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Greek Yogurt Bars
08/06/2019
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Peanut Lime Stir-Fry
07/26/2019
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Coconut Curry Chicken
06/19/2019
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Greek Yogurt Bars
August 6, 2019

A whole food protein bar that you can enjoy as dessert, a wholesome snack, or an on-the-go breakfast. Packed with healthy fats, fibre, protein, and volume from the juicy berries, this vibrant recipe is nutritious and tast.

How do these bars fit The Fundamental Four?

  • PROTEIN: Greek or Skyr yogurt
  • FIBRE: oats, mixed berries
  • HEALTHY FATS: flaxseed, almond butter
  • VOLUME: mixed berries

PS: if you are unsure what the "Fundamental Four" refers to, click here for a free resource to help you understand the Fundamental Four and why we plan our meals using this strategy!



It is fun to make homemade almond butter if you have the patience, and a powerful food processor!
 

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
220
Fibre:
5g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 10g

 

Fat: 11g

 

Carbohydrates: 23g

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (100g) pitted dates
  • 2 cups (160g) oats
  • 3/4 cup (185g) almond butter 
  • 4 Tbsp (30g) ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 cups (250g) Greek or Skyr yogurt
  • 1 cup (140g) frozen mixed berries

Directions:

  1. Stew the frozen berries by adding them to a small sauce pan on medium heat until the berries have thawed and the juices are released.
  2. In a food processor or powerful blender, blend the dates until a thick paste forms. 
  3. Add the oats, cinnamon, flax, and almond butter to the dates and blend until combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a parchment lined baking sheet/pan pressing down to create a firm base.
  5. Spread the Greek/Skyr yogurt over the base covering evenly.
  6. Place the berries on top of the yogurt in small patches and use a knife or fork to swirl into the yogurt.
  7. Place in the freezer and let set for 1-2 hours, or until the bars are solid enough to cut. 
  8. Let thaw for 5 minutes, cut into 12 squares and enjoy!


To add the recipe to your MyFitnessPal tracking search "Vitality Nutrition Greek Yogurt Bars" in the App

We slightly adapted these bars from Sadia at Pick Up Limes. She created a video with 3 simple breakfast ideas which you will see linked below:




DID YOU TRY THE RECIPE?

Did you try the recipe out? Share a picture on Instagram and tag @vitalitynutrition_ or #vitalityfunfour so I can see your creation!

Peanut Lime Stir-Fry
July 26, 2019

There is just something special about a peanut sauce! Salty, sweet, spicy, tangy, and filled with umami goodness. The sauce itself is fantastic in this stir-fry but can be used for fresh rolls and salads, too!

We always recommend obtaining nutrients from foods first before reaching for supplements and concentrates (eg. oils, protein powder, added sugar, and others) unless you can't meet your requirements from food alone. The same is true for fats. Consuming fats from whole foods will provide so much more nutrition than the oil itself: fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. Just one more reason to love up on this peanut sauce with natural peanut butter as the whole food fat source! 

This stir-fry is packed with as much crunchy veggies as we could handle including spaghetti squash, bell peppers, purple cabbage, and carrots! As always, we checked in with our Fundamental Four formula to ensure the recipe was build to satisfy more than our taste buds but also to optimize our blood sugars for optimize energy, recovery, and body composition. The Four included:

  • PROTEIN: chicken breast
  • FIBRE: spaghetti squash (and the boat load of other veggies)
  • HEALTHY FAT: peanut butter in the sauce and cashews to top
  • VOLUME: spaghetti squash, bell peppers, carrots, and purple cabbage!

PS: if you are unsure what I mean when I say "Fundamental Four" click here for a free resource to help you understand the Fundamental Four and why we plan our meals using this strategy!

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
307
Fibre:
7g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 34g

 

Fat: 11g

 

Carbohydrates: 30g

Ingredients:

  • Peanut Lime Sauce (you may have to double the sauce if you want more - it is so dang good!)
    • 3 tbsp (45g) natural peanut butter, melted
    • 1/2 tbsp (8g) honey, melted
    • 1 lime, juiced
    • 2 tbsp (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tbsp (30 ml) tamari
    • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • Stir-Fry
    • 1 medium spaghetti squash (600g), cooked
    • 1 tsp (5g) coconut oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 shallot, minced
    • 2 medium sized (12 oz.) chicken breasts, diced
    • 2 bell peppers (300g), cut into matchsticks
    • 2 carrots (200g), julienned
    • 1/4 small (150g), purple cabbage, shredded
    • 1/4 cup (1 oz.) cashews

Directions:

  1. Prepare the Peanut Lime Sauce by adding the natural peanut butter and honey to a mason jar. Melt the peanut butter and honey in the microwave for 20 seconds. Then add the lime, vinegar, tamari (or soy sauce), and sriracha. Shake well.
  2. Bake the spaghetti squash or microwave it (my preferred method) and set aside. Click here for microwave method.
  3. Add the coconut oil to a large pan and bring to medium heat. Add the minced garlic and shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the diced chicken and cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  4. Using the same large pan on medium heat, add the prepared peppers, carrots, and cabbage. Add a splash of water and cook for 2-5 minutes until the vegetables are bright in color but still crunchy.
  5. Layer the spaghetti squash, vegetable mixture, and chicken in a bowl. Drizzle with the peanut sauce. Alternatively, mix the spaghetti squash, vegetable mixture, and chicken and combine with the Peanut Lime Sauce. This mixture can be enjoyed warm as a stir-fry or combine the ingredients and serve cold as a salad!

To add the recipe to your MyFitnessPal tracking search "Vitality Nutrition Peanut Lime Stir-Fry" in the App

DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE?

Let me know how it went. Share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #vitalitynutrition or #vitalityfunfour so I can see your creation!

Coconut Curry Chicken
June 19, 2019

Coconut Curry Chicken is packed with simple, whole foods ingredients and is bursting with flavor! It’s beyond easy to whip up and makes for killer leftovers. 

Not only is the recipe easy to make, but includes four key elements (ie. The Fundamental Four!) to balance blood sugar and optimize energy, exercise recovery, and body composition. A The Fundamental Four meal is simply a meal planning strategy that includes protein, fibre, healthy fats and volume food (ie. veggies and fruits)! Coconut Curry Chicken is a Fundamental Four Meal with:

  • Protein: chicken breast as an animal-based protein choice. Try chickpeas for a punch of fibre and a source of plant-based protein.
  • Healthy Fats: canned coconut milk offers plant-based protein. Choose full fat or lighter coconut milk based on your preference or macronutrient needs.
  • Fibre: cauliflower 'rice' packs fibre into the base of the curry dish! Add white or brown rice for additional carbohydrate if you in need of a post-workout fuel source!
  • Volume: the base of cauliflower 'rice' and peppers and onions in the curry add filling volume to the dish.
     


Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
270
Fibre:
2g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 26g

 

Fat: 15g

 

Carbohydrates: 10g

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 bell peppers (300g), sliced
  • 1 small onion (150g), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 large (16 ounces) chicken breast, raw
  • 1 can (400mL) coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Cilantro and lime wedge (optional)

Directions:

  1. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the coconut oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add sliced peppers and onions, sauteing until softened and onions are translucent. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add the remainder of the coconut oil (1/2 tablespoon) and bring to medium heat. Add the grated ginger, garlic, lime zest, cumin, and cayenne and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the diced, raw chicken breast and continue to cook over medium heat until it is no longer raw in the center. 
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, add the coconut milk, water, stock, fish sauce, tamari, and lime juice. Add back the pepper and onion mixture.
  5. Simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. 
  6. Serve over a bed of cauliflower rice (or white or brown rice) and top with fresh cilantro and a lime wedge. Enjoy!

This recipe does not include the cauliflower 'rice' or white or brown rice in the Nutrition Facts.

*Search "Vitality Coconut Curry Chicken" on MyFitnessPal to log the Nutrition Facts!




 

Strawberries & Cream Smoothie
May 30, 2019

Strawberries and cream summer time smoothie... try saying that five times fast!

With the summer months comes less desire to turn on the stove or oven and more time spent enjoying the sunshine... cue a refreshing smoothie! Smoothies make a great option on hot summer days as they offer nutritious ingredients and hydration. BUT, smoothies often leave you feeling unsatisfied due to missing key components that aid in satiety, sustained energy, and blood sugar management. 

Have you ever thought about swinging by a smoothie place such as Booster Juice on a hot day for a quick "pick me up" to get you through until dinner, but suffered an energy crash and were more hungry and tired after it? This is because most smoothies often only contain a carbohydrate source (fruit), liquid (often juice) and sometimes protein powder. This is a recipe for a low blood sugar (ie. energy crash) as the smoothie lacks in a majority of the components that will digest slowly to sustain energy.

At Vitality Nutrition, we refer to these components as the The Fundamental Four! The Fundamental Four is a simple formula we use to design satisfying meals and snacks. The Four include:

  1. Protein
  2. Fibre
  3. Healthy Fats
  4. Volume Foods (Fruit, Veggies, Liquids)



This graphic highlights what to consider when designing a smoothie and easy ways to customize it. A smoothie balanced in The Fundamental Four should include a source of:

  1. PROTEIN: such as plain Greek or Skyr yogurt, whey protein, collagen protein
  2. FIBRE such as chia seeds, flax seed, or hemp hearts
  3. HEALTHY FATS such as avocado or nut butter
  4. VOLUME FOODS such as unsweetened milks (almond milk, cashew milk, plain kefir, cow's milk), green (spinach or kale!), and fruit. (BONUS: Choosing berries is a great way to add extra fibre!).

Customize your smoothie based on your individual calorie or macronutrient needs and flavour preferences. Try a smoothie as a meal or snack to refuel after a bout of intense activity or as a breakfast that powers you through the morning.

As a specific example, after a recent HOT run, my body was craving something COLD, energizing, hydrating, but also QUICK. A smoothie was the perfect option. As this smoothie was consumed post-workout, it prioritized carbohydrate (banana and strawberries) and protein (Skyr yogurt and protein powder) to replenish lost energy stores and to repair muscle. I kept the fats lower for quick digestion but added chia for a small amount of fat and a big punch of fibre. If you are making this smoothie for a meal (like breakfast!) definitely add an additional source of fat from frozen avocado (surprisingly tasty!) or almond butter. This recipe made TWO servings to share with my pal. The smoothie included:

  • Protein: Skyr yogurt and protein powder
  • Fibre: chia seeds
  • Healthy Fats: minimal (*explanation below)
  • Volume: frozen strawberries, banana, and unsweetened cashew milk. Try a handful of spinach for greens!


STRAWBERRIES & CREAM SMOOTHIE

Yields:

2 Servings

Calories:
275
Fibre:
9g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 28g

 

Fat: 5g

 

Carbohydrates: 33g

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (300g) frozen strawberries
  • 1 (100g) frozen banana
  • 2 tbsp (24g) chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup (175g) plain 0% Skyr yogurt
  • 1 scoop (30g) protein powder (I used Pescience Snickerdoodle)
  • 1 cup (250mL) unsweetened cashew milk

Directions:

  1. Add ingredients to a blender and combine until mixed evenly and creamy texture is achieved.
  2. For a more "liquidy" smoothie, add more unsweetened almond milk, cashew milk, or water. For a thicker smoothie, add less liquid and more ice, or try freezing unsweetened almond or cashew milk in ice cubes trays and blending as the base.
  3. Top with fun toppings like cacao nibs, fresh strawberries, or extra chia if you are enjoying as a smoothie bowl! Enjoy!



Did you know Vitality Nutrition offers an online course based on real client experiences? The Take 30 Challenge focuses on our most successful strategies for forming new habits while building your knowledge of nutrition. It’s not about dieting; it’s about developing a healthier relationship with your food and your body.

Take 30 days to practice 30 habits that have helped Vitality Nutrition clients achieve their goals.

Check out the Take 30 Challenge here!
Bagel Sandwich
May 7, 2019

In need of some lunch time inspiration?

I talked in a recent post about meal automation (see post here), and how having one meal or snack that is the same every day, lessens our decision making fatique and saves some energy for decisions that cannot be automated. Automating my lunch with this bagel sandwich not only saved me time, but also energy in knowing that I wouldnt have to decide what I would be eating. The ingredients are minimal, quick to throw together and delicious! It was easy to travel with on my way to and from the office and took little effort to make (things I look for on busy days!). O'Dough's bagels are gluten free and great for those who may need to follow a gluten free diet, have a sensitivity or just want to try something new, and can be purchased at Superstore. This lunch balanced all four nutrient requirements of protein, carbohydrate (fibre), healthy fats and veggies (volume). Customizable based on preferences, this bagel was a lunch time winner and made for the perfect automated meal at this weeks lunches.

Here's the breakdown:

Protein: 3 oz. deli turkey meat (smoked salmon, chicken or hard boiled eggs would be delicious too!)
Carb (fibre): O'Dough's Bagel (this one was pumpernickel flavor)
Healthy fat: 30g goat cheese (avocado, mayo or other cheeses work as well)
Veggies (volume): roasted peppers and spinach with a side of sweet peppers, tomatoes and cucumber


Tip: Try mixing hard boiled eggs + egg whites with avocado for an egg salad version of this tasty lunch!

You can find the O'Doughs bagels in a variety of flavors at Superstore! 



Did you know Vitality Nutrition offers an online course based on real client experiences? The Take 30 Challenge focuses on our most successful strategies for forming new habits while building your knowledge of nutrition. It’s not about dieting; it’s about developing a healthier relationship with your food and your body.

Take 30 days to practice 30 fundamental habits that have helped Vitality Nutrition clients achieve their goals.

Check out the Take 30 Challenge here!

Egg White Oatmeal
May 1, 2019

Egg white oatmeal...What!?

The idea of adding egg whites to your oatmeal doesn't exactly sound the most appealing. How do I know if the egg whites are cooked? Will I taste the chunks of egg whites in the oatmeal? Rest assured, you don't even notice the cooked egg whites.

Egg whites are considered a volume food and create a fluffy texture to the oats. In combination with their high protein content, they aid in keeping you satisfied for hours.

Instead of cracking individual eggs and discarding the yolks, try purchasing liquid egg whites in a carton and weighing the desired amount out. Egg whites can be purchased at most grocery stores in the dairy section, or in bulk at Costco!

This egg white oatmeal recipe is very customizable based on preference, and with additional toppings, checks off the boxes for protein, volume, fiber (carb) and healthy fats! Below are a few options to add to your egg white oats:

Protein: egg whites, protein powder for flavor (optional), Greek yogurt to top (optional)
Fiber (Carb): dry oats, fruit (eg. berries, banana etc.)
Volume: egg whites, berries, Greek yogurt, almond milk
Healthy Fats: ground flax seed, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, natural nut butter, cacao nibs

Here is how Darian enjoys her egg white oats:

Yields:

1 Serving

Calories:
400
Fibre:
10g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 32g

 

Fat: 14g

 

Carbohydrates: 35g

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup (30g) dry quick oats
  • 3/4 cup (190g) liquid egg whites
  • 1 tbsp. (7g) ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup (150g) fresh strawberries
  • 1 tbsp. (16g) almond butter
  • Dash of cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Measure out your dry oats and add water just until the oats are covered. Microwave for 30 seconds.
  2. Mix in the egg whites and microwave for 2 minutes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds. The egg whites may clump and cook together, you will just have to stir more frequently.
  3. Once cooked, the egg whites and oats should resemble a consistent texture and blend together.
  4. Add desired topping such as ground flax seed, fresh berries, cinnamon, and almond butter. Enjoy!



Did you know Vitality Nutrition offers an online course based on real client experiences? The Take 30 Challenge focuses on our most successful strategies for forming new habits while building your knowledge of nutrition. It’s not about dieting; it’s about developing a healthier relationship with your food and your body.

Take 30 days to practice 30 fundamental habits that have helped Vitality Nutrition clients achieve their goals.

Check out the Take 30 Challenge here!

Big Ass Taco Salad
April 29, 2019

Building your own Big Ass Salad is an easy way to customize your ingredients to create a satisfying, wholesome meal. Today's version took a Mexican flare as a taco-style salad. Today's version was topped with ground moose meat as a protein (thanks for the gift, mom!), cheese as a fat, and loaded with veggies and pico de gallo for flavour. If you have plain Greek yogurt, dollop it on your salad as an alternative to sour cream! Below are some ideas to change up the protein, veggies, healthy fats, and fiber choices based on your preferences:

Protein: Salsa chicken, extra lean ground beef, extra lean ground turkey, shrimp or try my Beef Carnita recipe
Healthy Fats: Shredded cheese, avocado, or sour cream 
Volume/Veggies: Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms
Fiber: Avocado, black beans, or high-fibre bean based nacho chips like Protes
Condiments: Consider choosing health minded condiments such as salsa, pico de gallo, hot sauce, or Bolthouse Salsa Ranch dressing 

*Note: If you are using this salad as a meal after a high-intensity workout, try adding a higher carbohydrate choice such as rice to refuel.

Prep the salad ahead of time for quick lunches or dinners throughout the week. Chop the veggies and prepare the protein in advance, storing them individually in the fridge. Throughout the week, assemble individual portions and add your favorite toppings.

Social Media Makeover
April 18, 2019

When working with coaching clients, the first topic we address is the impact of the physical environment on our food choices. If we leave donuts on the counter, we eat donuts. If we leave fruit on the counter, we eat fruit. We eat what we see. Curating our home environment to make the healthy choice the easy choice is a no brainer.
 


Recently, I have applied this same concept to mindset. Over the past couple months I noticed that my Instagram feed was filled with photos and messaging that made me feel like crap or was cluttering my brain with useless information. My IG feed was the equivalent to a fridge stocked primarily with junk food, expired milk, and a few fruits and veggies hidden in the crisper. I wouldn’t bring home a box of cupcakes, leave them on my counter, and expect myself to make fuel-focused nutrition choices for the daySo why was I choosing to invite IG accounts into my feed that weren’t serving the mindset I wanted to have? (PS: not to say eating a cupcake is wrong, I personally just prep to savour a cupcake at a special event versus an everyday staple!).


When working with my coaching clients, I invite them to complete a “kitchen makeover” where they sort through the fridge, freezer, and pantry to make some tweaks and adjustments. The goal is to add what we call “green light foods” which are foods that we know make us feel our best. As an example, adding washed and chopped veggies to the fridge, keeping frozen berries in the freezer, or stocking canned tuna in the pantry. We also discuss eliminating “red light foods” which could be chucking expired items, foods that trigger overeating, or items that are just not a good choice. The exercise isn’t to label foods as “good” or “bad” but rather to create a home environment that is a trusted, safe place.
 


I realized that social media's effect on my mindset parallel the effect of the physical environment on my food choices. My Instagram needed a makeover! I went through my “following” list and literally Maria Kondo’ed the crap out of it. “Does this account spark joy? Nope!”. You might realize you follow all kinds of account for no reason other than just hitting “follow”. An account might be like expired food that no longer serves you, straight-up junk food that spirals you into a negative mindset, or just ingredients that you no longer enjoy.
 


Now when I go through my IG account it is full of images that make me feel great - images of strong women training rather than exercising to lose weight or to capture a photo of their abs or glutes "for the 'Gram". I have images of well-balanced meals that encourage me to focus on what to add to my plate and not the next diet train to jump on. I see quotes that inspire me to have a growth mindset and chase my goals. IG no longer makes me feel “less than” but gives me a surge of motivation and makes me feel uplifted.

I encourage you to go through your IG feed and do a clear out. Follow only those accounts that spark joy. And hey, if that means you unfollow me I won’t be offended. I will feel happy that you are cultivating a feed that supports a the mindset you want to have the same way I suggest curating your home environment to include only the foods you want to eat.

 

You Pick Your Poison
April 17, 2019

"What keeps you motivated on days where you don't want to get out of bed?"

This was a question asked of Miranda Alcaraz (owner of a company called Street Parking) in her Instagram stories. I love following Miranda as she posts helpful content on the power of consistency and sustainability in nutrition and exercise habits. I loved her answer to the question above. It was a light bulb moment for me! (PS: if you go to her IG highlights under 'Q&A' you should be able to find the video of her explaining the concept I've highlighted below.)

To summarize, Miranda related to the feeling of having those days where you don't want to get out of bed. Days where it certainly sounds appealing to curl up and watch movies all day! We don't always wake up with high levels of motivation. After this comment, however, Miranda went on to describe her fascination with people needing to "find" motivation. Miranda stated that she doesn't believe motivation is really a "thing" because "what's the alternative?".

When you are an adult, life is uncomfortable. There are sacrifices no the choice you make.

  • You can be uncomfortable for 30 minutes in your workout OR you can be uncomfortable because your body doesn't feel the way you want it to
  • You can be uncomfortable not having pizza and ice cream for dinner OR you can be uncomfortable in your body because it doesn't look the way you want it to
  • You can be uncomfortable taking the time to pack your balanced lunch for work OR you can be uncomfortable with how sleepy and unproductive you are at 3pm when the fast food carb coma hits
  • You can be uncomfortable prioritizing 10,000 steps per day OR you can be uncomfortable when you have to take breaks on a summer hike or active vacation
  • You can be uncomfortable abstaining from a bottle of wine each night OR you can feel uncomfortable with the headache that you wake up with the following morning
  • You can be uncomfortable skipping your favorite Netflix series to go to bed early OR you can feel uncomfortable when your alarm goes off at 6am and you are tired

You can frame working out, preparing healthy foods, moving your body, moderating alcohol consumption, and prioritizing sleep as sacrifices. But what is the alternative? You pick your poison. You pick what you are willing to be uncomfortable in and which has a greater reward for you. If skipping the gym and eating pizza has a greater reward then working out and preparing healthy meals than that is totally up to you. I would argue that neither is right or wrong. You get to decide. You pick your poison.

Meal Automation
April 8, 2019

Our brains have a limited amount of bandwidth for making decisions, leading to a phenomenon known as decision fatigue.

The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain. Eventually the brain looks for shortcuts. One shortcut is to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. “Sure, buy that chocolate bar and bag of chips at the gas station checkout!”. The second shortcut is to do nothing. By avoiding any choice, the mental strain is eased. For example, skipping breakfast altogether but later finding yourself head first in the box of donuts at the office.  Ducking a decision often creates bigger problems in the long run, but for the moment, it eases the mental strain.

After each decision, you have less bandwidth available to make future choices. Choices that will either bring you one step closer or one step further from your goals. My tip for managing decision making fatigue? Automation!

I’ve spoken about automation when it comes to clothing choices, but this same strategy applies to nutrition. If you are able to free yourself of the small decisions through automation, then you are much better equipped to make the decisions that cannot be automated.

 

Click here for my post on automating my outfits!

Some clients thrive automating breakfast, lunches, and snacks whereas others prefer more variety. My tip? Automate at least one meal or snack. That’s one less decision to make during the work day and less time going into grocery shopping, meal planning, and meal prep. It can even reduce food waste! Less time meal planning means more productive time to put towards your life’s mission whether that be career, family and friends, fitness and health, travel, or tackling the next item on your never-ending to-do list!

Automation of meals is not a perfect formula. Many meals have a social aspect like lunch meetings, family dinners, dates, and meet-ups with friends that can’t be planned for. That is perfectly okay! These type of meal events do not make up the predominant part of one’s week. Focus on simplifying the meals and snacks that are within your control!

Lately I have been automating breakfast! There are four components I look at including at every meal I create. These four components include:

  • Protein
  • Fibre
  • Healthy Fat
  • Volume Foods (eg. low calorie, nutrient dense foods like veggies and fruits)

My go-to, automated breakfast this week is oatmeal with berries and nut butter and a side of an egg and egg whites. It checks off my four boxes with:

  • Protein: egg and egg whites (minor amounts in the oatmeal and nut butter)
  • Fibre: oatmeal and berries
  • Healthy fat: nut butter
  • Volume: a handful of spinach scrambled with my eggs and the berries in my oats

Tip: include 30g of protein at breakfast for a meal that fuels you until noon! If you aren’t a breakfast eater (eg. intermittent fasting) still try to include a minimum of 30g of protein at the first meal you enjoy!

This meal is very simple but so delicious!

Yields:

1 Servings

Calories:
403
Fibre:
9g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 33g

 

Fat: 15g

 

Carbohydrates: 38g

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup (30g) old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup (100g) strawberries
  • 1/4 cup (50g) blackberries
  • 1 tbsp (15g) almond butter
  • ~1/2 cup (150g) egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • handful of spinach

Directions:

  1. Cook the oats in the microwave with a pinch of salt. Add cinnamon if desired.
  2. Meanwhile, spritz a pan with non-stick cooking spray. Saute the spinach and add the egg and egg whites.
  3. When the oatmeal is finished cooking, top it with the berries and almond butter.
  4. Enjoy with coffee and a big glass of water!

Tip: the source of carbohydrate from the berries and oats make this an energizing breakfast if you are someone who works out in the morning or early afternoon! 

Jump & Grow Wings
April 5, 2019

"Jump and grow wings on the way down"

I come back to this quote often. After being out of my routine for less than a week, I had an unexpected thought pop into my brain... “I could just skip the gym today.”

Woah! That caught me off guard. Going to the gym is like brushing my teeth. It’s a habit that I don’t think twice about.

I reminded myself to just go. Put on my shoes. Walk out the door. Trust that my body would take over from there! And you know what? It did! After seeing a few friendly faces at the gym and hoping on the bike to warm up, I felt excited to tackle my workout.

This reminded me of the quote above. Just start. Jump! You will figure it out as you go and feel so much better having started!

Nutrition is the perfect example. People always tell me they would start a nutrition program but it “isn’t the right time.” Honestly, there is no right time. You are never truly going to be ready and the stars likely won’t align.

There will always be challenges like birthdays, Easter, summer vacation, Thanksgiving, and Christmas that will throw you off. You just have to jump. You’ll grow wings on the way down! And if you don’t ... well .... Just kidding. If you fail, it’s just an opportunity to learn and try again. In the words of Seth Godin: “The person who fails the most, wins!”

Whatever your goals are, remind yourself that starting is the hardest part. Don’t wait until you are “ready” or it feels “right.” Go on the trip! Start the nutrition program! Take the course! Build a business!  Ask that cute guy or girl on a date! You’ll figure it out as you go

What are you jumping into today?

Starbucks Unsweetened Passionfruit Tea & Understanding Blood Sugars
April 4, 2019

“Don’t drink your calories”

This is go-to advice from pretty much any nutrition or fitness expert. It’s pretty dang important advice too! Caloric beverages don’t offer the fibre and micronutrients that are found in their whole food counterparts.

Take an apple as an example, a whole apple provides fibre, water, and takes a long time to eat compared to gulping down apple juice. It’s much easier (and often mindless!) to suck back 3 apples in juice form than it is to eat 3 whole apples!

Now I know what you are thinking - isn’t apple juice healthy? Well, for most individuals who are looking to manage or lose weight and feel energized it likely isn’t the best choice. It all comes down to understanding blood sugars. When it comes to feeling energized (ie. balancing blood sugar), juice is the equivalent to drinking a soda with some added vitamin C. Without the fibre, juice or other sweetened beverages digest far too quickly leading to a blood sugar spike and crash.

Visualize a roller coaster. Foods that digest quickly (ie. juice!) cause a blood sugar spike and subsequent crash. Eating a whole apple, however, provides fibre which slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream so you feel energized for longer.

Meals that balance blood sugar include the what I call the Fundamental Four which is fibre, healthy fat, protein, and volume foods (ie. whole food veggies and/or fruit). So if you take that whole apple (fibre and volume) and add some almonds (healthy fat), a hard boiled egg (protein) you have a balnaced nutrient profile to feel full, energized, and satisfied for hours!

Caloric beverages have some very clever marketing behind them! Starbucks has built an entire business on sweetened beverages. While I believe there is a time to “treat yourself” with your favorite beverage, I also believe it’s important to be an informed consumer.  Watch out for “health halos” - particularly with beverages!

A  “health halo” is a term I use to describe a packaged food or beverage that tricks us into thinking we made an awesome nutrition choice. When it comes to beverages, watch out for terms like “natural”, “organic”, “cold-pressed”, “skinny” or “100% fruit juice.” Even fresh pressed juice won’t offer the same volume and fibre content as vegetables and fruits in whole food form!

That being said, when it comes to nutrition I prefer to think about what I can add versus what I “can’t” have. I focus on ADDING non-caloric beverages instead of restricting the high-sugar beverages. While water or sparkling water are my go-to choices, sometimes it is refreshing to switch it up. In the summer months, this unsweetened passion fruit tea from Starbucks is my go-to!

The flavor in this unsweetened beverage comes from the herbs and spices in the tea bag so there is very close to zero calories. Just double check with your barista that they are preparing it without added syrup or the lemonade base. If there is one thing I’ve learned about Starbucks, it’s that they love to sneak in liquid sugar in anyway possible!

I hope you get the chance to try this refreshing and hydrating beverage on a hot spring or summer day!

Looking for a hot beverage order at Starbucks? Click here to learn more about my favorite Starbucks order in the winter when coffee just isn't cutting it!

Celebrate What You Get Right
April 3, 2019

Do you ever find yourself giving energy exclusively to the areas you need to improve on? Do you forget to give yourself a high-five for all the things you get right? Me!


Some examples...

  • "I need to exercise 5 days a week"
  • "I need to do a better job of meal planning"
  • "I need to get to bed earlier" or
  • "I need to hit my macros more consistently by tracking my food"

It’s great to set goals but don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for all the habits you are already crushing

As a personal example, I was feeling a bit down on myself this winter. I slipped on some great habits that I want to get back to including sleep and nutrition. Buuuuuut... I am taking a moment to feel proud of myself for my consistency with my walking habit all through the winter - even on the cold days I hit up a treadmill indoors to clock my 10,000 steps. Woot woot!

What is a habit you are rocking? Remember, the habit might be so engrained into your lifestyle that it doesn’t feel like it requires any effort. Oftentimes I have clients report that they have no “good habits” but when we delve into their lifestyle they are rocking 7-8 hours of sleep each night, are connecting with friends and family daily, and drink water as their most often beverage. These seemingly small habits are SO impactful! Celebrate them!

Interested in more Mindset tips:

Cottage Cheese Pancakes (3 Ingredients!)
March 3, 2019

Three ingredient protein-packed pancakes? Sign me up! The recipe made two medium pancakes to serve one!

Any meal that is packed with protein, fibre, healthy fat, and volume foods is a winner in my books. The recipe has a great base of protein (from the cottage cheese and egg) and fibre (from the oats) but is low in volume and healthy fat. But that's an easy fix - just add toppings. Let's be honest, the beauty is in the toppings!

Make it your own all while adding protein, fibre, healthy fat, and volume by:

  • Protein: add a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt or plain Greek yogurt mixed with your favorite protein powder
  • Fibre: top with thawed frozen berries or fresh berries. Tip: I LOVE microwaving frozen berries and then mixing them with 1 tsp of chia seeds which transforms the juices from the berries into a jam like consistency. Delicious topped on pancakes!
  • Healthy fats: I love slathering the pancakes in almond butter but a sprinkle of any nut or seed instantly boost the fats in the recipe - not to mention adds an extra dose of vitamins and minerals
  • Volume: I replace maple syrup with fresh berries or thawed frozen berries. The berries offer more volume, fibre, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals than syrup. But hey! I am not opposed to a drizzle of real Canadian maple syrup - yum yum!

Yields:

2 medium pancakes

Calories:
199
Fibre:
2g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 17g

 

Fat: 7g

 

Carbohydrates: 17g

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese (65g)
  • 1/4 cup oats (20g)

Directions:

  1. Combine the three ingredients in a small blender
  2. Add a dash of baking powder or cinnamon and vanilla.
  3. Spritz a frying pan with nonstick spray.
  4. Cook at medium heat on both sides but don’t flip until you see bubbles!
  5. Add nutrient-dense toppings. See above for ideas to make it your own!


Interested in more protein pancakes or waffles?

Consistency, Vacation, & Celebrations
February 27, 2019

Worried about exercising on vacation? Wondering how to navigate the menu at a birthday supper? Fearful of whether a holiday meal will derail your healthy eating goals? I am here to offer my perspective!

When making significant nutrition change, it is the seemingly “small” decisions you make every single day that add up to big changes. Many times, we can find ourselves placing emphasis on how the “big” events that come up in our day, week, or month will effect our progress. Like a celebratory birthday supper or a weeklong vacation.



Clients often ask me “how do I stay on track for my birthday supper?” or “what should I eat on vacation?”. It can be helpful to plan ahead for vacations, special events, and celebrations with family and friends. However, these special events make up a relatively small percentage of the “bigger picture” whether that picture is a month, a year, or a lifelong health journey.

In other words... enjoy delicious food on vacation! Eat the cake on your birthday! As shown in the infographic, a weeklong vacation and two celebrations per month make up a very small percentage of a year (8%). Focus on the opportunity you have to move the needle on the other 334 days by focusing on your daily habits. Heck, if you nailed your healthy habits on those other 334 days you’d score a 92% on the test and make significant progress towards your goal.

Give energy to your daily actions. Oh, and don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back when you do! How many times do we find ourself focusing on the habits we get wrong while forgetting to give ourselves a high five for the habits we get right!?

Productivity & Defining Success
February 11, 2019

Being unproductive. We’ve all been there. Feeling like there is too much to do, not enough time to do it, and at a loss for where to start.

Recently, my brother and his wife had their first baby. Looking back I can see it was irrational, but I had myself feeling so “busy” that I was struggling to take a day away from work to visit my nephew. Luckily, I had an “a-ha” moment. If I couldn’t prioritize seeing my newborn nephew then I really need to take a closer look at the way I was prioritizing my time. Nothing on my to-do list was more important and more urgent than holding my newborn baby nephew.

Since that moment, I have been carefully reflecting on how I prioritize tasks in my day. This led me to the Eisenhower Decision Matrix. The Matrix helps you decide on and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance. Prioritizing tasks by urgency and importance results in four quadrants. Visualizing the urgency and importance of tasks has been profound in organizing my day and allocating my time.

It’s easy to confuse being productive with being busy. Being busy is spinning your wheels. You are doing stuff, constantly. Being busy is an addiction. Crossing meaningless items off of a to-do list. You feel productive putting out fires but you aren’t actually getting ahead.

Being busy is just moving. Being productive is moving towards your goals. To be productive is to know the most important tasks you need to complete. How do you know which tasks are important? The Matrix.

 

One axis is labeled "importance" and the other "urgency". I like to draw the matrix as four quadrants in my journal. Then, I take my to-do list and categorize the items as being either "high" or "low" in importance and/or urgency.

  • Quadrant 1 are asks that are important to for your life and career and need to be done today or tomorrow. I carefully manage and prioritize these task to ensure they are finished in a timely fashion. Eg. finishing a work project by the deadline.

  • Quadrant 2 are tasks that move you towards your life mission and need to be prioritized daily. Eg. if your life mission is to be healthy, fit, and build meaningful relationships you may identify that each day it is important that you pack a healthy lunch, do a workout, and spend quality time with your partner.  I schedule these tasks like appointments that can’t be missed. If the tasks aren’t schedule, it is easy for Quadrant 1 or 3 tasks to take over. For example, I schedule my workout time in my calendar from 1-3pm as an appointment that can’t be missed. Many find success by accomplishing Quadrant 2 tasks in the morning. This could be starting the day with a workout, journaling, reading, meditation, or a wholesome breakfast. It's easy to skip Quadrant 2 tasks when the list of Quadrant 1 or 3 tasks is lengthy, but by defining important tasks you can ensure you put "first things first."

  • Quadrant 3 are tasks that are less important to you than other tasks but still fairly urgent. Eg. responding to an email, emptying the dishwasher, or returning a t-shirt before the return deadline. Completing these tasks may make us feel productive but really they just make us “busy.” It may be urgent to return a t-shirt before the return deadline, but returning the shirt doesn't likely propel you towards your life's mission. Emails are a great example of an urgent but less important task. Consider if you can delegate quadrant 3 tasks to others or time-block them. For example, hiring a house cleaner or scheduling specific times to respond to emails. By delegating tasks or time-blocking, you ensure Quadrant 3 tasks don't distract from more important items on your to-do list. 

  • Quadrant 4 are tasks that are not urgent and not important. Eg. surfing the internet for no reason or mindlessly scrolling Instagram. By discovering and discontinuing these “time wasters” you can buy yourself more time for quadrant 1 and 2 tasks. I believe that it is appropriate to "waste time” in ways you enjoy whether that be watching TV or sports, interacting with people on Instagram, or watching a YouTube video. Being mindful of potential time wasters ensure that you aren't distracted from completing important tasks that will actually propel you towards your version of success.

Earl Nightingale describes success as “the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” To me, a worthy ideal is working towards an accomplishment or becoming a version of yourself that will contribute positively to the world. Success can be found in accomplishing any task (big or small) that brings you closer to this worthy ideal. You are successful in every step you take towards building your vision.

If your worthy ideal is to be fit, eat well, and build meaningful relationships. You are successful when you pack a healthy lunch. You are successful when you do a workout. You are successful when you go for coffee with your best friend. The Eisenhower Decision Matrix defines these as Quadrant 2 tasks. By using The Matrix, you can identifying which tasks you need to prioritize to be successful today.

Using the Matrix increases my daily productivity, ensures I create an achievable to-do list, and helps me find success. I find success when I allocate time to and accomplish important tasks. As a specific example, the Matrix helped me realize that success can be found in spending an entire day cuddling my newborn nephew.

Ashley's Competition Pancakes
January 30, 2019

Ashley’s Competition Pancakes are a make-ahead snack that can be prepared and stored in the freezer before tossing into gym bags, lunchboxes, or anywhere you need a nutritious pre-workout snack. Credit to Ashley Young at CrossFit BRIO for sharing this fabulous recipe with me!

Many sports, including CrossFit, involve steady state effort in addition to high intensity effort. The primary fuel source for high-intensity efforts is carbohydrate. Planning “real food” snacks that are focused in carbohydrates with moderate amounts of protein and fat will provide a balanced nutrition profile for sustained energy during competition. Packing portable nutritious snacks should be a habitual routine for any athlete looking to maximize training and competition sessions!

