food · Uncategorized

Weigh-In Sunday: 132.6

Hi, all! Something a little different on this blog. I am shifting my weight a little, and I thought I’d track what I am doing and my progress on this blog through a weekly check-in post. At the moment, I expect to want to reach 115 or so pounds, which is a 17.6 lb weight loss. For reference, I am about 5′ 6″ tall. I am 28 years old, female, and have no children—if those things matter.

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There are a few good reasons to make this change. I am definitely not overweight, but I know that healthier eating and exercise patterns in my life would naturally lead to a much lower weight than the one where I sit at the moment. So I am pursuing that because I’ve witnessed how much havoc eating too much or making unhealthy choices can bring to how I feel inside.

The reason I am tracking this here is to benefit anyone who is or will embark on their own weight change journey. Sometimes inspiration from others who’ve gone before you or who are walking the same path as you can be worth so much! And I feel like providing that in this small way can be a great opportunity for me to do something good with this platform.

Thanks to the fact that I’ve already developed some great habits around food and exercise (generally) I expect that “systemifying” and intensifying those habits will be the main challenge for me, and frankly I expect that to be really easy. I feel confident and totally capable of making this small change in my life, and I have bigger, more beautiful and fulfilling challenges happening all around me every day. So this will be a super small part of my journey!

Movement

I have always been a huge cardio person, jogging outside, going swimming, and cycling indoors. I will be ramping this up and substituting my jogs with elliptical sessions, since on most days at the moment, it is far too cold to actually go running outside. But no promises, I may still sneak in a run or two here and there.

In addition to cardio, which is my strength point and what I don’t really need much inspiration to do, is my Tone it Up studio regimen. If you don’t know about Tone it Up Studio, let me tell you about it. It’s an app with a paid subscription option that posts a new toning workout each day. The length of these workouts is between 20–30 minutes, and they are really effective but 100% doable.

I plan to do between 3–5 Tone it Up workouts each week, hopefully closer to 5, but in the months I have already been doing TIU (since November), I know that my body can get really sore with the 5-day schedule.

Diet

My diet is also more or less on track, and like my current exercise regimen, it just needs a little bit of refinement. My intention is to eat much smaller meals and more frequently. I can get away with eating fewer total calories this way than I could if I were to rely on two or three bigger meals, even though that’s definitely my body’s “natural” eating preference (skip breakfast and eat a really big lunch and dinner).

I eat a mostly plant-based diet, about 90% of my meals are vegan, and I plan to continue eating this way.

I expect to lose 1–2 pounds a week, but experience tells me that our bodies go through ups and downs, life hands us more temptation on some days than others, and sometimes we can get just too busy to keep up with our intended routine. So of course I am going to be flexible: this is not the biggest priority in my life. I work, I am a student, I have hobbies, I want to have time for fun, etc. This is a minor side project, and it really doesn’t need to be anything more than that in order to be effective.

Post Format

The format of my posts will be casual and flexible. You can expect a recap of my exercise routine AND a little about how exercising that much made me feel. Part of the natural process of intensifying one’s exercise routine is fatigue and tiredness.

In addition to this, I will share what I eat for my meals and any ups or downs with regard to my process. I will also be sharing my Sunday morning weigh-in results with each post.

Change is easy with confidence and the right attitude! Have you ever been at a point in your life where you wanted to make a change? How did you start?

 

 

 

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food · Uncategorized

How I Proactively Prevent Stress Eating and Choose to Thrive Instead :D

Over the years, I have become very good at managing my mood-induced eating. I personally think I am a great candidate to write about this topic because I am emotional and I do have a history of emotional eating. I’m not the type of person who can really go any amount of time (days or weeks) sticking to a perfect planned diet. That’s because I do use eating to cope! I mean, I could technically go all healthy, if I had nothing else to do, but what I mean is that it would affect other areas of my life.

Lately, I’ve noticed the urge to cope with food more strongly. This is because one of the courses I am taking is really personally triggering. It’s something I haven’t dealt with before… School on its own can be stressful if we don’t have a good method for managing time (something I’ve worked on and thankfully have!) but this is a whole new type of struggle. The actual content of the course is triggering to me.

Since I’ve taken notice of my new food issue, I’ve been working to be really mindful about the choices I make, and I wanted to share some of my tricks. They’re really common sense, but they work. As well, I will be making a list of other coping strategies for this particular problem in a later post, but the purpose of that is to ease the burden and not rely on just ONE way of coping, especially one that can have health consequences.

