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

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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 ❤

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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:

Ruby Kraut (and Why It’s 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:

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:

Homemade Salted Dark Chocolate Almond Butter

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

Merrells are a Foot’s Best Friend

I have been through an arduous journey with shoes.  It took me years to find a pair that worked for me.  I have very flat feet and overpronate.  Years of figure skating in a high, tight boot left some of the muscles around my ankles underdeveloped, which meant that once I started running, my ankles started rolling.  I was always prescribed shoes with a big ol’ arch support, and I spent a couple years in and out of physical therapy. Then one day, after a 5 km fun run that took me 45 minutes to limp out, I gave up.

But of course, I didn’t give up for very long.  Thanks to some prodding from my mom, I decided to give barefoot shoes a try.  I didn’t ease into it. I bought the least soleful shoe could find– the ZemGear Ninja.  I started slow, and at no more than 3 km runs.  The calf DOMS were brutal, but I pushed through.

Eventually I needed something with a little more structure for longer runs, but I didn’t want to lose the minimalism of the show I had.  I learned to love the feeling of the ground under my shoe.  It kept me grounded, it stopped from rolling off the high heels of traditional shoes, and once I started lifting, I realized the great benefits of a zero-drop shoe while squatting and deadlifting.

Enter the Merrell Vapor Glove.  This shoe is incredible.  I have been through three different pairs of the wild color schemes, and I’m never looking back.  It has a little more structure than something like a Ninja, and a little more sole too– but I can still grip the ground and feel what I’m stepping on.  I use them for running, hiking, and lifting.  While an endurance runner may need something with a little more cush for long runs, I did hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim in these babies– so they have some staying power.  They just require some foot training.

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I love the zero drop, the lack of toe curl, and the super breathable mesh.  These shoes have saved my athletic life.  If you’re looking for something more minimal than the popular Nike Frees or New Balance Minimus, check out the Merrell Vapor Glove.

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My favourite healthy breakfast, as of today: Vegan Chocolate Frosty

Good afternoon!

Do not be alarmed by the picture below. Yes, it looks like puke in a mason jar and I could not find a coloured straw to make it look any better. But do not judge a book by it’s questionable puke-y cover…. this is a delicious treat! It satisfies the sweet tooth and keeps you full and full of energy!

This strange mystery smoothie is actually a chocolate frosty. What!?

Yes, it is my version of the healthiest chocolate frosty you may ever come across. If you find something better, comment with the link so I can make it, drink it and love my life even more. I’ll even post a thank you and admit it is better than mine. If it looks better, that’s a bonus too!

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Moving on…

What I used (serves 1)

  • 3 – 4 small frozen very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup cartoned unsweetened coconut milk (any unsweetened nut milk should do)
  • generous handful of spinach
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds (optional)

In a blender, pour coconut milk and blend in the spinach. Blend until smooth. One by one add the frozen (chopped) bananas and blend patiently (if you have a blender like mine, you’ll need patience) on the puree setting (if you have). If you find you need more milk, by all means add more.

Once smooth, add cacao powder and blend again. If you enjoy any additional spices like cinnamon, i’m sure that’ll be great too!

You can blend the hemp seeds if you’re using but I just sprinkled mine on top as if it were a sundae.Image

Okay.. so it doesn’t look like a chocolate frosty with pretty sprinkles on top.. and it actually looks exactly like what most junk food lovers would think a healthy frosty would look like… but the taste says “Oh nay nay, I am delicious.”

It’s obviously the spinach that makes it look all frightening but the best part is, if you’re not a spinach person, you can’t even taste it. And guess what, you really don’t even need the spinach if you don’t like it.

My favourite part about this recipe is that the ingredients are so minimal. Keeping it simple is the best way to achieve optimal health. If you try it, tell me what you think!

Also, Jen and I are pretty excited to see our blog and posts are getting some likes; thank you so much for reading. Things like that give us reinforcement to write, stay healthy and come up with more material to share. So, thank you! 🙂

Love,

Nidhi

Triathlon Training – The First Week

Hi all, Jen here.

Well, I’m now halfway through my second week of triathlon training: redux.  Nothing too exciting to report, except that my new, more balanced menu of cardio and lifting.  I will try and take some pictures this week so that I actually have an exciting post to update with.

Now, I’m off to go grocery shopping…and probably make some of Nidhi’s vegan mac and cheese.

Stay tuned for a substantive article on breaking out of a rut!

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Pre-meal Smoothie

Pre-meal Smoothie

It’s important to line your stomach with greens/vegetables before any meals. This allows a smooth digestive process in which your body will be inclined to absorb the nutrients. This is also good a choice before an occasional meal that is on the lesser healthy side! If you’re adverse to salads then try out a delicious green smoothie! It’ll also make you feel fuller so that you do not over-eat. Try out this smoothie recipe and see how it makes you feel:
– 1 1/2 cups of nut milk
– 1 or 2 medium ripe bananas
– generous handful of spinach
– pinch cinnamon or cocoa
Blend and enjoy an hour before your meal 🙂