Graze Box Review

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Hello world, Jen here!

I wanted to stop in and let you all know that I’ve been hooked on the subscription box service, Graze.  I have never signed up for one of these types of services before because they all run at at least $20 box– that’s not a lot for many people, but I’m a very broke, very money-conscious law student. But! I love getting new things to try out in the mail, and Graze runs only $6 per box (and you can set it to come only once month, or you can totally cancel at any time).  I also had a code to get my first box free so I could see if I liked it.

I loved it! I really just enjoy getting things in the mail, which is probably a part of the reason I enjoyed it so much.  It’s not a lot of food (it lasted me four days– one snack per day), but I genuinely enjoyed trying it out. 

How it works: Before the box is shipped you can head on the Graze and eliminate any boxes you don’t like, or any boxes that don’t fit your diet.  You can either tell Graze to only send you vegan items, or only send you gluten-free items…or you can go through and eliminate based on the ingredients.  I personally just went through and eliminated anything that didn’t appeal to me. 

My box came with an ingredient/nutrition sheet, and four snacks

1. The Cheese Board: cheese cashews, herb bites, and salsa corn sticks.  This one was delicious (but I’m a total cashew…and cheese… fiend). I immediately rated it a “love” online so I’d get it regularly.

2. Cookies and Creammint chocolate cookies, roasted hazels, white chocolate buttons, sunflower seeds. This was pretty good.  I thought that there were maybe too many seeds, making it a little bland.  I rated it a “like” so I’ll get every once in a while.

3. Super Berry Detoxblueberries, green raisins, goji berries, and cranberries.  I didn’t love this one and ended up eliminating it from my potential snacks. I went a little too hard on Craisins when I was in university, and am now pretty averse to dried fruit because of it. 

4. Summer Berry Flapjackrustic rolled oat flapjack with berry-infused cranberries. This one was okay– it was kind of like a really flaky granola bar. I’d probably like the other flapjack flavors better, because, you know, the dried fruit thing.

 

That’s it! I loved my first box and am now signed up for the monthly, just as a little treat to myself.  If you’d like to try it head on over to Graze and get your first box free with the code JENS161MP

Plant Power Protein Smoothie

Good morning everyone!

It was an early morning for me as I have a lot on the go this week in terms of work, helping out with my sister’s wedding and prepping for this competition. I love keeping busy, especially when everything I’m keeping busy with fuels my creativity and mental/physical wellbeing.

The contest prep is going good. Right now it’s experimenting with nutrition and trying not fall into my sweet tooth cravings. So far it’s been good! Except for Saturday… I went to the grocery store and bought my friend a birthday gift which is where I laid my eyes on Heidi’s 85% dark chocolate. I have never been tempted buy milk chocolate (luckily) but when it comes to dark chocolate; I love it…and I say to myself “It’s a WAY better choice than most” which is very true. However, for contest prep although one or two pieces may fit into my macros, eating the whole thing as I did isn’t ideal. I don’t believe anyone who says one piece of dark chocolate is sweet but bitter enough to be satisfying – I CALL BULLSH**. Give me all of the dark chocolate. Futhermore, on Monday my boyfriend came back from his trip and we sat on the couch, ate kettle cooked chips (no sodium, but still) and shared a bag of cinnamon sugar popcorn. It was my fault because I actually brought it for him and figured I won’t want any… but I did. Although I felt a tiny hinge of guilt afterwards but decided not to feel that bad especially since I ate a green smoothie prior so my stomach was lined to digest the food better. I didn’t plan this and this doesn’t mean you can alkalize your stomach and eat poorly after (that’s counterproductive as your body will battle between acidity and alkalinity), I’m just saying it’s a good idea for those practicing healthier eating habits that are eating out at a restaurant once in  a while.