Ashley’s Competition Pancakes are the perfect pre- or post- even snack for CrossFit competitions or any sporting event! Competition snacks should be items that are easily digested so that the athlete isn’t feeling overly “full” but at the same time feels energized and is not distracted by hunger. If the athlete eats too much and/or too close to the session, consequences such as cramps or sluggish muscles may be experienced. Such symptoms occur when energy and blood are drawn to the digestive system to process the calories consumed rather than to exercising muscles.

While most of this energy comes from balanced meals eaten prior to exercise, planning for pre-event snacks is essential as snacks provide the energy needed to optimize physical performance and improve mental focus. Click here for a specific blog post with more info, ideas, and food choices to fuel athletes!

Since most competitions are typically multi-event / multi-workout with breaks in between heats, you’ll want something to eat between those events. This is where planning – or lack of it – can make or break the performance. Ashley’s Competition Pancakes make a fantastic between event snack because they are:

  1. Easy to digest
  2. Low in fibre
  3. Delicious

Tip 1: Easy to Digest

Competition Pancakes are high in carbohydrate and protein but low in fat making them a quick, digestible source of energy within the hour of an event.

  • Carbohydrate-rich foods digest the fastest. Competition Pancakes contain oatmeal and applesauce as a source of carbohydrate. Some athletes require a higher ratio of carbohydrate to protein than what is supplied in the pancakes. If needed, add an extra source of carbohydrate with the pancakes like a piece of fruit.

  • Protein-rich foods are digested more slowly than carbohydrates. Protein foods slow the digestion of the snack for sustain energy and provide amino acids to build and repair muscle. The closer the snack is to the exercise bout, the less protein it should contain due to protein’s slower digestion rate.

  • Fat is digested very slowly. Immediately before the event, lower fat choices are best to ensure energy is delivered to the muscles and brain. Furthermore, high fat choices can cause digestive upset and discomfort. Competition Pancakes are low in fat. If fueling up within 30 minutes before an event, I recommend keeping fat low. However, if the snack is being enjoyed closer to an hour to 90 minutes before the event, a small amount of fat (eg. a tablespoon of peanut butter or some almonds) will be well tolerated and slow the digestion of the snack for more sustained energy.

Tip 2: Low in Fibre

Fibre is an essential nutrient for optimal health but is not an ideal nutrient to consume between events on competition day! Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is incompletely broken down for energy. This means, a high fibre snack won’t deliver the energy your brain and muscles require to perform optimally. Furthermore, high fibre foods can cause digestive upset and cramping - especially when coupled with pre-event nerves. Choose snacks that are lower in fibre.

As an example, the majority of protein bars like Quest bars, ONE bars, or Kirkland protein bars contain carbs from fibre. These bars will not provide the carbohydrates needed to support a high energy output of competition! While competition pancakes contain some fibre, they are relatively and provide a useable source of carbohydrates that can be accessed by our muscles and brain!

This isn't to say high-fibre protein bars cannot fit into your lifestyle - they just aren't an energizing and fuelling snack to enjoy before or after exercise.

Where to find bars appropriate for competition:

  • Elevate Me bars: London Drugs (pharmacy section), Co-op Marketplace, or Dad’s Organic market
  • Oatmeal Gold Bars (Natural Flavour): Popeye’s, Supplement World
  • Rx bars: Supplement World, Popeye’s

Tip 3: Delicious!

Competition is not the time to pack foods that you don’t LOVE or ingredients you have never consumed before. Many athletes feel nervous or unsettled on competition day which can decrease appetite. By packing foods you genuinely love, you ensure that you are eating enough carbohydrate, protein, and total calories to sustain energy levels. Personally, I find these pancakes delicious which makes them a fantastic competition snack! Whatever you decide to pack, make sure it is a snack you look forward to eating.

Ashley's recipe for Competition Pancakes yielded 5 medium pancakes. I store them in an Zip-loc bag in the freezer. I simple toss the Zip-loc bag into my gym bag and enjoy the pancakes cold before or after an event. Try toasting them for a warm snack! You can always pair the pancakes with fruit or berries for extra carbs, smear on some peanut or almond butter, or enjoy them alongside a few almonds. The Nutrition Facts are per one pancake. I recommend having 2-3 before or after an event - a larger athlete may need to eat the entire batch. Double or triple the recipe if you know you will require more energy or make extra to share with friends!

Yields:

5 Servings

Calories:
76
Fibre:
1g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 9g

 

Fat: 1g

 

Carbohydrates: 9g

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (40g) oat flour*
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (125g)
  • 1 scoop (30g) protein powder
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce **
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkle of salt

Directions:

  1. Make oat flour by grinding whole oats into a flour-like consistency in a blender or Magic Bullet
  2. Stir in the egg whites, protein powder, apple sauce, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly to ensure there are no clumps of protein powder in the batter.
  3. Spray a non-stick skillet with a spritz of non-stick spray on medium heat.
  4. Portion out 1/4 cup of the batter and pour into your skillet. Place a lid on the skillet and let cook for 2-3 minutes. When bubbles form, it is time to flip the pancake! Cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Let cool and enjoy OR add them to a Zip-loc bag and freeze them until you need them. Let them thaw or toast them for a quick pre- or post-event snack!

* grind regular old fashioned oats in a blender or Magic Bullet to make homemade oat flour
** I used 1 container of the snack-size Mott's apple sauce

Search "Vitality Nutrition Competition Pancakes in MyFitnessPal to add the recipe to your food tracking*

Create versus Consume
January 21, 2019

Are you creating your world or consuming it?

We live in an area with so much information readily available to us and access at our fingertips. It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. But it can all be distracting and overwhelming.

I consume a lot - and not just food. I consume content from Instagram, Facebook, articles, YouTube videos, blogs, advertisements, books, and emails. I love consuming. It provides inspiration. But there is a fine line between feeling inspired and feeling “bogged down” by the content we are consuming. I rarely feel productive after mindlessly scrolling IG for 30 minutes...

Be mindful of the ratio that you consume versus create. When I consume more than I create, I feel drained. Like I am comparing myself to others or like I am not doing enough. When I focus on shifting the ratio to creating more than I consume, I feel happier, more confident, and productive.

I encourage you to monitor how much you consume versus create. Is the ratio balanced? Creating takes so many unique forms. You can create through cooking, writing blog posts, photography, gardening, or music. Or perhaps you are creating meaningful memories or relationships with friends or family.

Cooking is my favourite creative outlet. The photos is for my Slow Cooker Thai Coconut Soup which I first created last year.  The perfect soup for a cold winter day and balanced with protein, fibre, healthy fats, and volume from a variety of colourful veggies! Click here for the full recipe.

Like A Can of Soup
January 8, 2019

I hated this photo. But then I read a really great quote, and I realized this photo captured something about me that is much more important than my appearance. It captured my intense focus and drive when I set my mind to something. Even if it is just a set of kettlebell swings!

I’ll share the quote: “People act like... I am a can of soup and they can just read the list of ingredients and know everything about me. There’s lots of stuff about soup inside that they can’t put on the label, like how it smells and tastes and makes you feel.”

The quote starts with ... “people act like”... which makes it seem that it is other’s who care about our appearance. But does anybody truly care what we look like? If we are 10 pound heavier or lighter? Or if we have a pimple on our face? Or if we are sporting the newest brand name outfit?

Of course we all notice the appearance of those around us. But is appearance what we truly value in the people who matter most to us? More often than not, I believe we put these expectations on ourselves. The expectation that we will be better if we lose weight, have clear skin, or buy the most expensive shoes. Like soup, the way we make people feel can’t be measured in our outward appearance. Like soup, what is on the label is only 10% of our story. It is what’s on the inside, which can’t easily be described, that makes us valuable to our friends, family, or communities.

Looking past appearance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of yourself. Eating well, exercising, or putting on some make up are important ways to nourish ourselves. When we nourish our bodies we have confidence. When we have confidence we can accomplish our life’s mission. This quotes reminds me of why we should choose to exercise, eat well, and take care of ourselves. It is less about the way we look and more about having the energy and confidence to make people feel good when they are around us.

Losing weight won’t make you a better friend, mother, daughter, or coworker. Like a can of soup, the way we make people feel can’t be measured by a Nutrition Facts table or an ingredient list.

Inner Coach
January 1, 2019

[from CompTrain Instagram]

That voice inside your head is going to coach you more than anyone else ever will. We need to become aware of that voice. If that voice was displayed over a loudspeaker, would you be proud of what it was saying? Or would you have some reservations?



What is your inner coach telling you? “Oh my god this hurts so bad." “Travel day yesterday, you don’t need to go super hard.” “They won’t know whether this is your best or not.” “Pull back a little bit, save something for tomorrow.”⠀

You're the only one who will ever know. But pay attention. Because your thoughts become your words, and those words become you actions. If you can change the thoughts inside your head, you change the way you act. You can change who you are, and who you'll become.

When it comes to nutrition, we can apply these same principles. Watch your words. They’re extremely powerful. The voice in your head is your best coach - but it can be your worst one, too.

As an example: “Anytime I am stressed I go to town on a tub of ice cream.” What you say is a direct reflection of what you think, and what you think becomes your reality.

We all have an ego. This is good in some situations - our ego can protect us. But this ego doesn’t like to be proven wrong. Say you have that tub of ice cream in your freezer. Even if you didn’t want it, you would likely eat it because you identified yourself as being someone who goes to town on a tub of ice cream when stressed.

I have two ideas to start to change the voice in your head and be your own best coach.

1. Use past-tense. As an example, “I use to be someone who ate a tub of ice cream when stressed” versus “I am someone...” This is the fake it until you make it mentality. You might not see benefits right away - but if you consistently use the past tense you will start to identify negative thoughts as something you use to do but not something you do now.

2. Visualize the ideal you. Remember, the ideal you is consistent. This is where I made mistakes in the past. I use to visualize an “ideal me” that was too extreme, this meant I couldn’t achieve consistency. It might not be realistic to say: “the ideal me will never have ice cream again”. Instead you might say “the ideal me would have a scoop of ice cream sometimes but not all the time.”

Taste Satisfaction & Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars
December 19, 2018

Last week, I posted a blog with three tips to thrive during the holiday season. Tip #2 was to only eat your holiday favorites that are special to the season. It might be the homemade butter tart your grandma makes, the stuffing that you only have at Christmas dinner, or a buttery shortbread cookie while decorating the Christmas tree. Whatever this treat is for you, consider trying the exercise highlighted in the blog post to understand taste satisfaction. By listening to your taste buds, you may realize that the treat isn’t as tasty as your memories are leading you to believe or that you need to eat less of it to feel satisfied. Continue reading for more understanding!

Some foods taste better than other foods. We all know this! We also know that our preference for certain foods may be different from other people’s preferences. As an example, in a CrossFit class I coached, each participant shared their favorite Christmas treat. I found myself nodding in agreement at some of the treats shared (eg. Butterscotch Marshmallow Squares) and feel baffled at how someone could describe fruit cake as their absolute favorite! Taste satisfaction is the word used to describe how good a food taste in general or even in the moment. Taste satisfaction is unique to the person and the memories associated with different foods.

Foods taste better when we are hungry and in need of calories because our taste buds light up brighter and bring their message strongly to our brains. As we continue eating taste buds tire. Taste buds tire rapidly if we are less hungry and more slowly is we are very hungry. This means food tastes better towards the beginning of a meal compared to the end.

Our taste buds detect fives types of signals - sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and Umami (the Japanese word for savory, protein-type tastes). Different flavours will awaken different tastes responses and our taste buds are capable of experiencing and registering flavours fully for only a short period of time. Once taste buds tire, eating more of the same signal won’t re-stimulate them. This is called taste satiety. If you carefully pay attention you may be surprised to find how quickly taste satiety begins to set in and taste satisfaction begins to drop. Paying attention to taste satisfaction is powerful. When we don’t pay attention, we may chase the flavour to recapture the pleasure of the first few bites - but this isn't possible. You may also find yourself continuing to eat to chase a memory of a flavour. For example, the store-bought chocolate chip cookie that remind you of the homemade chocolate chip cookie you ate at your grandma’s house aa a child. Are the cookies really delicious? Or is it a memory that you are chasing? If you tune into taste satisfaction, you can differentiate memories from your taste experience to determine if the food is worth eating.

Try this exercise with your favorite treat

The next time you have your favorite treat (there are many to choose from this time of year!) take some time to pay attention to taste satisfaction.

  1. Rank the taste of the first bite. You may notice the taste is amazing or maybe not so good. Rank the taste on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being “yum!” and 1 being “yuck”.
  2. Continue with a second bite. If the first bite is an 8, continue eating and rank the second bite. How is the taste changing? Is your enjoyment going up or down. Perhaps the second bite is a 9 or maybe taste satisaction is down to a 6.
  3. Continue to evaluate for the third, fourth, and even fifth bite. You can keep on eating it, of course, but notice how the taste continues to change. Are your taste buds tiring of the flavour?
  4. Tune into your experience to compare this moment to other times you had the treat. Many people find that it takes only 5 small bites to feel satisfied and for taste receptors to fatigue. Once the taste receptors are fatigure - you need to switch to a different flavour. As an example, if your treat was "sweet" you will need to switch to a flavour like Umami, bitter, salty, or sour to brighten new taste receptors. Some people even realize that the taste of their "favorite" treat wasn't actually good at all. They may have been building up the memory of the food but when turning into taste buds realize the treat didn't rank high on the taste scale.

One of my favorite quotes to go along with this exercise is by Andie Mitchell: “Another plate wouldn’t have brought me any greater satisfaction, because contentment doesn’t double by the serving”

On the topic of treats and taste satisfaction, I had a few people mention that they had made a recipe I had posted last year for a lighter version of the Starbucks’ Cranberry Bliss Bars using a recipe adapted from SkinnyTaste. See the original post here for a nutritional comparison to the Starbucks version and a video on how to make them. If you make the recipe, I hope you take on the taste satisfaction challenge to tune into your sweet taste receptors. You may find that one of these bars is enough to satisfy. A second bar may bring no greater satisfaction. In the words of Andie Mitchell, contentment doesn’t double by the serving.

Yields:

30 Servings

Calories:
123

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 4g

 

Fat: 4g

 

Carbohydrates: 18g

Ingredients:


Cookie base
 

  • 2 cups (240g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (56g) butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Truvia 
  • 2 egg whites (63g)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 100g white chocolate chips (1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup (40g) dried cranberries


Cream Cheese Frosting
 

  • 454g (2 spreadable containers) 95% fat free cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon Truvia (or more if you want it sweeter)


Topping
 

  • 50g (~ 3 tablespoons) white chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/4 cup (40g) dried cranberries, chopped 

 

Directions:


Part 1: Cookie Base

  1. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  2. In a seperate bowl, combine the melted butter, egg whites, apple sauce, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until light and fluffy. 
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  4. Fold in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
  5. Spread the cookie mixture on a baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 20 minutes at 350F. Let the cookie base cool completely. 


Part 2: Frosting

  1. Soften the cream cheese and mix it with vanilla and Truvia. You can add more or less Truvia depending on your preference.
  2. Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the cooled cookie base.


Part 3: Assembly

  1. Sprinkle the dried craisins evenly on the bars. Drizzle the melted white chocolate. 
  2. Cut into 15 squares and then cut each square in half for a total of 30 triangles.

*Search "Vitality Nutrition Cranberry Bliss Bars" to find the bars in the MyFitnessPal database

Nutrition to Thrive this Holiday Season
December 11, 2018

Holiday parties, family gatherings, and an abundance of treats around the home and office can bring feelings of anxiety for those who have specific nutrition or athletic goals. So how do we manage healthy eating with all of the social events and parties?



1. Add … Don’t Subtract!

If you’re in the “diet mentality” each day will feel like a battle to avoid the “bad foods.” Flip it. When eating better,  think about adding and not subtracting. Don’t avoid the treats and dessert. Just add the healthy stuff. Including plenty of veggies and fruit at each meal is a great place to start!

Tip #1: Enjoy a whack load of veggies and fruit and don’t stress about the rest. When you load up on veggies and fruit, there is less room (or desire) leftover for foods that don’t support athletic endeavors or energy levels.

 

Sneak veggies and fruit on your plate in as many ways as you enjoy. Some ideas:

  • Make half your plate fruits and veggies at every meal (you can even do this at a holiday gathering!)
  • Contribute a veggie based appetizer like raw veggies and hummus or a homemade dip (see this recipe!) so you know there will be a veggie option at the event
  • Bring fresh fruit or berries as a dessert contribution

Try fruit kebabs, veggie kebabs, or a veggie platter with hummus or Bolthouse ranch dressing.

2. Savour Your Favorites

Take some time to reflect on which treats are truly special to you. It is common to have food FOMO (“fear of missing out”) with endless tasty treats available. Consider the quote by Evelyn Tribole when choosing your favorite treats: “if you don’t love it, don’t eat it. If you do love it, savour it.”

 

Chances are your true favorites aren’t the Pot of Gold chocolates, the generic donuts from Tim Hortons, or the store bought cupcakes. These treats can be purchased and enjoyed at any time. Consider opting for "treats" that are unique to the season, have special memories, or are homemade. 

Tip #2: Only eat your holiday favorites that are special to the season. It might be the homemade butter tart your grandma makes, the stuffing that you only have at Christmas dinner, or a buttery shortbread cookie while decorating the Christmas tree.

3. Sit Down

A couple bites while preparing your dish, some extra snacks from the coffee table spread of appetizers, and snacking on the leftovers while cleaning up from the meal can add a substantial amount of unneeded calories and sugar. When you mindless munch, you are more likely to overeat. More importantly, you aren’t taking the time to truly savour and enjoy the food.

Tip #3: Make it a rule that you will sit down whenever you are eating. By sitting down, you avoid distraction and truly can savour your food. Eat your food slowly taking breaks between bites. As such, you will feel satisfied and avoid overeating or excess consumption of treats and sweets.

Bottom-line:

The holidays are about friends, family, joy, giving, and of course… good food! When sticking to your healthy eating goals, make it a habit to

  1. Add healthy foods (eg. veggies and fruits!)
  2. Savour the treats that are special to you
  3. Sit down to enjoy your meals or treats

By following three simple tips, you can enjoy all that the holiday season has to offer and stay on track with healthy eating!

Interested in more tips? Click here. 

Cinnamon Apple Pulled Chicken
December 4, 2018

This is a throwback to one of my first ever "recipe creations". It was my start to veering away from following strict recipes and instructions and coming up with my own concoctions! I originally posted the recipe on the Vitality blog in 2016. I had forgotten about the recipe until recently and decided to bring it back into rotation this week. 

Although I haven't tried it, I am thinking that you could easily replace the chicken breast with pork loin! Make a large batch to serve to a crowd or enjoy as leftovers throughout the week. 

I have been enjoying this recipe post-workout alongside some rice and cauliflower "rice" for extra veggies and volume. This carbohydrate containing meal with the rice and maple syrup is welcomed after a tough workout. 

If you make this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram @vitaitynutrition_ or Facebook so I can see your creations!

 

Yields:

10 Servings (125g each)

Calories:
152

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 23g

 

Fat: 1g

 

Carbohydrates: 11g

Ingredients:

  • 1000g chicken, raw (about 7 chicken breasts)
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar or chicken broth
  • 300g Granny Smith apples, sliced (2 apples)
  • 150g onion, sliced (1 onion)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of salt

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. If using the Instant Pot, set it to "poultry" and pressure cook for 35 minutes.
  3. Divide into 10 servings.
  4. Serve on rice or cauliflower "rice" (or a combination of both!). You can also add it to wraps or salads! 

Search "Vitality Nutrition Cinnamon Apple Chicken" to log the recipe in MyFitnessPal.

Chicken Tikka Masala
December 1, 2018

If you have never prepared Indian foods, my recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala is an easy way to get started! The word “tikka” means chunky and the word “masala” refers to a spice mix. If you want to keep it extra simple, you can even pick up a tikka masala spice blend from the grocery store! I’ve prepared the recipe with both plain Greek yogurt and coconut milk and both are equally tasty. I prepared spaghetti squash as my carbohydrate choice but white rice, cauliflower rice, or naan would be great as well!

Yields:

4 servings (250g portion)

Calories:
182
Fibre:
2g

Nutrition Facts

(when prepared with plain Greek yogurt)

 

Protein: 32g

 

Fat: 2g

 

Carbohydrates: 9g

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, chopped
  • ½ onion (150g)
  • 2 tbsp Tikka Masala spice mixture (or 1 tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp cumin, ½ tbsp coriander, 1 tsp cinnamon, and a pinch of cayenne)
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 pound chicken, cubed (454g)
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • ½ cup of plain Greek yogurt or 1 cup coconut milk

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add in the minced garlic and onion. Cook until translucent.
  2. Add the spice mixture to the pot and stir . Add half of the chicken stock.
  3. Cube the chicken and add it to the mixture. Add the rest of the chicken stock and stir until the chicken is no longer pink.
  4. dd in the tomato puree and Greek yogurt (or coconut milk) and let the mixture simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Serve over rice, cauliflower rice, or roasted spaghetti squash
Holiday Gift Ideas
November 27, 2018

I wish I could say I made commision recommending these products (hehe!) but this is just genuinely a list of items I personally love and would recommend as gifts.

For the CrossFit Kool-Aid Drinker

Bear Komplex

These are my favorite gymnastic grips. When asked what is the one CrossFit "accessory gear" I would recommend I always say I would choose my grips over my lifters or belt. I wear a medium which offers a bit more material to create a gymnastics grip on the pull up bar.

RPM Jump Rope

The RPM jump ropes are pricey but worth the investment for avid CrossFitters.

Whoop

 

The Whoop tracks HRV (heart rate variability), resting heart rate, and sleep to help athletes optimize recovery and training loads. Do note that this device is not a watch. A Whoop band is unique in its ability to measure HRV which is a measure of the naturally occurring irregularity of your heartbeat. HRV trends can help individuals optimize their lifestyle, training, sleep, and nutrition to optimize their performance.

Dumbells & Kettlebell for Home Workout

 

 

For the Female Fitness Enthusiast

Align Pants from Lululemon

These pants are so soft and flattering - definitely a favorite! Technically they aren't meant for CrossFit as the barbell is abrasive on the delicate material - but I say #yolo and wear them for everything. I laughed when the lady at Lululemon told me not to wear them outside of yoga!

Fit Bit Versa

 

 

I am not a super fan of the look of most FitBits but I love the simplicity of the Versa.

Oura Ring

 

Similar to Whoop, the Oura ring tracks activity, sleep, and heart rate variability to better understand your body and reach your goals. Unfortunately, they are tough to get a hold of and currently on back order!

For the Cooking Lover

Instant Pot

 

 

The Instant Pot is such a great tool for busy families! You can pressure cook flavourful meals in a fraction of the time.

Le Creuset French Oven

This is a price-y gift idea but perhaps one of my favorite kitchen tools. I love it for making my Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Bake or Chicken "Carbonara' Pasta.

Heritage “The Rock” Frying Pan

 

This pan is my absolute favorite for morning omelettes or homemade protein pancakes. I was gifted it for my birthday a year ago and it is one of my favorite gifts to date. (Shout out to my friend Hannah!)

T-Fal Acti-Fry

The best way to eat potatoes! With only a small amount of oil, you can make potatoes that are crispier than oven-roasted potatoes and as delicious as fries.

Yeti Coffee Mugs

Cabelas in Saskatoon has a great selection of Yeti mugs! They are insulated to keep your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold far longer than standard drinkware.

Useful Stocking Stuffers

Stainless Steel Straws

 

 

I love sipping my coffee from stainless steel straws as a strategy to prevent staining on my teeth. Reusable straws are also great for environmentally cautious smoothie lovers!

Scrunchies

I love scrunchies as they keep my hair out of my face while working out without tugging or pulling out my hair. Most women are frusturated by the small baby hairs around their face which are a result of hair being pulled out with an aggressive pony tail flip that happens when Assault biking, burpeeing, running, or jumping. 

Starbucks VIAs

I love Starbucks VIA coffees and they are perfect if you are travelling or on the road. They call them "microground coffee" but let's be honest they are just glorified instant coffee. Pick them up at any grocery store - but Save on Foods has the best selection of roasts. My favorite is the “True North.”

Grenade Protein Bars

 

Consider gifting protein bars instead of chocolates or candies. Most fitness enthusiasts would likely prefer to have a few extra protein bars on hand for travel during the holidays. You can pick these bars up at Supplement World, Popeyes in Saskatoon, or at BRIO East.

Oatmeal Gold Protein Bars in flavour “Natural”

 

 

These are my personal favorite protein bars and they have a great ingredient list. Again, consider protein bars as an alternative to chocolates and candies as stocking stuffers. You can pick these bars up at Supplement World, Popeyes in Saskatoon, and BRIO East. I highly recommend picking up the “Natural” flavour specifically for a better nutrition profile. They make a great pre- or post- workout snack!

Rx bars
These protein bars have a simple ingredient list and are a great idea for a stocking stuffer. You can order them online or pick them up at Supplement World in Saskatoon.

Goat Tape

 

Goat tape is simply the best for the CrossFit Kool-Aid drinker! Use it to tape ripped hands or wrapped around your thumbs for extra grip on a pull-up bar or barbell. BRIO East currently has this tape in stock!

Dark Chocolate

I know I am a big fan of portioned controlled quantities of chocolates or other treats! The mini-Brookside chocolates and individually wrapped almond butter cups are available at Costco.

Road Trip Essentials


You can’t go wrong stuffing a stocking with useful items like portioned nuts, gum, or beef jerky - these are road-trip staples. Many recipients would be thrilled to receive some healthy snacks for holiday travels.

Portioned Nut Butters


I absolutely love these portioned nut butter for travelling. Enjoy as a quick snack in an airport or pair them with some fruit. So convenient and a great stocking stuffer idea!

Easy Turkey and Cabbage Stir Fry
November 22, 2018

Turkey and Cabbage Stir Fry is probably one of the easiest dishes to make. Both cabbage and carrot are budget friendly ways to add veggies to your menu.  You could easily diversify this dish by adding sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced bell pepper, water chestnuts, snow peas, or green onion. Try swapping in ground beef, ground bison, or ground pork for the ground turkey. 

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
229
Fibre:
5g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 25g

 

Fat: 8g

 

Carbohydrates: 17g

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tsp ginger root, chopped
  • 1 pound extra lean ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded (500g)
  • 2 carrots, grated (200g)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • siracha 
  • seasame seeds to garnish 

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, garlic, and ginger. Sautee for a couple minutes.
  2. Add the ground turkey (or ground meat of choice) and the tamari (or soy sauce). Cook the meat until browned.
  3. Add the shredded cabbage and carrots to the skillet and continue to cook until the cabbage is wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with siracha (optional) and seasame seeds. 

 

The Benefits of Eating Slowly
November 20, 2018

Slow down your eating to improve your health.

The benefits of slow eating include:

  1. Better digestion
  2. Easier weight loss or maintenance
  3. Greater satisfaction with our meals

Most people eat fast. Really fast. Even Registered Dietitians (*cough cough me!*). If you’re like me, you may find yourself neglecting to chew your food properly let alone savour it. A powerful habit Vitality Nutrition clients work towards is eating slowly. Eating slowly is simple but not easy! Busy, rushed, and distracted lifestyles can make eating quickly a tough habit to break. Yet learning to eat slowly is a powerful way to improve your health.

1. Improved digestion

Eating slowly assists digestion.

Digestion starts before food enters our mouth! As soon as we see, smell, or think about food we salivate. Saliva moistens the mouth for easier swallowing and contains enzymes that break food down. Large bites of partially broken down food are difficult to breakdown in the stomach and enter the small intestines. These large particles of improperly chewed food can contribute to indigestion. Furthermore, the large particles of food are less accessible for optimal absorption of nutrients. Chewing food thoroughly can improve digestion and nutrient absorption!

2. Weight maintenance or loss

One of the most important benefits of eating slowly is that it gives your body time to recognize that you’re full.

It takes about twenty minutes from the start of a meal for the brain to send out signals of satiety. Try setting a clock at your next meal. Many people eat their meal much faster than 20 minutes! Overeating can occur if you don’t give your body the time to register that it no longer requires food. Eating slowly, on the other hand, gives your body and brain the opportunity to communicate. This makes it easier to eat the appropraite number of calories for your personal energy needs. 

3. Feeling Satisfied

Eating slowly is an especially helpful habit as we enter the Holiday season.

Eating slowly also helps us feel more satisfied. Slowing down means savouring the meal, paying attention to tastes and textures, appreciating each bite, and socializing with others. By slowing down your eating pace you can tune into your taste buds. Our taste buds actually tire after 4-5 bites of a flavour - this is called taste satisfaction. Consider how you can feel stuffed after a large Christmas supper yet still be interested when dessert is offered! This occurs because your taste buds are tired of the savoury flavours but have not yet tired of a sweet taste.

As you enjoy your favorite foods this Holiday season, pay attention to your taste satisfaction. You may find your taste buds tire of a flavour after only a few bites. This may mean you don’t need to finish everything on your plate to feel satisfied or can have a smaller portion of dessert. Instead of restricting your favorite foods this Holiday season, practice eating them slowly! This habit allows you to enjoy all of your favorite holiday foods without going overboard!

Struggling to eat slowly? Consider some tips:

Most of us lead fast-paced lives and it’s understandable that we feel rushed to eat our meals. But it is worth it to take time for your meals! When eat slowly we improve digestion and nutrient absorption, more easily maintain a healthy body weight, and experience greater satisfaction from the meal. Consider implementing the habit of eating slowly to enjoy your favorite foods this Holiday season while maintaining optimal health!

Americano Misto - Starbucks Menu Hack
November 13, 2018

With winter here and the holidays approaching, we often find ourselves at a local coffee shop or Starbucks. While calorie-free beverages including water, black coffee, and tea should be our “most often” choices, many of us are looking to add some flair to warm beverages during the colder months.

If you’ve ever looked up the nutrition on popular holiday Starbucks’ drinks, you know that some contain a meal’s worth of calories and are the nutritional equivalent to ice cream!

If you are looking to add some zest to your coffee order, but still want to make a better choice, consider our favorite “Starbucks hack":



Tip: most local coffee shops and Starbucks will have a few options for sugar-free syrup including Vanilla or Cinnamon Dolce. If you don't enjoy sugar-free syrup, ask the barista to go "half sweet" on a regular syrup or sweetener. 

Check out this link for a throwback post with some other "better-for-you" holiday drink ideas.

Simple Energy Bites
November 3, 2018

Here’s how to make your own homemade "Lara Bars or bites" which I call Simple Energy Bites. You only need three ingredients - dried fruit, nuts, and salt! Use your creativity and favorite ingredients to create variations—including chocolate, apple pie, and cashew cookie. They’re paleo, easy, gluten-free, and delicious!

These homemade Simple Energy Bites are a great stored in the freezer and can be quickly thrown into lunchboxes, gym bags, back packs, or anywhere else you need to stash a quick pre-workout snack! These Simple Energy Bites are especially fantastic for athletic youngsters who require more calories to support growth, development, and the demands of physical activity. The dense source of carbohydrates and fats from the dried fruit and nuts make these a great little snack to support the calorie requirements of these athletic youngsters. 

The timing of meals and snacks can be a challenge for athletes who are managing school, homework, work, and/or family life in addition to the commitments of training, practice, and competition.  Alongside three nutritionally balanced meals, snacks provide the extra energy young athletes need for sport performance, energy, and growth requirements. Packing portable nutritious snacks should be a habitual routine for every young athlete to maximize training and competition sessions.  These Simple Energy Bites do the trick  

Sports such as lacrosse, hockey, soccer, and baseball involve steady state effort in addition to short bursts of high intensity effort. The primary fuel source for these efforts is carbohydrate. Planning “real food” snacks that are focused in carbohydrates with small amounts of fats and protein will not only provide a balanced nutrition profile for sustained energy in sport but the nutrients needed for optimal health, development, and growth.   

Pre-event snacks should be items that are easily digested so that the athlete isn’t feeling overly “full” but at the same time feels energized and is not distracted by hunger. If the athlete eats too much and/or too close to the session, they may experience consequences such as cramps or sluggish muscles. This occurs when energy and blood are drawn to the digestive system to process the calories consumed rather than to exercising muscles. Most athletes will eat anywhere between 2 to 4 hours before their session to allow enough time to partially digest their meal. Many young athletes will benefit from a pre-event “top-up” snack within the hour before their game, practice, or competition.  

Click here for a specific blog post with more info, ideas, and food choices to fuel young athletes!

Nuts and tree nuts are a concern if young athletes are taking this Simple Energy Bites to school. Peanut butter (and other peanut-containing products) are restricted from many elementary school classrooms because of the growing number of children with peanut allergies. School peanut restrictions typically include tree nuts, too. That means products including almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios also can’t be packed in lunch boxes. Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are an allergen-free alternative to nuts or peanuts. Read labels carefully as brands made in facilities that manufacture other peanut and tree nut products will declare “may contain peanuts or tree nuts” 

While most of this energy comes from balanced meals eaten prior to exercise, planning for pre-event snacks is essential as snacks provide the energy needed to optimize physical performance and improve mental focus for technique and skill execution on the field, ice, or court.  Some ideas to consider for atheltes who require a snack within 30 minutes of physical activity:

   

Consider the recipe below as the "base recipe" with opportunity to add other creative mix-ins!    

Dark Chocolate Simple Energy Bite

Prepare the bars according to the base recipe, using:

  • 1 cup dates
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt    

Note: you may need to add a tablespoon or two of water to get the mixture to stick!

Apple Pie Simple Energy Bites

Prepare the bars according to the base recipe, substituting the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried apples
  • 1 cup raw pecans or walnuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Cashew Cookie Simple Energy Bites 

Prepare the bars according to the base recipe, substituting the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup dates
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 

PB & J Simple Energy Bites

Prepare the bars according to the base recipe, substituting the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup packed dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup packed dates
  • 1 cup peanuts
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

 

Cake Batter Energy Bites (click here!)

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
114
Fibre:
2g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 2g

 

Fat: 5g

 

Carbohydrates: 13g

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dates (160g), soaked
  • 1 cup nuts (120g)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt   

Directions:

  1. Place your nuts in a food processor and process until finely chopped but not pastelike. 
  2. Add the dates to the nut mixture and process until they are broken down into small pieces. Note: if your dates aren't moist, soak them in hot water to rehydrate them prior to adding them to the food processor. 
  3. Add the salt and any other creative mix-ins and to the food processor and pulse until the mixture begins to stick together. The mixture will begin to stick together forming a large ball. 
  4. Remove the mixture from the processor and form into 12 balls.  

  Search "Vitality Nutrition Simple Energy Bites" to add the base recipe to your MyFitnessPal tracking.


 

Stuffed Acorn Squash
October 24, 2018

Checking off the boxes of simplicity, fibre and veggies, this stuffed acron squash is easy to make and brought about the colours and comfort of fall! The recipe uses minimal ingredients and is very adaptable in customizing flavours and ingredients to meet your needs.

Acorn squash is so pretty to look at with its "flowered" ridges and bright colours once cut open and much like the kabocha squash, can be made savory or sweet! I went for a twist both elements in this dish, but feel free to experiment with falvours.

This recipe was made smaller, but could easily be doubled to accomodate more servings. The use of apple in the recipe brings about a sweet touch with fibre, but can be omitted based on preference. I used extra lean ground beef here, but ground turkey, chicken or lean sausage would all taste great. Try topping the stuffed squash with grated parmesan cheese for an extra punch and added fats!

Portion sizes will vary with the size of the squash you use. For reference and purposes of this recipe, I took into account a 100g serving of the baked squash.

Yields:

2 Servings

Calories:
236
Fibre:
7g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 25g

 

Fat: 4g

 

Carbohydrates: 26g

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces extra lean ground beef
  • bell pepper (100g), diced
  • gala apple (120g), diced
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach
  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeds scooped out
  • dash of cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. While the oven is heating up slice your squash in half horizontally, scoop out all of the seeds and place on a baking sheet.
  2. Sprinkle salt, pepper and cinnamon on the squash, baking in the oven for 25-30 minutes (depending on the size of the squash), or until it is soft enough to pierce with a fork.
  3. While the squash is baking, cook the extra lean ground beef in a pan adding the diced pepper, spinach and apple once the meat is cooked through.
  4. Once the squash is done, divide the mixture evenly between the two halves and add any additional desired toppings (such as cheese). Place back in the oven for 5 minutes to heat through.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Search Vitality Stuffed Acorn Squash for the filling to add the recipe to MyFitnessPal for your tracking.

Egg Roll Skillet (5 ingredients!)
October 16, 2018

I love simple recipes. Too many ingredients in a recipe leaves me feeling overwhelmed and less likely to want to prepare it. I kept this recipe to 5 simple ingredients but you can definitely add more flavor and complexity with my recommendations below. The versatility of this recipe is what makes it so great! The meal comes together in well under 30 minutes and requires one pot for easy clean up. You can make the most of your time by chopping the veggies as the turkey cooks or purchase pre-shredded coleslaw mix to replace the cabbage.

I tried this recipe with both ground turkey and ground beef and enjoyed them equally. The recipe is great as written but you can adjust it based on your personal preference or macronutrient needs. For example:

  • Fats can be increased by serving it with cashews, avocado, or opting for ground beef or pork over ground turkey.
  • Carbs can be increased by serving alongside 1/2 to 1 cup of rice
  • Veggies can be increased or swapped out. Try adding match stick carrots, sliced peppers, or a couple handfuls of spinach!
  • Extras can be added for a more flavorful dish. Drizzle sriracha over top, add soy sauce, use sesame oil to saute the garlic and onions, or add some grated ginger!

Aside from being quick to assemble, the recipe is also budget friendly as cabbage tends to be a more affordable veggie but still packed with fibre, vitamins, and minerals!

This recipe hits my main requirements for a meal which include a source of protein, fibre, and lots of volume from the cabbage and mushrooms. Again, the combinations are endless so mix it up to suit your preference. The recipe is even better reheated as leftovers!

