and a half a packet of stevia in your next cup of java. It doesn’t leave you feeling icky or heavy, and you can actually feel guilt-free if you go for a second cup!

These are just a few of my favourite healthy substitutes! Do you have any you’d like to share? Post your favourites in the comments below!

The Safer way to Detox

What does the word DETOX mean to you?

You probably know of someone who did a detox program or a cleanse. Perhaps they drank a magic elixir of ingredients for a few days and then they exclaimed happily, “I lost 10 pounds!”

What you might not have heard is that a month later, they gained 15 back!

Detox and cleanse products are generally composed of various diuretics and laxatives, which, in honest terms, makes you pee and poop a lot. No wonder you lose weight! Now that might seem like it would be a HEALTHY thing to do, but let me tell you why I personally feel otherwise:

– When you cleanse, EVERYTHING flushes from your body, including the GOOD bacteria in your digestive tract. This can weaken the immune system and actually make you more susceptible to illness.

– When you cleanse, you lose electrolytes and salts that your body NEEDS to function properly.

– When you cleanse, you may lose weight, but because you lose all of the GOOD stuff your body needs along with it, it can kick everything into a sort of “starvation mode,” so most of what you consume afterward wants to be stored in the body as fat.

With all of that being said, I think it’s important to talk about what I consider to be the BEST ways to detoxify the body naturally, all while REPLENISHING the healthy nutrients you need, so you can remain at an optimum level of health.

The DETOX TOP 3

1. WATER: When it comes to wanting to DETOXIFY your body, try having a glass of warm/hot lemon water first thing in the morning. It will jumpstart your metabolism and help get your body going while being super supporting to our liver and kidneys; two of our major detoxifying organs. It is considered by many holistic nutritionists to be one of the healthiest parts of a morning routine!

2. FIBRE: Yeah, you’ve all heard the story about keeping regular by getting enough fibre, but do you know that TONNES of people don’t? Fibre adds bulk to our….um, poo, which is GREAT for detoxifying the body naturally, and keeping our insides clean. Think of fibre like the bristles of a brush, cleaning away all of the dusty corners in our guts and getting rid of the yucky stuff. There are even entire weight loss programs out there dedicated to educating people on the importance of fibre!

Looking to UP your fibre intake? If you’re aiming to increase your fruit and veggie intake, you are actually already increasing your fibre! Way to go!

3. SWEAT: Ever hear the term, “Sweat once a day?” It’s not just so you can LOOK good. Exercise helps to naturally detoxify the body. If you’ve been feeling icky, tired, or sluggish lately, it is AMAZING what a 30-minute daily sweat session can do for your body and mind!

What are your best tips for detoxing in a natural, healthy way?

The Addictive Power of Sugar

Did you know that sugar stimulates our brains to release dopamine and serotonin, which literally produces a euphoric effect in our bodies similar to the high one gets from doing cocaine?

WHAT!? That is crazy! Not wonder many people feel they may be addicted to sugar!

And the worst part? Half of the time we don’t even know we are consuming it. Sugar has been cleverly disguised as MANY other names on food labels. Here are some examples:

Agave nectar
Cane Crystals
Caramel
Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Corn sweetener
Dextran
Destrose
Evaporated cane juice
Fructose
Fruit juice concentrates
Glucose
Golden syrup
Honey
Lactose
Maltose
Malt syrup
Molasses
Raw sugar
Rice syrup
Simple syrup
Sorbitol
Sucrose
Treacle
Turbinado

The worst part? Too much sugar can lead to an array of different side effects and complications, including increased risk of diabetes & heart disease, weight gain, acne, depression, and even cancer.

The average North American only consumes about 25 pounds of vegetables per year, yet they consume about 22 teaspoons of sugar daily. (Many health professionals actually believe this is FAR too small a statistic, and it should be recorded at about 50 teaspoons!)

Holy smokes! That’s the equivalent of my entire body weight in sugar every single year!

Many people attempt to combat their sugar addictions with artificial sweeteners, and I highly recommend NOT doing this. Diet pop, Splenda, chewing gum and many different foods marked “Sugar-free” are laden in a chemical sweetener called ASPARTAME.

I personally choose to avoid aspartame and other chemical sweeteners at all cost. If you just can’t imagine giving up the bubbly fizz of your daily sip of soda, perhaps try a sparkling water with natural flavours instead of reaching for the diet alternative. (Just be sure to check your ingredients for added sweeteners!)

Why am I SO dead set against aspartame as a substitute for sugar? It has 92 potential known side effects in our bodies.

Yes, I said NINETY TWO!

But alas! Sweet addicts unite! There is a natural, plant-based sweetener that is 200X the sweetness of sugar. A tiny bit goes a long way, and I personally believe it is a much better option! My friends, let me introduce you to STEVIA.

Put it in your coffee, use it in baking, or sprinkle it on grapefruit. The flavour isn’t quite the same, but it definitely provides the sweetness we crave without the sharp increase and crash we feel from regular sugar!