I’ve concluded that since my body is in decent shape and I have been eating very healthy for the majority (usually do, but now I’m taking macro’s into consideration); I feel that if I have a snack attack once every couple of weeks it’s not going to hurt me in training. Once you set restrictions to heavily and beat yourself up when your heart wants to enjoy something – you are doing damage. The key is to enjoy your meals, not eat them because they’re healthy. So far I’m already see some positive results at my waistline since I’m visiting the gym almost everyday for two hours at a time with plenty of cardio. Every other day I’m training through Muay Thai and doing weights. That is enough to keep me motivated and excited for the results yet to come in another few weeks and from then on till the actually contest day in June.

Having said that, if you’re facing temptation then compromise with a healthier choice that satisfies your tastebuds. You won’t feel as guilty and there are so many amazing recipes available online as we’re now in a society that is more health-conscious (almost too conscious). If you have a slip up every now and again, move on. Do not downward spiral and please do not be upset at yourself. Thank yourself for the delicious snack, treat your body with respect and say “Since you treated me, I will treat you to the gym.”

Moving forward with the purpose of my post.

I’ve created a new smoothie recipe that is at first glance, on the questionable side of things. Since I’m not buying vegetables and greens that I typically eat anymore I’ve got to get creative on packing my smoothies in with complementary vegetables that meet my daily requirements. It’s amazing how you really need to adjust between even considerably healthy vegetables based on their sodium and sugar content. This required some sit down time and cross-referencing of foods that fit into my regime. The result wasn’t too bad; swapping spinach for kale; almond milk in my smoothies for water, etc.

For the next few weeks I am moderating between:

everyday: kale, cucumber, romaine lettuce, zucchini green pepper, 1 – 2 bananas (I can’t deal with stevia all the time as a sweetener), garlic, onion, ginger root, turmeric root

every few days: bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, lentils, millet, amaranth, quinoa and brown rice.

The list doesn’t look so bad to me because I love vegetables and I love carbs even more. Last night I was so happy with my big bowl of brown rice and sweet tomatoes seasoned with Mexican spices. I picked up a pamphlet from Whole Foods last week that gave me a guideline to using spices and it’s definitely come in handy to keep my belly happy without the extra sodium. And guess what, my taste buds are already adjusting and I don’t miss it!  In about a month, I can start reintroducing more fruit into my diet (I love fruit in the spring/summer) as it will be more alkaline by then being able to digest it better and reap the positive benefits of it. Colour me excited!

For this smoothie, I used essentially every green mentioned above except for zucchini and green peppers:

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  • 1 bunch purple kale
  • romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 large cucumber
  • 1″ ginger root
  • 1- 2 large frozen banana(s)
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup of filtered water
  • ground cinnamon
  • vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp hemp protein (optional)

At the beginning it was immediately getting that gorgeous green colour that screams ‘nourishment.’

I won’t pretend I wasn’t scared though…

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Please cucumber, be a good decision…

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Bananas make everything okay…

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After pureeing everything one by one (protein/cinnamon then bananas/ginger; last) I was quite happy with the end result (after adding the second banana). The hemp powder was strong at first but the fact that it was natural and there was zero sugar and sodium content I am happy with it.

  • 284 Cals:
  • 97 mg sodium,
  • 28g sugar from bananas.
  • 2.4g fat
  • 15g fibre
  • 19.4g protein

It was fresh and tasty with a hint of ginger which was so refreshing. This will be a repeat recipe on some mornings and I love the idea of packing a detoxifying, healthy meal in one delicious smoothie. It’s important to note that it is key this smoothie be enjoyed cold… I feel that it can only actually be enjoyed cold.

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Happy body, happy mind.

If you try this out, let me know what you think! Share some of your Plant-Powered faves!

Love,

Nidhi

What’s in my Swim Bag?

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I’ve been swimming pretty much all my life.  I grew up in swimming lessons, I lifeguarded and taught swimming for six years, I swam masters, and I swam in triathlons.  Though my love affair with swimming is a bit of a rollercoaster, I always end up back in the pool… But first, I have to pack my bag.  And that’s never an easy task.

What’s in my Swim Bag?

1. A suit (of course).  The longest lasting swim suits are made of a lot of polyester (check the tag).  Without it, chlorine will chew through your suit very quickly.  Always make sure you rinse it out in fresh water after swimming in a chlorinated pool!  I have a long torso, and long torso styles are few and far between, but this Nike style fits great (I think because the back is so open).