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
200
Fibre:
5g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 25g

 

Fat: 6g

 

Carbohydrates: 13g

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (454g) extra lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion (150g), chopped
  • 1 package sliced mushrooms (300g)
  • 1 small cabbage, sliced (500g)

Directions:

  1. Add the ground turkey to a Dutch Oven or large skillet on medium heat. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water alongside the turkey so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the skillet. The ground turkey is lean so a little bit of water helps but a fattier cut of meat like ground pork or beef likely won't require any extra liquid.
  2. Add the minced garlic and onion to the turkey mixture. Saute until the onions are translucent and the ground turkey is cooked through. Alternatively, you can add 1/2 tbsp of oil to the pan and saute the onions and garlic ahead of time. This adds flavor but is an extra step I prefer skipping!
  3. Add the shredded cabbage and sliced mushrooms. As the water releases from the veggies it will steam the mixture. Cook until the mushroom and cabbage are soft. To save on time, add a package of coleslaw instead of slicing a whole cabbage. Consider adding other veggies like sliced peppers or matchstick carrots.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. I enjoy the recipe as written but you can serve it over rice for extra carbohydrate or add sesame seeds, cashews, or avocado for extra fats.

Find the recipe in MyFitnessPal by searching for "Vitality Nutrition Egg Roll Skillet"

Meet my favorite squash .. Kabocha!
October 9, 2018

Meet my favorite squash... the Kabocha squash otherwise known as Japanese pumpkin. I actually would say that the Kabocha squash is my favorite carbohydrate source of all time! To me, it tastes like a cross between a sweet potato and a butternut squash. It is sweet and has a butter-y texture.

This filling squash has half the carbs of a sweet potato at 10g of carbohydrate per 100g serving (about the size of your fist or 1 cup). As reference, a potato would have about 22g of carb per 100g serving.

Aside from offering volume to your meal, Kabocha is high in fibre and loaded with vitamin A (giving it a bright orange color!)

In true Courtney fashion, I can't just eat it as a simple side dish. I have to enjoy it as a weird concoction of all my favorite foods. My favorite way to enjoy Kabocha is baked with salt and cinnamon and topped with almond butter. To make it a complete meal or snack, I like to add some cottage cheese or Greek yogurt for protein and extra dusting of cinnamon. The combination of protein from the cottage cheese, fat from the almond butter, and volume and fibre from the squash is very filling!

To prepare, I simply cube or slice the squash and bake at 350F until tender. I leave the skin on while baking and peel or cut it off when I am ready to enjoy it. Kabocha makes a great addition to Big Ass Salads, served as a side dish, or enjoyed as a snack as described above.

In our Take 30 Challenge, we discussed the habit of including "volume foods" at our meals. Foods that are high in water and fibre, like fruits and vegetables, are called “volume foods.” They add bulk to your meals and help fill your stomach. This volume allows for a stretch reflex in your stomach that tells your brain “I am satisfied.” I shared Kabocha as my favorite "volume food"!

My sister gifted me Kabocha from her garden this year. If you don't have an amazing sister to grow you fresh veggies and squash, you can always find it at Superstore or Independent Grocers in Saskatoon :)

Pumpkin Spice Muffins
September 29, 2018

Fall is a great time to take advantage of fresh pumpkin - but let's be honest, picking up canned pumpkin may be the easiest route for most of us! Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin C and adds flavour and moisture to the muffins. Oat flour (ie. ground old-fashioned rolled oats) replaces the white flour found in classic muffins and increases the total fibre in the recipe. Greek yogurt replaces the oil for a boost of protein and added moisture. Consider adding chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds for extra crunch and flavour!
 

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
125
Fibre:
3g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 5g

 

Fat: 4g

 

Carbohydrates: 19g

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (225g) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup (200g) pureed 100% pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (add ½ cup for a sweeter muffin)
  • 2 cups rolled oats (160g), ground
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (85g)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F and prepare a muffin tin by spraying the cavities with cooking spray or lining them with paper liners. If using paper liners, still spray the liners as the lack of oil makes the muffins a bit stickier.
  2. Combine the Greek yogurt, pumpkin, maple syrup, and eggs.
  3. Blend the rolled oats into a fine powder (using a blender or Magic Bullet) until it has the consistency of whole wheat flour. Stir in baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  4. Combine the dry and wet ingredients
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes.




 

What I Ate Today [with protein ideas!]
September 11, 2018

We all know that protein is an important nutrient to build muscle and improve strength. Protein containing foods breakdown into amino acids which build and maintains muscle and other tissues! But protein does more than just build muscle, a diet rich in protein helps to:

  • Improve energy levels by better managing blood glucose (sugar) across the day. Read this post for an analogy on blood sugars.
  • Manage hunger by influencing hormones such as ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that triggers hunger and cravings for fatty or sweet foods. Foods rich in protein suppress ghrelin production to more easily manage hunger!
  • Increase metabolism as protein containing foods have a "high thermic effect" meaning they require energy to be broken down and digested.
  • Manage or lose body weight by reducing hunger to prevent overeating while simultaneously increasing metabolism through their high "thermic effect."
  • Obtain essential or performance enhancing vitamins, minerals, and zoochemicals like B12, iron, creatine, and others!

Knowing why protein is important is only half of the puzzle. Most clients I work with are aware they need to increase their protein intake but struggle to determine how this can be achieved through food choices. There are many wonderful and delicious ways to include protein in our diets! I hope this post gives you some ideas to get started. But remember, just because I enjoy a food doesn't mean you will enjoy it (or have to enjoy it!). It is important to determine the protein foods you look forward to consuming to ensure the habit of including protein in your diet is a sustainable one. 

Today I am sharing my meals and snacks that I consumed to achieve my protein goal for the day. I obtained negligible amounts of protein from veggies, fruits, and starches but they did contribute to my daily total. The high protein choices included egg whites, lean meats, and dairy. I included the amount of protein in each food source in brackets after each ingredient and also highlighted the totals for each meal, snack, and the entire day! To "keep it real" these photos are quick snaps from my phone or Instagram story - definitely not winning any photography contests!

To be honest, I never struggle to get enough protein! In fact, I love protein so much that I can easily over-consume it by eating larger portions of meats like chicken and steak. Having 2-4 ounces of lean meat isn't a large portion to me and I could easily eat 6 ounces if I didn't pay attention to portion size and weighing my foods. Like any new habit, it can be difficult to consume enough protein when you first start monitoring your intake! But overtime, enjoying protein at meals and snacks wil take very little effort and motivation. 

I hope the photos and descriptions highlight that meals don't have to be fancy or complicated to be both delicious and nutritious. 

Wake-up

Protein = 10g

Coffee with one tablespoon of cream and one scoop of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. Quick note: the evidence on the benefits of collagen protein for tendons, ligaments, joint, and digestive health is limited. However, I find my hair, skin, and nails are much healthier (ie. thicker!) since supplementing with collagen. I enjoy adding it to my morning cup o' Joe! Plus, it is a sneaky way to enjoy an extra 10g of protein for those who struggle. Hydrolyzed collagen dissolves quickly in liquids and is flavorless - you won't notice any odd flavor or texture in your coffee if you invest in a quality source. Click here for a great article on collagen!

PS: I drink my coffee from an aluminum straw to keep my teeth white!

Breakfast (pre-workout)

Protein = 25g

Egg white omlette (14g) with spinach and one slice of Ezekiel toast (6g) topped with one tablespoon almond butter (4g) and sliced strawberries.

Snack (post-workout)

Photo credit: The Healthy Maven. Note: my snack did not have cherries, chia, or nut butter as shown in the photo. 

Protein = 18g

I enjoyed a quick post-workout snack of 1/2 cup of oats (5g) cooked with 1/2 scoop of chocolate protein powder (13g). I call this meal "Proats" which is protein oats. If I need more carbohydrate (longer training session), I like to add about a cup of frozen berries! This meal was intentionally low in fat because it was my post-workout meal (see the note below if you want to learn more about recovery nutrition) but "Proats" can be turned into a complete meal by adding healthy fats. I love adding a drizzle of nut butter, shredded coconut, chia seeds, cacao nibs, or nuts and seeds. Check out this blog post for a "Proat" idea!

Lunch (post-workout)

Protein = 30g

Two Bakestone Brother's pitas (8g). I enjoyed one pita as a savory sandwich and the other as a sweet option. The sandwich included two ounces of pre-cooked chicken (17g) and was topped with mustard, tomatoes, and greens. For the sweet pita, I used one tablespoon of almond butter (4g) and sliced strawberries as a replacement for jam! For a quick lunch, I love the Bakestone Brother's Thin Pitas from Costco. I actually assembled this meal at my office at CrossFit BRIO South. This meal is further simplified by using the pre-cooked chicken from Costco (or any grocery store, really) which can be found in the deli section. These convenient protein sources are my go-to for a fast lunch! I don't mind that they are high in sodium as I need to replenish this electrolyte post-workout.

Snack

Protein = 21g

1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt (12g) with fresh strawberries and one ounce of pumpkin seeds (8g).

Supper

Protein = 31g

A Big Ass Salad prepared with three ounces of steak (20g), one ounce of cheese (7g), and all the veggies, salsa and a couple tablespoons of Bolthouse Farms yogurt based dressing. I also used some avocado oil to saute the peppers and onions for a Mexican themed salad. The only thing that could have made this salad better would have been avocado!

Dessert

Protein: negligible at 3g

A couple tablespoons of coconut butter!

Total protein for the day = 137g

How much protein do I need?

This particular day of eats provided me with about 135g of protein which is my body weight (in pounds) in grams of protein. It’s SUPER important to note that just because I am aiming for 135g of protein a day, doesn't’t mean that that is necessarily the right amount for your body. Protein needs are effected by body weight, age, activity type and duration, and food preferences. I would strongly encourage you to consult with a Registered Dietitian to determine an appropriate number for you!

PS: I am launching a new online 30 day course in the next couple of months which focuses on understanding the macronutrients (eg. protein, carbs, and fats) and fundamental nutrition habits to ensure the results achieved are sustainable. The course will provide protein recommendations including amount and sources for your specific body type and goals. It will touch on topics including recovery nutrition, fibre intake, supplement needs, and more! Stay tuned or subscribe to our newsletter for more information on the release date of this course!

 

Donating Blood, Endurance Performance, and Iron Intake
September 2, 2018

I have been considering donating my blood for a long time. When I thought about ways I could give back to the community I reflected on what is most valuable to me. Time and money are certainly valuable but I don’t value them as much as I value my health. Donating $100 or a couple hours of my time is certainly helpful and generous. But my health is more valuable to me than my money or my time. So how could I donate my health? Blood!

You may be wondering, “Courtney, why is your blood such a valuable possession? It really isn’t a big deal.” But my blood is valuable to my personal goals. I will highlight why below!

Red Blood Cells

Red blood cells are our oxygen carriers and deliver oxygen to working tissues and predicts overall work capacity. The more red blood cells you have the more oxygen you can deliver. Thus, increasing your ability to do work.  In fact, many endurance athletes having been caught “doping” where they take a hormone called erythropoietin (EPO) which stimulates the synthesis of new red blood cells. This gives them an edge in their sport! Athletes are focused on accumulating as many red blood cells as possible for maximal endurance performance. There's a reason athletes get in trouble for blood-doping, not blood-letting. As an athlete, I have worked hard for my red blood cells. My aerobic capacity and performance are extremely valuable to me!

Our body contains approximately 10 pints of blood, one of which you give away during a “whole blood” donation. There are several components of whole blood including red blood cells, plasma, and platelets (1). Unfortunately for athletes, the oxygen carrier (ie. red blood cells), are the slowest to regenerate taking four to six weeks to fully rebound (2). The lag in red blood cell recovery is an obvious indicator that an athlete endurance will suffer until pre-donation levels of red blood cells are restored (2,3).

Note: athletes constitute a very healthy potential donor population. If you are concerned about donating whole blood, consider becoming a plasma donor.  Plasma donation does not affect their red blood cell status and hemoglobin levels (1).

Hemoglobin

Hemoglobin levels in the blood also decrease after a blood donation which is a critical protein found in red blood cells (2). Hemoglobin functions to transfer oxygen from the lung’s to the body’s tissue. A drop in hemoglobin compromises both the amount of oxygen that can be delivered to working cells as well as oxygen’s ability to dissociate once it arrives. Thus, a decrease to hemoglobin decreases aerobic capacity.

Iron

A micronutrient in our food, iron, is a critical component of hemoglobin to optimize delivery of oxygen to muscle cells. Athletes and recreational gym goers alike closely monitor their intakes and percentages of our critical fuel sources – carbohydrates, fats, and protein – but often fall short on micronutrient needs like iron. As we reviewed above, iron plays a key role in the delivery of oxygen to muscles to maximize aerobic capacity! Iron status has the potential to decrease or improve endurance performance depending on an athlete’s iron status (4). In other words, iron is extremely important for atheltes and should be a focus of their nutrition plan and strategies. 

Donating my blood was not something I was eager to do. Perhaps it sounds dramatic, but I value my performance in the gym. I have worked hard to build my aerobic capacity. But because I value health, I knew it was a valuable gift I could give to someone in need. The "gift of life" as they say.

How to nourish your body after donating blood

With this background knowledge and physiology, what is the best way to nourish your body after donating blood? Optimizing iron intake! Considering my decrease in blood volume, red blood cells, hemoglobin, and iron status I will be spending the next four to six weeks paying extra special attention to my iron intake! Adequate fluids and rest are important considerations immediately after donating blood. Long-term, adequate iron intake will support the regeneration of red blood cells and hemoglobin.

Iron can be found in both animal and plant foods (5).

Animal sources (called “heme iron”)

  • Red meat (eg. beef, bison, moose, lamb)
  • Poultry
  • Organ meats
  • Fish
  • Seafood

Plant sources (called “non-heme iron”)

  • Legumes
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Seeds and seed butter
  • Grain products
  • Dark green vegetables
  • Molasses

Fortified products (ie. iron is added to the products to help Canadians get enough)

  • Flour
  • Pasta
  • Cereals

Cast-iron cookware can increase the amount of iron in foods (6).

Click here for more information on iron sources.

What about supplements?

Most individuals can meet iron requirements through food and strategies to enhance iron absorption. Individuals should take iron supplements only if recommended and monitored by a physician (7).

Iron Absorption Considerations:

  • Our bodies absorb heme iron (from animals) best (better than non-heme, plant based sources of iron)
  • Eating foods rich in heme iron (like meat, fish or poultry) can increase the absorption of non-heme iron.
  • Adding vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables to meals can increase non-heme iron absorption
  • Phytates found in foods such as legumes, unrefined grains, and rice can decrease the absorption of non-heme iron * (8).
  • Polyphenols found in tea, red wine, and many grain products can decrease the absorption of non-heme iron * (9).
  • Calcium can inhibits the absorption of non-heme iron * (10)

*Vegetarians will not obtain heme-iron sources and should be aware of factors that decrease non-heme iron absorption including phytates, polyphenols, and calcium. Strategies to optimize non-heme iron absorption include:

  • Pair plant-based, non-heme iron sources with vitamin C rich foods
  • Drink coffee, tea, and wine between meals instead of with meals
  • Consume calcium rich food sources, like dairy, at a meal separate from non-heme iron sources

Some examples of food high in Vitamin C:

  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Citrus fruit

I already have some great nutrition habits to optimize iron intake! However, over the next 4-6 weeks I will specifically by adding very high sources of absorbable iron and combining them in such a way that enhances iron absorption. My personal "iron plan" for the next month is to:

  • Include red meat more often from extra lean ground beef, lean steaks, and roasts
  • Prepare lamb (I have only had lamb once but it is a great source of iron!)
  • Experiment with recipes for organ meat like liver
  • Enjoy oysters as a snack
  • Choose almond butter or pumpkin seed butter instead of peanut butter
  • Continue to enjoy veggies and fruit with all meals (to add vitamin C to enhance non-heme iron absorption)
  • Continue to choose dark green leafy veggies like spinach and kale for salads
  • Purchase a cast-iron pan for cooking omelette and scrambles

I encourage you to review the resource linked on iron to determine sources of heme and non-heme iron that you would enjoying adding to your diet! Remember, vitamin C rich foods can enhance the absorption of non-heme iron.

Bottom-line:

  • Donating blood, in my opinion, is an extremely generous gift
  • If you are an athlete, red blood cells and hemoglobin status will decrease for 4-6 weeks which can negatively impact endurance performance
  • Consider donating blood during the off-season when training is lighter and performance isn’t an imminent concern or consider donating plasma
  • Implement strategies to optimize iron intake from heme and non-heme sources to provide your body with the precursors needed to regenerate red blood cells
  • Vegatarians need to be especially aware of optimizing non-heme iron absorption through specific nutrition strategies 

For more information on donating whole blood or plasma click here.

This week I prepared a super easy meat sauce that is high in heme-iron from lean ground beef and non-heme iron from spinach. I served it over spaghetti squash but lentil pasta would provide an additional non-heme iron source. The tomatoes and spinach in the sauce provide contain vitamin C to enhance the absorption of the non-heme (plant based) iron in the recipe!

Yields:

About 8 Servings (250g each)

Calories:
240
Fibre:
2g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 23g

 

Fat: 11g

 

Carbohydrates: 10g

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 pounds extra lean ground beef
  • 1, 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1, 15 ounce can of tomato sauce*
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the onion and carrots and saute until the onions are transclucent and the carrots soften. You made need to add 2 tablespoons of water if the onions and carrots stick to the pan. I like to use this method to minimize the added oils required to saute the veggies. 
  3. Add the ground beef and cook until no pink remains.
  4. Add the diced tomato, tomato sauce, spices, and salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil over high heat for one minute. Then reduce to low and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Serve over lentil pasta, zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash.

* I used a basil flavored tomato sauce from President's Choice. Consider adding fresh or dried basil to the recipe if your sauce does not contain basil! When purchasing tomato sauce, opt for a sauce with no added sugar in the ingredient list. I love the "Tomatoes First" sauce from President's Choice.

Search "Vitality Nutrition Meat Sauce" to add the recipe to your tracking data. 

References

  1. Canadian Blood Services (2018). The Facts About Whole Blood. https://blood.ca/en/blood/facts-about-whole-blood
  2. Burnley, M., Roberts, C.L., Thatcher, R., Doust, J.H., & Jones, A.M. (2006). Influence in blood donation on O2 uptake kinetics, peak O2 uptake, and time to exhaustion during severe-intensity cycle exercise in humans. Experimental Physiology, 91(3). http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/expphysiol.2005.032805/full.
  3. Judd, TB., Cornish, S.M., Barss, T.S., Oroz, I., Chilibeck, P.D. (2011). Time course for recovery of peak aerobic power after blood donation. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(11). http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2011&issue=11000&article=00014&type=abstract.
  4. Beard, J & Tobin, B. (2000). Iron status & exericise. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72(2), 594-597. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/72/2/594s.full.
  5. Dietitians of Canada (2017). Food Sources of Iron. https://www.dietitians.ca/Downloads/Factsheets/Food-Sources-of-Iron.aspx
  6. Park J, Brittin HC. Journal of Food Quality. Iron content, sensory evaluation, and consumer acceptance of food cooked in iron utensils. 2000;23:205-15
  7. Dietitians of Canada (2018). Does taking an iron supplement in the absence of iron deficiency pose a risk to health? In: Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition [PEN]. 2008 Apr 24 [cited 2018 Sept 2]. Available from: http://www.pennutrition.com/KnowledgePathway.aspx?kpid=403&pqcatid=144&pqid=422. Access only by subscription.
  8. Dietitians of Canada (2018). What is the impact of dietary phytate on non-heme iron absorption and is there an effect on iron status among healthy adults?  In: Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition [PEN]. 2009 September 12 [cited 2018 Sept 2]. Available from: http://www.pennutrition.com/KnowledgePathway.aspx?kpid=403&pqcatid=146&pqid=22692
  9. Dietitians of Canada (2018). What is the impact of tea and coffee consumption on non-heme iron absorption and is there an effect on iron status among healthy adults? In: Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition [PEN]. 2009 September 12 [cited 2018 Sept 2]. Available from: http://www.pennutrition.com/KnowledgePathway.aspx?kpid=403&pqcatid=146&pqid=22676
  10. Dietitians of Canada (2018). What is the impact of calcium or dairy product intake on non-heme iron absorption and is there an effect on iron status among healthy adults? In: Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition [PEN]. 2009 September 12 [cited 2018 Sept 2]. Available from: http://www.pennutrition.com/KnowledgePathway.aspx?kpid=403&pqcatid=146&pqid=22670
Chicken Carbonara Bake
August 28, 2018

I love this recipe because it is loaded with veggies, fibre, and protein! The recipe is far from a 'carb'-onara (ha!) as the spaghetti squash is far lower in carbohydrate than the pasta used in a classic carbonara dish. Maybe I should have called the recipe "Chicken Low-Carbonara Bake"!

Fall is approaching and this recipe is one of my favorite ways to use the abundance of spaghetti squash offered to me from friends, family, and gym buddies! The spaghetti squash replaces pasta in this Chicken Carbonara Bake. The recipe is similar in concept to one of my all-time favorite recipes: "Buffalo Chicken 'Spaghetti' Bake." While the recipe is more time consuming than my usual meal prep, you can quicken the process by preparing the spaghetti squash ahead of time. I roasted my spaghetti squash in the oven, but you can cook it in the microwave for maximum efficiency. 

Consider doubling the recipe for leftovers throughout the week - it tastes even better reheated! The recipe would be made even better with cheese - try grating some parmesean on top before baking.

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
272
Fibre:
5g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 27g

 

Fat: 8g

 

Carbohydrates: 20g

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, diced (150g)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • chicken, diced (300g)
  • 1 can (14-ounce) artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped (250g)
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (or 4 eggs)
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 45-60 minutes at 350F or until the squash can be easily removed from the skin with a fork. Set the squash aside. I like to complete this step the day before.
  2. In a large pan or Dutch oven, saute 2 slices of bacon (or more!) until cooked through. Add the onions and garlic to the pan with the bacon and bacon fat and saute until translucent. You may need to add 1-2 tbsp of water or broth if the onions stick to the pan.
  3. If you are using raw chicken, add the diced chicken and saute until cooked. When the chicken is cooked, add the artichoke hearts, mushroom, and spinach. Alternatively, use pre-cooked or rotisserie chicken and add it alongside the artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and spinach. Add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
  4. When the mixture has cooked through, combine the spaghetti squash with the chicken mixture. Stir in the egg whites or 4 eggs. This helps the mixture set when baked.
  5. Add the spaghetti squash mixture to a casserole dish or bake in the Dutch Oven you used to saute the mixture. I love my Le Creuset Dutch Oven for this recipe.
  6. Bake for 45-60 minutes at 350F or until the top forms a crust that doesn't give when you press into the middle.

Search "Vitality Nutrition Chicken Carbonara Bake" in MyFitnessPal to add the recipe to your food tracking.

The Butterfly Effect Podcast
August 23, 2018

Guest host and local wellness influencer, Courtney Berg, my mentor in the nutrition biz, boss babe and owner of Vitality Nutrition is here to discuss, not surprisingly, all things health and wellness related – which we’ve learned the listeners are more than eager to hear about. She asks me 10 Questions that Tim Ferris asked 130 of the world’s top performers from iconic entrepreneurs to elite athletes, from artists to billionaire investors in his book Tribe of Mentors.

Find Ash on Instagram or her website for her daily dose of goodness!


I promised I’d share this silly cooking video when I was on the Butterfly Effect Podcast (for the second time!) with @sweat_effect! As part of my introduction, I talked about how food and nutrition has been my passion for as long as I remember. My favourite channel was the Food Network and I loved to get my hands on my mom’s digital camera to film cooking videos. Quite honestly, I wish I could embrace that kind of confidence now!

I filmed this video on a camping trip in our motorhome! I had a few props on hand including an old dish cloth and scrubby brush for my pretend omelette. Funny enough, omelettes are still my favourite breakfast! I’ll have to bring back the Cooking with Courtney series.

 

Chia Pudding Variations
August 22, 2018

Chia seeds are little nutrition powerhouses packing calcium, fibre, iron, and plant based omega 3s and protein! If you find yourself hungry often, consider adding chia to your meals or snacks. The combination of protein, healthy fats, and fibre is a winning combination to reduce hunger. Read more about the health benefits of chia seeds in my previous post!

Are you a chia newbie? If so, chia pudding is an awesome first-timer recipe. Plus, my base recipe has just 3 ingredients (if you don't count the vanilla extract and salt!). So, I guess 5 ingredients. That's pretty simple, right? Right! Sign me up. 

Chia seeds have the unique ability to absorb the liquid they are soaked in and turn into a gel-like texture. Depending on your pudding preferences, the ratio of chia seeds to liquid can differ. Recently, I have been using a 1/4 cup of chia seed for every 1 cup of liquid. This ratio yields a thicker chia pudding than a previous recipe I posted. The texture is like a creamy tapioca pudding. Chia seeds are flavourless meaning the pudding is a canvas for whatever liquid, flavour, or mix-ins you prefer.

This recipe is a favorite as it is PACKED with four key nutrients that I call the Fundamental Four. These four nutrient work together to keep you full, satisfied, and energized for hours. Planning nutrient-rich, nourishing meals keeps you running on crisp fuel is an act of self-love. When you fuel your body with the nutrients it needs, your body and mignd are clear. This makes it a heck of a lot easier to focus on whatever the day brings your way.

Read more about the FUNDAMENTAL FOUR found in chia pudding below:

Volume: Volume foods are those foods that take up more space in your plate and stomach but are lower in calories and super dense in nutrients. Veggies and fruits are a great example of "volume foods". What is unique about chia is that it absorbs liquid to create a high-volume pudding recipe! This volume literally pushes against the walls of the stomach to signal to the brain that you are full. You can use any type of milk from almond, full-fat coconut milk, light coconut milk, cow's milk, or even Greek yogurt for more protein. Full-fat canned coconut milk is great if you’re looking to increase the creaminess and fat content for a rich and filling breakfast, snack, or dessert.

Protein: The base recipe I use is lower in protein although there is some plant-based protein from the chia seeds. You can increase the protein by adding 1-2 scoops of protein powder to the base recipe. I have used whey protein, plant based protein, and collagen protein. Flavoured protein powders will add extra sweetness to the recipe! With so many flavours of protein powder on the market, the flavour options are endless! Consider adding 1/4 cup of extra liquid for every 30g (1 scoop) of protein powder. You can further increase the protein by replacing 1 cup of the liquid with 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is much higher in protein than milk and will create a thick, creamy texture.

Healthy fats: fats are an important nutrient in meals and snacks as healthy fats digest slowly to keep you full and satisfied. They also play many other important roles in our body from the digestion of fat soluble vitamins to being a precursor for hormones. Chia seeds are unqiue as they contribute a plant based omega 3 fat called ALA of which some is converted in the body to the omega 3 fats called DHA and EPA. While further studies are needed to better determine their role, DHA and EPA may impart benefits on brain, heart, and immune health and reduce inflammation. Beyond the fats found in the chia, I like adding crunchy topping to the pudding that contain healthy fats such as:

  • Cacao Nibs
  • Coconut Smiles (aka: unsweetened coconut chips)
  • Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Slivered Almonds 

Tip: Home Sense or Winners is a great place to purchase discounted toppings for chia pudding. You can find great deals on not only chia seeds but toppings like cacao nibs, nuts and seeds, and unsweetened coconut chips! 

FIbre: A high fibre meal has a delayed rate of digestion and absorption meaning that the energy from the fibre-rich meal will last you longer without the massive energy surges and crashes that come from a meal that is low in fibre. Consider the analogy of a roller coaster. Low fibre meals, with processed carbohydrates and sugars, will send your blood sugar (energy) on a crazy roller coaster of highs and lows. Sounds fun? Well, not really!

While you feel energized on the highs, the lows leave you feeling tired, lethargic, and hungry. A high fibre meal is like riding the "kid roller coaster" at the amusement park! The delayed digestion and absorption means no massive spikes in blood sugars and no rapid crashes or lows. Fibre-packed chia pudding is like the "kid roller coaster" shown as the green roller coaster offering a slow and steady release of energy. The green rollercoaster (a meal with fibre and the other elements of the The Fundamental Four)  is like feeling energized for 3-5 hours with reduced cravings for processed carbohydrates and sugars. The blue roller coaster (a meal without fibre or The Fundamental Four) is like feeling sleepy, hangry, or low in energy within 90 minutes of eating, and spiralling down faster than the plummet of Splash Mountain!

 

Keep in mind, fibre is found in plant-based sources like chia seeds. Adding plant-based toppings will further increase the fibre in the pudding. The plant based fat sources mentioned above will contain fibre, but you can also top the pudding with raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, or any other fruit for extra nutrition and fibre!

 

If you want the pudding to have a bit of sweetness you can add sweet spices like cinnamon and cardamom, vanilla extract, and your sweetener of choice. I find that the coconut milk has a naturally sweet flavour that requires very little extra from honey, maple syrup, or stevia. A flavoured protein powder will offer extra sweetness to the recipe while keeping the total added sugars and carbohydrates low. For a chocolate version, add some cacao powder to the mix or a chocolate flavoured protein powder!

Chia pudding is an awesome meal-prep option. Make a batch on Sunday to have in the fridge for a quick breakfast, snack, or dessert. It’s loaded with fiber, protein and healthy fats and low in sugar which makes it super filling and satisfying! Plus the variations offered above ensures that you can make chia pudding work for your dietary preferences and nutrient needs. Chia pudding can be high protein, low carb, dairy-free, gluten-free, Paleo, Keto, vegan, and most importantly delicious! 

The recipe takes less than 5 minutes to prepare, but you will need to give the chia pudding some time to absorb the liquid and turn into a pudding-like texture. I like to make what I call the "whole seed version" where I whisk the ingredients together in a large, resealable bowl. If you are making a flavoured version (with protein powder, spices, or cacao powder) consider making the "blended version" where you dump your ingredients into a blender or food processes to create a smoother pudding texture! With either method, I prefer to let the pudding sit in the fridge overnight.

Single Serving Tip: an easy, high protein single serve option can be created by mixing 1/2 cup (125g) plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup milk, and 2 tbsp chia seeds with vanilla extract, salt, and sweetener. Let it sit overnight for the perfect make-ahead snack that is packed with protein and fibre! The options for chia pudding really are endless. But consider my favorite variation below.

I've also made a higher fat version with full fat coconut milk - so YUM! Click here for the recipe.

Yields:

6 Servings

Calories:
131
Fibre:
5g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 4g

 

Fat: 10g

 

Carbohydrates: 8g

Ingredients:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup unsweetened cashew milk
  • 1/2 cup (90g) chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

* Add an optional sweetener such as stevia, flavoured protein powder, honey, or maple syrup. Note: for every 1 scoop (30g) of protein powder, add an extra 1/4 cup of liquid. 

Directions:

  1. For the "blended version" place all ingredients in blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes until completely smooth. I typically choose the "whole seed version" which is quicker (and requires less dishes) as I simply whisk the liquid and chia seeds in a large glass container.
  2. If you add protein powder, increase the liquid by 1/4 cup for every 1 scoop (30g) of protein powdered added.
  3. Place the pudding into a large container or separate into 4 containers. Let the mixture sit overnight or for at least 4 hours. 
  4. Top with your favorite add-ins using the ideas above! My favorites include fresh raspberries, cacao nibs, and coconut chips. 

Nutrition Facts are for the base recipe with no add-ins or protein powder. 

Interested in more recipes using chia seeds? Try Overnight Oats for a quick, simple breakfast!

Oatmeal Gold Bars (Copy Cat Recipe)
August 13, 2018

If you follow me on Instagram, you will know I had been loving the Oatmeal Gold protein bars in the flavor "Natural." The bars are one of my favorite quick grab snacks to enjoy either pre- or post-workout. Purchasing the bars was getting a tad expensive so I decided to recreate something similar at home. I tried all types of combinations using the ingredients listed on the package of the Oatmeal Gold bars but my attempts were fails! I finally decided to switch up the ingredients to develop a recipe that is similar in texture and flavor!

The recipe is quick with the use of the Kodiak Cake Flapjack & Waffle. Quite honestly, I think this recipe is faster to make than driving to the store to buy the packaged version! I've made the recipe into 12 muffins, 6 larger muffins, or 8 bars which changes the Nutrition Facts per serving. The Nutrition Facts highlighted below are for 8 bars. While the purchased Oatmeal Gold Bars contain a few different ingredients, this recipe is the closet I've come to replicate the taste and texture! The Oatmeal Gold bars have a different nutrition profile per serving at:

  Oatmeal Gold Bars (Purchased) Oatmeal Gold Bars (Homemade)
Calories 260 194
Carbs 30g 30g
Fat 7g 5g
Protein 20g 8g
Fibre 8g 4g

My version is lower in protein. I would prefer to enjoy protien from whole food sources instead of adding protein powder to the recipe so these aren't a true "knock-off" of the Oatmeal Gold bars in terms of macronutrient profile! I also think that adding the protein powder to my previous recipe attempts was the culprit of my recipe "fails" as mentioned above. 

I get asked a lot about pre- and post-workout nutrition. Nutrient timing if you will. There are many considerations in timing your nutrition, but as a general rule, eating sufficient carbohydrates before and after a workout helps with performance and recovery. Pre- and post-workout foods certainly don't need to be complicated but should prioritize some carbohydrate (and protein, too!). Enjoy these homeamde Oatmeal Gold Bars as a quick snack on your way to or from the gym.

Yields:

8 bars

Calories:
194
Fibre:
4g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 8g

 

Fat: 5g

 

Carbohydrates: 30g

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce 
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk (or other milk)
  • 3 tablespoons (60g) honey*
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 cups (160g) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup (106g) Kodiak Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix**
  • pinch of salt 

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the wet ingredients including the egg, apple sauce, unsweetened almond milk, honey, almond butter, and vanilla.
  2. Gently stir in the oats, Kodiak Cake mix, and salt until combined. The batter will be quite liquid-y.
  3. Spray your pan or muffin tin with a non-stick spray. Pour the batter into an 8x8 pan if you would prefer a "bar" shape. Alternatively, portion into 12 muffin cups. 
  4. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes. Let cool before removing from the muffin tin or before cutting the recipe into bars. Note: if you are baking into 12 muffins reduce the cooking time to 25-30 minutes. 

* These bars are lightly sweet. If you prefer a sweeter bar, you could consider increasing the amount of honey in the recipe. 

** You can replace the Kodiak Cake mix with 1 cup whole wheat flour if you do not have the mix on hand. If you replace the mix with whole wheat flour, add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to the dry ingredients. 

Search "Vitality Nutrition Oatmeal Gold Bars" in MyFitnessPal to add the bar to your tracking data. These Nutrition Facts are for dividing the recipe into 8 bars.

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Customizable Egg Muffins
August 7, 2018

Egg muffins are the perfect make-ahead breakfast or snack and are loaded with veggies and protein. While I enjoy cooking, I don't love cleaning up after messy recipes. I have create a perfect formula to make egg muffins with the least possible dishes and overall mess! It involves pouring egg whites right into the muffin tin alongside your favorite veggies and add-ins!

There are three considerations when customizing your egg muffins.

1. Protein:
 

Decide if you want to use egg whites, whole eggs, or a combination of the two. I tend to choose egg whites as I prefer to add cheese to my recipe for fats! I also like that one container of egg whites is enough for the entire recipe and increases the total protein content of each muffin. I simply add the veggies to my muffin tin and pour one carton of egg whites stright from the carton into each muffin cup - this saves a bowl and skips the whisking step. I know, I am the queen of lazy!

  • Egg white version = one 500g carton of egg whites
  • Egg whites + whole egg version = 1/2 carton of egg whites (about 1 cup) + 4 whole eggs
  • Whole egg version = 12 whole eggs

You can add additional protein to the recipe like lean sausage, ham, or bacon. I have made the recipe by chopping lean sausage and sauteing it alongside my veggies!

2. Veggies:
 

You can customize the flavour by adding the veggies of your choice. Chop your veggies into small pieces and saute them to remove excess water that would otherwise cause a "water-y" egg muffin. My favorite veggies include:

  • Spinach
  • Peppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions

3. Fats:
 

Remember - fat adds flavour! This is where customizing the recipe is fun - you get to decide how you want to obtain fat for the flavour you will enjoy the most. If you choose whole eggs for the recipe, you will naturally by adding fats from the yolk. You can also add fats from ingredients like cheese, bacon or sausage, olives, or cooking oil to saute the veggies. I tend to choose cheese for my fats as I love the flavour!

I love Mediterranean flavours. This Greek Egg Muffin was inspired by my Mediterranean Turkey Burger recipe which is one of my all-time favorite Vitality recipes!
 

Greek Egg Muffins
 

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
48
Fibre:
<1g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 5g

 

Fat: 2g

 

Carbohydrates: 2g

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (150g), finely chopped
  • 10 kalamata olives (30g), pitted and chopped
  • 1 carton egg whites (500g)
  • 1/2 cup feta (60g), crumbled

Directions:

  1. Spritz a frying pan with non-stick cooking spray. Saute the spinach, peppers, and olives until the spinach wilts and the peppers are translucent. Three cups of spinach will look like too much but it will wilt considerably when heated. 
  2. Divide the sauteed veggies evenly into the 12 muffin cups
  3. Pour the egg whites over top of the veggies. Fill to 3/4 full. Note: I pour the egg whites straight from the carton - quick and simple!
  4. Evenly top the 12 egg muffins with feta cheese
  5. Cook for 25-30 minutes at 350F. 
  6. Let cool completely before removing from the muffin tin.  

 

Search "Vitality Nutrition Greek Egg Muffins" to add this recipe to your MyFitnessPal diary.

If you liked this recipe, you may also like a previously posted recipe: Spinach, Ricotta, and Carmelized Onion Egg Bakes.


Common Questions:
 

Can you freeze the egg muffins?

Yes! These actually freeze really well. Let them cool completely before placing them into sealed airtight containers. 

How do you reheat the egg muffins?