While there are also more natural options to sweeten such as honey and maple syrup, all forms of sugar have a similar effect on the body and I recommend enjoying them in moderation.



Do you ever find yourself hooked on sugar? What are some strategies you have found helpful in reducing your sugar intake?

Get enough Water with this One Simple Tip

If you know me, you know I’m kind of a beach bum. Maybe it’s my Pisces nature, but I have always, always been drawn to water. I recall a particular day back when I lived on the East Coast. I can’t quite remember what had me stressed out at the time, but I DO remember my resolution. I got in my car and I drove to the beach at 6am. I put my bare feet in the sand, found a big piece of driftwood to sit on, and I watched the waves crash as the sun came up. I could feel the stress melting away, my tight muscles relaxing.

There’s just something incredibly healing about water.

Water doesn’t just heal us mentally or emotionally, it’s also an essential component to our livelihood, and it’s as important as the air we breathe.

As an advocate of health and nutrition, you might never guess that getting enough water each day would be something I struggle with, but I do! I’ve tried tracking it in all sorts of different ways – In a food journal, using a digital tracker, and even with a little notepad on the fridge. Why didn’t these methods work? Because for every glass of water I drank, I would FORGET to write it down! It became more of a nuisance than anything – Just one more thing to remember to do.

And so I would never do it.

I started thinking – I need to be able to see with a quick glance how much water I’ve gotten through so far today, without pens or papers or annoying trackers.

SO here’s how I did it:

I have TWO 1L bottles of water, which I top up with filtered water as I am making dinner in the evening. I leave them on the counter overnight (I find I actually drink MORE water if it’s at room temp!). When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I see is my 2L of water! I grab a glass and fill it up using my bottles. It’s a constant visual of how much is left over!

No tracking required!

A few more tips for you:

– Drink BETWEEN meals. If you drink all of your water during meals, it can dilute your digestive juices and you may not absorb quite as much of the nutrients from your meal!

– Don’t like water? Try mixing it up! I love a nice glass of hot lemon or lime water first thing in the morning, or some water with sliced cucumber, oranges or mint. Get creative and aim to try a new (naturally) flavoured water each week! My personal favourite? Cucumber and mint leaves. DIVINE!

-Cravings got you down? Did you know that most of the time when we crave salty snacks, our body is actually craving water? Therefore if you can regulate your water levels, it may very well help to curb those cravings!

-Diuretics: Ever heard of ’em? A diuretic is something that causes water and salts to be eliminated from your system. For example: Coffee is a diuretic. It can actually remove MORE water than you are drinking in the coffee! That means that each cup of coffee could potentially remove 1.5 cups of water from your body!

Now listen – I know you’re probably pretty attached to your morning cup o’ joe, and I won’t tell you to give it up, but it’s certainly a great idea to be mindful of this when figuring out just how much water you should be aiming for each day! Simply try adding an extra cup or two per coffee to ensure you’re getting enough.

-Ditch the tap water: Now before you tell me the story of how you have super amazing fresh well water, hear me out: Unless your water has been tested, don’t assume it’s safe. Get yourself a carbon water filter to remove impurities and give you the best chance of quality in your cup!

So there you have it! Grab two 1L bottles of water, start emptying ’em each morning, and watch ’em disappear before bedtime. Just like that, the daily water goal we so often forget about becomes a piece of cake.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you struggle with getting enough water each day? What simple tricks have you tried to stay on track with your water goals?

10 Small Changes for a Healthier Lifestyle

The thought of making a big lifestyle change can be daunting, especially if you’ve given it your all before and have fallen off track. Luckily, it’s the smaller daily changes that often make the biggest impact on our lives.

Here are 10 small changes you can make in your daily life that can offer big rewards in your health.

1.  Develop a morning ritual
I once read a book called “Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod (highly recommended), and it was the first time I had ever really understood the concept of a morning ritual. I suppose I always had morning rituals, but I never pieced together the importance of them, and how to create rituals that start your day on the best foot possible.

While this might look a bit different for everyone, there are lots of different morning rituals you could commit to that would make you feel your best. Perhaps you wake up and allow yourself 10 minutes to just take in the morning before the chaos begins. Maybe you sip a glass of tea or warm lemon water to energize your body and get your digestion moving. Maybe you take some supplements or commit to a few minutes of writing down your goals. Perhaps you head out for a 30 minute walk so it’s done and out of the way for the day.

No matter how you slice it, designing and committing to a morning routine that works for YOUR life can make an incredible impact on your overall health, happiness and well-being.

2. Adapt meal prep Sundays.
Speaking of rituals, have you ever heard the quote, “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content”?
Yes, there is definitely something to be said about taking an hour or two to plan your meals for the week on a Sunday. You can grab your groceries and get a bit of the grunt work out of the way before the work week begins. If you’ve got veggies washed and chopped, a few types of protein ready to grab and go and some healthy snacks ready for those moments when you need a little somethin’ somethin,’ you are bound to see a much higher level of success than if you decide to wing it.