2. Flip flops.  So important if you want to avoid a brush with plantar’s warts. Trust me. Do not go to the pool without flip flops.

3. A swim camp.  Some pools require them, but they’re a lifesaver if you have long hair anyway.  I’m cheap so I just keep the free ones I get from triathlons, but they aren’t too pricey at Walmart.  Again, rinse with fresh water after, or they will get gunky.

4. Goggles. Baby shampoo can help stop them from fogging up.

5. Finis Swimp3- an underwater mp3 player.  I hesitate to recommend this because a) it’s a little buggy and b) you’ll never be able to go back to non-music swimming again.  Seriously, these revolutionized my swimming.  This particular brand is great because it works through bone conduction, so you don’t have to put ear buds in your ears (which I imagine would be brutal while swimming).

6. Two towels. I always need more than one.  Lucky people everywhere get free towels at their gym, but not me!

7. Pull buoy & flutter board.  I like drills because they break up an otherwise monotonous swim.  Some people also like flippers and hand paddles, but I just use whatever my pool provides.

8. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, face lotion.  I’m not normally someone with a long beauty routine but chlorine is an absolute monster on your hair and skin.  Rinse, cleanse, and hydrate after every swim. 

9. Hair brush.  To rip out those monster tangles.

10. Lululemon “sweaty unmentionables” bag.  My Lululemon gym bag came with great little bag (pictured above) that I can throw my semi-wet suit and goggles, etc. in for the walk home.  It stops everything else from getting wet.

 

That’s about it for me! Am I missing anything key?

What’s in your swim bag?

St. Patty’s Day Lean Green Protein Poppers

Hello!

I’m pretty excited right now because I put together a recipe that fits my meal preps; it’s tasty, nourishing, and green. Also low sodium and high protein too. I guess that’s important as well…

I have been super busy the last couple of days so my meals have been quite boring and “meh” to say least which means I have already broken my own promise to myself and that is to go through this process enjoying it – especially the food!

So without further hesitation…

St. Patty’d Lean Green Protein Poppers!

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Even though St. Patrick’s Day is two and half weeks away, I thought it looked pretty festive and green for the event.

There is no added salt in this recipe. so for flavour I used chilli peppers, lemon and pepper. You can of course manipulate the spices however you’d like but I thought this was a great meal idea; and for contest prep especially! It’s packed with protein from quinoa, sprouted lentils (i love sprouted-anything), and red pepper organic tempeh (I use soy in moderation.. maybe once or twice a week as it induces bloating. When I use it it’s no more than a tablespoon.)

My recipe goes as follows but can be modified to suit your tastebuds:

  • 10 small assorted bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa, soaked
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1/2 zucchini, finely diced
  • 1 or 1/2 of a red chilli pepper
  • handful watercress
  • 1/2 cup of sprouted lentils/beans
  • 1 tbsp tempeh (optional), diced
  • 1/4 cup white onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch of pepper, onion powder, cayenne, assorted seasoning, etc
  • 1/2 tsp coconut

Bring water to a boil and allow quinoa to cook for 10 minutes until finished.

In the mean while, gently heat coconut oil and cook onion and garlic. After a few minutes, add the tempeh and cook for a couple of minutes followed by zucchini and celery cooking on medium Do not cook completely.

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Remove from heat and transfer quinoa, stirred veggies, watercress, chopped chilli and lentils to a bowl. Mix and add the spices you wish. Cut the caps off of each pepper and fill to your desire.

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I haven’t baked these just yet as I have prepared them for tonight’s dinner as I am just leaving to do some weights at my gym and teach a couple of classes. Right after I will be going to a friend’s birthday party so I don’t have the time to make my dinner right after (first world problem). In addition, I already got some good work done this morning as my friend Gabby had her grand opening this morning for her B.O.T.A Bootcamp Fit Classes along with a seminar on nutrition. She’s a registered holistic nutritionist and also a kick boxer and used to teach Muay Thai at the same gym as me in Toronto.