Pop them in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until warm. If you’re cooking from frozen, you may need additional time in the microwave. They are perfect if you don't love eating breakfast first thing, but want a healthy option on-the-go!

What is the point of an egg muffin?

It’s quick, it’s loaded with protein and vegetables, it’s portable, and it’s already portioned out! These muffin cups have less than 50 calories per muffin, so eat up and serve with some toast, your morning coffee, yogurt, etc. You could even sandwich the egg muffins between a thin bun or English muffin for a quick post-workout meal!

 

"Discipline Equals Freedom"
July 31, 2018

“Discipline equals freedom." -Jocko Willink

“That’s stupid” I remember thinking when I first heard the quote. How can discipline offer any freedom. I was connecting the word discipline with words like strict, structured, and regimented. These certainly aren't synonyms to freedom!

Not only did I dislike the quote I actually strongly disliked Jocko Willink voice and couldn't stand listening to him talk #honest. Take a listen to the speech that I first listened to on the CrossFit BRIO blog about a year ago. Great content, agitating voice (haha!). 

The fact that I was resenting his message was a sign I needed to lean into it. For the past year I’ve been reflecting daily on the quote. I went from hating it to loving it. The message makes sense to me now. But I will forever find Jocko's voice annoying (ha!). 

Like most quotes, this one can be applied to almost any area of life and most certainly health, fitness, and nutrition. I’ll share one of my biggest “aha” moments that allowed me to deeply connect to the quote:

I traveled to Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver. This is a beautiful outdoor stage that attracts the world best musicians! Accessing the theatre requires some walking and a few staircases. I was talking to a man who said his friend was so out of shape that she couldn’t come to a concert for fear of the fitness required to access the venue. Wow! This person, having not prioritized any type of exercise or nutrition in her life, didn’t even have the freedom to go to a concert!



I always associated being disciplined as “not having fun” or missing out. The thing is, discipline is the opposite of missing out. Discipline offers the freedom to get what you want out of life. I had never thought about how my routine of eating well and exercising daily has afforded me freedoms like travelling comfortably, running up stairs, going to concerts, trying new sports (like wake surfing!), or having the energy to live an active lifestyle.

Unlike my initial impression, discipline doesn’t mean you are necessarily strict or regimented. Discipline is as simple as small, accomplishable, daily habits added up over time. Like spending 30 minutes a day moving your body or packing a healthy lunch. Of course, it takes some amount of hard work, effort, and dedication to prioritize your health. Perhaps the only time to go to the gym is 6am so you set your alarm clock early and make it happen. Maybe you get home late and want to go to bed, but you know packing a lunch better aligns with your nutrition or financial goals.

Call it harsh, but you don’t get to decide that you don’t like exercise or eating well. You are obligated to move your body and fuel it with nourishing foods.  But you do get to decide how you can move your body in a way you enjoy and how you can make healthy eating work for your food preferences. This turns “being disciplined” into habits that you practice with little to no willpower. Those habits then offer you the health and freedom to live your best life. Of course, even fitness and nutrition veterans have to muster up some willpower and motivation to stay consistent with their healthy habits some days. But the effort is well worth the investment for the freedom it affords!

USA Food Finds
July 24, 2018

I love grocery shopping. I know, it's strange! I enjoy wandering the isles searching for healthy new products or ingredients. I also find food to be an interesting way to connect with the culture in a new country. Obviously the food culture in the USA is similar to Canada, but there are still many unique products I like to get my hands on when traveling to the USA.

Rx Bars are not my favorite bar of all time - but they certainly have a great ingredient list are still pretty tasty. They are dense in calories per serving as they are made with higher calorie ingredients like dates and nuts! They are easy to find at any grocery store, gas station, or Starbucks!

Mini-packets of Justin's Almond Butter are perfect to keep on hand. Spread them on fruit for a delicious and portable snack. Sometimes you can ind the mini-packets at Winners in Canada!

I discovered Yum Butter last year when I was in Madison, Wisconsin for the CrossFit Games. Yum Butter is sold in a tube with an easy twist on cap. Squeeze it on fruit, protein bars, or directly into your mouth! You can find Yum Butter at Target.

La Croix makes sparkling waters in a variety of flavors (similar to Perrier). My favorite is the coconut flavor! Although you can find La Croix at Safeway and London Drugs, they don't offer as many flavors as found in the USA.

I am not advocating for energy drinks, but if you do find yourself super tired throughout your travels (and enjoy a sugar-free energy drink now and then) you will love the brand Bang. Some of their products are supplemented with added BCAA and/or creatine.

I am not someone who consumes yogurt on the daily, but when I travel to the USA I love picking up a couple of containers of Siggi's Skyr Yogurt. Skyr is an Icelandic-style protein that is high in protein and typically low in added sugars. Their vanilla flavor has far less sugar than most other flavored Greek yogurts on the market.

Although I have yet to try them, I am intrigued by the brand Kite Hill and their almond based yogurts and cheeses.

If you enjoy Kodiak Cakes you may appreciate the ready-to-make muffin cups and frozen waffles and flapjacks found at Target. Quite honestly, they are not my favorite but I know a few people who love them!

Low-calorie, higher protein ice creams are all the rage in the USA. Find brands like Halo Top, Enlightened, Arctic Zero, and more. Even the store-brands will offer a version of low-calorie ice creams in single serving pints!

High-fibre, low carb wraps (like Flat Out) are a staple for me when I travel. I like to buy ingredients to prepare homemade wraps for a quick lunch as I explore the city.

I picked up the Everything But the Bagel Spice from Trader's Joe's and it did not disappoint. I have been sprinkling it into my scrambled eggs in the morning!

I don't typically opt for hummus, but the White Bean and Basil Hummus from Trader Joe's is worth picking up!


While you can find Buddha Bowl at Shopper’s Drug Mart and Bulk Barn, there are far more flavors in the USA!

What are your favorite products to pick up in the USA or any country outside of Canada? I would love to know!

 

"Am I consuming too much sodium?"
July 17, 2018

"Am I consuming too much sodium?"

Like most nutrition questions, the answer is: it depends. For many active clients or CrossFitters, however, it isn't likely they are over-consuming sodium. This is especially true with the hot summer days we have been enjoying! I've written about this important topic in the past (see this link).

The recommended daily intake for sodium is 1500 mg with a suggested upper limit of 2300 mg. While reducing sodium is an important consideration for many Canadians, adequate sodium intake is a essential for active individuals.

Consider these facts: 

  • Athletes sweat between 400-2400 mL per hour of exercise (average of 1200 mL per hour)
  • Sodium is the main electrolyte lost in our sweat 
  • Sodium content of sweat can vary across athletes (studies have found a range of 115mg-2000mg of sodium per 1000mL of sweat)
  • Sweat losses can increase in hot, humid, or windy conditions
  • An athlete who is a “salty sweater”  may lose well in excess of the recommended daily intake
  • Unprocessed foods contain very little sodium compared to processed foods. Many athletes consume a largely "whole foods" based (unprocessed) diet.

You may be a "salty sweater" if:

  • You notice white streaks on dry dark clothing or hats
  • You feel salt crystals on the skin after exercise
  • You experience muscle cramping that doesn’t go away when drinking water during
  • Your muscles cramp or ache in the night
  • You taste salt or sodium when you lick your lips after exercise (sounds gross, I know!) 

Consequences of insufficient sodium intake include:

  • Muscle cramping 
  • Heat illness
  • Inability to properly rehydrate
  • Exhaustion
  • Stomach upset or bloating
  • Risk of hyponatremia (diluted levels of sodium in the blood usually caused by excessive water intake)

Example:

If a CrossFit athlete sweats approximately 1000mL per hour in 30˚C and is predicted to be a "salty sweater" they could lose up to 2000mg in an hour CrossFit class alone. That is close to the upper end of the sodium recommendations for the general population! If this athlete were to limit their sodium intake to the recommendation of 1500mg-2300mg of sodium, the diet would be insufficient to replace what was lost during the CrossFit class. This considerable deficit could cause muscle cramping, exhaustion after exercise, or other symptoms of low sodium as described above! Of course, in using an example of a CrossFit athelte, it may be workout dependent. The entire duration of a one hour CrossFit class may not be spent at a higher intensity as would an hour long bike or run. Additionally, the sweat rate would be effective by temperature and other environmental conditions. 

If you are exercising in the heat, it is crucial that you understand the importance of sodium to rehydrate. Athletes should:

  • Understand their typical sodium intake by reading food labels or tracking food and sodium intake in an App like MyFitnessPal
  • Consider if they are a "salty sweater" - if they are, additional sodium intake may be beneficial 
  • Recognize that working out in the heat requires careful attention to hydration needs. When it is hot you will sweat more and require more sodium (and water!) to rehydrate 

It isn't necessary to over consume sodium but consider a starting recommendation of consuming between 500-750mg of sodium in a post-workout meal for each hour of strenous exercise (Eg. CrossFit class, running, cycling, or hot yoga). A1/4 tsp of salt has 575mg of sodium but you can obtain sodium from sources outside of table salt! Consider enjoying a post-workout meal with saltier ingredients like:

  • Pickles
  • Salsa 
  • Saurkraut
  • Condiments: mustard, hot sauce, sriracha, soy sauce, and other.
  • Soup
  • Deli meats, sausages, or turkey bacon 
  • Cottage cheese
  • Wraps
  • Flavored rice cakes or pretzels 

Of course, there are hydration and performance nutrition considerations outside of sodium alone. For the context of this blog post, I chose to focus solely on sodium!

Below is a photo of a post-workout breakfast I enjoyed that was "whole foods" based. Unprocessed foods do not contain nearly the levels of sodium found in processed food choices. If you consume a diet of mostly processed foods, consider adding sodium from the sources highlighted above. In order, to increase the sodium content of the meal I added 1/4 cup of salsa (389mg of sodium) and a sprinkle of salt to my potatoes to increase the sodium content of the meal closer to 500mg. The salsa is not pictured as I thought to add it afterwards (oops!). 

This post-workout meal includes unprocessed food choices of eggs, egg whites, strawberries, blueberries, and sweet potato. I had to add sodium to my meal (from salt and salsa) to increase the total sodium to recommended levels.

Reference

Thomas D.T., Erdman K.A., Burke L.M. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J. Acad. Nutr. Diet. 2016;116:23-25

Cabbage & Sausage Foil Packets
July 10, 2018

Do you hate doing dishes? Me too! That's why I looooove this recipe. 

This simple recipe can be prepared in the oven but it is also perfect for camping or BBQ season. This foil packet recipe is an effortless meal being both quick to assemble and clean-up. You can reduce the carbohydrates by using only cabbage instead of cabbage and potatoes. You can reduce the fat using low-fat sausage or eliminating the butter in the recipe. I used sweet potato but you could use white potato as well! 

I used the Connie's Kitchen Feta & Spinach Sausage from Costco but have also used the Freybe Turkey and Chicken Sausage from Costco. Search out a sausage with less fat per serving - there are usually a variety of options at any grocery store (or choose your favorite, higher fat sausage - totally up to you!).

The trick to ensure the recipe turns out perfectly is to add some liquid to the packet. The steam helps the flavors mingle together and cooks the veggies until they are perfectly tender. The problem with adding liquid to foil packets is that the liquid pours out. To remedy this, simply add an ice cube! This provides the perfect amount of liquid and makes sealing up the packets super easy and leak free! If you do add extra cabbage, you may not need the ice cube as the veggies will provide additional water to the packet.

 

The recipe below yields one serving. You could make a large serving in the packet but I like that guests could have the option to individualize their packet with more or less veggies, butter, potato, etc. 

Yields:

1 Servings

Calories:
396
Fibre:
9g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 23g

 

Fat: 16g

 

Carbohydrates: 45g

Ingredients:

  • 200g cabbage, (about 2 cups raw)
  • 150g potato (1/2 medium potato) 
  • 50g onion (1/4 of a small onion)
  • 1 sausage (I used Connie's Kitchen in the Feta & Spinach flavor)
  • 7g butter (1/2 tablespoon)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small ice cube 

Directions:

  1. Cut the cabbage, potato, onion, and sausage into rough chunks.
  2. Add all of the ingredients to the foil packet (including the ice cube!)
  3. Tightly seal the packet
  4. Broil at 500F for 30-35 minutes. You could also cook them on the BBQ or campfire!
  5. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. 

 

Protein Packed French Toast
July 5, 2018

There is nothing better than sleeping in and enjoying a delicious breakfast or brunch with family and friends on a weekend! Growing up, one of my favourite dishes at a brunch spread was French toast! I can remember covering it in buttery syrup and powdered sugar - something I wouldn't necessarily do now (hehe). I decided to experiment with a lighter version of my favourite breakfast dish that I was able to customize to meet my cravings. This French toast is packed with protein and fibre to aid in satiety, and lower in total calories leaving plenty of room to customize with your favourite toppings. I love adding fresh strawberries and peanut butter to mine!

Yields:

1 Serving

Calories:
200
Fibre:
5g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 27g

 

Fat: 1g

 

Carbohydrates: 19g

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices Silver Hills Little Big bread
  • 1/2 Cup (125g) egg whites
  • 1/3 Scoop (10g) protein powder (I used Pescience Snickerdoodle)
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Splash of vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites, protein powder, vanilla and cinnamon until well combined.
  2. Dip each slice of bread into the mixture evenly coating both sides.
  3. Cook on a non-stick on over medium heat flipping once golden brown (about 3-4 minutes a side)
  4. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!

 

 

Summer Food Finds
July 3, 2018

Summer brings backyard BBQ's, camping trips, and time in the sun! Luckily, there are many "quick grab" options that are better choices to choose when summer social gatherings occur. Reading Nutrition Facts tables at the grocery store can help you make the most of summer activities while still nourishing your body.

Sausages 

For meat products, like sausages and burgers, my priority is to choose a product with less total fat per serving. Comparing the sausages in the photo, you can see the Freybe's sausage on the right has much less fat per serving. Simply reading the Nutrition Facts table can help you stick to your nutrition goals without compromising convenience or flavor!

Some favorites:

  • Freybe's Turkey and Chicken Sausage at Costco
  • Connie's Kitchen at Costco. Flavors include: "Mango & Jalapeno" and "Feta & Spinach"
  • President's Choice Blue Menu Original Smokies at Loblaw's stores
  • Compliments Balance Smoked Sausage at Sobeys

Burgers

I love making homemade burgers. Two of my favorite recipes include my Mediterranean Turkey Burgers and Babybel Stuffed Burgers.

More often than not, the BBQs I attend are spontaneous and after an active day in the sunshine. When we are hungry we are never up for assembling homemade burgers. In this situation, I read labels to chose a burger with fewer grams of fat per serving. 

Some other favorites:

  • Sobeys' brand Compliments makes a Lean Beef Burgers and Chicken Burger
  • President's Choice Lean Angus Burger which can be found at Loblaw's stores
  • Trident Wild Pacific Salmon Burgers at Costco.

Crunchie Snacks

Chips are in abundance at any BBQ, camping trip, or lake day. Standing and socializing by the table of chips and dip will make you much more likely to overeat! My number one tip for avoiding the snack table is to physically situate yourself out of arm's reach. But if you know you will want to snack, consider an alternative. Air-popped or purchased popcorn (like the brand Buddha Bowl!) make a higher fibre and lower fat alternative to chips. Other ideas include:

  • Spokes Snacks
  • Crispy Minis
  • Buddha Bowl Popcorn (high in fibre!)
  • Che Cha Puffs

Better yet, pick up a veggie tray with a fibre-packed dip like hummus to crunch on!

Look for alternatives, like Buddha Bowl, with less total fat and calories per serving.

Treats

If you are like me, you have a sweet tooth! While there is nothing wrong with an ice cream cone from your favorite shop, there are also lower calorie alternatives if you prefer. Some favorites include:

  • Skyr Yogurt Bars at Loblaws
  • Greek Yogurt or Fudge Bars at Costco 
  • Halo Top Ice Cream
  • Breyer's Delight
  • Cool Way 

 

Beverages

Be mindful of how calories from beverages add up. Drinking your calories isn’t as satisfying as eating your calories! While water is your best choice to stay hydrated, there are some "better" alternatives to soda or sugar-sweetened beverages on a hot summer day. Consider the spectrum of options. While diet soda contains sweeteners and additives, it is a better option to sugar sweetened sodas. If you love the "bubbly" sensation of soda, consider club soda which contains flavoring and carbonation but no artificial sweeteners. You can spruce it up with fresh lime or lemons! Read Nutrition Facts table to choose a beverage with zero calories and sugar.

High Protein Snacks

If you know you are "on-the-go" over the weekend, consider travel-friendly, high protein snacks like protein bars or beef jerky. Select a protein bar with more protein and fibre and less calories and sugar. Some favorite brands include:

  • Quest bars
  • ONE bar
  • Oatmeal Gold bars in flavor "Natural"
  • Fit Joy bar
  • Grenade bar
  • Kirkland protein bar (when in stock).

In the photo below, the Kirkland protein bar as more fibre and protein and less sugar than the Clif bar.

Key Takeaways:

Summer is the best season and enjoying food with friends and family makes it that much better. You can still reach your nutrition goals, manage your weight, and nourish your body without missing out on all that summer has to offer. Consider reading Nutrition Facts tables to make informed choices at the grocery store. The smallest changes can have the biggest impact! 

 

 

 

Spinach, Ricotta, and Caramelized Onion Egg Bakes
June 25, 2018

Recently I have seen a crustless Burnbrae Farms "Egg Bakes" sold in the freezer section of Costco and several other grocery stores. The Egg Bakes make for a convenient breakfast as they are higher in protein than most other quick grabs like cereal, instant oats, commercial muffins, or pastries. Like any convenience item, the Egg Bakes are fairly expensive and have a lengthy ingredient list. I wanted to see if I could recreate them at home for fewer ingredients!

There are five flavors of the Burnbrae Egg Bakes:

  • Spinach, Ricotta, and Caramelized Onion
  • Garden Vegetables
  • Sausage, Red Pepper, and Caramelized Onion
  • Cheddar, Mushroom, and Bacon
  • 4 Cheese & Ham

The Spinach, Ricotta, and Caramelized Onion Egg Bakes are lower in total fat and calories because they are made with egg whites. I decided to recreate that version as I had most of the ingredients on hand! I used Blue Menu Light Ricotta Cheese but you could easily swap out the ricotta for a cheese of your preference (or omit the cheese for a dairy free version!). I am eager to recreate the other versions of the Egg Bakes and include whole eggs combined with egg whites for a richer egg bake!

I think the homemade version is way better than the Burnbrae version. You'd have to have two of the homemade egg bakes to compare to the amount of protein found in the purchased variety. I recommend having 2-4 egg bakes as a high protein breakfast option (each egg bake has 6g of protein).

To compare, two of the homemade egg bakes have 12g of protein and 80 calories while having one of the purchased egg bakes has 11g of protein, 100 calories, and far more ingredients! It was also cheaper to make the egg bakes at home but still more time consuming. The Burnbrae Egg Bakes would definitely be more convenient if you wanted to save time over money!

I packed the homemade egg bakes on a camping trip for a ready made protein option. Some of us enjoyed the egg bakes microwaved and others added the egg bakes to an English muffin as the "egg patty" for a breakfast sandwich. We even enjoyed them as a late night snack!

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
40

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 6g

 

Fat: 2g

 

Carbohydrates: 1g

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tablespoon (7g) butter
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion (150g)
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (110g) light ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups egg whites (500g)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan. Add the garlic and onion and saute until the onions are translucent.
  2. Stir in the chopped spinach and cook until wilted.
  3. Add the onion and spinach mixture to a large bowl and let it cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Mix in 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese.
  5. Add the 2 cups of egg whites and stir to combine.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
  8. Evenly spread the mixture between the 12 muffin tins
  9. Cook on 350F for 15 minutes.

 

Search "Vitality Nutrition Spinach, Ricotta, and Caramelized Onion Egg Bakes" in MyFitnessPal to add the macros to your diary. 

Should I Consume Protein Bars?
June 19, 2018

A topic that comes up with most clients is whether protein bars fit into a healthy lifestyle. Like any nutrition topic, there isn’t a “one size fits all” answer but there are some considerations to determine whether a protein bar is appropriate (and which bar to choose!). 

As delicious and convenient as most protein bars are, I recommend reserving them as a meal or snack replacement when travelling or "in-a-pinch." Protein bars have saved me from hanger (ie. when hunger turns into hanger) on numerous occasions! Protein bars are a better option that a chocolate bar or fast food stop. A high protein and fibre bar can be a fantastic snack to fend off hunger and prevent over-eating at your next meal. A protein bar makes it into my bag on every road trip, flight, or camping trip.

When selecting a protein bar, I opt for the bars that are high in protein (duh!), low in sugar, and contain fibre. Below is an example I created that compares a Clif bar to a Kirkland protein bar. The Kirkland protein bar makes a better option for travel because it is:

  • High in protein (aim for >15g of protein)
  • Higher in fibre (aim for >5g of fibre - this bar is very high at 15g)
  • Lower in sugar (aim for <8g of sugar)

I would really only recommend the Cliff bar as a quick source of energy (carbs) for someone who is very active. As an example, a client who is going for a long hike and needs light-weight, quick energy or a CrossFit athlete between events at a competition.

Before reaching for a protein bar, consider whether you could make a high protein and fibre meal or snack at home. Whole, unprocessed foods are higher in micronutrients and offer volume to keep you full and satisfied. In the example below, the plate of chicken, berries, and almonds is near equivalent to the Quest bar in terms of calories and macronutrients. However, the “real food” offers more volume (it weighs close to 5x as much as the Quest bar!) and has more micronutrients (including vitamin C, vitamin A, and iron).

If I do opt for a protein bar, I usually pick up the Kirkland protein bars as they are reasonably priced per serving but have a similar nutrition composition to the Quest bar. The Kirkland bars are about $1.25 per bar and most Quest bars are closer to $4. Unfortunately, a labelling error has the Kirkland bars off of the shelves. Hopefully when they return they restock them with some of the flavours that are available in the USA! (See photos below).

Other bars I enjoy include:

  • Oatmeal Gold bar in the flavour "Natural" (a bit higher in carb but an awesome post-workout snack as they contain oatmeal! I recommend the "Natural" flavour as the other varieties are quite high in total carbs, fat, and calories. More than most people need for a snack!)
  • Grenade Bar in White Chocolate Cookie
  • ONE Basix bar (sweetened with Stevia and some find them easier to digest)
  • Fit Joy
  • Bup! bars

These brands can be found at a local supplement store or the pharmacy section of most grocery stores. Some gas stations (like Coop!) are starting to carry protein bars as well! This is fantastic as an "emergency snack" on a road trip.

Key takeaways:

  • Protein bars can make a convenient snack or meal replacement
  • Choose a bar that is high in protein and fibre but lower in sugar
  • Consider reserving protein bars for travel or an “emergency snack” as whole foods will offer more volume and micronutrients to your menu
When to Weigh
June 4, 2018
Do you know the difference between serving and portion sizes? While the terms are used interchangeably, they actually are quite different:
 
Portion: the amount of a food that you choose to eat for a meal or snack. It can be big or small— you decide. 

Serving: a measured amount of food or drink. This could be 1 tablespoon (15g) of peanut butter, 175g (3/4 cup of Greek yogurt), or 1/2 cup of cooked rice.

Understanding portion size is valuable when making improvements to your nutrition. Without the awareness of an accurate portion size, we can easily undereat or overeat. Healthy eating includes making healthful food choices, which means knowing what and how much you eat. If your tracking your nutrition, it is important to account for all of the nutrients you consume.
 
Example 1: Cheese

Who doesn't love cheese?! (Well, I actually know a few people. It is fun to share nachos with them, ha!). Cheese is a commonly distored portion. Cheese is a calorie dense food. This means its valuable to understand what a true portion looks like. The cheese on the left is a large serving whereas the cheese on the right is consider one portion (about 30g on a food scale, 1/4 cup grated, or the size of two Energizer batteries).
 
   

Example 2: nuts

Like cheese, nuts are energy dense. While nutritious, the calories and fat can add up quickly if your portion is off. The photo on the right is a handful of nuts. I could easily eat 1-2 large handful of nuts if I wasn't aware of my portion (not only could I do this I have done this on multiple occasions - haha!). The photo on the left is a 100 calorie serving of walnuts (about 15g or a handful that would fit within your palm). The serving on the left is a heaping handful at about 230 calories (over 130 calories more than the weighed portion). In one week alone, that adds up to 910 calories that you may not have realized you were consuming. That is like consuming 2 extra meals! If your goal is weight loss, it could be worthwhile to do a double check on your portion size. 

    
 

Example 3: peanut butter

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been disappointed after measuring out a true tablespoon of PB! After spending years weighing and measuring foods, I’d like to think I have a good eye for portion sizes. But PB is one I can never get quite right! The photo is funny because to me there is literally no visual difference. But the rice cake on the left was my attempt to estimate a tablespoon portion without a food scale -  it ended up being more like two tablespoons. The right is 15g portion of PB (1 tablespoon) that I weighed out on a food scale.

 
 

 Tip: spend a month weighing and measuring your food!


By weighing and measuring our foods, you build knowledge and awareness of what a true portion sizes looks like. Personally, I quite enjoy weighing my foods! It isn’t time consuming once you get the hang of it. Weighing your foods isn’t a necessary life long nutrition habit - but I do recommend giving it a go for a month or more! Although it might seem crazy at first, weighing your foods on a food scale is the best way to understand a true portion size! 

Side note: if you do want to weigh your foods, the best place to purchase a food scale is London Drugs!

If you are feeling overwhelmed by this information, consider our guide for “when to weigh”:


 

   

 

Creating Habits (& Courtney's Favorite Salad Template!)
May 22, 2018

Last week on my Instagram page I posted about habits. When it comes to our health goals (especially nutrition!) we are all searching for the “perfect formula”. That is, which habits and protocols serve us and which ones do not. That formula is different for everyone! One person might find tracking macros works for them and the next person intuitive eating. Maybe you enjoy paleo eating, plant-based choices, or everything in between.

It is essential to experiment with what works for YOU! You won’t get it right the first time. Make mistakes and learn from them. This is the only way to write your perfect story and create a formula that works for you. Of course, a dietitian or nutrition coach can help you create this formula. But most of all, be patient! It might take some trial and error but never give up.

The post led me to chat about a nutrition habit that has been a staple in my life for seven years now which is a big salad for lunch. I actually call it my Big Ass Salad which is a phrase I stole from Mark of Mark's Daily Apple. Many people ask how I make it - so I decided to write a blog post. Over the years I’ve adapted it to my personal tastes, nutritional experiments, and quite honestly, whatever is accessible in my fridge. While the recipes changes daily, I have a "template" that I will highlight below. The best part about this salad is that it can fit any nutrition goal. You can make it high carb for post-workout, low carb, keto, vegan, vegetarian, or adapt it to fit your macronutrient goals. It is just so versatile.

Which habits serve you? Which ones don't? What new habits could you implement into your lifestyle? These are questions I ask myself daily! But one thing is for sure, my Big Ass Salad is my favorite meal and a habit that makes me feel my best.

Courtney's Big Ass Salad Template:
 

Vegetables: I like to have a minimum of three different colors in my salad. I always have a deep green, leafy veggie as the base but add whatever veggies are kicking around my fridge. I love the volume, color, and fullness the veggies bring to the meal. Some of my favorite veggies include: 

  • Spinach, kale, broccoli slaw, kale slaw, or romaine lettuce
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Baby tomatoes
  • Cooked or pickled beets
  • Shredded carrots

ProteinI always add a palm-sized serving (about 3-4 ounces) of protein to the salad. As long as the protein is prepped, this salad is easy to throw together. But if I don't have pre-cooked protein on hand, I opt for canned salmon or tuna! Some of my favorite protein sources:

Fatsif it is post-workout salad I don't add as much fats as when I am not working out. Fats pack a ton of flavour! I find healthy fats prevent the salad from being a "Boring Ass Salad" (hehe). 

  • Avocado
  • Walnuts or pumpkin seeds
  • Drizzle of avocado oil
  • Blue cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • Olives 

* Sometimes I rely on the fats that come from my protein source. As an example, chicken thighs have more fat than chicken breast and pack a lot of great flavour!  

Carbohydratesif I am enjoying the salad after a hard workout, I will strategically add a source of carbohydrates. But if it isn't a post-workout meal, I will often keep the salad low in carbohydrate. Some of my favorites:

  • Roasted sweet potato
  • Roasted Kabocha Squash
  • Sliced strawberries 
  • Quinoa
  • Black beans or Edamame beans

Extrasthese are just fun (low calorie) add-ins to bring flavor to the salad - I almost always use the Bolthouse salad dressing. 

 

Popcorn & Food Finds
May 18, 2018

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been tricked by a food label! 

Food marketers are the sneakiest. They use terms like “natural”, “organic”, or in this case “smart” to persuade consumers that they are making a healthy choice. This marketing jargon is catchy and for this example reinforces that the Smart Pop must be the “smart” choice. I like to call this the "Health Halo" - you can read more about the Health Halo effect here

Don’t fall into the trap! Take one minute to investigate the label to determine if you are truly making the best choice.

Popcorn is an awesome choice as it is loaded with fibre. A Vitality favorite is Buddha Bowl popcorn as it’s higher in fibre and lower in fat per serving. Find it at Bulk Barn, Shopper’s Drug Mart, or Superstore. You could also air-pop your own and add a small amount of butter or oil for flavour or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Learn more about fibre here

Check out the difference in fat and fibre between the not-so-"Smart Pop" and the Buddha Bowl brand (see photo below). Buddha Bowl popcorn is a great "quick grab" as a healthier alternative to chips for a day at the beach, a BBQ, or really any party!

Some additional tips for choosing carbs:

  1. Compare equal serving sizes (in this case, 28g)
  2. Opt for more fibre
  3. Look for lower fat (you can add your own healthy fats!)
  4. The less ingredients the better

 

 

Fullness, Satiety, and Satisfaction
May 15, 2018

Last night we had a BBQ at CrossFit BRIO to raise funds for our team competing at the CrossFit Games' West Coast Regional. We are so appreciative of the community’s support and are extremely proud to represent BRIO in just over a week!



As I enjoyed my burger, I reflected on the difference between feeling full, satiated, and satisfied. Let me explain my thoughts:

  • Stomach fullness is what you feel in and around the stomach based on the weight and volume of food you've eaten. As food enters the stomach,  there is a sensation of fullness that comes from the swelling of the stomach stimulating nearby nerves. Stomach fullness can occur with low or high calorie foods. For example, drinking a litre of water or eating a plate full of veggies can offer stomach fullness for few calories.
  • Body satiety is often mistaken as stomach fullness but it is quite different. As the body digests a meal, the nutrients enter the bloodstream. Depending on the food you ate, the duration in which you feel satiated differs. As an example, a meal that is higher in fat will digest slower than a meal that only contains carbohydrates. The higher fat meal will offer longer body satiety. So while drink water can lead to "fullness" it will not offer body satiety as it does not have calories. Calorie dense ingredients will offer longer body satiety (eg. the burger patty!).
  • Satisfaction comes from genuinely enjoying your food. For me personally, I feel the most satisfied when I choose simple, unprocessed ingredients and enjoy them in good company. I felt extremely satisfied after enjoying a burger and veggies with my favorite community of people at CrossFit BRIO while sitting outside in the sunny backyard. I might have felt full and satiated eating the burger by myself, but not nearly as satisfied as I did enjoying it with my favorite people on a beautiful day. 


At our BBQ I felt all three factors:

  • Stomach fullness: from the veggies and drinking water
  • Body satiety: from the burger patty that was rich in protein and had some fat
  • Satisfaction: from quality time spent with amazing people on a sunny day

Take a moment and reflect on the factors that affect how full, satiated, and satisfied you feel after a meal. A lot of times feeling great about our food choices stems not only from what we eat but how we eat it and who we eat it with!

 

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
May 7, 2018

While chili is a staple dish in the winter, I enjoy it year round because it comes together so quickly in the slow cooker! Preparing chili in the slow cooker is a great way to save on time but is also helpful on those hot summer days when you don't want to turn on the oven.

Packed with veggies and lean protein, this hearty turkey chili is the perfect addition to your week day or weekend meal prep! Cinnamon is a secret ingredient that adds a subtle sweetness that balances the heat in this fibre packed recipe. Top your chili with nutritious add-ons like green onions, nutritional yeast, a sprinkle of cheese, or sour cream. Add this recipe to your meal prep roster as it yields enough for leftovers to reheat throughout the week! 

My favorite way to top chili is to add plain Greek yogurt which replaces sour cream and balances the spice in the recipe. Greek yogurt is rich and creamy with a great tangy flavor. Plus it's low in calories, high in protein, and a source of calcium. 

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
226
Fibre:
8g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 24g

 

Fat: 5g

 

Carbohydrates: 25g

Ingredients:

  • 1 red pepper (200g), chopped
  • 2 jalapenos (100g), diced
  • 1 yellow onion (250g), diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (540mL) can black beans
  • 1 (796mL) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (796mL) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 packages (2lb) extra lean ground turkey
  • 1/2-1 tablespoons sriracha hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoons oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a large pot saute the onions and garlic until translucent
  2. Add the defrosted ground turkey and saute until crumbly and cooked through
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and cook on low-medium heat for 1 hour, or cook on low in your slow cooker for 4-6 hours
  4. Serve garnished with green onion, grated cheese, sour cream, or Greek yogurt 

 

Search "Vitality Nutrition Turkey Chili"  to add the Nutrition Facts to your MyFitnessPal tracking. 

Whole Foods Breakfast Cookies
May 1, 2018

Life is busy.

Some days we leave the house in the morning before we even have a chance to fuel our bodies for the busy day ahead. Whether it is getting to work on time, waking up for an early morning lecture, heading to an appointment or rushing out the door for errands, these nutrient dense cookies are great to help fill that gap. A more filling breakfast is prefered, but if you simply dont have the time, need something to tide you over or a midmorning or afternoon snack, these cookies are it! Packed with fibre, healthy fats and protein, these cookies will help you avoid reaching for processed foods and can be frozen and defrosted for convenience.

 

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
122
Fibre:
3g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 4g

 

Fat: 7g

 

Carbohydrates: 13g

Ingredients:

  • 1 Ripe Banana, Peeled 
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) Natural Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Cup (70g) Ground Almond Meal*
  • 3 Tbsp (25g) Ground Flax Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp (10g) Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 & 1/4 Cup (110g) Quick Oats 
  • 2 Tbsp (15g) Pumpkin Seeds**
  • 1/2 Cup (50g) Frozen Blueberries**
  • 1-2 Tbsp Dark Chocolate Chips (25g)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and place parchment paper on a cookie sheet
  2. Mash the banana well and add the peanut butter, applesauce and vanilla mixing until combined.
  3. Add the almond flour, chia seeds and flax seeds mixing well. Incorporate the oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt stirring until combined.
  4. Finally, fold in the pumpkin seeds, blueberries and chocolate chips or any other add ins as desired. 
  5. Form the cookies into perfered size pressing down to get desired cookie shape. Bake for 12-15 minutes and let cool once done. 

 

Store the cookies in an airtight container on the counter for 1-2 days. They also store great in the freezer by wrapping them individually and defrosting (reheating or thawing naturally) as needed for a perfect "grab and go" snack!

*To make the almond flour, measure out 70 grams of raw almonds and grind until a fine flour is formed (I used a Ninja food processor

**The pumpkin seeds and frozen blueberries can be replaced with any of your favourite fruits or seeds. Try tart cherries or raspberries, dried fruit like dates or raisins in place of the blueberries, fresh fruit instead of frozen, or sunflower seeds in place of the pumpkin seeds.

Search "Vitality Nutrition Whole Foods Breakfast Cookie" to add the recipe to MyFitnessPal. This includes the macro breakdown for one cookie from a batch that made 12.

Quick Yogurt Dressing
April 25, 2018

Hunger is a natural body signal. Hunger is “normal” sensation, especially right before a meal. But nobody loves to live in a constant state of hunger (nor should they!). The right balance of calories, protein, fats, and carbs can ensure you are managing your hunger (and your weight). An additional consideration to manage hunger is choosing what I call “volume foods.” Volume foods are foods that have few calories but take up a lot of room in our stomach and are packed full of micronutrients and fibre.

As an example, each serving pictured below have equal amounts of carbohydrate, however, the spaghetti squash offers a much larger serving which will keep you feeling full and satisfied! A 1/2 cup of cooked pasta has 21g of carbohydrate it would take 300g of spaghetti squash to obtain 21g of carbohydrate.



Each serving, the half donut and raspberries, has 100 calories. There are 23g of carbohydrate (and 12g of fibre) in 190g of raspberries. The donut has 17g of carbohydrate (and no fibre!). I would definitely choose the raspberries to keep me full! Not to mention a better micronutrient profile.



Some of my personal favorite volume foods include:

  • Strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries
  • Raw vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, spinach, celery, and carrots
  • Egg whites
  • Kale salad or coleslaw

Again, the benefits of these "volume" choices extend beyond just feeling full as these foods offer fibre and micronutrients for a healthy microbiome (gut bacteria!) and ensuring your body is functioning optimally. 



Today’s recipe is for my favorite light yogurt dressing that I use on kale salad, coleslaw, or broccoli slaw. The shredded veggies in the salad offer volume and fibre for a large, satisfying meal when paired with the dressing. The Bolthouse dressing adds flavour but I "stretch" out the dressing by adding some extra Greek yogurt, vinegar, and spices keeping the overall calories lower (but offering more dressing for the large serving of greens I like to toss it with). 

Note: Bolthouse dressing is found at Walmart, Sobeys, Coop, Save On Foods, and Safeway. 

Yields:

1 Servings

Calories:
112
Fibre:
4g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 8g

 

Fat: 3g

 

Carbohydrates: 12g

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp (30g) Bolthouse dressing (any flavour works!)
  • 2 tbsp (50g) plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 cups (150g) kale slaw, coleslaw, or broccoli slaw

Directions:

  1. Combine the Bolthouse dressing, yogurt, vinegar, salt and pepper, and stevia in a large salad bowl
  2. Add the shredded salad mixture and stir to combine
  3. Enjoy as a filling, voluminous salad alongside the rest of your meal

Save on Foods Product Finds
April 17, 2018

If you follow Vitality Nutrition on Instagram (@vitalitynutrition_) you may have read a post made a few weeks ago regarding processed foods.