3. Get rid of temptation.
You heard me! The cheesies, the frozen boxed pizzas, the gummy worms, the ice cream. All of it! If there are temptations that will haunt you throughout the week, get rid of them. Give them away, toss them in the garbage – Whatever you have to do to ensure that they aren’t going to be blocking your path to success! I know personally I simply can NOT have junk food in the house or I will eat it (true story!). If I want to enjoy a treat now and then, I will have to physically GET IN THE CAR and drive somewhere. When I get there, I will only buy ONE treat. This is a great way to set yourself up for success, but still be able to enjoy an indulgence once in a while (Without eating your entire house! :))

4. Fill half your plate with veggies.
Steam ’em, saute ’em, roast ’em, grill ’em, or eat ’em raw. No matter how you prepare them, just try ensuring that half of your plate is filled with vegetables at every meal. Not a fan of veggies with breakfast? Try adding some cauliflower rice or spinach to your smoothies and you’ll hardly notice! And lastly, to prevent mealtime boredom, try grabbing one new veggie you’ve never tried each week. You might even find some new favourites to add to your rotation!

5. Sweat once per day.
Recently I suffered from some health issues that caused me to be unable to exercise my body the way I always had. (I had an enlarged spleen, so my options were limited.) Knowing that my need to move and stay strong at this point was crucial to my healing, I reached out to a coach friend for suggestions.

They sent me a pedometer in the mail. I thought, “Seriously?”

The truth is, you don’t have to be a crossfit pro or a marathon runner to reap the benefits of movement. You can simply put one foot in front of the other. I set a daily step goal with my coach and  made it my mission to achieve it, or surpass it as often as I could. Yep, if you make it your goal to sweat once a day, even if just from a daily walk outside, you are moving in the right direction.

6. Hydrate!
Water makes up a huge percentage of the human body. It helps to transport nutrients where they need to go, it helps us digest our food, it helps regulate our body temperature, it improves kidney function, and it even gives our skin a glow! If you’re not a fan of plain ol’ water, you can find countless recipes for infused waters! From grapefruit and rosemary to berries and lime, the combinations of flavours are endless! My personal favourite? Cucumber and fresh sprigs of mint! Aiming for 8-10 glasses per day is a great place to start!

7. Say no to alcohol, pop, or processed foods MORE.
Sometimes people (myself included) can get overwhelmed with the idea of an “all or nothing” lifestyle. The idea of cutting out chocolate completely can make us want more chocolate than ever before because our brain switches to a scarcity mindset. That’s where the beautiful word “MORE” comes in handy. Someone once told me, “You don’t have to be a vegetarian to reap the benefits of eating lots of veggies! Why not just be MORE vegetarian?” In other words, why not just eat more veggies each day?

The same thing goes for the things you need LESS of, like alcohol, pop and processed foods. If you dread the idea of giving up your nightly glass of pinot or ginger ale, why not simply try to choose something else more often? Perhaps your nightly glass of wine become a friday night dinnertime tradition instead? Life isn’t about giving up the things you love and completely restricting your life. It’s about finding a healthy balance and allowing a little indulgence here and there, too.

8. Amp up your game on the weekends.
Do you think of the weekend as a time to kick your feet up, take a few deep breaths and relax? While that’s definitely important, it can also be a time where your entire week of progress can be derailed. One cheat meal turns into two and two turns into, “Well I’ve already ruined my progress so I guess I’ll have to start again next week!” But what if your mindset made a flip? What if on Friday when you came home, you strived to be MORE diligent with your meal planning and prep efforts? What if you used the weekend as an opportunity to have LASER FOCUS on your goals?
Not as a punishment, but as a reward. I mean, how long have you been waiting to feel really, really good? 🙂 This simple mindset switch can change EVERYTHING.

9. Turn off your phone!
Our connection to the world in this day and age has never been greater, yet our connection to ourselves has never been smaller (a whole other topic in itself!). Our smart devices have been designed to work in a similar way as a gambling machine in that we can easily fall down the rabbit hole of scrolling over and over. Suddenly an hour has passed and we can’t even remember what we were looking at in the first place! In that hour of time, while our brains were firing, our bodies were completely still.

There’s no doubt that social media has it’s essential place in the world, but being aware of how many hours per day we’re in front of a screen, be it a television, a tablet, a smartphone or a computer, can allow us the choice to set it down and get outside. Movement is an essential key to life, so try not to allow your smart devices to keep you still for too long.