Check her out! http://www.gabbefit.com

Anyways, meal prep is so awesome because when I get home I don’t have to worry about what to eat. All I have to do is heat and eat :D. I’m pretty excited for tonight’s dinner; something to make me excited again about my meals and not waiting for my cheat day in April (sushi, anyone?).

As for baking these scrumptious poppers, I would bake it at 350 and bake for 10 minutes and no more. I enjoy my veggies crunchy. Vegetables are so wonderful and nourishing when they’re not cooked completely. They give us so much this way.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I will in a few hours!

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Love,

Nidhi

Bananas: The Miracle Fruit

Bananas for bananas!

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image from http://artbananas.blogspot.ca

If you haven’t figure out already, I love bananas. Brown, spotted – give me all of the bananas. Frozen bananas are my saving grace from dairy ice cream cravings. They are sometimes enough to distract me from wanting chocolate… actually, they usually are. I think it all started from when I was a child; the only thing that made me at peace with falling sick was knowing I’d get to have the banana medicine (if you don’t know know what the banana medicine was you missed out!)

Since I am prepping for this competition and am already learning a lot along the way, I understand that I need to keep my sugars low and for now I will have to keep fruit to a minimum. Thank goodness bananas are low-glycemic otherwise I don’t know how I’d cope without them. I ate 4 of them in a row on my first day of training and knew that was probably a mistake… especially because they were not spotty so I was going to have an issue digesting them (under-ripe bananas do not digest well) especially having that many in one sitting.

Anyways, I’ve reduced my banana consumption down to two a day (not all at once!) and thought I’d share how I prepared them :).

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Fro-yo 

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What I used:

  • 1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao nibs for some crunch
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 scoop of Vegan Proteins+ Vanilla Protein Powder (optional)

Blend in a food processor and enjoy as a breakfast snack :). I loved including the cacao nibs. It gave me some of the necessary fats that I needed today plus the chocolatey crunch. Chocolate + Bananas + Happy, happy girl!

Sweet Vegetable Protein Smoothie (I don’t have a better name for it)

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What I used:

  • 1 cup of pure organic carrot juice
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup of organic spinach
  • 1 frozen banana cut into chunks
  • 1/2 scoop of Vegan Protein+ Vanilla Protein Powder (optional)

This sound like a strange mix but it’s amazing what a banana and some vanilla flavouring can do. I love this as a pre-workout snack and think I will use the recipe more often. Maybe not everyday because of the sodium content (260-something mg) but is definitely an option that will be repeated.

Now I’m off to actually work out!

Love,

Nidhi

Training, Sauerkraut and Other Noms

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Hello all, Nidhi here.

So begins the rigorous training for the fitness competition in June… Made a visit to Whole Foods <3

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Day two has come to a wrap and I am already learning that I’m possibly doing this whole thing wrong… already…

It seems I cannot abide by my own “rules” by just eating very healthy and exercising. Although I knew this; it is much, much more than that. It IS calories and it IS counting your macros… so I can’t just rely on high carbs along with low fat and low – no sodium and sugar.

My friend who is a registered holistic nutritionist (who is also doing the competition) explained to me why she has cut her calories from 2500 to 1600 and not only is she training like a beast at the gym, she is struggling to feel full. She explains why she can’t have as many greens and vegetables as she wants.. Why she must be so strict to aid in her cutting her weight down. She has been training for two – three weeks and she’s been pretty strong throughout the process. But her explanation was a good wake up call and early enough for me to learn from it for this competition.

Whoever is reading, I’m not trying to take light of what fitness competitions are. Please don’t take my “I’ll eat healthy and not count calories/macros” attitude as a way of undermining these competitions. Call it ignorance, that’s fine. I knew it would be hard but I’ve discovered I may have to do the calorie counting that I didn’t want to do. But you know what, I’m up for the challenge and I will do my best to keep a healthy attitude. If anyone has any advice/comments, feel free to send them my way. Again, we’re not professionals here… just sharing our life experiences and journey :). A small part of me hopes I don’t have to be as disciplined with my macros since I am not needing to cut weight and just build muscle (I know it’s a short time, this competition isn’t pro). If anyone has input on this… would love to hear! Need as much advise as I can get :\.