As a dietitian, I was feeling ashamed to admit that I purchase, eat, and enjoy processed foods. I even had held back on posting some of the meals I consumed that contained a few more "procesed" items. I had been holding myself to a standard I would never expect or even encourage a client or friend to uphold! By not sharing ALL of the foods that I eat (processed or unprocessed!) I was painting a picture of a “perfect” diet that really doesn’t exist. This isn’t helpful or realistic for most people.

I believe that there is room to take advantage of some of the convenient foods offered at the grocery store! The trick is learning to read food labels and ingredient lists to find the “better for you” options. We are all busy - and while it might be ideal to eat only foods we make from scratch, it isn’t reality for all of us. A little bit of convenience (or processing!) can help us stick to a balanced and tasty diet. Dietitians and nutritionist included!

I recently shopped at the new Save on Foods on 8th Street in Saskatoon. Of course, my grocery cart was loaded with the usual of fresh vegetables and fruit, berries, nuts and seeds, and lean meats. But these items can be found at most any grocery store and aren’t worthy of a blog post. Instead, I have highlighted a few items that I enjoy that are unique to Save on Foods. These items are more “processed” but are helpful options when you need something healthy and fast! The Save on Foods brand (Western Family) has many unique products in addition to other brands or foods that are hard to find at competing stores.

This infographic reviews my top choices at Save on Foods - but I have included a few more in detail below!


Here is a quick recap if you aren't eager to read the full post:

Quick thoughts:

1. The Western Family Kale Salad kits are much lower in fat per serving than most bagged salads. I would usually steer clear of ready-made salads but these ones are great!

2. Frozen Fajita Mix is my favourite way to add veggies to my morning routine. Sautee up the mix before adding your eggs/egg whites for a scramble

3. Hallmark Farms Sausage are much lower in fat than competing brands. These sausages had 6-9g of fat compared to 26g in the sausage next to them on the shelf!

4. Pulse Plus bread by Western Family is high in fibre and protein. It even contains pulses grown on the Canadian Prairies - cool!

5. Burnbae Farms Crustless Quiches would make for a tasty, quick, and high protein breakfast. The Spinach, Ricotta, and Caramelized Onion flavour had the best Nutrition Facts.

6. Nourish Bowls are a great option if you need a quick lunch. Pair them with some pre-cooked chicken for a complete meal. The South West Chipotle has the best Nutrition Facts.

7. Bolthouse Farms is my favourite “lighter” salad dressing. Save on Foods offers more flavours than Sobeys or Walmart. They even had my favourite - Honey Mustard!

8. Frozen Acai for Acai Bowls.

9. Flat Out wrap products which are higher in protein and fibre and lower in carbohydrates than competing brands.

If you would like a more detail report categorized by section of the store, continue reading:

Produce Isle

Western Family

  • Spicy Southwestern Kale Salad
  • Sweet Kale Salad

I am not usually one to opt for bagged salads as they are usually high in unnecessary fat and carbs from dressings and toppings. However, there are two types of bagged kale salads from Western Family with reasonable Nutrition Facts - even if you add the full amount of dressings and toppings! These salad make for a quick meal - just add a protein source. They would make great options for a summer BBQ if you are strapped for time and need an easy veggie contribution.

Nourish Bowls in Southwest Chipotle

Nourish bowls are a helpful product if you didn't plan or pack your lunch and need a quick meal. Microwave the Nourish Bowl and add protein for a complete meal (eg. pre-cooked chicken from the deli section). Purchasing a Nourish Bowl is cheaper and healthier than fast food. 


Bolthouse Farms

We all know that added dressings and sauces offer a ton of calories but very little micronutrients. If I do opt for a salad dressing, I typically choose the Bolthouse Farms dressings which can only be found at Save on Foods, Sobeys, and Walmart. They are yogurt based and lighter in calories. Save on Foods has a much larger selection of the dressings than Sobeys and Walmart including my personal favorite - Honey Mustard!


Litehouse Dressings


The Litehouse Ginger & Sesame dressing is much lower in calories and sugar than classic sauces. I like to add it to salads or stir-fry.

Bakery Section

If there was ever a food to be villainized by the health industry it would be bread. In reality, we can still feel great, lose weight, and eat carbs when maintaining the proper energy balance. This includes breads! The trick with breads is reading the Nutrition Facts tables to choose the one with the most fibre. Additionally, I like to maximize my bread choices by opting for the products that are a bit lower in carbohydrate so I can have more volume. For example, when digging into the Nutrition Facts you will find that some breads offer two slices as the serving for the same amount of carbs as one slice of the next brand. Why have one slice when you can have two?

Dave’s Killer Bread

Higher in fibre than most competing bread products!

Flat Out Wraps

High in fibre, lower in carb, and high in protein - some ways to enjoy Flat Out wraps include quesidilas, breakfast burritos, pizza crust, or classic wrap. Click on this link for some ideas to use the wraps on your next road trip. 

Western Family Pulse Plus

This loaf is much higher in protein than most breads at 9g. It is also high in fibre.


Western Family Flax Seed Loaf

I like this product because it is low in carbs but high in fibre per slice. It is comprable to the Eziekel bread from Superstore or Independent Grocers (but for about 1/2 the price!).

Bakestone Multigrain Bagels

Much lower in carbs than classic bagels. I think the Costco version have 70g of carbohydrate per bagel compared to this version which is 39g.


Bakestone Organic Tortillas

The Bakestone Tortillas are much lower in carbohydrate than other wraps on the market at 19g of carbohydrate per wrap.

Frozen Foods

Burnbrae Farms Egg Bakes

These frozen crustless quiches are a high protein breakfast on-the-go. The Spinach, Ricotta, and Caramelized Onion flavour have the best Nutrition Facts.

Western Family Fajita Mix

I love the frozen Fajita Mix from Western Family - it is hard to find a comparable frozen veggie mix. The reason I like it is because it is a convenient way to add veggies to an egg omelette or scramble. Sautee the frozen veggies before adding your eggs to the pan for great flavour and colour! This tip is stolen from Ashlyn at The Sweat Effect



Western Family Dark Sweet Pitted Cherries

I love frozen cherries mixed into plain Greek yogurt. I usually add some nuts or pumpkin seeds for crunch as well! The flavour from the cherries is enough to sweeten the plain yogurt without adding extra sugars like honey or maple syrup.



Europe’s Best Frozen Sweet Potatoes

Another great “in-a-pinch” find. Most frozen sweet potatoes are in the form of fries with additives and extra fats. But this product doesn’t have any unnecessary extras! It is a bit quicker than peeling and slicing potatoes if you are strapped for time.

Green Giant Cauliflower Veggies

I like adding volume to my meals with cauliflower rice. Cauliflower rice is low in carbs compared to traditional rice - so you can eat a lot of it for very few carbs. Win!


Natural Foods & Organic Isle

Explore Cuisine Pastas


The Natural Food or Organic Isle contains many  “Health Halos”  products - so watch out! But one product I really love is the brand Explore Cuisine. They make bean based pastas which are a great vegetarian protein solution. Not only are the pastas high in protein, but they are also packed with fibre. My favorite is the “Organic Edamame & Mung Bean Fettuccine”


Frozen and Fresh Meat

Most of the meats choices are items I would opt for in the summer - there have been multiple occasions where I have been out with friends for hours enjoying a beautiful Saskatchewan summer day. Suddenly hunger strikes and we are scrambling to put together a quick and healthy meal. Pre-made burgers or sausages are a convenient go-to!

If you dig into the Nutrition Facts there are some significant differences in the fat content of fresh and frozen meats. Here are a few products that stood out to me as being a potential go-to this summer:

Hallmark Farms Sausages

There were three flavours all with much less fat than the Johnsville brand displayed next to them. As an example, the Hallmark Farm Turkey Bratwurst had 6g of fat and 130 calories compared to the Johnsville sausage at 26g of fat and 320 calories. The Chicken Apple flavour happened to be Gluten Free.


Lilydale Turkey Sausage

We have taken these as a high protein breakfast staple for group camping trips. Surprisingly, the turkey breakfast sausages are lower in fat than the chicken version.


Western Family Turkey Breast in Herb Gravy

A quick, low fat protein option!



Western Family Chicken Breast and Lean Turkey Burger

Throw these on the BBQ on a beautiful summer day. Pre-made beef burgers will have anywhere between 20-35g of fat per pattie. If you don’t have time to make your own burger, these chicken or turkey burgers are lower in fat and quick to prepare.



Can’t Mess It Up Salmon

Can't Mess It Up Salmon are expensive but convenient. I’ve used them as the protein in a homemade Poke Bowl.


Fun Extras

Starbuck’s VIA

I use these all the time for travel or to supplement the weak cups of coffee that some of my friends make (hehe). Save on Foods is the only place I have been able to find the Blonde Roast version!


Western Family Coconut Oil Spray

I like using a spritz of non-cook spray when cooking my eggs. Adding oils to your pan usually goes unnoticed but adds unnecessary fats to your daily intake. Save the added fats to enjoy in ways you would actually notice their flavour - like adding olive oil to roasted veggies, avocado to a salad, cheese to an omelette, etc. 


Example: 1 tbsp of olive oil has the same amount of fat as ½ an avocado (and the avocado has fibre). I would feel more satisfied eating the avocado compared to adding a full tablespoon of oil while cooking my eggs. This is where the spray oil comes in handy!

Acai

Use frozen Acai to make homamde Acai Bowls - if you don’t know what I mean, try searching “Acai Bowl" in Google for inspiration.


GT’s Kombucha

Check out our post on probiotics for why you might consider adding Kombucha as an occasional beverage choice! They had a great variety of flavours of my favorite brand - GT’s.




 
Build A Wrap ... On-The-Go!
April 9, 2018

Recently, I was fortunate enough to go snowboarding in the mountains with friends. We packed most of our own food to keep costs down and fuel our body with the best. Our “go-to” meal was a build-your-own wrap! We packed our ingredients in a cooler to enjoy on the road and brought our supplies right to Sunshine Village to enjoy after several hours of skiing and snowboarding! Here’s how we built a complete meal with carbs, protein, fats, and veggies when assembling our wraps:

1. Easy carb base: 

Flat Out wraps and whole grain pitas made for our easy carb base. The Flat Out wraps are higher in fibre and lower in carbs than a traditional wrap. We also brought apples as our travel-friendly fruit of choice. Apples, bananas, pears, and oranges are great fruit options for travelers! 

2. Quick protein: 

Protein kept us full for an active day on the slopes. We opted for deli meat (Lilydale chicken from Costco) and sprinkled cheese in our wraps for flavor. A can of tuna would also be great. I like the Clover Leaf cans of tuna which come in a variety of flavors and have an easy pull off lid. Hard boiled eggs also make for a high protein travel snack! 

3. Tasty fats:

Healthy fats added flavor to the wraps and also helped to keep us full to fuel our very active day. We opted for fats in the form of pre-portioned spreads like guacamole, hummus, and tzatziki. Purchasing dips in portioned containers made them easy to spread on our wrap. If you are a Costco shopper, you can purchase spreads in miniature containers which are great for travel. But most grocery stores will carry some type of "miniature portioned" spread. You could also consider packing some nuts or pre-portioned nut butters to spread on an apple or banana. 

4. Crunchy veggies: 

Veggies were enjoyed on the side for some crunch! Although more expensive, we grabbed the mini-veggies for convenience. You can even slice up the peppers, tomatoes, and cucumber and add them directly into the wrap! You can also use the hummus, guacamole, or tzatziki that was packed as a dip for the veggies. 

I hope you find this helpful for your next road trip or sporting event! Packing your own meals can be delicious, cheap, and easy.

 

 

Low Calorie Condiments
April 2, 2018

Many people associate a healthful diet with bland, boring foods like plain chicken breast, brown rice, and steamed veggies. But you don’t have to sacrifice flavor to enjoy a healthy meal! Your meals can be wholesome and delicious! One of the easiest ways to do this is to stock up on low calorie sauces, condiments, and dressings to liven up your foods while keeping your calories & macros in check.

Inglehotter Cream Dill Mustard can be found at Co-op grocery stores in the produce section near the bakery. Try it on chicken or homemade wraps! 

Yellow mustard has zero calories and is readily available at most any restaurant or grocery store. Grab some yellow mustard packets from a restuarant to keep on hand for lunches or road-trips. 

Wildbrine saurkraut is a probiotic food and is low in calories. Add it to burgers, sandwiches, or wraps. I enjoy eating a few tablespoons alongside my eggs in the morning. You can find it at Sobeys or Superstore (in the refrigerated area of the natural food section) or at Dad's Organic Market (in Saskatoon). 

Sugar-free ketchup is much lower in carbohydrate than classic ketchup. I enjoy it with roasted potatoes or on homemade burgers. It can be found at most any grocery store in the condiment section!

Frank's Buffalo Sauce and Sriracha are tasty on omelettes or eggs if you like some heat. Try Frank's Buffalo Sauce in my recipe for Buffalo Chicken "Spaghetti" Bake

Low calorie dressings:

  • Bolthouse salad dressings are great as a dip for raw veggies, on salads, or drizzled onto tacos or burrito bowls (see this post). They can be found at Sobeys, Safeway, Walmart, and Save On Foods. 
  • Olive Garden Light can be found at Sobeys in the produce section! Great flavor and very low in fat and carbs. 
  • Litehouse Sriracha & Lime can be found at Independent Grocers or Superstore next to the bagged salads. It is very low in fat and packs a lot of flavor! I love it drizzled on Poke bowls. 

Guy's BBQ sauce can be ordered online at Low Carb Grocery. I love it as a marinade for steaks or chicken! It also works well in our BBQ pulled chicken recipe.

Good Foods Tomatillo & Avocado salsa can be found at Costco and is an amazing addition to any Mexican meal! Check out our Mexican Meal Prep post for ideas.

Penny's Pico de Gallo from Costco is my favorite way to add flavor to my morning omelette or homemade tacos!

Protein On-The-Go
March 27, 2018

Protein has long been considered the go-to nutrient for athletes to build and maintain muscle mass. But the more we learn about this nutrient, the clearer it becomes that protein’s benefits extend far beyond sports nutrition. Protein is a slow digesting nutrient that stimulates the release of hormones that signal satiety. Therefore, meals and snacks that contain protein keep you full for longer. Protein has a high "thermic effect" (compared to carbohydrates and fats) meaning that a high protein diet can increase the total number of calories the body burns in a day. Additionally, consuming protein at your meals and snacks can fend off cravings for processed carbohydates and sweets (aka: you can more easily stick to a reasonable portion of mini-Eggs!). With these facts considered, protein is a rock-star nutrient to keep you feeling satisfied and energized while assisting in weight management or fat loss goals. 

Unfortunately, many folks struggle to consume adequate protein. Whether you're traveling this Easter weekend or just on-the-go, stocking up on travel-friendly high-protein and non-perishable ingredients is a must! Consider these "on-the-go" protein ideas to stay on track with your fitness and nutrition goals this weekend:

  • Grab turkey or beef jerky at any gas station
  • Add deli meats or pre-cooked chicken to a FlatOut wrap for a quick lunch
  • Stir protein powders into yogurt or oatmeal for a punch of flavor (and protein!)
  • Pair pre-portioned cheese, like Babybel, with an apple or some veggies
  • Enjoy hard-boiled eggs to satisfy your hunger between meals
  • Share turkey bites with your car-mates on a long road trip
  • Scoop flavored tuna with easy "peel-off" lids onto some rice crackers or veggies
  • Select Greek or Skyr yogurt as they contain more protein than the regular yogurt varieties. Look for the plain or lightly sweetened flavors to reduce the total sugar. Tip: I like the Skyr yogurt from President's Choice as there is less sugar added to flavours like vanilla or berry.
  • Keep protein bars in your car, gym bag, or purse. Select bars that are low in added sugars and contain >15g of protein, >5g of fibre. I like the Kirkland protein bars, Grenade bars, Quest bars, Detour, Pure Protein or Fit Joy bars.

Bottom-line:

  • Protein is important to build muscle but it also:
    • Digests slowly to keep you full
    • Causes the release of hunger satiating hormones
    • Increase the number of calories you burn in a day
  • Consider travel-friendly protein options to keep you fuelled and energized
Poke Bowl
March 3, 2018

What Is a Poke Bowl, Anyway?

Poke means “to slice or cut” in Hawaiian and refers to chunks of raw, marinated fish which is then tossed over rice and topped with vegetables and umami flavored sauces. But you don't have to keep it traditional! Just use the theme of the recipe to customize it to your flavor preference. Some ideas:

Carbs: Most bowls start with a base layer of white rice. You can also prepare the dish with cauliflower rice as a lower carb, higher volume subtitute.

Protein: The classic recipe calls for sushi-grade ahi tuna. But you can choose any fish you like such as shrimp, crab, or salmon. You could even keep it vegetarian with edamame as the protein source. My favorite is sashimi or sushi-grade tuna. If you live in Saskatoon, Charlie's Seafood has great selection!

Fats: Avocado is the traditional fat source. Try an oil based sauce (like sesame oil!) or a drizzle of mayo for an alternative fat source. I love sprinling on some black seasame seeds for garnish!

Vegetables: cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles, radishes carrots, bean sprouts, snap peas, mushrooms, peppers, cucumber, and green onion. Choose your favorites! For a sweet and salty combo, try adding pineapple or mandarins. This was a tip I learned from Sweetfin Poke bar in Saskatoon!

Dressing: Salty umami sauces are often made with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and fresh lemon juice.  Try adding hot sauce, wasabi, pickled ginger, soy sauce or tamari, and sesame seeds for garnish!

Poke Bowl makes for a balanced combination of protein, fibre, healthy fats, and volume foods. I love that you can include so many high fibre, colorful ingredients like avocado and veggies. I've included the exact meal I prepared but remember this meal is completely customizable to your personal preferences or goals. Add more rice for higher carb, switch up the protein, or adjust the portion of avocado! I always challenge myself to enjoy my Poke Bowl with chopsticks to slow down my eating speed and savour the flavour!

Yields:

1 serving

Calories:
512
Fibre:
10g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 27g

 

Fat: 18g

 

Carbohydrates: 58g

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup (50g) each of carrots, snap peas, radishes, bean sprouts, and cucumber
  • 1/2 small avocado (50g)
  • 4 ounces salmon
  • Sprinkle of black sesame seeds for garnish
  • Soy sauce to taste

Directions:

  1. Add the rice or cauliflower rice to your bowl
  2. Top with your favorite veggies and avocado 
  3. Add your serving of protein or choose a plant-based source of protein like Edamame
  4. Season with soy sauce or tamari, hot sauce, salt, pickled ginger, sesame seeds, or a homemade dressing (try sesame oil, lime juice, soy sauce, and rice vinegar)

 

Coaches Spotlight - Natalie
February 27, 2018

Today we are featuring one of our lovely coaches at Vitality, Natalie. Natalie is a Registered Dietitian. She graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and completed an eight-month internship in the Saskatoon Health Region. She then passed the Canadian Dietetics Examination and is a Registered Dietitian with the Saskatchewan Dietetics Association. Read on the learn more about Natalie! 

What is the book (or books) you’ve recommended the most often and why?

I really enjoyed "Diet Cults" by Matt Fitzgerald. What Fitzgerald offers is an alternative to the diet subculture – he offers an “agnostic”, reasonable approach to healthy eating – one that I as a dietitian can definitely agree with. It means healthy eating in a flexible, no-nonsense matter. It means having the ability to eat for pleasure, and also eat for health.  Also, I recommend anything by Ellyn Satter if you want to raise happy, healthy eaters!

What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the past 6 months (or recent memory)? 

I purchased (for $3) the Paprika App for my phone - it's amazing! It holds and categorizes all my recipes. I can rate them, amend them, categorize them, and make shopping lists from what recipes I want to use. It's such a convenient way to store all my recipes. It's cool because it allows you to upload right onto the app from your browser without having to copy and paste the link! It saves from so much paper clutter and is so convenient to use. #notanad

What is an unusual food or flavour combination that you love? 

Not really a combination, but I have a [newfound] love of eating canned oysters.

Throughout your nutrition journey, what new behaviour or habit was been fundamental in reaching your goals? 

I went through a phase a few years ago where I would restrict certain foods (refined carbohydrates & sweets) but then after awhile, when I would get a chance to eat them (or when I finally caved!), I found I went overboard and went crazy on them!  I hated the way I felt like the food had "power" over me. It sounds really funny but I think a lot of people can relate to a sort of "power struggle" with food, especially ones we perceive as "bad". But it doesn't have to be that way!  It took lots of work to change my mindset about certain foods (and I'm still working on it). I'm truly a believer that there's no "good" or "bad" foods. And food doesn't have a moral scale! When I really learned and believed this, it changed my outlook on those foods I had previously restricted because I thought they were bad. I am much more moderate now and it is so freeing!

What advice would you give to a new Vitality client embarking on a nutrition journey? 

Be kind to yourself. There are days when you will feel like giving up; maybe there will be weeks where you lose focus or feel like you've "messed up". Be kind to yourself and realize you are human.  

Be loving. If you try to change yourself from a place of hate, you won't get anywhere. You must practice self love. Changing the way you look will not magically make you love yourself more. You must love yourself first. 

Be patient. Reaching your goals will not happen overnight, or even in a few weeks. It takes time and lots and lots of patience!

When you felt overwhelmed with your nutrition goals or lifestyle changes, what did you do to get back on track or stay on course?

I usually just take a step back and re-evaluate my priorities. I then work on one goal or step at a time, rather than a whole bunch of things! I think nutrition and lifestyle changes can be overwhelming when we try to do too much at once. Start with one goal at a time, make your steps toward that goal a habit, and then move onto your next goal.

If we opened your fridge or pantry, what one ingredient would we always find?

In my fridge: Lemons. I use them for everything - cooking, cleaning, baking, and making dressings. 

In my pantry: Garlic. MUST HAVE MORE GARLIC. I will always double or triple the minced garlic called for in a recipe. 

What is something that not a lot of people know about you? 

I think I'm pretty much an open book. I have a quote collection I started when I was a teenager that is creeping up on 1,000 pages.

Greek Yogurt Pancakes (or waffles!)
February 23, 2018

I have made a very similar pancake/waffle recipe with cottage cheese - but a client told me it works equally as well with plain Greek yogurt so I decided to try it out. Verdict... equally delicious! Although I do think it is important to top this protein waffle with toppings to add extra flavour and texture. My favorites:

Fruit:

  • Fresh blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries
  • Sliced bananas
  • Frozen blueberries thawed in the microwave. The juices are like "syrup"

Healthy fats:

  • Drizzle of almond butter or peanut butter
  • Nuts and seeds (like pumpkin seeds)
  • Shredded coconut or coconut chips
  • A pat of high quality butter 

Extra sweetness:

  • A drizzle of E.D. Smith Low-Sugar syrup
  • A light drizzle of real maple syrup
  • a tablespoon of chocolate chips (stirred into the batter before cooking) 

Protein pancakes would be a great pre-workout fueling strategy before a tough workout (especially with the CrossFit Open approaching!). Pre-workout nutrition requires an entire post on its own as pre-workout fueling strategies are very dependent on the individual. That being said, most people do well with some carbs, healthy fats, and protein in their stomach before hitting a tough workout! These protein (or waffles) have a nice balance of carbs (from the oats) and protein. Try adding some healthy fats as your topping - fats slow the digestion of your meal to keep you fuller for longer. A drizzle of nut butter would balance out the pancakes quite nicely.

Contrary to popular belief, protein is not the only superstar when it comes to post-workout nutrition. Muscles thrive with carbohydrate post-workout to replenish glycogen stores—depending on your workout, your body will use more or less glycogen. The harder and longer you workout - the more glycogen you burn. The intensity and duration of most CrossFit Open workout are glycogen dominant. Therefore, post-workout, it is essential to replenish muscle stores (feed the muscle) with carbohydrate to replenish depleted glyocgen stores. Providing your muscles with carbohydrate ensures that you are recovered for your next workout (or your next attempt at your Open workout if you like to hit it twice!). The preferred primary source of glycogen is found in the form of carbohydrates. Therefore, these protein pancakes would make an excellent post-workout snack with their combination of protein AND carbs.

 

Yields:

1 Serving (made 1.5 waffles for me!)

Calories:
280
Fibre:
5g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 33g

 

Fat: 3g

 

Carbohydrates: 31g

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (40g) oats
  • 1/2 cup (125g) egg whites (or 1 large egg) 
  • 1/2 cup (125g) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Optional: cinnamon, vanilla extract, sweetener

Directions:

  1. Blend the oats into oat flour by processing them in a Magic Bullet or small blender
  2. Add the egg whites, Greek yogurt, and baking powder to the blender to combine. 
  3. Spray a waffle iron or non-stick pan with non-stick cooking spray. Make sure you let the waffle iron or pan get nice and hot before adding the batter! 
  4. I like preparing a large batch of the pancakes/waffles ahead of time. Simply freeze the pancakes and toast them when you are ready to eat!
  5. Top the pancakes/waffles with your favorite toppings including berries, nuts and seeds, nut butter, or maple syrup. 

 

Search "Vitality Nutrition Greek Yogurt Pancakes" to add the recipe for MyFitnessPal. This includes the macros for the entire recipe (made into multiple pancakes or a very large waffle). Nutrition Facts do not include toppings. 

Mexican Meal Prep
February 22, 2018

Earlier this week, we provided a recipe for Salsa Chicken which is an easy weeknight supper or a great recipe to prepare over the weekend to enjoy for the busy work week! We put together an infographic with some ideas to customize your Mexican Meal Prep.

In addition to these ideas, check out some other easy "Mexican Inspired" recipes:

Mexican Meal Prep

 

 

 

Easy Salsa Chicken (Slow Cooker or Instant Pot!)
February 19, 2018

This recipe is my "go-to" option when I need to quickly prepare some protein to have ready for the week.  It only requires 2 ingredients that you can keep stocked in  your freezer and pantry at all times! Once prepared, the flavourful chicken be enjoyed in a variety of dishes including tacos, salads, burritos, quesadillas, burrito bowls, or wraps. You will never get bored! I like to keep the recipe simple but just using chicken and salsa. But you could add diced jalepenos, onion, or garlic for some extra flavour. Refer to the infogrpahic for how to customize your own Mexican Meal - with Salsa Chicken being a great protein option!

I prepped the chicken in an Instant Pot but in the past have used a slow cooker.

Yields:

4 servings

Calories:
145

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 26g

 

Fat: 1g

 

Carbohydrates: 6g

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (454g) chicken
  • 1 cup (250mL) salsa 

Directions:

  1. Add the chicken to the slow cooker or Instant Pot. Cover the chicken with salsa.
  2. If using the slow cooker, cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. If using the Instant Pot, set it to the poulty setting and cook. 
  3. Shred the chicken and enjoy on tacos, salads, burritos, buritto bowls, or wraps. 

Search "Vitality Nutrition Salsa Chicken" in MyFitnessPal to add the Nutrition Facts to your MyFitnessPal. 


 

Homemade Sugar-Free Chocolates
February 12, 2018

Did you know you could make chocolate at home? What’s more, did you know it takes 5 minutes?! This recipe is quick to assemble but looks elaborate with the added toppings. I used red goji berries for a Valentine's Day theme but it is a simple recipe with lots of potential tweaks to make it exactly as you want it to be. I recommend storing these chocolates in the freezer as they do tend to melt at room temperature! You can make them into mini-chocolates or spread the mixture out over parchement paper and break into pieces after it sets for chocolate bark.

You can find coconut manna (butter) at Bulk Barn, London Drugs, or the natural food section at some grocery stores. 

 

Yields:

20 Servings

Calories:
95
Fibre:
2g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 1g

 

Fat: 8g

 

Carbohydrates: 4g

Base recipe:

  • 1/2 cup (120g) coconut manna (butter)
  • 1/2 cup (120g) almond butter (or other nut butter) 
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (20g) cacao powder
  • Toppings: chia seed, coconut chips, goji berries, coarse salt, others *
  • Optional: sweetener like stevia, honey, or maple syrup**

Directions:

  1. Melt the coconut manna (butter), almond butter, and coconut oil in a microwave safe dish for about 1 minute. Stir to combine.
  2. Stir in the cacao powder (note: you can omit the cacao powder for a less chocolate-y version. I made a half batch without the cacao powder. For the remainder of the mixture I stirred in only 2 tablespoons (10g) of cacao powder. Use 1/4 cup (20g) of cacao powder if you are making the entire batch chocolate). 
  3. Add sweetener if desired (see note below) 
  4. Place 20 mini-cupcake liners in a mini muffin tin. Pour about 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each mini-cupcake liner. Sprinkle your favorite toppings on each chocolate. Let them chill in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Enjoy! (but keep them stored in the freezer as they will melt at room temperature!). 
  6. Note: you can also make chocolate bark by pouring the mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Let the mixture freeze and break into pieces. 

* Toppings: for this batch I used 10g of goji berries, 10g of coconut chips, 2g of chia seeds, and a pinch of coarse salt. Other tasty toppings include cacao nibs, shredded coconut, slivered almonds, or dried cranberries. 

** Note: I prefer the recipe without sweetener, but if you prefer a sweeter version you can add a squirt of liquid stevia, honey, or maple syrup.

Search "Vitality Nutrition Homemade Chocolates" to add the Nutrition Facts to MyFitnessPal.


Slow Cooker PB2 Chicken
January 27, 2018

I’ve made peanut chicken in the slow cooker before but made a tweak this time around to try out a new ingredient! Instead of natural peanut butter, I substituted PB2 which lowered the total fat in the recipe. If you don’t have PB2 powder just substitute 1/2 cup of all natural peanut butter.

I serve this recipe over rice or cauliflower “rice”. The extra peanut sauce tastes great when mixed into the rice. You could even use Naan or some whole grain pita and dip it into the extra peanut-y sauce. This recipe makes a large batch so you can freeze any leftovers. Just reheat in the microwave for a quick meal! 

   

I used the Kirkland Chicken Fillets. I always keep a bag of these in my freezer - they convenient for many slow cooker recipes. I measured out my portion in its frozen state and added them directly to the slow cooker without thawing them. This further simplified my preperation time! When portioning this dish, I account for about 3 of the fillets per serving which ensures your protein portion is consistent when dividing the recipe. You could also dice the chicken if you prefer bite-sized pieces. 

         

I used honey to sweeten the sauce. You could reduce the amount of honey for a lower carbohydrate option. I've seem similar recipes online use a non-calorie sweetener like Stevia - but I prefer the more naturally sweet taste of the honey! 

Yields:

6 Servings

Calories:
287

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 36g

 

Fat: 6g

 

Carbohydrates: 25g

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of light coconut milk (398mL)
  • 1/4 cup (48g) PB2 powdered peanut butter*
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (80g) honey
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons (16g) corn starch
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 2 pounds (908g) chicken, raw (or 18 Kirkland Chicken Fillets) 

Directions:

  1. Add the coconut milk, PB2, soy sauce, honey, lime juice, corn starch, garlic, and ginger to your slow cooker. Whisk to combine. (Note: you can substitute 1/2 (64g) of natural peanut butter instead of the PB2. See below for the modified Nutrition Facts).    
  2. Top the sauce with the chicken. You can add the chicken frozen or thawed.
  3.  Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7-8 hours. Serve over rice, cauliflower rice, or dip whole grain pita or naan in the extra sauce!
  4. Garnish with cilantro or peanuts.  
  5. Makes 6 servings.  

* substitute 1/2 cup (120g) of natural peanut butter instead of PB2. Nutrition Facts for natural peanut butter version are: 373 calories with 16g of fat, 27g of carbohydrate, and 36g of protein.

Search "Vitality Nutrition PB2 Chicken" to log the Nutrition Facts in MyFitnessPal. 

 

    

Slow Cooker Thai Coconut Soup
January 25, 2018

A slow cooker is a helpful kitchen gadget for busy weeks or when you just aren't up for spending hours in the kitchen. Today’s recipe for Slow Cooker Thai Coconut Soup is one of those "set-it-and-forget-it" meals that comes together in a flash! It tastes like you put a lot of effort into the recipe as the longer cook time allows the flavors to develop all while you are spending time outside the kitchen either getting work done, spending time at the gym, or living your best life. I love that the soup is veggie-packed and the broth is creamy and satisfying!

If you have the time to chop and prep your vegetables, that is certainly an option! I opted to purchase a few "convenience" items allowing me to assemble the recipe in my slow cooker in under 5 minutes. I saved time cutting, chopping, and cleaning with pre-chopped, frozen butternut squash and pre-prepped cauliflower rice. These ingredients are available at Independent Grocers or Superstore. I have also found cauliflower rice and frozen butternut squash at Costco. I loved the addition of red curry paste from Thai Kitchen - the paste packs a ton of flavor for no extra sugars or fats. 

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
339
Fibre:
9g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 32g

 

Fat: 12g

 

Carbohydrates: 31g

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (454g) chicken, diced 
  • 3 large carrots (400g), chopped 
  • 1 red bell pepper (200g), sliced
  • 1 small onion (150g), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 can coconut milk*
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 package President's Choice cauliflower rice (340g) **
  • 1/2 package President's Choice Frozen Butternut Squash (375g) ***
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice of one lime

Directions:

  1. Add the chicken, carrots, bell pepper, onion, ginger, red curry paste, fish sauce, coconut milk, and chicken broth to your slow cooker. Cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 4 hours.
  2. Stir in the riced cauliflower and butternut squash and let cook for another 30 minutes. Note: if you use the pre-chopped, frozen butternut squash from President's Choice I recommend adding it at the end with the cauliflower. If you prep your own butternut squash add it at the beginning of the recipe as it will need longer to cook and soften. 
  3. Top with a squeeze of fresh lime and cilantro (if you like cilantro, of course!)
  4. If you are enjoying the recipe as a meal, I suggest dividing it into 4 servings. There is also the option to make 8 smaller bowls as a side dish. 

Search: "Vitality Nutrition Thai Coconut Soup" to add the recipe to your MyFitnessPal diary. 

* Use light coconut milk to lower the fats
** Purchase pre-riced cauliflower from the President's Choice brand or the "Cauliflower Snow" from Costco. Alternatively, make it yourself by added cauliflower to a food processor.
*** Pick up diced, frozen butternut squash from the President's Choice brand or prepare your own. The recipe calls for about 1/2 a butternut squash or 375g. 

 

Sweet Potato Toast
January 23, 2018

Submitted by: Darian Kotchorek (2nd year Nutrition Student) 

Food trends are popping up on the regular and are taking every day favourite foods and combining them into one! I’m a sucker for toast with PB, honey, cinnamon and banana – but also love a good batch of sweet potatoes especially in the form of fries. Why not combine the two? Sweet potato toast can be topped in many ways and eaten at breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a snack. The topping options are endless ranging from savoury to sweet.

Sweet potatoes make a great addition to any meal, and in this case, replace the need for bread. These complex carbohydrates are rich in beta-carotene (Vitamin A), vitamin C, potassium and fibre!

100 grams of raw sweet potato (raw) rings in at:

  • <100 calories
  • 2 grams protein
  • 20 grams carbohydrates
  • 0 grams fat 
  • 3 grams fibre
After preparing your sweet potato "toast" you can top it with your favorite add-ons.


SWEET ideas:
  • Peanut butter, banana and cinnamon
  • Honey, PB and cinnamon
  • Cream cheese and jam
  • Maple syrup and fresh fruit
  • Nut butter and cacao nibs


SAVOURY  ideas:

  • Fried eggs, salt and pepper (add some chili flakes for extra heat)
  • Avocado, pepper and chili flakes
  • Black beans and sprinkle of cheese and salsa
  • Sprinkle of parmesan and herbs like basil


Yield: 1 medium gives 6-8 “slices”

 

Yields:

1 Serving (100g)

Calories:
100
Fibre:
3g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 2g

 

Fat: 0g

 

Carbohydrates: 20g

Ingredients:

  • Sweet potato, medium
  • Favorite toppings (see above for ideas)

Directions:

  1. Slice sweet potato into approximately ¼ inch thick long vertical slices
  2. Turn your toaster to the highest setting and toast the sweet potato slices until desired cook is achieved. (May want to toast them 2-3 times to ensure its soft enough to eat and has a slight brown to it)
  3. Top with your favourite choices and enjoy!


Macros above are for 100g of sweet potato (measured raw). Whatever toppings you add will alter the Nutrition Facts of the recipe. 

 

 

Getting to Know Coach Ashlyn
January 19, 2018

What is the book (or books) you’ve recommended the most often and why?

50 Shades of Grey…. just kidding! The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck sits on a little tray beside me on my couch everyday. If someone documented my outlook on life this book would be it. I think it’s an important one for everyone to read about how people care too much about the small things and how those things affect our happiness (the keyboard warriors commenting giving their opinion on EVERY social media post, the woman at the grocery store getting all bent out of shape because all the cashier had left for change was quarters, and so on and so on).

What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the past 6 months (or recent memory)?

100% my Saje essential oil diffuser. I don’t strike people as the essential oil-loving type but I am obsessed. My sleep as improved so much with it! If I had to give a close second it would be my FitBit. People have said to me “Why do you need a FitBit, you workout everyday?” Unfortunately, working out an hour a day wasn’t combatting the hours I spent sitting at my computer working. It has improved my recovery and gets me up and moving throughout my day!

What is an unusual food or flavour combination that you love?

People ALWAYS give a hard time about dipping my steak in ketchup. I also really like getting popcorn at the theatre, sprinkling it with White Cheddar seasoning and then mixing chocolate in it!

Throughout your nutrition journey, what new behaviour or habit was been fundamental in reaching your goals?

Thinking outside the box when it comes to food. If I am craving something I can always make a healthier option of it that fits my macros if I just do a bit of research at the grocery store. I am a big promoter of working satisfying foods into my day, I never sacrifice eating something that doesn’t taste delicious and this makes sticking to my macros so easy!