10. Let there be sleep!
I’m sure that you assumed I’d tell you to aim for 8 hours per day in this post somewhere,  and while that IS a great piece of advice, I want to offer a different suggestion. STOP SABOTAGING YOUR SLEEP! It’s easy to say “I never get enough sleep because I’m SO busy!” I get it – I’m a mom to a 1-year-old, a full-time employee, a college student and a business owner. Trust me – I TOTALLY get it, and I’ve said it a million times. The next thing you know, I find myself scrolling my newsfeed, binge-watching netflix in the evenings, and staying up late to try to soak up a little “me” time while everyone else is sleeping. Suddenly it’s 1am and I’ve got an alarm set for 6! Once I realized that I was self-sabotaging my essential sleep time (right around the time I got sick with the enlarged spleen), I knew I had to make a change because my health literally depended on it.

Nowadays, I have absolutely no shame in heading to bed for 9 or 930. I hop into my freshly made bed, jump under the covers and I know that while I might not be conscious for it, this is the best kind of “me” time I could ask for. With a good night’s sleep under my belt, I know the next day I will feel happier, more productive, more energized, and more focused.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! What are some of your best tips you on living a healthier lifestyle? 

When life hands you Lemons – 15 Uses for Lemons that might Surprise you!

When life hands you lemons, make a warm cup of lemon water to balance your pH levels, support digestion, and boost immunity.

Or something like that. 🙂


Did you know that lemons offer a host of different health benefits? Every part of the lemon has a purpose. From the rind to the zest to the juice, lemons offer plenty of versatile uses!

Here are a few of my favourite ways to use lemon – Some of which might surprise you!

1. They’re an antioxidant powerhouse: Lemons are rich in the antioxidant Vitamin C, which makes them a great immune booster. Try reaching for a cup of hot lemon water the next time you feel a cold coming on! You can even add a touch of raw honey to help soothe your sore throat at the same time.

2. Don’t forget the peel!: The lemon peel contains up to 10 times as many vitamins as the juice itself. For this reason, try buying organic lemons, give them a wash, and add whole slices to your water bottle all day. You can also grate some lemon zest over salads, soups and even in smoothies for an extra punch of goodness.

3. Lemon is a natural antibacterial: If you feel a cold coming on, try gargling with lemon juice to ward off germs. You can also make a chemical-free antibacterial cleaning spray for your home by combining 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vinegar with 5-6 drops of pure lemon essential oil in a spray bottle. Spray on countertops and other surfaces to clean, shine and kill bacteria. I promise the vinegar smell only lasts until the spray is dry, then you’ll be left with a nice citrusy scent!

4. Lemons are excellent detoxifiers: Our liver is one of the main filtering organs in our body, and a cup of warm lemon water each morning helps the liver to work more efficiently.

5. Lemon + green tea = A match made in heaven!: Green tea contains catechins, the component that many studies have tied to reduced rates of some cancers and heart issues. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t absorb the catechins in green tea very well. Add a squeeze of lemon to help absorb more than 10 times the levels of catechins than you might without!

6. Lemons balance our pH: Lemons are acidic in taste, but they actually have an alkalizing effect in the body.Drink lemon water to help reduce acidity and increase vitality.

7. Lemon is iron’s BFF: Iron plays a huge role in the health of our bodies. It helps transport oxygen throughout our bodies while also offering antioxidant support. Did you know that some people who eat plenty of iron are STILL deficient? This is because a certain form of iron, called nonheme iron (The kind that mainly comes from plant sources such as legumes, whole grains and dried fruit), is not easily absorbed. If you consume nonheme iron alongside a good dose of Vitamin C from lemons, your body will absorb a higher amount of the nonheme iron. So the next time you have a salad with some black beans or lentils on top, try topping it with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to get the most of the nonheme iron in it!

10. Lemons can help you poop: A warm glass of lemon water each morning will help get things moving and help keep you regular.

11. Lemons can help you pee, too: You probably don’t need help peeing, but hear me out – Lemon is a natural diuretic, which means it can help your body to eliminate fluids (and toxins) faster. For this reason, it offers many purifying effects in the body.

12. Lemon’s give a natural energy boost: Try diffusing a few drops of lemon essential oil to boost mood, increase energy and focus.

13. Lemon will make you GLOW: Lemon can be effective in clearing blackheads, reducing wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, eczema and acne. It can even be applied directly to scars to help reduce their appearance.

14. Lemon eliminates odours: Do you have stinky hands from chopping onions or garlic? Try rubbing them with a slice of lemon and then give them a good rinse. Voila! If the cutting board you used is stinky, rub the lemon there too! You can also slice a lemon and boil it on the stove in water for a few minutes to give your entire home a fresh, citrusy scent.

15. Lemon is a natural bleach: Make whites white again by adding them to a big bowl with a few slices of lemon and covering with a pot of boiled water from the kettle, then wash as usual (removing the lemon first, of course).
These are some of my favourite ways to use lemon, but I haven’t even scratched the surface with this list! What are your favourite uses for lemon?

Top 5 Gifts for the Breastfeeding Mama (that you can find on Amazon!)