Also… I say this is hard because although I consider myself very active, I do not enjoy working out unless it involves me hitting things i.e. muay thai, slam ball, etc. My body is already aching from being on a bike and doing HIIT with kettle bells! The only way you can get me to train for an hour of cardio is for you to give me a weighted hammer and let me beat the sh** out of a tire with it… same thing with gloves and bag. THAT I can do! Furthermore, I’ve lost some confidence in my physical abilities as well because I’ve torn ligaments in my right knee a while ago so I am only teaching kickboxing these days and not training so the activity is minimal… so this may boost my confidence and keep me feeling good about myself… Even though the gym isn’t exactly my happy place, my desire to tighten and strengthen my body is way stronger than my horrible feelings towards to the stairmaster and bike. Regardless, I’m pretty happy this opportunity came along and just in time for bikini season!

P.S. Does anyone have any great exercises that work the glutes that puts minimal stress on my knee?

Moving forward… I have had a couple of great meals that I’ve enjoyed. Although they didn’t exactly fit in my macros – they fit within my original plan: low sodium, low sugar, low fat and generous in carbs.

The first picture you see way above my ramble is a taco salad I made sans any taco shells or tortilla chips. Spices can definitely go a long way with some cumin, chilli and cayenne pepper without the salt. I missed the salt a little bit in this meal but I need to adjust my tastes to not want so much of it… also need to do some experimenting.

I love these salads as they’re so versatile to put together; any veggies, corn, beans and greens combined with the those spices… instant taco salad! You can also make “meat” out of grinding walnuts with those spices and a little bit of soy sauce believe it or not! I missed that too :(.

The puple topping you see on the salad is homemade sauerkraut with red cabbage and carrots. The recipe is seen below at this gorgeous website:

http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/06/ruby-kraut-and-why-its-so-good-for-you/

I’ve been getting into the sauerkraut before meals because if prepared at home; it is a fantastic probiotic enzyme to aid in your digestion. And it’s yummy!

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I think Jack is a closeted vegetarian.. He’s always whining and reaching for veggies when I’m chopping them up… He successfully reached the peppercorns as I was taking this picture… pepper… everywhere.

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Those colours just scream nourishment, I love it!

See you in the next post :)

Love,

Nidhi

Eat Your Heart Out

Hello everyone, Nidhi here!

Today’s post will be another quick, easy recipe however if you don’t already, you may think I’m crazy because I ate the whole thing. That should have been my yearbook quote…

To begin, I am a woman that eats until I’m full. I do not believe in calorie counting and portion control. I believe in listening to your body and not restricting yourself because it often leads into an internal emotional hell and self-loathing. Do you think that conclusion is extreme? I don’t. It’s ludicrous to go through such extraordinary lengths to calculate your calories, fats, carbs, macro’s, whatever’s in a day because it’s time consuming and it turns into an obsession. If you enjoy doing this and you don’t find yourself thinking about food 24/7 – all the power to you! But I know myself, and that for me is a recipe for disaster.

Lately I have been keeping my recipes simple, sticking to large servings of delicious green smoothies and mono meal the evenings. So far, I am happy with this regime and I don’t find myself eating out of boredom. I eat when my body tells me and keep it relatively simple. This isn’t for everyone; it works for me and I feel healthy and happy.

The reason for this discussion is because I am entering a bikini contest in June. That’s right! I have 15 weeks to take care of my body, work hard at the gym and have the opportunity to commit to this challenge seriously. Besides, it’s just in time for bikini season ;).

It’s a little more junior compared to the pro competitions but should be an interesting journey nontheless. I am not aiming to win or do competitions after this so I am going to do my best to keep a healthy attitude towards this to meet my goals. It will be challenging but I have support and 3 cheat meals at my favourite restaurants over the next 15 weeks – yay!