What advice would you give to a new Vitality client embarking on a nutrition journey?

When I first started my weight loss journey I made so many excuses of why I had to overeat on the weekends or at special events. We can literally help anyone through any type of situation if they just ask and are willing to follow the recommendations. Keep an open mind and don’t get too caught up in the scale - we really know what we’re talking about and will help you reach your goal if you believe in it :)



When you felt overwhelmed with your nutrition goals or lifestyle changes, what did you do to get back on track or stay on course?

When I thought I could track perfectly during the week and eat what I wanted on the weekends I had to come to the realization that it wasn’t working for me. With a bit of planning I could still enjoy my weekends and then my progress really started to show. This also comes from the environment that we insert ourselves in. Do our family and friends support our health goals or do they pressure us to drink and overeat with them? My environment is honestly so healthy now that when I get together on weekends no one is even considering trying to convince someone to eat otherwise because we all have similar goals.

What is something that not a lot of people know about you?

I played with Barbies until I was like 14. I used to sneak down to the playroom in the basement and really get into it. I’m really not ashamed about it now, those Barbies were living a lifestyle of fast cars and freedom.

If we took a peak in your fridge or pantry, what food would we always find?

Pretzel Crisps or Buddha Bowl Popcorn

 

Carolanne Inglis-McQuay - Client Spotlight
January 9, 2018

It is hard to summarize Carolanne's amazing character in a simple paragraph. She is superwoman. Carolanne is amazingly humble, always thinking of others, and her actions follow her words (ie. she gets sh*t done). Despite her many commitments (including a busy travel schedule for work and carrying for her family), Carolanne continues to conquer her fitness and nutrition goals. She is truly a positive presence and an inspiration to everyone she encounters! We know you'll enjoy reading her words of wisdom.

1) What is the book (or books) you’ve recommended the most often and why?

Two books I give away or recommend all the time. Oh, The Places You Will Go, by Dr. Suess. It’s the greatest rhyming book I’ve found to capture how I think life happens for all of us. “Will you succeed? You, you will, you will indeed. 98 and three quarters guaranteed!”. The other book I recommend all the time is Cooks Illustrated. It’s a cook book that details the science behind why each recipe is perfection. Because I love to cook and learn at the same time, it’s my go-to book for all the people I love!

2) What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the past 6 months (or recent memory)? 

Two things. My BeLikeBruce sweatshirt. Every morning I put it on and am reminded of him. It makes me cozy and warm, and allows me to quietly share the message of the power he instilled in all of us. Second thing is my new CrossFit journal I bought two days ago. It is reflective of the fact that I have completed an entire book of workouts, of which I am incredibly proud. It will be the space where I put my new goals into, and will remind me that one page at a time, I’m making a difference in my own life. 



Carolanne finishing an Ironman - she is one accomplished lady!

3) What is an unusual food or flavour combination that you love? 

I love peanut butter and pickles. And I loved this combo well before I was ever pregnant!

4) Throughout your nutrition journey, what new behaviour or habit was been fundamental in reaching your goals? 

The new behaviour I have adapted throughout my journey has been to more clearly understand portion control for me. I had often felt like I had a couple of things fundamentally alter my perception of portion control - 1) hard core long distance triathlon training - where I simply couldn’t eat enough food for the amount of energy I was using; and 2) breastfeeding two babies, where I really was feeding another human being with my eating! These two things, in combination with being a very busy mother, wife and full time employee, truly affected my understanding of what I needed to eat just for me, and for normal life. Weighing and measuring had the effect on me to learn what a normal portion looks like for me.

5) What advice would you give to a new Vitality client embarking on a nutrition journey? 

You have to be ready to do it for you. It helps to understand the true reasons you are seeking a change. You have to ask yourself if you truly interested in learning, growing, making mistakes and being humbled. Because this is hard to do sometimes. Sometimes it’s hard to say no to the pressure to eat things you don’t really want to eat - food pressure is all around us all the time - but if you understand your vision, it’s easier to stay the course. Oh, and be kind to yourself.  But that is advice I would give anyone all the time. 

"I was in the throes of motherhood of a 2.5 month old and a 6 month old - and likely around 180 lbs."

6) When you felt overwhelmed with your nutrition goals or lifestyle changes, what did you do to get back on track or stay on course?

When I feel overwhelmed about what is going on, I think about my kids. I want to be able to play with them, run with them, generally keep up with them. And it’s easier to do when I feel energized with good food, while not carrying around an extra 20 pounds. That’s a heavy wall ball, you know?!

"Throwing Fern up into the air is unknown! But at the point where I am not tracking but just eating sensibly"

7) If we opened your fridge or pantry, what one ingredient would we always find?

If you opened my fridge, you would always find eggs. And a cabbage. I love eggs so much and add them to everything. And I learned to love cabbage when I lived in the arctic. We had to order food from Yellowknife, and it would be delivered by the plane. We paid for a lot of frozen spinach before we realized that cabbages take a lot longer to freeze! And so the love for cabbage was born. Added to stir frys, salads or eaten just raw - it’s a go to in my fridge!

 

 

Kathee Lee - Client Spotlight
January 1, 2018

Kathee began her nutrition journey with a very specific goal of competing in a lower weight class in her sport of Olympic Weightlifting. Through a lot of hard work and dedication, she achieved her goal and even managed to hit a few personal records along the way. We have been amazed at her ability to stick to her goals even while on vacations and during very busy work weeks.


What is the book (or books) you have gifted the most often and why?

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. Though it is littered with swears and can be super blunt, this has been one of my favorite reads of all time and I recommend it to everyone! This book helps bring to light what we think is important, like having bigger and better things, actually isn't all that important. It really drives home that sticking to your values will have you feeling fulfilled in life. I don't want to give away the other lessons I've taken away from this book, because you NEED to read this for yourself. I could reread this over and over.

What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the past 6 months (or recent memory)?

Costco membership! A friend of mine gave me a tip of advice, since I only buy food for myself, which is to not grab a cart and only purchase what I can carry in my arms. This helps me from overbuying!

What is an unusual food or flavour combination that you love?

Pickles and peanut butter! It sounds insane but don't knock it until you try it. Pickle and PB sandwiches or topping a burger with pickles and PB, your life may be changed forever. A "bonus" flavor combination I loved growing up was avocados and sugar. Though granulated sugar is not the most ideal ingredient in a healthy lifestyle, maybe this is why I haven't had it in so long. I would cut the avocado into cubes and sprinkle sugar on top, letting the sugar sit and dissolve a little so it didn't have such a gritty texture. 

Throughout your nutrition journey, what new behaviour or habit has been fundamental in reaching your goals?

I have found to stay accountable to my macronutrient targets, I will enter my food into MFP the night before. I find being proactive by logging my food the day before and meal prepping on Sundays keeps me accountable and on track. It also helps to not have to think what I am going to have the next day! There are times when an unexpected lunch with a friend or treats in the office come up and I am able to adjust my food I planned on having later that day.



What advice would you give to a new Vitality Nutrition client embarking on a nutrition journey?

You may think you have given yourself a daunting task and a goal you may or may not achieve (I thought this when I first started!). But I have learnt that what comes easy is not good, and what is good isn't easy. The work you put into any program will reflect the results you get. Putting in half the effort will only give you half the results you want.  So further to that, my biggest words of advice is to trust the process and be consistent. Each day or week may not be perfect, but it's the consistency over time that will show great results!

When you felt overwhelmed with your nutrition goals or lifestyle changes, what did you do to get back on track or stay on course?

I'll look at my earliest progress pictures (or even pictures from years ago) to remind myself where I was and how far I have come. No matter how big of a pitty party I hold for myself I remember that all the hard work wasn't for nothing and that the old Kathee can't come to phone right now, because she's dead (sorry - was that a bad Taylor Swift joke?). I'll also search for new healthy recipes to try to mix things up because I love to cook! 

What is one thing you know would have a positive impact on your life but you are still struggling with implementing?

A steady sleep schedule. I struggle to go to bed and wake up at the same time and also not to push the snooze button in the morning! As a competitive weightlifter, good sleep helps with recovery and is one of five things that you can control that will help with performance (the others being nutrition, training, recovery, and mindset).  Still being a young woman I need to take advantage of the time I have now to get good sleep while I don't have children!

Cranberry Bliss Bars
December 24, 2017

We were inspired to make a revised Starbuck's Cranberry Bliss bar. We used a recipe adapted from SkinnyTaste that was shared by one of our amazing clients. The makeover version is lower in calories, carbohydrates, and fat but still tastes delicious – perfect for the holidays!  We recommend sharing these bars with your friends or family :)

 

Yields:

30 Servings

Calories:
123

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 4g

 

Fat: 4g

 

Carbohydrates: 18g

Ingredients:


Cookie base
 

  • 2 cups (240g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (56g) butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Truvia 
  • 2 egg whites (63g)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 100g white chocolate chips (1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup (40g) dried cranberries


Cream Cheese Frosting
 

  • 454g (2 spreadable containers) 95% fat free cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon Truvia (or more if you want it sweeter)


Topping
 

  • 50g (~ 3 tablespoons) white chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/4 cup (40g) dried cranberries, chopped 

 

Directions:


Part 1: Cookie Base

  1. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  2. In a seperate bowl, combine the melted butter, egg whites, apple sauce, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until light and fluffy. 
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  4. Fold in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
  5. Spread the cookie mixture on a baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 20 minutes at 350F. Let the cookie base cool completely. 


Part 2: Frosting

  1. Soften the cream cheese and mix it with vanilla and Truvia. You can add more or less Truvia depending on your preference.
  2. Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the cooled cookie base.


Part 3: Assembly

  1. Sprinkle the dried craisins evenly on the bars. Drizzle the melted white chocolate. 
  2. Cut into 15 squares and then cut each square in half for a total of 30 triangles.
     

 

*Search "Vitality Nutrition Cranberry Bliss Bars" to find the bars in the MyFitnessPal database

Butternut Salad
December 17, 2017

In our Thriving During the Holiday Season post it was mentioned to contribute a healthy dish and to fill your plate with veggies first. I love to bring a salad to Christmas dinner in my family for both of those reasons! A few years ago I contributed this Butternut Salad - it was my favorite recipe contribution to date. I would even go as far to say it is my FAVORITE salad ever. If you are looking for a Holiday recipe I hope you give this recipe a go!

When preparing a dish for the holidays, I like to choose something that I can prep ahead of time. The majority of ingredients can be prepared a day or two in advance. Some notes on the ingredients:

  • Bacon: you can simplify the process by purchasing pre-cooked bacon (I pick up the stuff from Costco) or prepare your own bacon bits
  • Butternut squash: roast it ahead of time and this salad will come together quickly
  • Walnuts: toasting the walnuts brings out their nutty flavor. Walnuts have more omega 3s than most other nuts!
  • Pomegranate seeds: can often be purchased in a container at Costco or other grocery stores. If you can't find them, you will have to separate the arils (seeds) from the pomegranate - this can be messy (sorry - ha!) 
  • Barley: cook the barley ahead of time to streamline assembly. I love the chewy texture the barley adds to the salad. 
  • Feta: the best part of this salad - yum!
  • Maple Dijon Vinagrette: if you prefer a lower fat salad, you can leave the dressing on the side for guests to add their own. 

Slightly adapted from Community Table

Butternut Salad

 

This recipes makes approximately 16 small servings. If you want to serve it as an entree it would make closer to 4 servings. The measurements do not have to be exact for this recipe. You can adjust based on the ingredients you most love and what you think looks best when assembling the dish. 

Yields:

16 small servings 

Calories:
142
Fibre:
3g

Nutrition Facts (without dressing)

 

 

Protein: 5g

 

Fat: 8g

 

Carbohydrates: 15g

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) bacon bits (I used Kirkland bacon bites but you could also cook up 5 strips of bacon)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) feta, crumbled
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) walnuts, toasted
  • 1 butternut squash, roasted and diced
  • 2 cups pearled barley, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

  1. Cook the barley according to package directions 
  2. Cut your butternut squash into bite sized pieces. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400F for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
  3. Place walnuts on a baking sheet. Toast at 400F for about 8 minutes. Watch them closely as they can go from toasted to burnt very quickly!
  4. Prepare salad dressing (see recipe below) 
  5. Place the spinach in a large serving bowl. Add the bacon, pomegranate, feta, barley, toasted walnuts, and butternut squash. I like to serve it in a pretty arrangement and then toss it just before serving.
  6. Toss the salad with the dressing or leave the dressing on the side so guests can add their own portion. 

Maple Dijon Vinagrette

 

 

Most salad dressing recipes call for a ratio of 3 to 1 of oil to vinegar. I usually play around with the ratios as I don't like an oily dressing. The addition of the mustard emulsifies the oil and vinegar while adding great flavor! 

Yields (per 1 tablespoons):

16 Servings

Calories:
69

Nutrition Facts

Protein: 0g
Fat: 7g
Carbohydrates: 2g

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredients in a mason jar. Shake to combine. By leaving the dressing on the side, you can lower the total fat in the recipe or adjust the amount you want to add to your salad. I do find the recipe tastes better if you add the dressing ahead of time! 
Mango Salsa
December 12, 2017

This simple and colorful mango salsa is super easy to make! It has a unique flavour combination of sweet and spicy. Serve this fresh mango salsa with rice chips or pretzel crackers, on top of tacos or salads, or on top of chicken or fish for a punch of flavour. Mango salsa is also one of my favorite recipes to contribute to a potluck or party! 

I find that my meals lack inspiration during the winter months. I get into a rut of eating the same foods. I don't crave the fresh veggies and fruit the way I do in the summer. But with a few fresh ingredients and a simple recipe you can add bright color and flavour to your plate to inspire your menu. 

 

Yields:

5 cups (approximate)

Calories:
45
Fibre:
1g

Nutrition Facts (per about 1/2 cup)

 

 

Protein: 1g

 

Fat: 0g

 

Carbohydrates: 16g

Ingredients:

  • 3 mangos, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 purple onion, diced
  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 jalapeno, finely minced
  • 1 cup cilantro, diced 
  • juice of one lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Serve with rice chips or pretzel crackers, on tacos or salads, or on top of chicken or fish. 
Thriving During the Holiday Season
December 4, 2017

Holiday parties, family gatherings, and increased access to treats and sweets may bring feelings of anxiety as you work to develop a balance with your food choices. With a bit of pre-planning, flexibility, and compromise you can manage the holiday season guilt-free.  Consider these tips at your next social gathering:

Don’t show up hungry:

A common mistake is “saving calories” for a big meal and showing up to the event completely famished. Eat something healthy and at least somewhat filling before you go.  I recommend choosing lean proteins and high volume foods (like veggies) throughout the day so that you are able to fill your plate wisely when you get to the party.

Don’t linger by the food table:

Make a conscious choice to enjoy the foods offered, but don’t eat just because other people are eating or because it’s convenient. If you find yourself mindlessly noshing on food, try situating yourself away from the table. Make being lazy work for you – if you have to walk to the table to access the food you are less likely to continue snacking.

Avoid mindless snacking:

A couple bites while preparing your dish, some extra snacks from the coffee table spread of appetizers, and snacking on the leftovers while cleaning up from the meal can add up to a substantial amount of extra calories. The problem with mindless eating is you aren't able to enjoy the food - it mostly goes unnoticed! Make it a rule that you will sit down and enjoy appetizers, your meal, and a dessert if you are planning on having one. If you still struggle with mindless snacking - try chewing a piece of gum after the meal to remind yourself not to snack unncessarily. 

Appreciate the people:

It doesn’t have to just be about the food! Appreciate the opportunity to visit with friends, family, or coworkers. Try striking up a conversation with someone you wouldn’t normally talk to. You could even bring along a board game to encourage socializing instead of snacking. 

Load up on vegetables first:

Put vegetables first on the plate. Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. You will always put more on your plate of the first thing.

  • Veggies first: fill half your plate with veggies or fresh salads
  • Protein second: choose a lean protein (there is usually turkey, ham, or shrimp rings as an appetizer!)
  • Carbohydrate third: choose your favorite starch, fruit, or hold out for dessert! 

Be strategic with alcohol:

Try to avoid anything that is mixed with pop and be mindful of how much you are drinking. It’s easy to forget that the calories from alcohol can add up fast. Go in with a set limit of 1-2 drinks for the evening and rotate your alcoholic beverages between water, seltzer or diet soda to help spread them out.

Choose treats wisely:

Start by assessing what is available. You will want to know all the options before you start to fill your plate. As you look over the offerings, choose one food that you only enjoy this time of year to indulge in. Spend your calories on an item you wouldn’t normally get to eat at home or something that you love. In other words - "be a snob about your treats." Only choose the items that are your absolute favorites. If the food or treat is just "meh", try to hold out for something you would really love and savour. If you feel that saying no to a treat would be rude. You could always say “I am just so full from a delicious supper. It looks very good though. Perhaps I can try one later on.”



Let go of food FOMO:

It is easy to have FOMO (“fear of missing out”) with endless tasty treats available. Remember, those foods can always be purchased or made in the future. There is no point in eating to the point of feeling sick or guilty just because you are scared you won’t get to try something.  Ask yourself: “will this food taste as good as my FOMO is telling me?” Remember, you could always have that food item the next day if you really wanted to.

Eat mindfully:

Eat slowly and take breaks between bites. Enjoy the flavour, textures, and aroma of the food. Listen to your body and eat only until you’re full – don’t be afraid to leave food on your plate! Try setting your fork down between bites or taking a sip of water.




Ditch the guilt:

It’s okay not to be perfect. Mindfully indulging in food is normal. Find a balance between sharing special moments and focusing on your goals. Embrace being flexible with your food and know that one “off” meal won’t derail your progress.

Contribute a healthy dish:

It's easy to eat a full meal's worth of calories with appetizers. For example, 2 chicken wings, 2 sausage rolls, and 1 mini quiche have the same calories as a healthy meal. Try contributing a healthy recipe or appetizer to share with others. This way you know there will be food that aligns with your goals. Plus, you might inspire someone else to consider making healthy eating a priority! Try bringing lean meatballs as an appetizer or our Holiday Turkey Meatballs recipe. You could bring a light dip, like our Avocado Dip, with fresh vegetables or pita chips. You could even keep it simple by preparing a vegetable or fruit kebab:

 



Stay active:

Continue with your regular workout routine or consider planning some travel workouts if you will be away from home. You don't have to complete a "formal" workout either - stay active with walking! Walking is a great way to visit with friends and family while staying active - you could even walk around the neighbourhood and enjoy the outdoor light dispalys. 

 

Avocado-Yogurt Dip
December 3, 2017

A twist on guacamole by adding protein-packed yogurt. Serve this healthy dip recipe with crunchy vegetables, pita chips or pretzels, or use as a sandwich spread. A great way to encourage yourself to eat fresh veggies or prepare it as an appetizer for your next party!

Yields:

30 Servings (2 tbsp of 30g per serving)

Calories:
41
Fibre:
2g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 2g

 

Fat: 3g

 

Carbohydrates: 2g

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized avocados (450g)
  • 1.5 cups plain Greek yogurt (300g)
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • zest of one lime (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cilantro (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions:

  1. Add the avocado, Greek yogurt, lime juice and zest, and garlic to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Alternatively, mash the avocado with a fork and stir in the yogurt, lime, and garlic. 
  2. Mince the onion, tomatoes, and, cilantro and stir them into the avocado mixture.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve with vegetables, pita chips, or use the dip as a spread on sandwiches and wraps. 

 

Black Bean Brownies
November 28, 2017

When it comes to desserts, I usually approach it in one of two ways:

  1. Save treats for occasions that are worthwhile. Eat the "real" thing and enjoy the heck out of it. Don’t allow yourself to be tempted by a chocolate bar at the gas station when you are fueling up your car. It is unlikely that the chocolate bar is a special treat. Hold out for those "worthwhile" moments like dessert with your best friends, a slice of your grandma's homemade pie, or your favorite holiday square from the Christmas baking tray that only comes around 1x per year! 
  2. Find alternatives. Often times you can find or make "better for you" alternatives to your favorite indulgences. These Black Bean Brownies may not be as decadent as a fudgey brownie made with sugar, butter, and flour - but they are still tasty in their own way! 

“Why would I want to eat a ‘healthy’ brownie when I could be eating a deep, dark, rich, fudgy, and chocolatey brownie instead?” True! You might not want to. But, if you do want to experiment in the kitchen I highly recommend giving this recipe a go. The black beans are a gluten-free substitute for flour while adding fibre and mositure to the recipe.

I used maple syrup to sweeten the brownies. If you wanted to lower the carbohydrate content, you could experiment with a non-nutritive sweetener like Truvia. Stevia blended with a sugar alcohol called erythritol (Truvia) works well in low-carb baked desserts. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol which contains no digestible carbs. Its texture and weight are similar to sugar. You will notice on the Nutrition Facts table the Truvia will list 0 calories but 2g of carbohydrate. This is mandated by Health Canada's labelling standards - but the carbohydrates in the erythritol offer very little caloric value. I've made the recipe both ways!

If you want to keep the recipe nut free - substitute 1 tablespoon of butter or coconut oil for the almond butter. 

The only equipment you need is a blender or food processor - I find that a blender does a better job of pureeing the beans to a smooth texture. 

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
133
Fibre:
4g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 5g

 

Fat: 5g

 

Carbohydrates: 20g

Ingredients:

  • 540ml can of black beans (350g), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup (40g) cacao powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (50g Truvia for lower carb)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) almond butter 
  • 1/4 cup (60g) dark chocolate chunks 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Add the canned black beans to a high powered blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth. 
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients (except for the dark chocolate chunks) and add them to the blender with the black beans. Blend until the batter is smooth. 
  4. Line a baking dish with parchment paper or spray with a non-stick cooking spray
  5. Spread the batter into a baking dish using a spatula.
  6. Sprinkle the dark chocolate chunks on top (you could also add chopped walnuts or cacao nibs) 
  7. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes

If you make the recipe with Truvia the estimated Nutrition Facts per brownie are:

98 calories
11g of carb (4g of fibre)
5g of fat
5g of protein 

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
November 21, 2017

Spaghetti squash is a versatile veggie as it has a mild flavor and makes a remarkable stand-in for pasta in many traditional casserole recipes. It's called spaghetti squash for a reason, after all! Whether you are looking to increase your veggie intake, enjoy a gluten-free pasta alternative, eat fewer carbs, or simply wanting to use up the spaghetti squash you were gifted this fall - this recipe is for you! 

You can make substitutions to the recipe with different types of ground meat (eg. ground pork, beef, chicken, or turkey) and your favorite blend of cheese (eg. parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, or light cheese like Laughing Cow). I recommend roasting the spaghetti squash ahead of time to streamline your prep time. 

Yields:

6 Servings

Calories:
330
Fibre:
4g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 32g

 

Fat: 14g

 

Carbohydrates: 22g

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (1000g)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground meat (I used turkey)
  • 1 jar (650mL) of pasta sauce (I used Classico Roasted Onion and Garlic)
  • 1 cup (220g) of light riccotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup (60g) parmesan cheese, grated
  • 6 Laughing Cow cheese wedges (or 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella) 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and lay them cut side down in a roasting pan. Add an inch of water of water to the pan. Roast for 45-60 minutes or until soft when poked with a fork. Let cool. Drain the excess water off of the squash. (I like to complete this step ahead of time). 
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the minced garlic and onion. Cook until the onions are translucent. Next add your ground meat and cook until no longer pink. Add the full can of pasta sauce and bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Shred the spaghetti squash with a fork. 
  4. Pour half of the meat sauce into your casserole dish. Add a layer of spaghetti squash. Next, add the ricotta cheese. Add the other half of your meat sauce and top with one more layer of spaghetti squash. Sprinkle a blend of your favorite cheese on the very top layer. I used parmesan and Laughing Cow cheese wedges - but mozzarella would be great too! 
  5. Cook for 25 minutes at 350F.

 

Looking for other spaghetti squash recipe? Try my favorite Buffalo Chicken "Spaghetti" Bake

Simple BBQ Shredded Chicken
November 14, 2017

For many, it can be challenging to consume enough protein as protein containing foods typically take the most time to prepare. I find it helpful to designate one or two days each week to prepare some lean proteins to have one hand for lunches and supper. 

During the colder months, I like to enlist the help of my slower cooker to streamline meal prep. Adding sauces and spices to a blank protein canvas can fend off food boredom. But often times, condiments and sauces are loaded with added sugars and unnecessary calories. I found a lower sugar BBQ sauce online (click here) which is low in sugar but packed with flavor. It is also available at Hygeia Health Market in Stonebridge, Saskatoon. I have also made this recipe using the Calorie-Wise Kraft BBQ sauce available at most grocery stores - although, it is a bit higher in sugar than the Guy's BBQ Sauce. I kept the recipe super simple and just used the BBQ sauce for flavour - but you could add extra spices and flavors such as onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, chilli powder, etc.

 

Yields:

8 Servings (117g each)

Calories:
148

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 28g

 

Fat: 1g

 

Carbohydrates: 2g

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Add the raw chicken and half of the BBQ sauce (1/2 cup) to your slow cooker
  2. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. 
  3. Shred the chicken with a fork. Then add the remaining BBQ sauce and stir to combine.
  4. Enjoy in wraps, on salads, or on a multigrain bun. 

The recipe makes 8 portions of approximately 117g for each portion. When preparing a slow cooker recipe, I typically measure or weigh each of my ingredients. After the recipe has cooked, I measure the entire weight of the recipe (for example, my entire recipe weighed 936g after cooking). I enter the "yield" in MyFitnessPal as 936g. Then, if I want to measure out a specific portion I can. For example, I can weight out 100g of the pulled chicken and enter that as my "serving size" in the MyFitnessPal app. This works well if you want to eat more or less than 1 out of the 8 portions of the recipe (ie. more or less than the 117g portion).

* search Vitality Nutrition Simple BBQ Shredded Chicken to add the Nutrition Facts to your MyFitnessPal diary. 

High Fibre, Low Carb Flax Seed Pizza Crust
November 8, 2017

This pizza recipe is loaded with fiber and healthy fats from the flax seeds. If you require a gluten-free diet, prefer to eat lower carb, are looking to increase your intake of plant based omega 3s, or just want to try something new - this recipe is for you!

You may be wondering why this recipe would be considered low carbohydrate if there are carbohydrates listed in the nutritional information. In short, the pizza is low in what is referred to as “net carbs” - this may be a term you’ve seen on nutrition labels or heard used by people who closely monitor their total carbohydrate intake. Manufacturers of products marketed to low-carb dieters often do the math for you, proclaiming net carb counts on the package front or prominently on the nutrition label.

Net carbs refer to the carbohydrate in the recipe when fibre is deducted. The flax seeds in this recipe are very high in fibre, thus, most of the carbohydrate they contribute is fibre-containing. If we look on the Nutrition Facts table for the flax seeds used in the recipe, you can see:

Total carbohydrates = 10g
Fibre = 8g
Net carbs = 10 - 8  = 2g

 

 

Fibre is included in the “carbohydrate” category and is the portion of plants that cannot be digested by the human digestive tract. Net carbs (or available carbohydrates) is used to determine the amount of carbohydrate that will affect blood sugar and contribute to total calories.

 

Note: some types of fibre (soluble fibre) can be fermented by the bacteria in our gut into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFA to provide our body with some energy (calories).

There are many reasons to include fibre in your diet.

  1. Managing body weight: fibre rich foods take longer to digest and therefore result in a feeling of increased fullness (you won’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied)
  2. Lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol: one type of fibre (soluble fibre) helps to lower the bad cholesterol by binding to it
  3. Aids in healthy digestion:  by normalizing bowel movements
  4. Regulate blood sugar: by slowing the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates
  5. Short chain fatty acids (SCFA): fibre is broken down into short chain fatty acids which is fuel for the good bacteria that live in our guts!
 

It is recommended that you eat 14g of fibre for every 1000 calories you consume. As a general rule, females should aim for 25g per day and men should aim for 35g per day. Meeting your daily fibre requirements is important because it means you are filling your diet with micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) rich foods that will keep you full, energized, and healthy.

You can eat more than the recommended amount of fibre but make sure you increase your intake slowly to give your body time to adjust. This recipe for Flax Seed Pizza is very high fibre - if your body isn’t use to high fibre foods you may feel bloated or experience stomach cramping! I recommend sticking to two pieces or less as each piece has over 5g of fibre but also drink lots of water. Fluids helps fibre pass through your system! 

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
124
Fibre:
6g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 4g

 

Fat: 7g

 

Carbohydrates: 6g

Ingredients:

  • 240g (1.5 cups) ground (milled) flax seeds
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

Directions:

  1. Add your ground flax seeds to a large mixing bowl. If you purchase the whole seed, you can grind the flax yourself in a Magic Bullet or food processor.
  2. Combine the ground flax seeds, eggs, water, baking soda, and salt
  3. Line a pizza tray with parchement paper and spray with oil.
  4. Spread your flax mixture onto your pizza tray
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 425F and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool.
  6. Add your toppings of choice and bake until the cheese melts

Note: Nutrition Facts are for 1 slice of the pizza crust without extra pizza toppings. I cut my pizza into 12 slices - but they were rather small. You may prefer to do 8-10 slices instead! Adjust the Nutrition Facts based on your yield. 


 

 

The Four Tendencies Review
October 31, 2017

A while back, I wrote about the concept of moderators and abstainers which was introduced to me by Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project.  I recently read Rubin’s latest book, The Four Tendencies, which is a personality framework that explains how individuals respond to expectation. Rubin describes expectations as being either outer (for example, our boss at work) or inner (for example, the goals we tell ourselves we want to accomplish). Rubin believes that understanding your tendency allows you to operate more effectively but also enables you to influence the people around you.

In my work as a Registered Dietitian and a CrossFit coach, I have found myself identifying client’s actions that align with one of the four tendencies. In a consultation, a client once told me “I was successful on Weight Watchers diet. The thought of coming to the weekly meeting without having lost weight was enough to keep me on track. But for some reason I just can’t stick to a meal plan without the check-ins.” This client clearly thrived with outer expectations and accountability!

I am a firm believe that motivation is a finite resource - relying on motivation to eat better or move more is a recipe for failure. While motivation might get you started, it is your habits that keep you going. (Read Coach Jocelyn’s blog on routines found here). There is no magic “one-size fits all” to living your happiest and healthiest life. Different strategies work for different people. Some do better eating an abundance of carbs and some do better with few carbs, some do better when they abstain from a temptation whereas others thrive when they indulge moderately, and some have their best workouts at 6am whereas others won’t be seen at the gym until 7:30pm. But understanding your personality, or tendencies, provides you with the tools to build the life you want with less struggle.

The Four Tendency framework is just one of many tools to understand your personality -  explaining why we act (or why we don’t act!). Rubin categorizes our responses to expectations into four categories:

  • Upholders who respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations.
  • Questioners who question all expectations; they meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified. So in effect, they respond only to inner expectations
  • Obligers respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.

 

Just the other day, a member at the gym told me “I booked my Saturday morning class on Friday afternoon. I knew I wouldn’t want to sign up come Saturday morning; but I would never cancel after signing in.” Sounds like an Obliger!

I use to wonder why nutrition clients wanted to continue working with me after reaching and maintaining their nutrition goals - it is my goal to teach clients a personalized strategies so that they feel confident managing their diet on their own. But many clients tell me: “I just like the accountability. I do better knowing that you are looking over my nutrition and that I have to check-in with you weekly.” Knowing that they thrive with accountability, they can justify the service (ie. as Obligers they do well with the outer expectation of a nutrition coach).

Understanding your tendency allows you to make decisions that will assist you on the path to your goals. For example, I wanted to incorporate running into my weekly routine. I couldn’t figure out why I could be so successful hitting the daily class WODs but couldn’t motivate myself to run! After understanding The Four Tendencies, I realized I am largely an Obliger and it was the outer accountability of the daily class WOD that had allowed me to be consistent with CrossFit for over 5 years. I could cultivate the same consistency by finding myself an “accountabilibuddy” to run with. Thus, I enlisted in a running buddy who I meet every Sunday and have been consistently running with 1x per week.

Furtherrmore, recognizing the tendencies of your friends, coworkers, child, or patient falls into can help you influence them. For example, Rebels do what they want, for their own reasons. If someone tells them to do something, they are likely to resist. For example, to trigger the rebel spirit, one might say “I see you aren’t going to the gym today...” over saying “don’t you think you should go to the gym today?” Rebels prefer to think that something is their idea - so when working with rebels it is best to provide them with the information they need to make an informed choice; and alert them to the consequences of actions they may take. A dietitian may say: “Clients who consume protein at every meal tend to recover better from their workouts. We find clients who spend two hours meal prepping once per week are more successful with increasing their protein intake. If you’re interested, this handout has some high protein recipe ideas to implement into your weekly rotation.”

Questions are inspired to taking action knowing that there is research and evidence behind their actions. In fact, Questioners are often puzzled when others are willing to act with sound reason. Questioner’s research mean that they often become resources for other people as they enjoy sharing their knowledge - they are the type of people who send a lot of articles! But their constant questioning can be frustrating (for themself and others!) as they can suffer from analysis-paralysis. They want to know all of the answers and continue their research before they take action - this halts their efforts.

A sign that reads “thank you for not smoking” would likely make a non-smoking Rebel consider lighting up a cigarette remarking “i hate the implication that because they’ve ordered me to do it. I’ll do it.”

 

Knowing that Questioners love research and explanations, a CrossFit coach may decide to present thorough research and evidence to justify their recommendation. It wouldn’t be enough to tell a Questioner: “you have to hook-grip the bar - it is just what we do here.” I found the perfect example of a Questioner on the CrossFit.com forum:

“For the past couple months of CrossFit, I have been using the hook grip without much question basically cause Coach Burgener says so. But like everything else, being faithful in something blindly is usually folly. So can you guys tell me what advantages the hook grip gives us as opposed to just how you would grip some rod-like thing typically (like a pull up bar for instance)?”

Instead, the Coach may back their recommendation with justification. “We recommend that you hook grip the bar because it allows for a stronger pull, you can keep the bar closer to your body, etc.....” Note: I am not a Questioner so I don’t have the definitive answer as to why we hook grip. I am an Obliger, so I’ve hooked gripped since 2012 when Coach Jocelyn at CrossFit BRIO first told me to. It was her expectation, so I didn’t question - ha!

Upholders are the magical people who readily respond to outer and inner expectation. They never miss the 6am class because their buddies are expecting them but they also follow through on their New Year’s resolution. I personally find Upholders to be fascinating. I wonder … “how do you get yourself to do all of those things?” But for an Upholder, they just do it because they know it will make them happier - they don’t require motivation or supervision from their peers. 

A funny diet plan from the ‘90s serves as a great example of what would and wouldn’t work based on one’s tendency.

The diet may appeal to an Upholder who thrives with strict rules and expectations. Many Upholders wouldn’t be bothered by the quote: “must be followed exactly” whereas a Rebel would find that quote extremely annoying - and would vow to do the exact opposite. A Questioner would seek justification for the recommendations. The quote “diet works on chemical breakdown and is proved” likely wouldn’t be enough rationale for a Questioner! (But hopefully we would all question that sentence).  An Obliger could succeed in following the diet - but likely only with regular follow-up and accountability from a healthcare provider or friend. This is just a funny example to show how wording can appeal to certain tendencies - priorities, education (and common sense!) would obviously factor into one's decision making process. 

Take the Four Tendency quiz here or consider the question: “how would I respond to competing a to-do list?”

  • Upholder: would complete their own to-do list and could easily complete a to-do list provided by a spouse or coworker
  • Questioner: would more easily complete a to-do list they wrote themself
  • Obligers: would be less likely to complete their own to-do list but could easily complete a to-do list provided by someone else
  • Rebels would usually just ignore a to-do list.

It is important to note that we all have core values and personality traits that affect decision-making outside of these tendencies. That being said, I still believe it is worthwhile to delve into your tendency - or at least to ponder the framework Rubin outlines. Rubin believes that no tendency is good or bad. But understanding it gives you the wisdom to harness its strengths and counterbalance its negative aspects. Consider this just another hack to streamline your life!

“Learn to see yourself accurately and shape your habits to suit who you are.”   - Gretchin Rubin

Portobello Pizza
October 25, 2017

If you hate mushrooms, you should definitely stop reading this post!

But if you enjoy mushrooms - and you love pizza even more - this recipe might be a winner for you! I am a big fan of pizza. Portobello Pizza is a great way to boost your vegetable intake while lowering the calories and carbs that we know (and love - hehe) in a traditional pizza recipe. Enjoy this low-carb Portobello Pizza recipe as a main dish, appetizer, or side dish. Try different cheeses or toppings to suit your preferences.

Image: The Good Life

Yields:

1 Servings

Calories:
192
Fibre:
6g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 12g

 

Fat: 10g

 

Carbohydrates: 20g

Ingredients:

  • Two Portobello mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/4 cup (28g) of grated cheese
  • Additional toppings including lean meat, basil, and finely chopped vegetables

Directions:

  1. Remove the stems from the Portobello mushrooms
  2. Place the mushroom stem side down on a baking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes at 500F.
  3. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and top them with pizza sauce, toppings, and cheese of choice
  4. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes (until the cheese is melted and 'gooey')

Nutrition Facts vary based on the sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice! 

Overnight Oats
October 23, 2017

 

 

Overnight oats are a no-cook method of making oatmeal by mixing old-fashioned oats with liquid and other mix-ins. Letting the oats soak overnight (or even just 4 hours) creates a pudding-like porridge that is perfect for a fast breakfast. There are a ton of variations of overnight oats. I tried a few recipes but I encourage you to get creative and customize your overnight oats to your flavour preferences (just be sure to tag me in a photo so I can see it!).

You can do many swaps to this recipe to suit your dietary needs.