As a first-time breastfeeding mama who lives far away from close family, I really just kind of figured things out as I went in the beginning. Thankfully, my little guy was a CHAMP and it didn’t take us long to figure each other out. We have been taking it one day at a time ever since, and I can’t believe we are nearing the ONE year mark already! I really think the old saying is true – Time moves SO FAST after you have a baby!

Before I had Nate, I didn’t know A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G about breastfeeding. I had never seen anyone breastfeed, and I honestly wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I knew that I wanted to give it my best shot, and thanks to a few suggestions from some close mama friends (along with my own curiosity AKA late nights nursing while scouring Amazon on my phone to try to stay awake! haha!), I have decided to share the top 5 things that truly made the experience for my little boy and I!

1.Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump


You’re probably wondering why I would start by recommending a breast pump for someone who is nursing their baby anyway. I’ve actually got a few good reasons! For starters, it’s 100% food grade silicone which means I don’t have 3,485 parts to wash every time I use it. I can literally clean this in 2 minutes! It’s also very easy to use, and it’s handsfree!

To attach it, simply squeeze the bottom part, place it over your breast, and release. It will suction on and stay put. There is no squeezing or electrical pumping required, because the continuous suction will sort of just slowly pull the milk from your breast. You can attach it while you’re doing other things, and voila! A little extra milk you can save or freeze for later!

But here’s the coolest part: While breastfeeding Nate on one side, I can attach the Haakaa to the other breast to catch the milk that would otherwise be wasted in a nursing pad! This means with each nursing session, I always catch a few extra ounces to freeze for later. Genius!!
One other cool fact about the Haakaa for my pumping mamas: I have a double electric breast pump as well, but I only use it as a single and put the Haakaa on the other breast. I do 10 minutes per side (electric on the left, Haakaa on the right, and then switch), and I actually get MORE milk from the Haakaa than any fancy electric pump I’ve tried!

 

2.My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow

After a few months of breastfeeding, I could pretty much nurse while washing the dishes, making dinner, or walking the dogs! haha! Okay, I might be exaggerating a little, but after a while, it certainly does get easier! I think back to those first few days of nursing where I literally had to have 35 pillows wedged every which way and have baby positioned just right! It was TOUGH.

One thing I discovered at a midwife appointment and fell in love with was the My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow!  It attaches around the back and makes baby AND mama so comfy in those first weeks! In the beginning, it can feel like you’re literally nursing around the clock (because you kinda are!), so having a little support when it’s needed can make a world of difference! If you’re looking for a great gift for a new breastfeeding mom, have a peek at the reviews and add this one to the list!

 

3.Organic Mother’s Milk Tea
Mother’s Milk Tea worked SO well for me, guys! The few times that I did see a dip in my supply, I’d sip a mug or two of this stuff and by the next day my supply would be back to normal (And while some mamas aren’t a huge fan of the licorice taste, I personally LOVED it and would drink it even if I wasn’t breastfeeding!).

I also really love that this particular brand is organic. Tea is one of those things that I always try to buy organic if I can. Maybe it’s just my personal preference, but the thought of soaking dried leaves that were sprayed with pesticides in a mug of hot water and then drinking it kinda grosses me out! Thankfully, this one is organic, GMO-Free, and WORKED WONDERS for me!

 

4.Earth Mama Angel Baby Mama’s Nipple ButterLet me be honest: Breastfeeding isn’t always a magical sunshine and rainbows kinda experience. Sometimes it hurts. A LOT. And using a good quality cream on those aching tatas can make all the difference in the world!

I like this brand of nipple cream for a number of reasons: For starters, it’s GMO, lanolin, artificial flavour, dye and toxin-free. It’s completely natural and safe for both mama and baby, which means you don’t need to wash it off before nursing! They’re also pretty serious about creating a quality natural product. So much in fact, that they ASK you to check it out:

 

5.The Naked Tank Nursing Cover Top


As a first time mom, I was a bit nervous in the beginning when it came to breastfeeding my little in public – Not because I felt there was anything wrong with it – I suppose I just didn’t want to draw any sort of attention to myself. That being said, after a couple of months of trying to nurse in the back seat of the car or in a bathroom stall, I found myself at a busy coffee shop in front of the large picture window with a howling hungry baby. A fellow mama friend saw my nervousness and said she would nurse with me, and there we stood – Boobs out, babies happy – right in front of the main street of town where literally every single person walking by could see us. It was one of those very liberating, “Free the tatas!” kinda moments. From that day forward, I nursed anywhere I needed to without a care in the world. I mean, baby’s gotta eat, right? 🙂

That being said, I know that it’s not always easy! I remember being a brand new mom who was nervous as heck to breastfeed in public, and that’s when a fellow mom told me about The Naked Tank Nursing Cover Top. She swore by them, and used them for all of her babies. She says most of the time, people don’t even notice that she’s breastfeeding when she wears them! SO – For those mamas that would prefer to be a little more discreet, I’ve included this one for you!