I am not going to go the route of portion-control. I am going to try something different than that so I can keep myself motivated. I am the kind of person where if I give myself food restrictions, I will end up binging a few weeks later. I want to treat my body right and with respect. My diet will be high carb, low-no sodium and low fat (I will be sure to include the healthy fats a couple of times a week, of course). If there’s anything my body thrives on, it is greens and carbs which makes me a very happy, energetic and strong girl! If anyone has any suggestions, I’m open to it!

Anyways, I have posted a recipe below that could serve 3 – 4 people; however I made all of it for myself… so that is why you might think I’m crazy as mentioned earlier. I’m not crazy, I eat simple foods that optimize my digestion and make me feel satisfied. This works for me; to reiterate  I will not suggest anyone to experiment with this based on my word as I am not a professional. I make posts based on my experiences.

Anyways, if you get around to try this recipe; it’s low sodium, no added salt, high in carbs and low fat… and yummy!

Potato Marinara

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Serves 3

3 golden yukon potatoes, peeled/unpeeled, your choice.

2 large ripe tomatoes

4 tablespoons Hunt’s pure tomato paste

1/2 onion, diced

3 large mushrooms, sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

handful of leafy greens such as arugula, spinach and/or kale

4 cloves of garlic (2 minced)

crushed chilli peppers

pepper

sea salt, if desired.

Bring water to a boil and steam the potatoes (poke some holes in those bad boys) with two whole garlic cloves.

In the mean while heat a nonstick pan on medium-high and toss in tomatoes and cover for a minute. When the tomato becomes soft, add the remainder of the garlic (minced) and tomato paste and stir. Cover once again for a minute or two. Stir the mixture and pour in the onions and mushrooms. Keep stirring as the water in the sauce becomes less and less. Add red peppers and cover on low heat. Allow this to simmer for a few minutes so that the peppers soften (not completely).

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As the potatoes become more tender, finally stir in the greens into the sauce. Mix until they shrink. Cover and remove from heat.

Prepare the potatoes as you wished.. just diced them and poured the sauce over.

Yes, I ate the entire thing.

Was I satisfied, yes? Was I overstuffed and fatigued after? No. Was this a healthy choice? Absolutely :).

Just because I ate everything, doesn’t mean I encourage others to do the same. This works with my body and my fitness regime. I also do not eat potatoes everyday, or every week for that matter. Listen to what your body wants and if it feels like you’re either overindulging or this is what your body actually needs at this moment. If you end up meeting everything, great! You didn’t do anything wrong for eating 3 potatoes; we’ve been conditioned to think so but if you’re hungry and it’s what you want – eat your heart out with the right choices.

If you must know… The total nutritional information for all three servings:

Calories: 463

Fat: 1.3g

Saturated/Poly: 0.2

Sodium: 78.9 mg (amazing!)

Carbs: 105.9g

Fiber: 11.7g

Sugars (natural): 17/1g

Protein: 15.7g

Calcium: 17g

I know there’s no salt, but give a tomato marinara a chance with your own preferred variation – you’ll find yourself delightfully surprised at how much you enjoy it without the extra sodium :).

I hope you enjoyed this post.

Love,

Nidhi

At-Home Tea Pop

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 Hi all, Jen here!

I am a loose-leaf tea fiend, and spend way too much time and money on tea. It’s delicious, can help nip nasty cravings in the bud, and is so versatile! You can drink it hot or cold, sweet or bitter, black or with cream…. much like coffee, but in about a million more flavours (side note- as a Canadian living in the US, it took me about 15 minutes to decide on how I was going to spell “flavours”).  The best thing about it is that it keeps you totally hydrated if you’re bored of plain old water.