  • Gluten-free: swap regular oats for gluten-free oats (I like the brand Only Oats) 
  • Carb-cautious: use stevia or flavoured protein powder instead of maple syrup or honey
  • Protein-boost: increase the protein content (and flavour) by stirring in ½-1 scoop of your favorite protein powder.
  • Dairy-free: try unsweetened almond, cashew, or coconut milk

Flavour: the options for mix-ins are endless! Try PB2, flavoured nut butters, cocoa powder, spices, syrups, nuts or seeds, flavoured protein powder, and more!

Classic Overnight Oats (Base Recipe) 

This “Classic Overnight Oat” recipe is delicious on its own. It also serves as a “base” that can be used to get imaginative and create your own custom version of overnight oats. The original recipe has the following Nutrition Facts (when made without any sweetener):

Yields:

1 Servings

Calories:
317
Fibre:
10g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 21g

 

Fat: 8g

 

Carbohydrates: 39g

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (125g) plain Greek or Skyr yogurt 
  • ½ cup (40g) old-fashioned rolled oats 
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened milk
  • 1 tbsp (12g) chia seeds
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • Salt, pinch
  • Sweetener if desired (try 1-2 tbsp maple syrup or honey, stevia, flavoured protein powder)

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a jar or bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight (or 4 hours).

 

Carrot Cake Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 cup (125g) plain Greek or Skyr yogurt 
  • ½ cup (40g) old-fashioned rolled oats 
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened milk
  • 1 tbsp (12g) chia seeds
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • Salt, pinch
  • 1 carrot, grated (~100g)
  • 2 tbsp. light cream cheese
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. raisins
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (or try Snickerdoodle protein from Pescience)

Berry Cheesecake Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 cup (125g) plain Greek or Skyr yogurt 
  • ½ cup (40g) old-fashioned rolled oats 
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened milk
  • 1 tbsp (12g) chia seeds
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • Salt, pinch
  • ½ cup berries (75g)
  • 2 tbsp. light cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • Sweetener if desired (try 1-2 tbsp maple syrup or honey, stevia, vanilla, or 1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder)

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 cup (125g) plain Greek or Skyr yogurt 
  • ½ cup (40g) old-fashioned rolled oats 
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened milk
  • 1 tbsp (12g) chia seeds
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • Salt, pinch
  • ⅓ cup pure pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Sweetener if desired (try 1-2 tbsp maple syrup or honey, stevia, vanilla flavoured protein powder)

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

  • 1/2 cup (125g) plain Greek or Skyr yogurt 
  • ½ cup (40g) old-fashioned rolled oats 
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened milk
  • 1 tbsp (12g) chia seeds
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • Salt, pinch
  • ½ banana (60g)
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp. chocolate chips
  • Sweetener if desired (try 1-2 tbsp maple syrup or honey, stevia, vanilla or chocolate flavoured protein powder)

Kefir Overnight Oats 

  • 1/2 cup (125g) Skyr or Greek plain yogurt
  • 125mL plain kefir
  • 50mL almond milk
  • 40g oats (1/2 cup)
  • 12g chia (1 tablespoon)
  • 15g (1/2 scoop) chocolate protein powder (nice sweetness without extra carbs)
  • 75g wild frozen blueberries

45g carb, 9g fat, 38g protein, 9g fibre!


 

Asian Peanut Chicken Salad
October 17, 2017

This chicken salad recipes replaces the mayo with plain Skyr or Greek yogurt for an extra punch of protein. You can tweak the recipe by replacing full fat peanut butter with PB2 (powdered peanut butter) or adjusting the amount of chicken added. I used carrots, shredded cabbage, and bell pepper to add volume, fibre, color, and a boost of micronutrients! If you are tight for time, try picking up a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store to decrease the total recipe preperation time. 

Definitely not the best photo I have taken - but it might be my favorite recipe of all time! 

IMG_4033.JPG

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
266
Fibre:
4g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 29g

 

Fat: 10g

 

Carbohydrates: 16g

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain Skyr or Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup all-natural peanut butter or PB2*
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground ginger
  • 12 oz pre-cooked chicken
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (100g)
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage (100g)
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Mix together the sauce ingredients including the yogurt, PB2 or all-natural peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, and fresh ginger. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Meausre out your desired portion of chicken (I used 12 oz.) and shred or dice it into small pieces. Mix it into the sauce.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients (peppers, shredded carrot, purple cabbage, green onions, and cilantro) and mix to combine
  4. Spread the chicken salad on a multigrain bun or lettuce wrap (if you prefer a lower carb version). 

 

* PB2 is a lower fat powdered peanut butter. Find it at Costco, Coop, or supplement stores (like Herc's or Popeyes in Saskatoon). I used all-natural peanut butter for a higher fat version. 

Search "Vitality Nutrition Peanut Chicken Salad" to account for the macronutrients in MyFitnessPal. Nutrition information is based on 12 oz of chicken and all-natural peanut butter. 

New Orleans-Style Cajun Shrimp
October 10, 2017

This is a super quick and easy New Orleans style shrimp dish. However, you could sub the shrimp for whatever type of protein you prefer - including leftover turkey! This recipe was originally sent to me from Coach Rana at CrossFit BRIO. I posted on the blog about a year ago but have circulated this dish back into my Fall meal planning. Enjoy! 

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
225
Fibre:
4g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 28g

 

Fat: 4g

 

Carbohydrates: 14g

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil 
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (300g)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (150g)
  • 1 carrot, chopped (100g)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped (200g)
  • 6 whole tomatoes, crushed (from a can of whole tomatoes)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp Cajun seasoning (adjust based on preference) 
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ~½ tsp Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 pound (454g) shrimp (peeled and deveined)

 

Directions:

  1. Melt the olive oil or butter in a large pot over medium heat. 
  2. Add the chopped bell peppers, onion, carrot, and celery to the butter and cook until softened
  3. Add the tomatoes, broth, parsley, spices, salt, and hot sauce to the pot.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Make a “slurry” by mixing 1 tbsp of cornstarch with cold water. Add the slurry into the pot. This will thicken the dish so it is less ‘soupy.’
  6. Stir in the shrimp (or whichever protein you prefer) and continue to simmer until cooked through
  7. Serve this dish over rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice (for lower carbs).
 

Use wild rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice as the base. You can sub the shrimp for whatever protein you prefer. Leftover turkey would also work! 

Originally adapted from Martha Stewart's blog

Whole Foods Protein Pancake
October 3, 2017

Yields:

1 Serving

Calories:
287
Fibre:
5g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 20g

 

Fat: 4g

 

Carbohydrates: 28g

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (40g oats)
  • 1/2 cup (125g) egg whites
  • 1 tsp chia seed (ground)
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Directions:

  1. Grind the chia seeds in a Magic Bullet
  2. Add the oats, egg whites, and baking soda.
  3. Blend in your Magic Bullet.
  4. Cook in a frying pan with non-stick spray. You know the pancake is ready to flip when you see bubbles!
  5. Top with butter, low sugar syrup, thawed berries, almond butter, or whatever your heart desires! The options are endless.

 

 

Easy Pumpkin Kodiak Protein Waffles
September 25, 2017

Kodiak FlapJack and Waffle mix can be purchased at Costco and is a higher protein and fibre alternative to most pre-made waffle mixes. I jazzed up the recipe with pumpkin puree and spices for a Pumpkin Protein Waffle varation. This recipe would be great for a post-workout snack! 

Tips:

  • Make sure you purchase pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling which has added sugar
  • Add chocolate chips to the recipe for a fun variation 
  • Make a batch of waffles, store them in the freezer, and pop them in the toaster for a fast breakfast or post-workout snack
  • Top the waffles with almond butter, fresh fruit, or a low sugar syrup 
Yields:

2 Servings

Calories:
260
Fibre:
6g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 18g

 

Fat: 4g

 

Carbohydrates: 39g

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Kodiak Flap Jack and Waffle Mix (106g)
  • 1 cup water or milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (50g) canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Add your ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk to combine
  2. Heat your waffle iron and spray with a non-stick spray
  3. Cook for about 4 minutes in your waffle iron (depends on the iron - it should let you know when it is done!) 
  4. Note: freeze the extra waffle and pop it in the toaster when you are ready to enjoy it. 

Similar recipes

Tis’ Zucchini Season: Zoodles, Zoats and Zucchini Muffins
September 12, 2017

Zucchini season is in full swing and the amount of zucchini I have recently been given is overwhelming. I don’t know about you, but I loooovve zucchini, and always have fun trying new recipes with it! Zucchini is a very versatile vegetable with many beneficial properties. Not only does it boast being a low-calorie food at approximately 4 grams of carbohydrates per cup, but Its high in vitamin C and A possessing antioxidant properties. Zucchini is also abundant in potassium and folate making it a great veggie for your heart as it aids in lowering and controlling your blood pressure. As zucchini is mostly made up of water, it’s a vegetable that is very easily digested and gentle on your digestive tract with its high amount of dietary fiber!

Not sure what to do with all the zucchini sitting on your kitchen counter? Besides being great grilled or sautéed, zucchini is known as a “volume food” and can be used in many recipes to sneak those extra veggies in, add “volume” to your meal, or be used to replace (or mix with) your favourite pasta recipes to cut back on your carbohydrate intake.

Try these recipes (click the titles to be directed to the post)

Zoats

Zoodles

Zucchini Muffins 

 

Gluten Free Zucchini Muffins 
September 12, 2017

Everyone loves a good muffin, right? How about one you can feel good about with extra veggies snuck in! These muffins have no added sugar and are gluten free. Here’s what Darian did:

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
120
Fibre:
2g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 3g

 

Fat: 1.5g

 

Carbohydrates: 25g

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 2 medium very ripe bananas, mashed (240g) 
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp honey (40g) 
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1.25 cups Bob's Red Mill rice flour
  • ½ cup gluten free certified oats (40g)
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • optional add-ins such as raisins, walnuts, dark chocolate chips or coconut

Directions:

  1. Combine the wet ingredients (zucchini, apple sauce, bananas, egg, honey, and vanilla)
  2. Combine the dry ingredients seperately (rice flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon)
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Add in any extras ingredients like chocolate, walnuts, raisins, or coconut! 
  4. Fill 12 muffin tins and bake at 350F for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. 

Submitted by: Darian Kotchorek (2nd year Nutrition Student) 

 

Thai Peanut Zoodles
September 12, 2017

Zoodles have become quite popular in the health and fitness world lately and are a great alternative or addition to any dish! They make great cold salads, pasta or sides! Try Thai Peanut Zoodles as a way to incorporate zoodles into your menu. 

Nutrition Facts vary based on portion of protein used. 

Yields:

3 Servings

Calories:
203
Fibre:
4g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 25g

 

Fat: 4g

 

Carbohydrates: 18g

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced 
  • 4 Tbsp. powdered peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • medium zucchini, spiraled
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1 large carrot, spiraled
  • fish sauce and sriracha chili sauce to taste
  • green onions, cilantro and sesame seeds to top

Directions:

  1. Cook the chicken breast accordingly and season to preference.
  2. Mix the sauce ingredients together (powdered peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, and rice vinegar)
  3. On medium heat, sauté the veggies for 4 minutes until lightly tender.
  4. Add the cooked chicken and sauce to the mixture
  5. Top with fish sauce, siracha, green onions, cilantro, or sesame seeds

Submitted by: Darian Kotchorek (2nd year Nutrition Student) 
Zoats
September 11, 2017

You may have heard of “zoats” floating around and wondering what it is! It’s simply zucchini shredded and added to your bowl of oats. The addition of the zucchini creates a voluminous appearance and may leave you feeling fuller and more satisfied as your meal appears quite a bit larger.

Yields:

1 Servings

Calories:
297
Fibre:
6g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 27g

 

Fat: 7g

 

Carbohydrates: 36g

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup (30g) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup (125g) egg whites
  • 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
  • 10g (1/3 scoop) flavored protien powder *optional
  • 1/2 tbsp nut butter
  • 50g banana, sliced
  • cinnamon to top 

Directions:

  1. In a bowl combine your oats with enough water to cover and microwave for ~30 seconds to 1 minute.
  2. Next add ½ cup of egg whites, stir and heat for 45 seconds.
  3. Add the zucchini and continue to stir and microwave for 30 second intervals until the desired consistency is reached.
  4. Stir in protein powder (optional) and top with banana, nut butter and cinnamon for a satisfying veggie filled breakfast! 

  Submitted by: Darian Kotchorek (2nd year Nutrition Student) 

Wait List
September 5, 2017

In order to ensure we deliver a high quality service to our clients, we currently have a wait list. It is our priority to ensure each client is matched with a coach who can provide them the time and attention they need to reach their goals.

We are working to bring Registered Dietitians to our team soon so we are expecting the wait to be short. In the meantime, we recommend connecting with us via the contact forum on our website to have yourself added to the wait list.

Click here to connect.

We are eager to work with you in the future to help you achieve your goals!

Buffalo Chicken "Spaghetti" Bake
September 4, 2017

Buffalo Chicken 'Spaghetti' Bake is a Vitality Nutrition favorite. Epecially when spaghetti squash is in season and abundant! We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
306
Fibre:
7g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 28g

 

Fat: 11g

 

Carbohydrates: 26g

Ingredients:

  • 1 small or ½ large spaghetti squash (~800g)
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ large onion (150g)
  • 3 stalks celery (200g)
  • 2 large carrots (200g)
  • 1 bell pepper (150g)
  • 1 pound lean ground chicken (ground turkey works too!)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Frank’s Original Hot Sauce (or try the Buffalo Wing hot sauce by Frank's)
  • 2 tablespoons Plain Greek yogurt (or mayo)
  • 2 eggs (or 1/2 cup egg whites)

Directions:

  1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes at 350° F until the squash is cooked through. For a faster method, place the spaghetti squash cut side down on a plate. Pierce holes in the squash, add water to the plate, and cook in the microwave for 10-12 minutes. (Note: this step can be completed in advance).
  2. Add oil to a large pan and sauté garlic, onions, celery, carrots, and pepper.
  3. Add the ground chicken and continue to cook until chicken is no longer pink. 
  4. Scoop the spaghetti squash into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the chicken mixture. Add in the hot sauce, mayo, and Greek yogurt and stir to combine. Mix in the egg whites. 
  5. Place the mixture in an 8 inch baking dish (or two separate baking dishes as shown in the photo – this way you can freeze one dish and reheat for an ‘emergency meal’ in the future). 
  6. Bake at 350° F for 40 minutes or until the mixture is firm to touch.
  7. Add sliced avocado, fresh cilantro, blue cheese, or green onion for garnish.

For extra healthy fats, top the recipe with blue cheese or avocado! Or, you can lower the fats by using egg whites to replace the eggs and light mayo to replace the full fat mayo. 

Search "Vitality Nutrition Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Bake" to find the macros in MyFitnessPal

Buffalo Chicken Salad
August 22, 2017

I typically eat at least one salad per day - and I almost always use the Bolthouse salad dressings on my salad! They add a ton of flavor but are less calorie dense than many other salad dressings on the market. This provides the flexibility to add other tasty toppings to my salad like cheese, avocado, and nuts while staying within my calorie or macronutrient goals for the day. 

You can find the Bolthouse salad dressings in the refrigerated section of Sobeys, Safeway, or Wal-mart (next to the pre-made salads).

IMG_3803.JPG

This week, I used the Bolthouse ranch dressing in a recipe for Buffalo Chicken Salad mixture. Some ways I enjoyed this recipe: 

  • Added to lettuce boats for a low-carb meal
  • Sandwiched between whole grain bread or a multigrain thin bun 
  • Added as a protein to a voluminous salad (I use spinach as the base and top it with the Buffalo Chicken mixture, blue cheese, and avocado!)

IMG_3802.JPG

 
Yields:

4 Servings (~160g)

Calories:
141
Fibre:
2g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 25g

 

Fat: 2g

 

Carbohydrates: 6g

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup celery, diced (100g)
  • 1/2 cup carrot, grated (100g)
  • 1/4 purple onion, diced (50g)
  • 3 stalks green onion, diced 
  • 1.5 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (measured as 1 pound raw weight)
  • 3 tbsp Bolthouse Ranch Yogurt Dressing
  • 3 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 

Directions:

  1. Add the hot sauce, ranch dressing, and garlic powder to a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine
  2. Add in the vegetables and chicken
  3. Serve in lettuce wraps, as a traditional sandwich, or on top of salad. 

 

Search: "Vitality Nutrition Buffalo Chicken Salad" to log this recipe in MyFitnessPal

Happy 1st Birthday Vitality Nutrition - Cake Batter Energy Bites
August 11, 2017

Happy 1st Birthday Vitality Nutrition

One year ago today I announced that I had started my company Vitality Nutrition. Vitality Nutrition is my one true love. Every morning I wake up and thank my lucky stars for the opportunity to live out my dream!

I am so thankful for the support I received throughout this journey:

  • My clients: I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to work with so many amazing people every day. You inspire me to be the best dietitian I can be - I want nothing more than to see you reach your goals! To each of my clients - thank you for believing and trusting in me to support you on your journey
  • My parents: I am one lucky girl to have parents that never doubted my abilities. They supported me through sports, school, university, and my business. I will never be able to repay them and I don't thank them nearly enough!
  • My sister: who is the most nurturing and loving person I know. Thank you for supporting me, listening to me cry, and believing in me each and every day. 
  • Ryan Cherny: for telling me straight up to start my own business when I was doubting myself
  • Brittney Bergen: who also told me straight up to follow my dream! 
  • Kristi Jorgenson: for being there for me everyday. Your "good morning" texts helped me through the hardest year of my life!
  • Stephanie Brooks: for being my best friend and study buddy for the past 5 years. I am so grateful you believed in Vitality enough to join my team! 
  • Ashlyn Newlove: for being the best friend a gal could ask for and for all that you do for Vitality. It wouldn't be the same without you and I am so excited to have you by my side.
  • Hannah Gillon: for stepping into my life when I really needed a friend and for all your helpful accounting guidance  
  • Nutrition Class of 2016: How lucky am I to call such an amazing group of women my friends and colleagues? You are among the smartest and motivated women I know. 
  • Tarra Hall: for supporting my business from the beginning. I am so grateful for your trust in me! 
  • David and Zos: for helping me transform from an unsure University student to a much more confident (at least some days) business owner. Thank you for giving me the space to live my dream. The community you have built changes lives!
  • All of the members and coaches at CrossFit BRIO, CrossFit BRIO South, CrossFit Prince Albert - Pure Athletics, CrossFit North Battleford, CrossFit Reebok 306 & Frontier Performance for inviting me to be a part of your amazing communities. 

My sister (Hilary), Hannah, and Courtney 


Zos, Iain, Courtney, and David


Ashlyn and Courtney

The one and only Kristi J. 

My talented, smart, and beautiful classmates


Stephanie and myself

What better way to celebrate a birthday than Cake Batter Energy Bites - I hope you give this fun recipe a try! 

Note: you can search "Vitality Nutrition Cake Batter Energy Bites" to find this food in the MyFitnessPal database. 

Yields:

22 bites

Calories:
78
Fibre:
1g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 2g

 

Fat: 4g

 

Carbohydrates: 8g

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (45g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup (150g) dates
  • 1 cup (130g) cashews
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • 2 tbsp sprinkles 
  • sprinkle of salt 

Directions:

  1. Add the shredded coconut to food processor and process for 5 mins, scraping down the sides as needed. You may have to add 1 teaspoon of water to help breakdown the coconut. Alternatively, you could use 1/4 cup of coconut butter (or manna)
  2. Add in the dates to the coconut and process until they are broken down into small pieces. Note: if your dates aren't moist, soak them in hot water to rehydrate them prior to adding them to the food processor. 
  3. Remove the coconut and dates from the food processor. 
  4. Add the cashews, vanilla extract, vanilla protein powder, and salt to the food processor. Process until the cashews are broken into very fine pieces. 
  5. Add the dates and shredded coconut back into the cashew mixture. The batter is done when you can roll dough into balls and they hold their shape. You will notice that the mixture starts to stick in a big ball in the food processor. 
  6. Add in the sprinkles and pulse several times to combine.
  7. Use a tablespoon to measure out each bite. It should make about 20-22 balls. 
  8. Store in the fridge or freezer. 

 

 

Vitality Vlog Ep. 2.3: Arrival of the Fittest
August 10, 2017
Coconut oil, Bullet Proof Coffee, MCTs & Chocolate "Fat Bombs"
August 10, 2017

Recently, MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides) have had a surge in popularity with health claims including improved cognitive function, weight management, and increased energy. Coconut oil is one source of MCTs but recently more concentrated “MCT oils” have been growing in popularity. Most commonly being added to Bullet Proof coffee which is a blended drink including coffee, butter, and MCT oil.



With MCTs growing in popularity, many health conscious Canadians are wondering whether they should include MCTs or coconut oil in their diet or even replace their breakfast with a Bullet Proof coffee.

To understand MCTs, it is helpful to understand dietary fat in general.  Dietary fat is classified as being either saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated, based on the number of double bonds that exist in the fat's molecular structure. For each of these three classes, there exists a large number of fatty acids. Most of the fat in the foods we eat is in the form of triglycerides which are made up of three fatty acids. A triglyceride can be classified as short, medium, or long-chain depending on the amount of the fatty acids it contains.

How the Body Processes MCTs

The structural differences in fatty acid chain length changes how our body processes them. Because MCTs have a shorter chain length, they are more easily digested and absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract than Long Chain Triglycerides (LCTs). MCTs are transported directly from the gastrointestinal tract through the bloodstream to the liver. In comparison, LCTs take a longer route through the lymphatic system and then the circulatory system before they eventually reach the liver. Both types of fats start at the same place (the gastrointestinal tract) and end in the same place (the liver) but the MCTs take the fast lane while the LCTs travel the long, scenic route! Additionally, while the LCTs require a substance called carnitine to enter the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) the MCTs can enter the mitochondria freely so they aren’t limited by the availability of carnitine. In simpler terms, the energy from MCTs is more easily accessible because our body is able to absorb and use them faster than fatty acids that are longer in length. Thus, there is some evidence that MCTs can give a quick energy boost to the body and brain.

MCT oils

MCTs are found naturally in coconut oil, palm oil, human breast milk and in full-fat cow and goat milk. Pure MCT oil is manufactured by isolating the MCTs from coconut or palm oil to create a liquid oil devoid of LCTs. While many people confuse MCT oil with coconut oil, they are not the same. Coconut oil is a whole food with a variety of saturated fats, including a combination of MCTs and LCTs.

Coconut oil and saturated fat

Coconut oil has not traditionally been recommended as a healthy oil because it is mostly saturated fat. Past research has shown that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease by elevating LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in our body. While the research on saturated fat and heart health is currently mixed (and very controversial!) it is important to know that there are different types of saturated fats that seem to make a difference in terms of their health properties. With no consensus on the research, government organizations, including the American Heart Association, don’t currently have the green light to broadly recommend coconut oil as the best type of fat for the general public.



Bullet Proof Coffee

Bullet Proof coffee is sure to satisfy your appetite as it contains 28g of fat (depending on how you make it) and about  250 calories. It won't raise blood sugars or cause a sugar crash the way processed carbs or typical breakfast cereals will. By managing blood sugars through a higher fat and lower carb breakfast, some find their hunger is reduced which helps to manage total calories for weight loss. As described above, the MCTs are digested differently which can provide a surge of energy to keep you focused through the morning. For those who find themselves rushed in the morning, are experimenting with a reduced carbohydrate intake, or struggle with breakfast, Bullet Proof coffee could be an excellent start to the day.

On the other hand, you may not feel satisfied drinking your calories and fat. Breakfast provides an opportunity to include many other nutrient-dense ingredients to optimize intakes of protein and fibre which can also be satisfying and reduce blood sugar peaks and crashes. Classic breakfast ingredients like eggs, oatmeal, berries, and avocado also provide vitamins and minerals for optimal health. Bullet Proof coffee offers only fat which may not be an issue for those who ensure a variety of whole, unprocessed foods throughout the rest of their day.

Keep in mind that adding MCT oil and butter to coffee adds extra calories and fats that need to be accounted for and timed appropriately. Bullet Proof coffee can be a way to abstain from carbohydrate in the morning and obtain a source of fat that won’t increase insulin levels (the way a carbohydrate food would). Consider Bullet Proof coffee as a meal replacement and not something to enjoy alongside a balanced breakfast of carbs, protein, and fat.

Personally, I would rather eat my calories than drink them. For example, I could enjoy an entire avocado (which would also provide fibre) for the “price” of 2 tablespoons of oil in my coffee. This is my personal preference but doesn’t mean that Bullet Proof coffee isn’t the right choice for you.

This photo compares 1 tablespoon of oil as an equivelant amount of fat as 1/2 avocado

Bullet Proof coffee is to be used for a very specific purpose (which can be advantageous) but you have to understand the “why” behind it. Becoming fat adapted and abstaining from carbohydrate can be a successful strategies for some people but it depends on the goal. If you are highly active and engaging in intense physical activity it is likely that you will thrive with some carbohydrate in your diet. However, if you are implementing a low carb or ketogenic diet, the fats from the Bullet Proof coffee can make up for the calories lost from carbohydrate.

Courtney’s philosophy on coconut oil, MCT oil, and Bullet Proof coffee

Coconut oil or MCT oil can be a part of a well balanced diet that includes a variety of unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats. I don’t suggest purchasing tubs of coconut oil or MCT oil and eating it (or drinking it!) devoid of hunger or with the expectation it will provide miracle health properties. It's not about "adding" these oils to a junky diet, but using it to replace poor quality oils – especially the pro-inflammatory oils and fats founds in processed foods like commercial baking, muffins, crackers, and chips.

Our bodies need a variety of fats and can benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties found in omega-3 rich fats (such as walnuts, salmon, and chia seeds), the monounsaturated fat rich foods (found in olives, olive oil, flaxseed, nuts and seeds, and avocado), and even some saturated fats (including butter, animal fats, full fat dairy, and coconut).

The bottom line is that the evidence on the benefits of coconut oil and saturated fat is still inconclusive. If you consume a diet high in animal products such as dairy products, butter, and meats, you likely get more than enough saturated fat. If you want to enjoy coconut products or MCTs, purchase them in an unprocessed state like extra virgin coconut oil, coconut milk, unsweetened coconut flakes, or coconut butter/manna (my personal favourite). Recognize that adding extra oils provides calories and fats - adding them on top of your current diet may add unnecessary calories that can lead to weight gain.

To summarize:

  • Recognize your current state of health. If you already struggle with elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, adding coconut oil to your diet might not be the best first step for improving your health. Talk to a dietitian to consider other nutrition and lifestyle strategies that could be addressed first.

  • Consider your entire daily food intake. How much of your diet is made up of refined carbs, deep fried foods, commercial baking, or processed meats? Are you current choices optimizing nutrient intake? Would there be a better place to start over adding coconut oil and MCTs to your diet?

  • If you follow a carefully planned diet filled with unprocessed, whole foods you may consider MCTs or coconut oil as a way to add variety to your intake or experiment with your diet. However, be accountable to your experiment. If cholesterol levels are a concern, work with your doctor to monitor your blood work to ensure any changes you are making are improving your health.

  • If you are experimenting with intermittent fasting or struggling with breakfast, Bullet Proof Coffee could be your answer. But remember, a “real food” breakfast balanced with protein, carb, fats, and fibre can be equally satisfying and nutritious.

I love coconut manna! (also called coconut butter). I find a spoonful after a meal to be a satisfying (yet low sugar) ‘dessert’. The coconut manna is made of pureed dried coconut flesh. It is mostly saturated fat but does contain some fibre. I use the coconut manna to make no-sugar added chocolates (see recipe below) which are quite satisfying if you are craving something sweet. The chocolates are mostly fats and fibre. If you’re expecting a sweet peanut butter cup flavour you might be disappointed! Although the ingredients are simple and healthy, the chocolates are calorie dense so be mindful of your portion! Having one is likely to satisfy a sweet tooth. If you do a quick Google search you can find all sorts of recipes for homemade "fat bombs" - this is my take on a chocolate "fat bomb". The almond butter, coconut butter, and cocao powder all contain fibre so each chocolate contains 3g of fibre. 

You can purchase coconut butter (manna) online or purchase it at Bulk Barn. 

 

Yields:

16 Servings

Calories:
118
Fibre:
3g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 3g

 

Fat: 10g

 

Carbohydrates: 4g

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (120g) coconut butter (manna) or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup (120g) almond butter
  • 1/2 cup (50g) cocao powder 
  • optional: add some stevia which is a non-nutritive and zero sugar sweetener. I find the recipe to be fine without it but if you prefer something sweeter you may want to add a bit. 

Directions:

  1. Add the ingredients to a microwave-safe bowl
  2. Microwave the mixture for 45 seconds or until the coconut butter and almond butter are melted. 
  3. Stir to combine the cacoa powder, coocnut butter, and almond butter 
  4. Line two muffin trays with sixteen paper liners 
  5. Evenly divide the mixture into 16 portions (about 1-2 tablespoon per muffin tin). Optional: add a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut to each chocolate. 
  6. Let them set in the freezer. After they have set I recommend storing them in the freezer so they don't melt! 

 

Vitality Vlog Ep 2.2: Fixed Tires, Food Mods & Fargo Fitness
August 9, 2017
Vitality Vlog Ep. 2.1: The Griswold's Go To Madison
August 1, 2017
Vitality Vlog Ep. 1: Caliper Carly and the Mystery of Ashlyn's Giant Calves
July 25, 2017

 

Basic Chia Pudding Recipe
July 18, 2017

What comes to mind when you think of chia? If you thought of the Chia Pet, the clay figurine that sprouted a grass-like coat, then you need to shift your thinking!

In this post we will be talking about tasty edible seeds that are packed with nutrients. Although chia seeds have recently become a trendy “superfood,” they are anything but new. “Chia” means strength and ancient civilizations allegedly used this tiny seed as an energy booster.

Five others reasons to include chia seeds in your diet include: 

  1. Fibre: One serving contains 11 grams of fibre*. Fibre increases fullness. Fibre also helps the healthy bacteria grow and multiply within your gastrointestinal tract.
  2. Omega 3 fatty acids: chia seeds contain more omega-3s than salmon when comparing them gram for gram, however, the type of omega-3s is mostly Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). ALA needs to be converted into the active forms, EPA and DHA, before it can be used by the body. However, our bodies are inefficient at converting ALA into these active forms. For this reason, we should still consume other food sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as omega-3 rich fish like salmon or trout. 
  3. Bone health: Chia seeds contain many nutrients that are beneficial for strong bones including calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and protein. In fact, chia seeds contain 18% of the recommended intake for calcium!*
  4. Heart health: Chia seeds are high in a soluble fibre which is known to lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol levels.
  5. Fun: Chia seeds are a versatile food that can be easily added to any recipe to boost the nutritional value and add a ‘pudding-like’ texture.

*serving size is 1 ounce (28 grams)

Easy ways to include chia seeds in your diet:

  • Sprinkle them on top of oatmeal or yogurt.
  • Top your salad with chia seeds for a satisfying crunch.
  • Add chia seeds to pureed fruit to make a no sugar added chia jam. (thaw ½ cup of berries and mix them with 1 teaspoon of chia seeds. Let it sit for 5 minutes before using the jam on toast or protein pancakes).
  • Use them as an egg substitute for vegan dishes (to replace one egg, grind 1 tbsp of chia seeds and mix them with 3 tbsp of water. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes before adding it to your recipe).  
  • Add chia seeds to granola bars and other baked goods to give them a nutritional boost
  • Use them in overnight oats
  • Make chia seed pudding for a tasty snack (see below)

Where to find chia seeds:

  • Costco
  • Bulk Barn
  • The natural or organic food section at most grocery stores
  • The food section of Home Sense or Winners 

Chia pudding 

Chia pudding is an easy way to incorporate chia seeds into your diet. While there are many versions of chia pudding, this recipe is simple and easy to customize to fit your personal preferences. I typically make the recipe with a combination of milks including 1 can of full fat coconut milk and 1.5 cup of unsweetened cashew milk (inspired by my friend, Jocelyn!). I find that the richness of the full fat coconut milk adds a subtle sweetness that doesn't require any extra carbs from honey or maple syrup. 

The recipe is easy to customize. You can lower the total fat content of the recipe by replacing the full fat coconut milk with three cups of your favorite milk or milk substitute (cow's milk, unsweetened almond milk, unsweetened cashew milk, or light coconut milk would all work great!). To make the recipe higher in protein, consider stirring 1 scoop of protein powder into the base recipe. You can further customize the nutrition content with fun add-ins like fresh berries, nuts, unsweetened coconut, or sweeteners like stevia or honey. The recipe is loaded with fibre so it makes a great snack that provides long lasting and stable energy. I often enjoy it after supper as dessert! 

Note: the Nutrition Facts for this recipe is based on making the recipe with 1 can of full fat coconut milk, 1.5 cups of unsweetened cashew milk, 1/2 cup chia seeds, and no sweetener. 

Yields:

6 Servings

Calories:
193
Fibre:
6g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 4g

 

Fat: 15g

 

Carbohydrates: 9g

Ingredients:
 

  • 3 cups of milk (I use a combination of 1 can of full fat coconut milk and the remainder unsweetened cashew milk)
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds (90g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • A pinch of salt 
  • Optional: stevia, honey, or maple syrup to taste 


Topping Ideas:
 

  • Fresh berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries)
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Nuts (macadamia nuts, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds)
  • Almond butter or peanut butter
  • Dried fruit 
  • Stir 1 scoop of flavoured protein powder into the base recipe for a protein boost and added sweetness 

Directions:

  1. Add all of ingredients in a blender and combine for 30 seconds. Alternatively, you could whisk the mixture but I find the blender does a better job. 
  2. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours (or over night). Typically, I separate my pudding into the 6 servings at this point stored in individual Tupperware containers. 
  3. Before serving, give the mixture a stir and top with your favorite add-ins. 

 

Gluten Free and Low Carb Bread
July 13, 2017

This bread isn't the same as "regular" bread but it is a nice treat for those who eat gluten-free or prefer a low carb option. Use it to make sandwiches, French toast, toast it and top it with fresh avocado, make a breakfast sandwich, or top it with peanut butter and chia jam

The recipe is fun to make but is a bit tricky. Read through the directions to make sure your loaf turns out perfectly! It took me a few tries to get it right. 

You can use this recipe as base for a variety of flavours:

  • Cinnamon bread: add a tablespoon of honey and cinnamon 
  • Dill bread: add fresh dill and grated garlic 
  • Cheese bread: fold in grated cheddar cheese to the final mixture before baking

Ingredient Notes:

Cream of Tartar: helps the egg whites form soft peaks and prevents them from deflating in the oven for a voluminous loaf

Egg white powder: is used to help the bread rise into a fluffy loaf. You can purchase it at Bulk Barn.

Almond flour: you can make your own almond flour by grinding 165g of almonds in a food processor or purchase it pre-ground at Bulk Barn

I had low expectations for this recipe was pleasently suprised when it turned out and had a light and airy texture. It's not something that I would make often but it was fun to experiment with a more challenging recipe. It would make a nice treat for those who prefer to eat gluten free, primal, or low carb. Each slice is similar in calories to regular bread with more calories coming from fats over carbs!

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
105
Fibre:
1g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 4g

 

Fat: 10g

 

Carbohydrates: 2g

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • 1.5 cups almond flour (165g)
  • 1 tablespoon egg white powder (5g)
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted (70g)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (15ml)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F 
  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Add the cream of tartar to the egg whites and use an electronic mixer to beat until soft peaks form. Alternatively, you can beat the egg whites by hand with a whisk (great bicep workout - ha!)
  3. In a food processor, combine the egg yolks, almond flour, baking powder, butter, and salt until a dough forms. The dough will be thick and a bit lumpy.
  4. Add 1/2 of the egg white mixture and gently combine it with the dough in the food processor.
  5. Remove the dough from the food processor and add it to the remainder of the egg whites. Use a spatula to gently fold the egg whites into the dough. Be careful not to over-mix as you will deflate the egg whites - the egg whites are important to give the bread volume!
  6. Gently spread the mixture into a lightly greased loaf pan
  7. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from the loaf plan. 

 

 

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos
July 4, 2017

I recently discovered a hack to turn  Flat Out "Fold It" wraps into taco shells. Most taco shells are low in fibre. I enjoy using the Flat Out wraps as a higher fibre alternative - they worked great as taco shells for this recipe!

Check out this comparison of the regular taco shells (serving size is 3 shells) compared to a Flat Out Multigrain Fold It (serving size is 1 Fold It. The recipe below uses 1.5 of the Fold Its).

Unfortunately, my grocery store did not have the multigrain variety available so I opted for the Olive Oil and Rosemary flavour that is slightly lower in fibre. You can find the brand "Flat Out" at Co-op Marketplace, Wal-mart, Hygeia Health Market (Saskatoon), or online at Low Carb Grocery

There are many reasons to incorporate high fibre foods in your diet. Fibre is considered a type of 'carbohydrate' and is the portion of plant foods that cannot be digested by the human GI tract. You can find Fibre on the Nutrition Facts table just below carbohydrates. The amount of fibre in the ingredient contributes to the total carbohydrate content on the Nutrition Facts table (which is why you see fibre indented from carbohydrate). The term "net carb" refers to the amount of carbohydrate in the ingredient after the fibre is deducted from the carbohydrate total. 

There are different types of fibre found in foods that can have different roles in promoting health. Below is a breif overview of the benefits: 

  • Managing body weight as fibre rich foods take longer to digest, therefore, keeping you satisfied for longer (you won't need to eat as often!)
  • Lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol when soluble fibres (like those found in the Flat Out wraps) bind to the LDL cholesterol allowing it to be excreted 
  • Aids in healthy digestion by normalizing bowel movements
  • Regulates blood sugars by slowing the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates

If you build your diet around vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and avocados you are probably getting enough fibre! Substituting high fibre products (like the Flat Out Fold It wraps can help increase your daily fibre intake!). Specfic fibre needs may vary, but as a generalized goal: 

  • Women should aim for 25g of fibre per day
  • Men should aim for 38g of fibre per day 

Making the Fold It wraps into taco shells is easy. Either use a muffin tin (as shown in the picture) or drape the wraps over the wires in the rack of your oven until they crisp into a hard taco shape. Just watch the wraps carefully as the type of fibre included in the wraps can burn quickly at hot temperatures. 