And since I CAN’T do this post without sharing one of my favourite photos of our journey with you all: Here’s one of us stopped at a beautiful park after having a lovely family dinner date last Summer! It captures the love I have for this kiddo so perfectly!


What do you guys think? Have you tried any of these products before? What is/was one item you couldn’t have lived without in your nursing/pumping/formula feeding journey? 

Recipe: Pistachio Pesto Bombs

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage of a sale through the link at absolutely no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

We did it!

Ryan and I managed to complete our first round of Whole30 and the results are in!

Ryan lost 22 pounds in a month, you guys! I lost 10, and we feel AMAZING! It wasn’t really about the number on the scale for us though; We cared more about the non-scale victories, which included:

– Ryan completely eliminated his heartburn medication by week 2. He has suffered from terrible heartburn for most of his adult life, so this one was a big deal for us!
– I seemed to breeze through my school work. I finished an entire semester of work (an 800 page book, 13 tests and a final exam) in a month!
– My anxiety was almost non-existent!
– As a long-time acne sufferer, my skin completely cleared up by the end of week 2!

And guys, I can’t write this post without sharing how proud I am of this man! Ryan committed to this with me 100% and he did AMAZING! He didn’t even sneak a tsp of sugar in a coffee!

After we completed the program, the reintroduction phase began. This is where we slowly re-introduce each food we eliminated to see how our bodies react. As we started going through this, we made some big observations:

First of all, dairy is not something I can EVER go back to. I had a a bit of cheese on something this past weekend and by the next morning my face completely broke out! Plus, it tasted sour to me! Blech – Dairy is not something my body seems to agree with. Ryan enjoyed a beer on day 31 and instantly had heartburn again. I ate a piece of chocolate (first time having sugar in over a month!), and within an hour I could feel a difference in my anxiety levels. It’s pretty incredible that we can use this program to dig into the true cause of the things our bodies experience!

I actually enjoyed the program so much that I’m cutting my reintroduction phase short to start another round of Whole30! I’m pretty excited about it, which reminds me: I want to send a big congratulations out to the Winner of The Whole30 Cookbook – Ashley Severyns!! 🙂 (Click here to watch the draw in action!)

I’ve also received TONS of messages from you guys who plan to do your own Whole30 this month too!  You’ve been asking about the different products Ryan and I recommend, so to help you guys out, I created a Whole30 Essentials list for you! There are food staples, kitchen gadgets we use, books that explain the program in detail and some awesome cookbooks that will complement your journey! (Click here to have a peek at the list!) Happy Whole30ing, and be sure to share your progress with us!

Someone also messaged me this past week and asked if I found my food to be bland without bread, dairy, alcohol, additives and sugar. I thought this was an important topic to mention, because to be honest, I feel quite the opposite about it!

All of the sugar and processed foods in the average diet seem to desensitize us to natural flavors, so when we eliminate all of that stuff, it gives our taste buds a chance to experience the TRUE flavors in real foods. I recall eating an orange in the second week of the program and it was like some sort of religious experience. It was just a regular old orange, but to me it was heavenly!

I also think that Whole30 offers a great opportunity for discovering new ways to add flavor to food WITHOUT sugar or chemicals. It’s a great time to try new things, have fun and get creative!

The first thing that pops into my mind when I want lots flavor in a dish is PESTO! The classic recipe isn’t Whole30 approved though, because one of the main ingredients is Parmesan cheese. I decided to tweak it a bit and come up with something completely different.

I wanted a pesto I could freeze in individual portions so when a recipe needed a little somethin’ somethin’, I could just grab a piece and toss it in my pan. With some trial and error, we came up with a dairy-free, Whole30 Approved pesto that packs the PERFECT flavor and nutritional punch.

We’re calling ’em Pistachio Pesto Bombs!

We swapped the lemons for limes to change things up, and we traded regular salt for Himalayan pink salt, which contains more minerals and less garbage. 😛 We also swapped out the pine nuts for pistachios, to give it a creamier texture while adding antioxidants, B vitamins and zinc. Think of the pistachios as the “cheese” in this recipe.

The result was a dairy-free delicious success! Enjoy!

You will need:

2 bunches of fresh basil (washed, stems removed)
1/4c pistachios (These were lightly roasted but raw would work great, too!)
1/4c extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of fresh garlic
The juice and zest of 1 lime
Pinch of himalayan pink salt

Directions:

Add everything to a food processor and blend until you reach desired consistency. If you prefer your pesto to be thinner, feel free to add a bit more olive oil. Scoop into a silicone ice cube mould and freeze. Once frozen, remove pesto bombs from the mould and place into a freezer bag, squeezing out any excess air.

That’s it, that’s all. Easiest recipe EVER!