Anyway, while I love a classic cup of hot tea, there are a lot of ways you can spice it up.  My mom likes to mix tea flavours together when she gets near the end of a can.  I also like putting tea in with my coffee grinds when I’m having a cup of coffee for some added flavours (don’t use a tea bag in coffee– the coffee will dissolve the tea bag).  But lately my favourite way to drink tea has been what David’s calls the Tea Pop!  They charge 4$ a pop for one of these, but I recently received a Soda Stream (birthday gift- thanks dad!) and have been making my own for much cheaper.  This is what I do:

  1. Make a big jug of iced tea.  I brew double-strong (okay, sometimes triple-strong) tea and pour it into a jug of ice.  I make a whole lot at once so I can just go pour a glass when I’m thirsty.  Some favourites for iced tea from David’s include Midsummer Night’s Dream and Coco-Lemon Thai.
  2. Carbonate up a batch of water in the Soda Stream.  If you don’t have a Soda Stream, you can just buy some sparkling water.  I make a litre of this at a time and just keep it in the fridge as well.
  3. When I want a Tea Pop, I just fill the glass up halfway with iced tea, and halfway with the carbonated water.
  4. Enjoy :)

I find it’s even more refreshing than a flat iced tea!  And something a little different to keep you hydrated without getting bored.

Happiness is pizza, chocolate and E! television on a Friday night

Hello!

Happy Friday! Yes, I am blogging on a friday night. Jen and I are huge advocates for staying in on Fridays with our pets, thinking about food and keeping comfy in our sweats. Sometimes we Skype and talk about how much we love our lives in our sweats. It’s a common side effect of a Canadian February (We are killing it in Sochi – WOOOOOO BABY!)

Besides sitting at home bathing in Canadian pride, I am also walling in self-pity due to the failure of planning my 25th birthday. My party was supposed to be tomorrow and my best friends do not live in this beloved province (Jen’s all like “look at me I’m so awesome with my Manhattan life” – dammit she is awesome with her Manhattan life) so I have been a bit of a Debbie Downer as the plans have fallen through with the “locals.” It sucks, but life must go on… nothing a bottle of red can’t fix – kidding… 2 bottles. Woah, is this my diary!?

Anyways, because of my mood I have been craving those good old comfort foods for consolation. However, when we eat emotionally we are essentially punishing our bodies for feeling badly in turn making us feel worse about eating poorly when we’re trying our best to make conscious efforts towards a healthy lifestyle.

A year ago I would have ordered a pizza, this year I made a homemade personal pizza that cost me… *drumroll* … 210 calories. Whaaaaat!? I’m not for counting calories but you all must know the beauty of this pizza. It’s a revolution, people! GUILT-FREE EFFING PIZZA.

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This dish is vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free. Yes, I used an egg. 90% of the time I practice a vegan diet but once in a while I will throw an egg in there. Sometimes there needs to be flexibility and I personally do not fuss if I am limited to options when I am out with others. If my back is against the wall, I will not fuss with the server or chef and will order something vegetarian, not always vegan.

Moving forward, the crust is made out of cauliflower. *pause for reaction* The original recipe is seen below. I don’t want to break any rules so I am just sharing this recipe rather than repeating it here:

http://ifoodreal.com/cauliflower-pizza-crust-recipe/

This website is absolutely lovely and I am so happy to have found it. I tried out the crust recipe sans mozzarella (I imagine it was delicious with it but if it’s in my control I’m quite strict with my dairy intake). When it was baked, it didn’t fall apart so I was quite impressed with this recipe. However, because I didn’t use cheese, I tasted the egg more than I would have originally liked so if I were to do this over I would probably experiment by adding quinoa or almond flour. Why not a rice/wheat flour? I do my best to stick to the food combining rules by not combining starches with protein. Since both quinoa/almond and egg are protein and/or fats, I’d like to think that’d work well together. If anyone has any non-starch recommendations – please share! I’m by no means an expert so I am all ears on anyone suggestions are anytime.

Check out the crust; not bad!

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Throw some sea salt, garlic powder, add some spices and you’re solid – and so is the crust ;).

I didn’t have any tomato sauce so I used some Hunt’s pure tomato paste and mixed it with Neal Brothers Salsa which created a pretty delicious tomato spread. In pizza, I LOVE tomato sauce so I packed it on.

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Add whatever toppings you wish, I had an odd mix but it made my tummy happy with some roasted red peppers, crushed chilli’s, zucchini as pepperoni slices all on a bed of kale and arugula. It was my unconventional version of a rustic pizza.