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One of my strategies is to take the time to really check in with myself before making the plunge into eating. Historically, one of my worst food choices for emotional eating has been bread. Bread is high in calories, low in nutrition, and for me, it takes quite a lot of it to “hit” the spot and give me the soothing that I look to feel. So I try to stay away from bread when I do emotional eating.

If you are in a situation in which you feel that food might help you to cope, take several deep breaths with your eyes closed and try to really visualize and taste what will help to soothe your emotions and your struggle in that moment. Maybe it’s a burger and fries. Whatever it is, take a sensory survey of it in your mind’s eye. Then move on to the next thing; what else would help your emotions? Maybe it’s a falafel. Do that as many times as you can and try to give your choice a health rating. in the end, find the least harmful thing of the bunch that is still very satisfying and get that.

For me, today, it was dark chocolate chips. They are creamy, sweet and satisfying, but also relatively low in calories (I don’t need too many to feel good) and chocolate is thought to have health benefits. When I arrived at the bulk foods store, I stepped in with intention. I analyzed the food labels and chose to purchase 100 grams of their best dark chocolate chips. I am particularly satisfied with this choice because, only for these chocolate chips, the ingredients list begins with cacao rather than sugar.

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Something else I do is to try to combine health with tastebud stimulation. I’m genuinely a health-food nut, despite being an emotional eater, so I really have to keep an eye on my budget and stay away from a lot of goji-berry type purchases that can run pretty deep into my pockets. But when I feel the stress of emotional eating, I know that not only for my health but also the ensuing extreme guilt that a cycle of unhealthy eating would inspire, I need to indulge my tastebuds in some of the fun healthy foods.

One of those treats for me is dried apricots. Okay, stay with me. My favourite way of eating dried apricots is first thing in the morning. I prepare them through the night by placing five or six in a bowl and filling the bowl with boiling water. I cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I eat the rehydrated apricots and drink the apricot-water. Literally one of the best treats I can think of! So delicious.

This is not a call to start soaking apricots, by no means. Rather, I’m trying to encourage you to explore the health-food aisle snacks before reaching for a bag of Lays or turning up at your McDonald’s drive-thru window. There are many healthful, plant-based yummy snacks and treats by companies that are genuinely trying to create something healthy. Let yourself indulge in those mindfully.

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Another strategy that makes me less likely to “go off the rails” in times of emotional difficulty is to add variety and excitement to my meals. As a mostly plant-based eater, my diet consists of a lot of rice-and-bean type dishes, with a side of steamed veggies or salad. They’re super healthy and yummy, and there’s nothing wrong with those choices, but they can also get boring to the point where while the meal is physically satisfying, it’s not emotionally satisfying.

Tonight I decided to make something that would be more fun for dinner. I blended a large banana with pea protein, spinach, plant milk, ice cubes, and some peanut butter and garnished a smoothie bowl with some of my favourite toppings (goji berries, shredded coconut, and the chocolate chips).

 

 

food · Uncategorized

The Only Way I Can Eat Chia Pudding

Chia seeds are nutritious and a source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and protein. But for me, they’re not easy to eat. You could put them in a glass of water or juice and then quickly down the whole thing before the seeds soak and form their gelatinous shell. But a much better way is to make a chia seed pudding bowl.

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This is a great breakfast option, especially if you’ve done a workout beforehand—since it can be just a tad high in calories. It’s crunchy, thanks to the granola, and the fruit is sweet and nutritious.

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • 1 cup plant milk (I used soy)
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract (I doubled this because I love vanilla!)

Note that 1/4 cup of chia seeds contains 280 calories. So if you want to (or need to based on your dietary habits) save on some of those pesky little things, consider halving the pudding recipe, or even cutting a quarter (3 tbsp of chia seeds blended with 3/4 cup milk).

Once you have your ingredients, go ahead and blend them for a minute or two. You’ll want to blend on the highest setting possible. And that’s it—that’s your chia seed pudding! But that’s not where the magic starts (or ends) for me… I personally don’t love the texture of chia seed pudding. So the toppings make all of the difference for me, and the most important, non-negotiable one is about a 1/4 cup of granola. Getting a bit of the granola crunch with every spoonful makes all the difference.

[If you do not have a blender, you do not need one! Put the ingredients in a container and shake, then place in the fridge for a couple of hours; the seeds will expand and absorb the milk. Just make sure to mix everything really well before leaving it to set in order to avoid clumps.]