You can add these yummy little flavor bombs to all kinds of things, like:

– Adding to any egg dish (Think pesto scrambles, frittatas, omelettes, etc!).
– Tossing with roasted potatoes.
– Melting over zucchini noodles, roasted veggies or cauliflower rice.
– Popping into the slow cooker with any type of protein!
– Dipping grilled shrimp. YUM!
– Mixing into a Buddha bowl!
– Stuffing into bell peppers or mushroom caps.
– Spreading on a piece of sweet potato toast.
– Blending into other sauces, like my absolute FAV recipe for creamy cashew sauce!

I hope you enjoy this one! Cheers!

QUESTION: What do you use pesto for? I love seeing all of your recipes and ideas!

Interview with Melissa Hartwig!

Ryan and I are on day 23 of our first round of The Whole30, and we wanted to give you a little update today!

I’m super proud of this husband of mine, you guys! He hasn’t gone a day without milk and sugar in his coffee before this, and he’s heading toward a MONTH without any dairy or sugar AT ALL with ease! He isn’t sure he will ever go back, which is an ENORMOUS accomplishment in my books. And the best part? We initially decided to do this to figure out if his heartburn symptoms (which he takes a daily prescription for) could be resolved with a change in our eating habits. I am SO thrilled to announce that today is day 6 without any heartburn medication! He even made homemade chili yesterday – something that would ALWAYS give him terrible heartburn – and he enjoyed it without a single ache or pain! Before this, he was planning to get a scope to help him figure out the underlying cause of his daily stomach troubles. Now, it’s no longer needed! This is the biggest accomplishment (or as us Whole30ers call it, “Non-Scale Victory”) EVER for us.


We both just seem to have found our cozy spot with The Whole30, and the way we eat is truly forever changed. The meals from The Whole30 Cookbook have been easy to throw together now that we’ve gotten the hang of things and we just FEEL really, really good. Our clothes fit better, our energy stays consistent throughout the day, and I seem to be whizzing through my studies faster than ever! More brain power from those healthy fats, perhaps? 🙂

Speaking of The Whole30 Cookbook, I’m giving a copy away to one of my AMAZING readers on January 30th! Have you gotten your name in the draw yet? If not, click here!

With all of this happening in just a few weeks for us, you can imagine our excitement when we were given an opportunity to interview co-creator of The Whole30 program, and author of The Whole30 Cookbook, Melissa Hartwig! It didn’t take long for us to realize that the girl is as REAL and as GENUINE as it gets. She LIVES her mission of helping others find balance and honest-to-goodness food freedom – No BS, no sugar-coating anything. And I freakin’ love that.

I’m super excited to share our interview with you guys today. Enjoy!

Photo credit: Jordyn Nelson

1. Melissa, congratulations on The Whole30® Cookbook! How does it feel to have the finished product in your hands, and to see it in stores?

It’s even prettier than I imagined! I was on-site for the cooking, food styling, and photography of many of the meals, but to see it all together in one gorgeous package is so exciting. Most important, the feedback from the Whole30 community has been overwhelmingly positive. I love seeing photos of the Cookbook dishes they’re making at home!

2. Please describe the cookbook for us. What are some things you’d like us to know about it?

The original Whole30 book contained a whole section on cooking basics, and about 100 really simple recipes. So many people learn to cook through the Whole30, and we wanted to support the budding chef with dishes that were easy to prepare, but delicious and filling. The new Whole30 Cookbook was designed to build on their newfound kitchen confidence, and take their Whole30 meals up a notch! The recipes include bold flavor combinations, different cooking methods, and some fun ingredients that you may not have used in the kitchen before (but won’t want to be without after experiencing them for yourself). You could cook any of these meals for any of your foodie friends and they’d never think “boring diet food.”

3. You are well known for helping change the lives of thousands of people through this life-changing program. Can you tell us how this journey has changed YOUR life? What have you learned about yourself along the way?

Doing my first Whole30 in April 2009 was truly a life-changing experience. My relationship with food was profoundly and permanently changed after just the first 30 days. For the first time in my life, I got off the scale and out of the mirror. I no longer use food as reward or punishment, and I’ve developed other healthier habits to self-sooth, show myself love, and relieve stress. Thanks to the Whole30, I can say that I am truly living in food freedom, in control of my food and enjoying a healthy, sustainable balance.

4. What are a few of your favourite helpful kitchen gadgets for the Whole30® enthusiast?

First, you’ve gotta have a good set of knives. Trust me—once you chop veggies with a sharp blade, there is no going back. If you can’t spring for a full set, at least get a good paring knife and a good 8” chef’s knife. You’ll also want to invest in some good cutting boards (I like the Epicurean wood fiber composite) boards. A garlic press will save you tons of time mincing (we put garlic in lots of dishes), and a citrus zester helps you add big flavor to dishes easily. Last but not least, a food processor is a must. You can go small and inexpensive (like a Ninja), or splurge on a bigger model to whip up big batches of Cauliflower Rice (page 291) or a batch of our Arugula, Walnut, and Garlic Pesto (page 256)

5. What is one of your top tips for those who are going through the program for the first time? 

Plan and prepare more than you think you need to. You’ll never be sorry that you left too many meat sticks in your desk at work or roasted so many veggies you can skip that part of dinner prep yet again…  but a lack of preparation can make or break your Whole30 if you’re caught without a plan, hungry, and tired. So take the time. Clean out the pantry. (No, like, really you need to do this.) Prep extra protein. Freeze some meals. Buy or make some emergency food. And whip up some Basic Mayo and a few dressings or sauces from the Cookbook to add easy flavor to your dishes.