It was guilt-free, satisfying, delicious and made my heart feel well. Not just because I was “emotionally eating” but because I knew I was making a wonderful decision for my body – not to punish it because I was in a sour mood. We are what we eat and if we want to keep a positive attitude, we must feed ourselves the beautiful, colourful, earthy foods that nurture these positive emotions.

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Next, I mentioned chocolate. How can I speak of comfort foods and not talk about chocolate??

Tonight I made an almond butter spread with chocolate. I stumbled onto the original recipe via Pinterest which seems to be hellbent on toying with my emotions between the latest fitness workouts and cupcakes. Pinterest, I love you but you hurt.

The link is from Ambitious kitchen and is seen below:

http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2014/01/homemade-salted-dark-chocolate-almond-butter/#more-8226

It’s delicious and puts such a creative healthy twist to butter spreads on toast. This original recipe includes coconut oil however I swapped this with almond milk. Although coconut oil is a good fat, I decided the almond butter alone provided enough in this recipe.

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For my slightly different vegan version I used:

  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup of unsalted roasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Almond Breeze almond milk
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 2 blocks of Bakers pure dark chocolate
  • pinch of stevia as needed for a no-sugar option
  • pinch of himalayan sea salt (optional)

If you have a food processor you can make your own almond butter by processing it for 5 – 10 minutes. It will become smooth when it’s consistently mixing; scrape down the sides as needed. If you don’t have a food processor you can use store-bought almond butter in a glass jar (warning, it’s delicious with apple slices).

Next, gentle melt the Bakers chocolate and pour into almond butter mixture with the milk, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Mix again then follow with the cacao powder. If the mixture becomes thick and pasty, add more almond milk – or you can try gently melting coconut oil for a “silky” texture and taste. If you don’t find it’s sweet enough and you want to avoid adding more sugar from the maple syrup, add some stevia to suit your taste buds.

That my friend, is happiness in a jar:

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I can’t decide whether I’m going to spread this on toast for breakfast or put in a banana smoothie. Maybe both!? Oh first world dilemma’s; contemplations such as these remind me how lucky I am. A 25th birthday party fallout is really a first-world problem and I can truly count my blessings… “Dear diary…”

Anyways, what’s great about adding the almond milk in this mixture is it cuts the calories and fats per serving so it is not as heavy. *note: calories are not important with fruits and vegetables but it is good to monitor them with nuts and grains*

This is extremely healthy but is still a treat so try to resist eating half of the jar if you try this out. I’ve made this recipe with hazelnuts and my goodness, it was just like Nutella and it was gone ASAP.

Let me know your thoughts and if you enjoy these ideas. There are so many amazing blogs out there and am so thankful to have resources and the means to try them. Pinterest is my favourite but it can be a weapon!

Thank you for reading, and I apologize for any annoying rants!

love,

Nidhi

Snack Attack: Homemade Hummus and Carrots

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Hummus is one of my favourite snacks that is generally on the healthier side compared to a lot of other dips. However, if you buy them packaged how healthy are they really? They’re full of preservatives with chemicals and a higher oil content in less desirable forms such as canola and/or vegetable oil (not to mention they’re usually modified).

I have been craving hummus for a while now and instead of reaching for the Sabra brand that my mother brought home (tastes so good, but not to good for your body) I decided to make some homemade! It was extremely quick, easier and even better; simple, healthy and just as satisfying as the store-bought stuff.

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Without further hesitation, my recipe is below :).

Homemade Roasted Red Pepper Hummus:

  • 1 can of organic garbanzo/chickpeas (Yves), drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted over a grill (no oil needed), seedless and diced
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Tahini (roasted sesame seed butter)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp himalayan/sea salt
  • 1 tbsp crushed peppers

In a blender or food processor, puree the chickpeas with oil. Once smooth, tahini, lemon juice and minced garlic; puree until smooth and well combined. Add roasted pepper and puree again. Last round, add garlic powder, salt and crushed peppers.

Let cool in the fridge or serve right away. Enjoy along side some vegetables or crackers :)

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Love, peace & hair grease,

Nidhi