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Today, in addition to the granola, I added cup banana and thawed wild blueberries. But you could add any combination of complementary fruits that you would like. And then to finish, you can top the whole thing with just a little bit of sweetener. I used one tablespoon of maple syrup.

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This bowl was seriously such a treat! Even though chia seed pudding is one of those uber healthy, health-nut type snacks/meals/foods, incorporating the proper textures and flavours can make a world of difference.

There are so many ways of making the pudding and this is by far my favourite. I’ve seen lots of recipes that recommend simply blending everything together, including the fruits. But having the fruits as a topping just makes this less of a boring meal and provides some variation with each spoonful.

In whatever way you can, consider adding chia seeds to your diet. They are considered a “functional” food, thanks in large part to their fibre content, which can help lower cholesterol and improve digestion. You deserve to protect yourself against cardiovascular diseases while warding off gastrointestinal problems (and remember that simple irregularity can increase your chances of developing colorectal cancers!).

It would make me so happy if you tried this recipe and then let me know what you think! Do this for you.

food · Uncategorized

Vegan Blueberry Protein Pancakes Recipe

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A challenge that comes with adopting a mostly plant-based diet is finding ways to make old favourites without animal products while still getting enough protein. In the case of these protein pancakes, it’s extremely simple, and the result was pretty tasty.

This recipe yields four medium-sized, fluffy pancakes. If you use pea protein powder (instead of brown rice protein powder), beware that you might be able to taste it afterward.

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You will need:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (yes!) baking powder
  • 1/4 cup protein powder (either brown rice or pea)
  • 3/4 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 1.5 cups water (you may need to use a little more or less)

Make sure you whisk all of the ingredients together really well, and cook as you would regular pancakes. And don’t forget the maple syrup!

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food · Life · Uncategorized

Friday Favourites

ONE: The Price of Free Youtube has acquired the award-winning documentary called “The Price of Free.” Incidentally, the documentary is FREE, and I really recommend you take an evening to watch it. It’s about child slavery and labour, particularly in India. I was appalled to see HomeSense wares are made through child slave labour. HomeSense of course carries products of individual companies, but they should have a much better vetting system in place than one that allows malnourished, imprisoned and abused children to work for free for 16 hours a day to make discount goods. One of the main messages of the documentary is that the price of cheap and discounted goods is paid by someone even if it’s not the consumer.

TWO: Uber Eats I have only used Uber Eats twice before, but it’s not until today that I realized what a total life saver it can be. Even though I’m pretty good about making frozen entrees and meal prepping for those just-in-case days where I don’t feel like cooking (or I’m too busy) even defrosting and plating a ready frozen meal can take 15 minutes or more. So today, I had a few things that needed taking care of urgently, and I decided to use Uber Eats, and it just took away that little bit of stress because it was just one less thing to take care of.

THREE: Uber Simple Meals See what I did there? No, not the company uber, just the word. I’ve learned how to make a microwave Thai rice curry soup, and it’s amazing. Instead of steaming or sautéing the veggies (one cup shredded kale and 1/2 cup shopped red bell pepper), I put them in a bowl with one tablespoon of water, covered, and microwaved until they were soft. Then I added 1/2 cup of black beans, one cup of rice, and 1/3 cup of coconut cream and water to make it into a soup. For seasoning, I used 1/2 tbsp of thai curry powder and salt (my curry powder is unsalted). So good!

 

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FOUR: Spinning With Netflix It’s a little over a year ago that I bought the tiniest Weslo stationery bike (see it here). It’s amazing what it’s done for me in that time, and how much I’ve used it. Recently though, I’ve been wheeling it out to the TV and watching Netflix while cycling. Right now, I’m watching a mix of shows. My last watched is Cable Girls, but I’ve also been trying to get through a boring spot in Wanderlust (which started with a fun premise, but has sort of come to a halt now). With Netflix, you could easily go on for 20+ miles within two episodes, so it’s a great way to make an indoor cycling workout a lot more fun.

FIVE: The Global News Podcast by the BBC I have been listening to this podcast nearly daily for over a year now. It’s amazing because I really feel that they curate some of the most important breaking news from around the world into two 25-minute (or so) episodes on weekdays, and usually just one on each weekend day. It’s extremely informative, and it makes me feel connected to the issues that matter most. While much of the news can be negative, I try to detach myself from negative emotions to keep my day (or morning) from spiralling. Self care is still important! I use the Pocket Casts app to listen.