 

Thanks for reading, guys! To learn more about Melissa (She shares great Whole30 tips and meal ideas often!), show her some love on Instagram or Snapchat! And I’d LOVE to hear about your experiences with the program! Have you ever done it, or do you plan to give it a try?

In good health (and with an extra bowl of Whole30 chili),

Michelle

Meal Prep Hack: The Best way to Batch Prep Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower. Are you a fan?

It seems to be the trendy, low-carb veggie everyone is raving about these days, but me and cauliflower, we have a hate-hate relationship. Unless it’s straight up roasted or steamed, I’ve never fancied myself much of a cauli person. Until Whole30, and The Whole30 cookbook happened.

You know those recipes you see floating around on Pinterest that swap bread, cream or potatoes for cauliflower? I’ve tried them all, and I probably didn’t like them.

Cauliflower breadsticks, pizza crust, garlic bread, alfredo sauce, buffalo wings, mashed potatoes, to name a few. I have tried (and miserably failed) at them ALL.

I’m sure these swaps are great, and can be made delicious in some sort of way, but I have always been completely incapable of making cauliflower taste good. Until now!

Here’s a cool fact: Did you know that the name “cauliflower” comes from the florets, which are actually comprised of thousands of actual flowers that are tightly compressed together?

Cauliflower is also a cruciferous vegetable (cruciferous veggies get their name from their buds, which are the shape of a crucifix. Who knew!). Cruciferous veggies such a broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, radish, bok choy, and yes – even cauliflower, are kind of a big deal because they’re insanely high in nutrients, anti-cancer and immune boosting properties.

In other words, you want them in your diet, every dang day.

Today marks day 18/30 of mine & Ryan’s Whole30 journey, and one of the suggestions for a low-carb, grain-free side was cauliflower rice. This gave me 2 thoughts:

1) I can’t make cauliflower taste good. EVER.
2) I can’t have soy sauce on Whole30. What’s rice without soy sauce?

I grabbed a head of organic cauliflower and decided anything was worth trying once. In the process, I made 2 discoveries:

1) Cauli rice is freakin delicious.
2) Coconut aminos, you guys. Coconut aminos > Soy sauce any day. And it is Whole30 approved! (You’re welcome)

Once I realized that cauli rice was THE BOMB dot com, and it could be used for more than just rice dishes (a cruciferous veggie filling for omelettes, lettuce wraps, chili, meatloaf, and a bunch of other yummy things), I knew that batch prepping would make my life SO. MUCH. EASIER throughout the week. It meant waaaaaayy less washing, chopping, and prepping – Hallelujah!

Oh. And Nate LOVES this stuff. Hello, instant baby food!

I was concerned it would get mooshy after freezing it in batches, but it doesn’t! It freezes perfectly, and when laid flat in a ziploc, can be thawed in a matter of minutes for cooking.  Brilliant!

Cauliflower Rice (Batch Prep & Freeze)

You will need:
2 or more heads of cauliflower (Try organic, if you can. The extra dollar per head is WORTH IT, in my opinion.)
A food processor
A big spoon or scoop
Paper Towel
Ziploc freezer bags (Your choice of large ones or smaller for single-servings)

Directions:
Chop the florets from each cauliflower and discard the root/leaves. Give them a good wash (even if they’re organic!), and shake off any excess water. Pulse a handful of florets at a time until they get to small, rice-sized pieces. Pulse too much and you’ll have moosh, so keep an eye on it!

Transfer to a baking dish and pat as dry as you can with paper towel (This step is optional, but it does help prevent freezer burn if you plan to use large bags!).

Scoop it into large freezer bags, or smaller ones if you plan to store them in individual servings.
Press the bags flat and remove any excess air to save freezer space.

When it’s time to cook, simply grab a single-serve bag straight from the freezer, or break a corner off of your larger bag and toss it right in your pan!

Side note: There are some FAB recipes that incorporate cauli rice in the new Whole30 Cookbook, and I’m giving a copy away in less than 2 weeks! Click here to find a review of the cookbook, and to get your name in the giveaway! (Canada & U.S. viewers only) OR if you simply can’t wait, click here to snag a copy for yourself.

I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on this! Do you like cauliflower? What healthy recipes have you tried that you are loving?


In good health & drizzled with coconut aminos,

Michelle