 

 

 

food · Life · Uncategorized

Vega Double-Chocolate Baked Donuts (Not Vegan, Contain Egg)

Donuts pair perfectly with coffee, but at nearly 500 calories and deep-fried, it’s hard to justify these classic coffee house treats on any old day. But with a few recipe adjustments, it’s possible (and easy) to make healthier donuts at home!

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These donuts are made with chocolate-flavoured Vega One protein, and a handful of other ingredients. To make them, you will need:

  • A donut baking tray (mine is a Wilbur tray I bought at a sale for $5)
  • 3/4 cup whole grain all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Vega One chocolate protein powder
  • 2.5 tbsp coconut oil + 2 tsp
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6–8 packets of stevia
  • 1 cup plant milk
  • 1 medium-size egg
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder

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  1. Heat oven to 380 degrees and mix all dry ingredients evenly with a whisk
  2. Add all wet ingredients to dry and mix evenly with a whisk for 1–2 minutes until mixture is smooth
  3. Brush 1 tsp of coconut oil to grease donut pan or spray to grease
  4. Fill each donut compartment to 3/4 full
  5. Once the oven is heated, set timer to 30 minutes and bake
  6. Once ready to take out of the oven, leave to cool for 15 minutes and very carefully take out of pan. I find using a very thin, sharp-edged knife helps with this
  7. Heat 1/3 cup of dark chocolate chips in a small bowl (that can fit each donut for dipping) with remaining 1 tsp of coconut oil and 1 tbsp water for 45 seconds or until everything is melted
  8. Dip each donut face down (so that you’re dipping the rounded side) and place on a tray to set at room temperature

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This is a really simple recipe. I wanted to make it lower fat, but things get a little too dry with less coconut oil, so maintaining the specified amount of fat is pretty important. As well, because of the protein powder, it takes a little longer to bake than flour-only donuts would.

As well, because of the protein powder, it’s not as easy to use an egg substitute while maintaining the dough’s adherence.

What are your thoughts? This was a nice experiment, and I personally like the taste of stevia. The resulting donuts contain some protein and are lower in sugar and fat than regular donuts.

But, I have to admit that I prefer full-flour donuts much more. I will post these on the blog one day. If you’d like to make those straightaway instead, use one cup of flour and two tablespoons of chocolate powder and leave out the protein.

 

food · Uncategorized

Healthy Easy Vegan Lunch: Tofu Avocado Toast With Stubb’s BBQ Marinade

Today was a study day, so I didn’t fuss or spend much time in the kitchen. I decided to make some easy healthy vegan food.

I wanted to make a quick but still healthy lunch, and something that would hold me over until dinner. Et voila: I made avocado toast.

Of course, there’s a very high chance you’re already sick of avocado toast (I mostly am; it’s a pretty lazy content idea, let’s be honest). BUT this is a twist on avocado toast! (Anyway, that’s what I’m telling myself.) Read on.

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I toasted two slices of Glutino’s gluten free toast, which is so easy to digest. This is especially important on days where I need all of my wits about me and have absolutely no time for that heavy food feeling.

On top of my two slices of toast, I mashed one whole small avocado and added some sauteed cubed extra firm sprouted organic tofu (the whole brick costs $2—it just sounds fancy) marinated for a few minutes (but leave it more longer if you have time) in Stubb’s Texas Steakhouse marinade.

Et finit! Qu’est-ce que c’est? Easy healthy vegan food.

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I haven’t seen this idea before, even though it’s so simple. The toast is good for carbs, the avocado for fats, and the tofu for protein. It’s especially important for plant-based diet adherents to make sure they ingest enough omega-3 fats and whole proteins (tofu* is one).

This meal is adjustable: you can make more or less of any of the ingredients without adding a significant amount of time, and with carrot or cucumber sticks, it would pass for a complete meal in my books.

Hope you try it!

*Disclaimer: I do limit my tofu intake to prevent any potential hormonal effects, whether with sex hormones (estrogen) or thyroid hormones.

p.s. Check out my easy vegan burrito lunch post.

For more easy healthy vegan food ideas, I personally love the vegan recipes on Budget Bytes. They are cheap and (relatively) easy recipes. My favourite of Beth’s recipes (the recipe developer and blogger behind Budget Bytes) is the Pressure Cooker Split Pea Soup.