 

Yields:

1 Serving

Calories:
305
Fibre:
7g

Nutrition Facts (without avocado) 

 

 

Protein: 28g

 

Fat: 4g

 

Carbohydrates: 41g

Ingredients:


Shrimp: 

  • 100g shrimp (approx. 24)
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, grated
  • a dash of cumin, salt, and pepper
  • spritz of non-stick cooking spray or 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice


Slaw:

  • 1 tbsp Kraft calorie wise coleslaw dressing
  • 1 tbsp (25g) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 tbsp vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • * optional: a small amount of stevia for extra sweetness
  • 1 cup (100g) coleslaw mix


Extras

  • 1.5 Flat Out Fold It breads 
  • cilantro (for garnish) 
  • avocado (optional)

Directions:


Shrimp: 

  1. Season the shrimp with the garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper 
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spray or use 1 tsp of olive oil
  3. Cook the shrimp for about 2 minutes (1 minute per side)
  4. Squeeze the lime juice over the shrimp


Slaw:

  1. Combine the coleslaw dressing, yogurt, vinegar, salt and pepper, and stevia in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the prepared coleslaw mixture and toss


Homemade Tacos

  1. Heat your oven to 350F
  2. Cut your Fold It wraps in half. Assemble three halves into a muffin tin (see picture) or drape them over the wire racks of your oven
  3. Cook for about 5 minutes until the Fold Its hold their shape as a hard taco (or longer if you want them crispier). Watch them closely as the fibre in the wraps tends to burn quickly at hot temperatures. 
  4. Optional: for a crispier taco brush the shells with olive oil or a spritz of non-cook spray 


Assembly:

  • Distribute the shrimp evenly into the three tacos 
  • Top with coleslaw
  • Garnish with cilantro and/or avocado. I like the addition of avocado for extra fibre and healthy fats to keep you feeling fuller for longer!  

 

Can Beets Boost Performance?
June 29, 2017

We all know that a diet rich in vegetables is one of the best ways to decrease your risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. Vegetables are low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

But can certain vegetables improve your athletic performance?

There is some evidence to show that nitrates found in veggies may exert a ergogenic (ie. performance-enhancing) effect! Nitrates are found in all vegetables but are especially abundant in leafy green vegetables and in beetroot.



The nitrates in beetroot are converted to nitric oxide in your body. Nitric oxide is a molecule that has been hypothesized to enhance blood vessel dilation, increase blood flow, and lower the amount of oxygen your muscles need. The idea is that by using oxygen more efficiently, athletes will improve their tolerance to high-intensity exercise (meaning they can move faster for longer!).

Note: don’t confuse the nitrates found in beetroot with the nitrites found in processed meats like hot dogs and bacon! Sodium nitrate (note the “a”) is a naturally occurring compound found in almost all leafy green vegetables as well as in beetroot. Sodium nitrite (note the “i”) is a close relative of sodium nitrate and is used as a preservative. Eating bacon and hot dogs won’t have the same effect as consuming beetroot, unfortunately (ha!).

One study found that runners who drank beetroot juice before a 5 km shaved 1.5% off their time and another found that cyclists who drank just over two cups of beetroot juice were just under 3% faster during in a 4km and 16km time trial. 

These studies looked specifically at beetroot juice - but what about eating beets straight up?

A study that looked at whether eating 200 grams of whole beetroot improved running performance during a 5 km treadmill time trial found that recreational athletes improved their time by 3% with the greatest difference being made in the last mile. The 3% difference translated to an average of a 41 second faster finish time. While 3% doesn’t sound like much, it would be significant for an elite runner!

Bottom-line: Beetroot may improve your athletic performance, but not by enough to bypass the basic steps! If you’re really looking to supercharge your performance, focus on the rest of your diet first. Then, on top of a consistently awesome nutrition program, you may be able to see benefits from the nitrates found in beetroot. If you did want to conduct an experiment on yourself, you could easily juice a couple of beets or purchase beetroot juice*. Drink the juice before your exercise bout and monitor whether you notice an increased work capacity. 

*Note: there is a Canadian company called “Beet It” that sells beetroot juice by the shot.

Ideas for eating beets...

There are plenty of other creative ways to add beets to your diet like tossing them into a salad, purchasing beet hummus (sold at Superstore), adding spiralized beets to a stir-fry (spiralized beets can be found at most grocery stores), or trying the recipe below for beet dip! I typically purchase the brand "Love Beets" from Costco which are peeled and cooked - this makes adding beets to your diet convenient and a lot less messy. Even if adding beets to your diet doesn't improve your performance, you will reap the benefits of the fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (plus, beets add beautiful colour to your plate!).

Additional reading can be found here and here.

The recipe is slightly adapted from Abby Langer’s blog. If you like beet borscht you will enjoy this beet dip recipe which can be spread on sandwiches or toast or used as a dip for veggies and crackers. Bonus: the recipe is vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free!

Servings size: 

2 tablespoons (about 30g). The recipes makes a lot!

Calories:
37
Fibre:
0.5g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 1g

 

Fat: 2g

 

Carbohydrates: 3g

Ingredients:

  • 100g (1 cup) raw cashews
  • 1 cup unsweetened cashew milk
  • 200g cooked beets (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 handful of dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste) 

Directions:

  1. Soak the cashews in the cashew milk overnight
  2. Combine the cashew/cashew milk mixture in a blender
  3. Add the beets, lime juice, garlic, dill, and salt and blend until smooth
  4. Enjoy as a spread for sandwiches or a dip for veggies and crackers 

 

References

Thomas D.T., Erdman K.A., Burke L.M. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J. Acad. Nutr. Diet. 2016;116:23-25

Wylie, L., Kelly, J., Bailey, S., Blackwell, J., Skiba, P., Winyard, P. et al. Beetroot juice and exercise: pharmacodynamic and dose-response relationships. J Appl Physiol. 2013; 115 (3): 325-36.

Lansley, K., Winyard, P., Bailey, S., Vanhatalo, A., Wilderson, D., Blackwell, K. et al. Acute dietary nitrate supplementation improves cycling time trial performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011; 43 (6): 1125-31.

Murphy, M., Eliot, K., Heuertz, R., Weiss, E. Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Apr;112(4):548-552.

A Day of Eats - Coach Ashlyn
June 28, 2017

Outlined is an example of what a day of eats looks like for Coach Ashlyn. Remember, everyone has their own style of eating that works best for their goals and their body. What works for Ashlyn may not work for everyone. You can’t know for sure what works for you unless you play around with it. Test something, gather data, and adjust as needed. A nutrition coach can help you determine what dietary approaches will best suit your lifestyle, goals, and activity level while finding a way of eating that is enjoyable and maintainable!

We hear all too often that people are busy. I totally understand busy-ness, literally everyone I know leads a ridiculously crazy lifestyle. Between doing mortgages, nutrition coaching as well as coaching CrossFit, my life can also get a bit hectic and this is why organization and meal-planning are the key to my nutritional success. I try to prepare meals twice a week to meet my needs but if life throws a wrench into my plans then I always have a back-up - because a girl needs to eat, right?

Most of the recipes I use I take from different websites and alter them to fit my macros (incase you were wondering why my macro calculations differ from the links I have provided). Here are some of my go-to meals showing two options:

  1. I ran out of time to prepare anything
  2. I planned my week accordingly and managed to arrange time to get all of my meal-prep done.


Breakfast
 

breakfast sandwich.JPG

Select Signatures Egg White, Back Bacon, Sharp Cheese on an English Muffin breakfast sandwich available at Costco: 29C/5F/12P

overnight oats.jpg

Overnight Oats : 53C/8F/26P


Snacks

 

grenade.JPG

Grenade Carb Killa Protein Bar available at Herc’s and Popeye’s: 15C/8F/22P

rice pudding.JPG

Rice Pudding : (31C/5F/16P)


Lunch

 

IMG_9953.JPG

Natural Selections Turkey Breast sandwich on Blue Menu Whole Wheat Bread with condiments and veggies available at Independent Grocers: 25C/6F/19P

Baxter’s Butternut Squash and Red Pepper soup available at Wal-Mart: 17C/2F/2P.

I also really enjoy the M&M Meats French Onion Soup: 12C/10F/10P
 

three cheese chicken pasta bake.jpg

Three Cheese Pasta Bake : 58C/5F/36P
Eat Smart Wild Greens and Quinoa Salad available at Co-op, Sobey’s, etc.: 8C/10F/4P


Dinner

 

korean beef.JPG

Korean Beef with rice and vegetables: 53C/15F/28P

burger.JPG

Blue Menu Thick & Juicy Angus Burger with Blue Menu Light Swiss Cheese available at Independent Grocers, Superstore, Sobey’s, etc. , condiments and veggies: 41C/17F/31P

Salt for Athletes
June 20, 2017

Eat less salt? Maybe, but.... maybe not. 

Reducing sodium intake is an important health goal for the majority of Canadians. The recommended daily sodium intake from Health Canada is 1500 mg with a suggested upper limit of 2300 mg. Chronic overconsumption of sodium can lead to health concerns, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), strokes, heart disease and/or kidney problems. While Health Canada’s guidelines apply to the majority of the population, the sodium needs for athletes differ.

Importance of Sodium for Athletes

The main functions of sodium are to maintain the correct amount of fluid inside and around body cells and to assist in nerve signaling. During exercise an athlete’s internal body temperature rises and sweating is the body’s way of preventing overheating. Sweat contains mostly water and sodium.

Consider that:

  • The average athlete sweats 1200 mL per hour of exercise (1200mL is equal to 1 1/2 Blender Bottle sized shaker cups of fluid). Fluid losses range from 300-2400 mL per hour of exercise depending on a variety of factors including workout intensity and environmental factors (wind, heat, humidity, etc.) 
  • The main electrolyte lost in sweat is sodium (found in salt) but sodium content of sweat varies greatly (see the example below to determine if you are a salty sweater)
  • An athlete in the upper range, ie. a “salty sweater”, may lose well in excess of Health Canada’s recommended daily intake for sodium during a training session 

You may be a salty sweater if..

  1. You notice white streaks on dry dark clothing after exercise (or white streaks dried on a baseball cap)
  2. You have salt crystals on the skin after exercise (if you rub your skin you will feel the grittiness of the salt crystals)
  3. You experience muscle cramping that doesn’t go away when drinking water during and after exercise

 Consequences of inadequate sodium intake:

As with over-consumption, there are performance consequences and health risks associated with under-consumption of sodium. Some consequences include:

  • Muscle cramping
  • Inability to properly rehydrate and restore electrolyte balance after exercise
  • Increased risk for hyponatremia (ie. diluted levels of sodium in the blood usually caused by excessive water intake)
  • Heat illness
  • Inability to recover from intense exercise due to dehydration and inadequate nutrient circulation

Quick Tips for Hydration and Sodium Intake

Before

  • Watch your urine color (a pale lemonade colour tells you that your body is hydrated.) Note: if you take B vitamins this can alter the colour of your urine as excess B vitamins are excreted as a yellow colour.
  • Sodium consumed in pre-exercise fluids and foods may help with fluid retention (consider this if you are a saltier sweater)

During

  • Sip fluid during your warm-up. CrossFit atheltes likely don’t need to take breaks during your workout if you have hydrated adequately before the 3-2-1 GO! Note: endurance athletes will need to drink throughout their training sessions or competitions
  • Athletes should drink sufficient fluids during exercise to replace sweat losses such that the total body fluid deficit is limited to <2% body weight. Thirst signals can guide how much you need to drink​​
  • Sodium can be ingested during exercise if you have salty sweat or have experienced the consequences of dehydration mentioned above (consider adding a non-carbohydrate electrolyte effervescent to your water like Nuun or Hydralyte). Start with 500mg of sodium per hour and increase to 750mg per hour if you still experience cramping or signs of dehydration
  • Recognize that you may need more or less water and sodium depending on exercise intensity, duration, fitness, heat acclimatization, altitude, and environmental factors (heat, wind, humidity, etc.)

After

  • If your body experienced minimal weight change during your workout drink according to your thirst for the rest of the day.
  • If you lost greater than 2% of your body weight, drink 500 to 750 mL (2 to 3 cups) of fluid per 0.5 kg (~1 lb) of weight you lost.  
  • The presence of dietary sodium (from foods or fluids) helps to retain water for hydration
  • Sodium containing foods and fluid are an important post-workout consideration (most athletes do not need to restrict sodium post-workout)


Sodium intake post-workout

Individuals at risk of hyponatremia (ie. low sodium in the blood) and those who typically lose large amounts of sweat should be encouraged to consume sodium-rich foods before, during, and after exercise. Most active Canadians consume adequate sodium, even without adding salt to their food. However, many athletes consume diets with minimal processed foods thus need to be cautious of ingesting adequate sodium post-workout. Athletes may consider salting their foods  (note: 1 tsp of salt has 2300 mg of sodium) or include sodium containing foods post-workout such as:

  • Soups
  • Cottage cheese, cheese and other dairy products
  • Breads and pre-packaged cereals
  • Snack foods like pretzels, flavoured rice cakes and crackers
  • Deli meats, turkey bacon, back bacon or ham, and commercially prepared protein
  • Condiments: soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, saurkraut, mayonaise, salad dressing, BBQ sauce, others.. 

Note: low-carbohydrate electrolyte effervescent like Nuun or Hydralyte can be added to water during exercise (for saltier sweaters). Sport drinks ( eg. Gatorade or Powerade with 500 - 700mg of sodium per litre) can be a supplement for carb adapted athletes doing steady state exercise for 90 minutes or longer. However, most recreational athletes do not require the extra carbs added to sports drinks.

You can find the brand “Nuun” at Sportchek (each tab contains 360mg of sodium as well as other electrolytes):
 

Image result for nuun
 

To optimize sodium intake, athletes should:

  • Understand their typical dietary sodium intake by reading food labels and recording their sodium intake (try tracking it in www.myfitnesspal.com to make it easier).
  • Consider their personal sweat losses (sweat rate) for the temperature and duration of their training
  • Consider increasing their sodium intake before, during, and after exercise if they’ve ever experienced muscle cramping or notice they are a heavy sweater and/or salty sweater (see examples above)
  • Speak to a physician before increasing sodium intake if they have high blood pressure or kidney problems

 

Determine your sweat rate...

1. Measure your body weight pre-exercise in kilograms (note: 1kg = 2.2 pounds)
Eg. 138.6 pounds is 63.0 kg 

2. Measure your body weight post-exercise in kilograms
Eg. 135.7 pounds is 61.7 kg

3. Determine your weight lost during exercise (in kg) by subtracting your post-exercise weight from your pre-exercise weight
Eg. 63.0 kg - 61.7 kg = 1.3 kg 

4. The amount of weight you lost is the amount of sweat losses in litres (Note: 1 kilogram = 1 L)
Eg. 1.3 kg of body weight lost is 1.3 L of fluid lost

5. Add any fluids drank during exercise to your total sweat losses to determine your total sweat volume (note: if you drank 250 mL of water that replaced some of the sweat loss weight)
Eg. I drank ½ a Blender Bottle during my workout. A full Blender Bottle is 800 mL (0.8L) so a ½ is 400mL (0.4 L).
Therefore: 1.3 L fluid lost + 0.4 L drank = 1.7 L total fluid lost

6. Divide your total sweat volume by the number of hours you exercises to determine the amount of sweat lost per hour (L/hr sweat rate)
Eg. I did a 2.5 hour competitive CrossFit class.
1.7 L ÷ 2.5 hours = 0.68 L per hour (680 mL). Therefore, if i drink 680 mL of fluid per hour I will stay hydrated under the environmental conditions in which I determined my sweat rate

Reference

Thomas D.T., Erdman K.A., Burke L.M. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J. Acad. Nutr. Diet. 2016;116:23-25

 

 

 

Almond Crusted Salmon
June 13, 2017

Many people enjoy salmon but are unsure of how to cook it. Luckily, cooking salmon is easy and quick to prepare!

Why eat salmon?

Salmon is rich in a type of essential fatty acid called Omega-3’s. Omega-3’s play a major role in cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol, improving blood pressure, and preventing blood clots. Omega-3’s are also important for brain health and in reducing inflammation.

Omega 3s in fish

Fish tend to be rich in two groups of fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA and EPA, along with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plant foods, fall under the subheading of omega-3 fats. EPA and DHA, cited as the beneficial component of fish, originate in algae which are the base of the food chain for fish. Fish consume algae and concentrate the EPA and DHA.

What’s the difference between wild and farmed salmon?

When comparing wild salmon to farmed salmon, there are slight differences in nutritional quality. Farmed salmon is higher in fat and may be exposed to more environmental contaminants. Farmed and wild salmon contain PCBs (Polychlorinated Bisphenyls), which are contaminants found in our environment and build up in fish. The level of PCBs found in both farmed and wild salmon is safe according to Health Canada. However, farmed salmon may have higher levels of PCBs than wild salmon. This is because PCBs build up in the fat of fish, and farmed salmon has a higher fat content.

Bottom line

Both wild and farmed salmon can be very healthy options! Fats from both wild and farmed fish encourage health promoting effects. Eating about 2 servings per week (about 8 ounces total) of fatty fish is enough to attain the health promoting fatty acids.

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
286
Fibre:
1g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 38g

 

Fat: 12g

 

Carbohydrates: 5g

Ingredients:
 

  • ¼ cup of ground almonds
  • ¼ cup panko crumbs
  • ¼  teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic
  • Four 6 oz. salmon fillets
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • Lemon wedges (if desired)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F

  2. Grind almonds in a food processor or purchase ground almonds.

  3. Combine first five ingredients in a shallow dish and set aside.

  4. Brush tops and sides of fish with the lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Working with one fillet at a time, dredge top and sides in almond mixture. Place salmon on a pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle any remaining crumb mixture evenly over fish.

  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of fillets or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

  6. Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!

Babybel Stuffed Burgers
June 7, 2017

Surprise! Find a Babybel cheese round stuffed into these burgers for a twist on a classic cheese burger. 

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
211

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 29g

 

Fat: 10g

 

Carbohydrates: 3g

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound lean ground meat (I used turkey)
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 small onion, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 Babybel cheese rounds (I used the light Babybels in the blue wrapping) 

Directions:

  1. Lightly oil your grill and heat BBQ to medium
  2. Whisk your egg in a bowl and add the next 6 ingredients
  3. Gently mix the ingredients using your hands or a fork (handle the meat as little as possible. The more you handle it the tougher the meat can get)
  4. To shape the burgers, I lined a lid from an old peanut butter jar with plastic wrap. I placed 1/8th of the burger mixture into the bottom of the lid. I added 1 Babybel to the middle of the mixture and topped with another 1/8th of the burger mixture. I removed the plastic wrap from the lid and set the burger on a plate and continued to form my next 3 burgers. It would likely work just as well to shape the mixtures into burgers without the peanut butter lid. 
  5. Cook the burgers on the BBQ for about 6-8 minutes per side.
  6. Enjoy immediately with a mutligrain bun or lettuce wrap for a low carb version. The burgers also work great crumbled over top of a salad. 

 

No Sugar Added Granola Bars
May 30, 2017

These naturally sweet granola bars are a great alternative to store-bought granola bars as they are full of healthy fats and have no added sugars. The sweetness comes from the bananas which also holds the bars together. If you wanted a sweeter bar, you could add chocolate chips, shredded coconut, extra dried fruit, or a few tablespoons of honey or maple syrup.



The oats and nuts in these bars add fibre at 4g per bar and the balance of protein, carbs, and fats will leave you feeling satisfied.

Store them in the fridge or freezer and grab one to-go for a busy morning or as an afternoon snack. They would make a great portable snack for camping, hiking, or travel days. I like making them to give as a gift to friends or family who are having a busy week! 

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
222
Fibre:
4g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 7g

 

Fat: 11g

 

Carbohydrates: 26g

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed (400g)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 2 cups (160g) oats
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (75g)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (75g)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (50g)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (50g)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, unsweetened (100g)
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts (30g)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork and stir in the vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. Process the oats in a food processor until they are coarsely chopped
  3. Mix the oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit into the banana mixture
  4. Use a spatula to press the mixture into a parchment lined cookie sheet or baking dish
  5. Bake the bars for 25 minutes at 350F
  6. Let the bars cool before slicing into 12 servings. Wrap the bars individually in plastic wrap and store in the fridge or freezer. 

Prebiotics versus Probiotics
May 24, 2017

From our previous blog post, you might remember that probiotics are healthy or good bacteria that can displace bad bacteria to influence overall health, metabolism, digestion, production of nutrients, immunity, body composition, and more!

What’s the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?

Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not live organisms. Prebiotics are nondigestible fibre compounds that act as “food” for probiotics. Eating prebiotics stimulates probiotic activity by helping bacteria grow and multiply within the gastrointestinal tract.

When taken together, probiotics and prebiotics work together in a synergistic way to promote the growth of healthy bacteria.

Should I take a prebiotic supplement?

Similar to probiotics, you do not need a supplement for optimal health. Prebiotics supplements are expensive and unnecessary as they can also be found naturally in many different foods, including:

  • Artichokes
  • Bananas
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onion
  • Tomatoes
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Whole grains
  • Chicory root
  • Dandelion root

Bottom line

Eating food containing prebiotics and probiotics can improve overall health by influencing the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Eating a healthy diet ensures you are having a good balance of both prebiotics and probiotics.

Chocolate Banana (Pre- and Probiotic) Overnight Oats

A classic snack containing both a probiotic food (Greek yogurt) and a prebiotic food (bananas). Remember that the probiotics and prebiotics have synergistic effects when eaten in combination. Click here fore more ideas for preparing overnight oats. 

Yields:

1 Servings

Calories:
398
Fibre:
13g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 31g

 

Fat: 9g

 

Carbohydrates: 51g

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup (75g)  plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup (40g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ⅔ cup unsweetened milk
  • 1 Tbsp (15g) chia seeds
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp cacao powder
  • 1/2 scoop (15g) chocolate protein powder*
  • 1 small banana (65g)

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients (except the banana) in a jar or bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.

  2. Add a chopped banana when you are ready to eat the oats!  

  3. Sweeten with a small amount of honey or maple syrup or use the ½ scoop of flavored protein powder as recommended in the recipe. You could consider topping with cacao nibs, peanut or almond butter, unsweetened shredded coconut, or walnuts for additional crunch and healthy fats!  

* protein powder is optional to boost protein and add sweeteness. 

 

Homemade Almond Butter
May 16, 2017

Patience, a food processor, and almonds are all your need to make your own almond butter. Patience is a key ingredient and you will find that your food processor will be running for a long time! After about 20 minutes of consistent processing, just before you think you’ve failed the homemade almond butter recipe, magic will happen. This method can be used for any type of nut. I would recommend experimenting with different flavours. Try adding:

  • Maple syrup
  • Coconut oil
  • Honey
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Cocoa powder
  • A pinch of salt! 

If you can find your almonds on sale, it is much cheaper to make your own almond butter compared to purchasing it at the grocery store. 

 

 
Yields:

1 tbsp (15g)

Calories:
96
Fibre:
1g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 3g

 

Fat: 9g

 

Carbohydrates: 3g

Ingredients:

  • Almonds

Adjust quantity based on the amount you want to make - I suggest at least 3 cups to ensure there is enough to keep it moving in your food processor.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F

  2. Roast the almonds for 15 minutes (flipping halfway through). You could skip the roasting step but I find that roasting the almonds releases the oil so that the almonds process more easily.

  3. Add the almonds to your food processor. You will have to let them process for 10-15 minutes until the nuts breakdown into butter. Note: at first it will turn into a "nut mill” or “flour" but eventually the oils will release and you get a nice smooth texture (it does take some time, so be patient!).

  4. The ground almonds will start to collect around the edges of the bowl. Stop and scrape down the sides every few minutes to ensures the almonds blend evenly.

  5. As the oils are released from the almonds, they’ll start to stick together and form a large mass that moves around the bowl. You’re almost there!

  6. Continue to blend until smooth!

  7. If you wanted to, you could experiment with fun flavours. Try adding maple syrup, coconut oil, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa powder, or a pinch of salt. You can even use different nuts like cashews, pecans, macadamia, etc.
Easy BBQ Sweet Potatoes
May 9, 2017

Make baked sweet potatoes on the barbecue for a simple side dish. These can be prepped in advance for a quick addition to a week night meal. Top the sweet potatoes like you would a traditional baked potato with sour cream (or Plain Greek yogurt), chili powder, fresh chives, or bacon bites. I personally love sweet potatoes topped with cinnamon, almond butter, and a dash of salt (sometimes I even add some cottage cheese!). It sounds weird but it is so tasty. 

Yields:

100g raw sweet potato (about the size of your fist)

Calories:
143
Fibre:
4g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 2g

 

Fat: 1g

 

Carbohydrates: 32g

Ingredients:

  • Medium-size sweet potatoes (cut into bite size chunks or a small to medium size)
  • Tin foil
  • Toppings (Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, cheese, chili powder, cumin, chives, cinnamon, almond butter, peanut butter, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat BBQ at a medium heat
  2. Tightly wrap sweet potatoes in tin foil.
  3. Place sweet potatoes on the BBQ, close the lid, and cook for 40 minutes.
  4. Check doneness by squeezing them with the BBQ tongs. Depending on the size of your sweet potatoes they may need more or less time. Cut the sweet potatoes into bite size chunks for a faster cooking time.

Sweet potato with almond butter, cottage cheese, and cinnamon: 

Post-Workout Rice Pudding
May 2, 2017

Recovery is an essential part of any fitness routine - especially if performance is your priority.  It is not the workout alone that increase endurance, strength and builds muscle but the body’s ability to adapt and heal from the physical stressor. Exercise will make us stronger, leaner, fitter, and more muscular but not without the proper nutrition to repair and replenish. Without the proper fuel, we don't reap the full benefits of our workout including improved performance, body composition, energy, and the prevention of injury. 

Post-workout nutrition is an intriguing topic and can be discussed in great depth. As a general overview, post-workout nutrition has three specific purposes:

  1. Replenish glycogen (the way our body stores carbohydrate for energy in our muscles)
  2. Rehydrate to replace fluids and electrolytes lost through sweat.
  3. Decrease protein breakdown and increase protein synthesis

1. Carbohydrates to restore

Recharging with carbohydrates restores muscle glycogen - the energy burned in our muscles during exercise. Consuming carbohydrate post-workout allows the body to restore glycogen so that you feel recovered and ready to tackle your next workout. Post-workout carbohydrate consumption becomes increasingly important if you have back-to-back exercise sessions planned.

The duration and intensity of your workout will affect the amount of carbohydrate you should have post-workout. Start by having a small serving of carbohydrate as a snack after your workout like a banana, a couple of rice cakes, or rice (as shown in the recipe below).

2. Protein to build

Our muscles need protein to grow and repair after training. Having a protein source after resistance exercise promotes muscle gain and increases lean body mass. While carbohydrate restoration post-exercise is essential, dietary protein should also be consumed to repair muscle. Protein requirements are individualized to personal goals, muscle mass, and exercise type.

3. Fluids to rehydrate

Being well-hydrated is important for overall health but also for exercise performance. When you exercise, you lose fluids and electrolytes through sweat and respiration. If you are dehydrated, your blood volume decreases making it difficult for your muscles to access the oxygen and nutrients needed to recover. The duration and intensity of your workout will affect the amount of fluids you require. Sip fluids after training (but avoid using your water bottle as an excuse to take breaks between exercises - ha!). Keep in mind that you may need more fluids depending on the environmental conditions. If it is hot or windy you may lose more fluid through sweat!

Summary

Optimizing post-workout nutrition enables athletes or exercisers to increase performance, reduce muscle performance, improve body composition, and enable their bodies to remain injury-free. Ideally, your post-workout nutrition is consumed shortly after your workout as this is the time where your muscles are primed to accept nutrients that can stimulate muscle repair.

Whole food digests slowly, and we want nutrients to be available quickly. Thus, many athletes opt for a liquid forms of carbohydrate and protein (eg. dextrose and/or protein powders). However, you could certainly eat a whole food meal to meet your requirements for protein and carbohydrate. If you’re prioritizing fat loss over performance and recovery, a post-workout recovery drink may be less satiating than the nutrition you would obtain from whole, minimally processed protein and carb sources.

Note: Reserve post-workout snacks or recovery drinks specifically for high intensity training or endurance training lasting longer than 45-60 minutes. Casual exercise like walking the dog doesn’t count!

Specific post-workout needs will vary based on individual goals, body composition, and workout intensity, type, and duration. For example, the recipe below is a great portion for women. I recommend that men increasing the serving of protein powder to 1 full scoop. Carbohydrate needs may increase depending on the type, duration, and intensity of training in which case the portion of rice could increase. 

Yields:

1 Servings

Calories:
182
Fibre:
3g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 16g

 

Fat: 4g

 

Carbohydrates: 24g

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rice, cooked
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder *
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened milk (cashew or almond work well)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 5g chia seeds **

Directions:

  1. Cook a batch of rice and store it in the fridge. It makes it easy to have on hand to quickly thow this snack together! 
  2. Combine all of the ingredients. This can be stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours before consuming. 
  3. Enjoy immediately post-workout for optimal muscle repair and recovery. 

* I used PEScience Snickerdoodle Protein which gives great flavour to the recipe. If you use the Snickerdoodle protein, I don't recommend adding extra cinnamon to the recipe. 

** the chia seeds are optional but gives the recipe a more "pudding-like" texture. If using the chia seeds, allow the mixture to soak for at least one hour. This gives the chia seeds time to absorb the liquid. 

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers
April 24, 2017

These mouthwatering turkey burgers get their Mediterranean flair from the addition of feta cheese, sun-dried tomato, and spinach. They’re delicious topped with tzatziki, hummus, sliced tomatoes, or red onion.

I used dehydrated tomatoes but you can also use the sundried tomatoes packed in oil. If using the dehydrated variety, soak them in hot water before chopping to rehydrate them. Typically burgers have some type of a binder - usually bread crumbs! I left the bread crumbs out and opted for a whole egg.

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
279
Fibre:
1g

Nutrition Facts (per burger)

 

 

Protein: 27g

 

Fat: 15g

 

Carbohydrates: 4g

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped (30g)
  • 1/3 cup feta, crumbled (60g)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (30g)
  • 1 egg 
  • A sprinkle of dried oregano or a handful of chopped fresh oregano 
  • salt and pepper 

Directions:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl and combine with clean hands.=
  2. ​​​​​​​Separate into 4 equal portions and shape each portion into a burger patty.
  3. Grill the burgers on the BBQ or cook in a pan (with a spritz of non-stick cooking spray or oil).
  4. Top the burgers with tzatziki. Wrap them up in lettuce leaves or a fresh bun! Top the burgers with purple onion, kalamata olives, fresh tomato, or extra feta cheese.


 

 

 

Probiotics
April 19, 2017

Billions of friendly bacteria live in our digestive tract and each of us has a bacterial flora that may be as unique as fingerprints. Friendly bacteria help us digest our food and absorb nutrients effectively. We don’t actually digest many components of our food — the bacteria digest it!

In our gut, good bacteria can displace bad bacteria and influence overall health, metabolism, digestion, production of nutrients, immunity, body composition, and more!

Unfortunately, the health of our intestinal bacteria can be compromised. Some common causes of poor gut health are:

- medication use (eg. antibiotics)
- poor diet (eg. excess consumption of sugar, alcohol, processed foods, overeating, inadequate fibre intake, and more)
- aggressive medical therapies (eg. radiation or chemotherapy)
- stress

Probiotics as supplements?

Although probiotics are available as dietary supplements, it is not necessary to use special pills to incorporate probiotics into your diet. Furthermore, the supplement industry isn’t regulated the same way as the food industry.  What’s on the label of a supplement might not necessarily be what’s inside!

Probiotics from food

Most often, probiotics in our food are created via fermentation as this environment provides a place for the bacteria to grow. Probiotic products must be cooled during storage. If heated, they won’t survive.

Note: while pasteurization is an important aspect of food production (by killing harmful bacteria), fermented foods that are pasteurized won’t have naturally occurring probiotics since high heat destroys them.

I recommending increasing your intake of probiotic through food over supplements. Probiotic foods have additional nutritional benefits such as being high in protein or micronutrients (eg. calcium). So even if adding probiotic foods doesn’t help your digestion, it certainly won’t hurt.

Try adding 1-2 servings of a probiotic food per day!

Plain Greek yogurt

Producers add cultures of bacteria after milk has been pasteurized to ensure the bacteria survives. The plain Greek yogurt is lower in added sugars but tastes tart! Try flavouring the plain yogurt with berries, flavoured protein powder, cinnamon or mix it half and half with your favorite flavoured yogurt.

Bonus: Greek yogurt is high in protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer!

 

Kefir

Kefir is a fermented yogurt beverage. Try the unflavoured version to reduce added sugars.  You can blend it with fruit to make a smoothie, use it as a base for salad dressing (see this recipe), or enjoy it with granola. You can find Kefir at most grocery stores with the yogurt.

Bonus: Kefir is a source of calcium



Sauerkraut


Purchase ‘unpasteurized’ saurkraut to ensure the probiotic properties are retained. I have found it at Co-op or Sobeys in the vegetable section. There is also a beet saurkraut by a brand called Wildbrine available in the natural foods section of Superstore. All you need is 2-3 tbsp to count as a serving of probiotics.

 

 

Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea that is available at grocery stores, health food stores, and even Costco. Choose the option with the least amount of added sugar per serving. My favorite is the Gingerade by the brand “GT’S.”
 



Kimchi

Kimchi is a Korean side dish prepared with fermented vegetables like cabbage, cucumber, and radish. Try it in our recipe for Bibimbap. I enjoy the brand Wildbrine (Natural Food Section of Superstore) or Grimm’s (Co-op). Again, choose the unpasteurized version to retain the probiotic properties.

Bonus: since it’s mostly pickled vegetables, kimchi is a great low-calorie source of fiber.

 

Sourdough bread

Sourdough bread is alive! It is produced from fermented flour (wheat, rye, barley or a mix of grains).

Bonus: Sourdough is lower on the glycemic-index, it will keep you full for longer instead of causing a short-lived energy spike and subsequent crash.
 

 

Tempeh

Produced from fermented soybeans, tempeh is a firm, white block that’s frequently used as a protein-packed meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians (similar to tofu).

Miso

Soybeans are fermented to make miso which is a flavourful and salty seasoning paste that can be used in soups, sauces, marinades and salad dressings. You can find Miso in the Natural Food Section of Superstore.

Slow Cooker Beef Carnitas
April 11, 2017

Fitness and nutrition professionals often say that to get in shape you should think of food as “fuel.” If we all thought of food as fuel, reaching our nutrition goals would be so easy! However, food is more than fuel for the majority of people. Food is our fuel source to energize our day, but it also is central to any celebration, times of grieving, traditions, social interactions, culture, and is straight-up enjoyable! I am always amazed at the power of food and its meaning in different contexts or stages of life.

In our profession, food is considered from a scientific perspective by analyzing the macronutrient, micronutrient, and chemistry of the ingredients. But that’s not our only perspective. Lately, I have considered my own story and what food means to me. What I brainstormed: 

  • I’m a granddaughter. I can’t turn down my Grandpa’s homemade salmon sandwich that we enjoy every year on his birthday.
  • I’m an athlete. I want to know what and how much I am eating to fuel my workouts.
  • I’m hangry. When I get hungry I need to eat immediately to avoid harming others!
  • I’m a sweet tooth. I will never say no to licking the beaters from freshly whipped buttercream frosting or tasting the cookie dough raw from the bowl.
  • I’m adventurous. I want to try cuisine from all over the world.

We all have our own stories that can be shared through food. If you only think of food as fuel, you are missing out!  

My favorite part of travelling is soaking up the food culture. Exploring the aisles of a grocery store in a new country is one of my favorite travel activities. I love identifying ingredients that are staples to the country but foreign to me. I also love enjoying meals at restaurants as an opportunity to try dishes I have never experienced before.

After a recent trip, I couldn't stop dreaming of Mexican cuisine. With the help of my trustee slow cooker, Mexican-inspired beef carnitas were only 8 hours away ...

Yields:

10-11 Servings (100g each)

Calories:
175

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 23g

 

Fat: 6g

 

Carbohydrates: 3g

Ingredients:

  • ~1 kg beef eye of round roast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 orange, juiced (or ½ cup of orange juice)
  • ¼ cup of beef broth

Directions:

  1. Mix all of your spices in a small bowl. Rub the spices over the roast and set it in the bottom of the slower cooker

  2. Cover the roast with the chopped onions, bell peppers, and jalapeno pepper.

  3. Cover the roast in the broth and the juice from the limes and orange

  4. Turn the heat to low and cook for 8 hours

  5. After 8 hours, shred the meat with a fork. You can let it cook for another hour or serve as is.

  6. Use the beef carnitas on salads or wraps. I recommend using corn tortillas or Flat Out Wraps* to build a taco! Top your taco with your favorite Mexican inspired ingredients. I recommend salsa, avocado, cilantro, or a squeeze of lime!

*Note: Flat Out Multigrain Wraps are a high fibre, lower carb alternative to flour or corn tortillas. Find them at Wal-Mart, Co-op, Safeway, or order them online!

 

 

Bibimbap Bowls
April 5, 2017

This recipe is easily substitutable to make it suit your personal preferences or nutrition needs. For example, adjust the fat content by eliminating the oil or choosing the leaner meat option.

  • Ground beef can be swapped out for lean turkey/chicken
  • Lower carb choices such as cauliflower rice could be used;
  • Try spinach, cabbage, or bok choy for the leafy greens
Yields:

2 Servings

Calories:
381

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 30g

 

Fat: 17g

 

Carbohydrates: 27g

Ingredients:


For the bowl:

  • Light spritz of olive spray
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 package extra lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • Cooked jasmine rice
  • 1 carrot
  • 10-15 slices of cucumber
  • 2-4 cups Bok Choy
  • 2 green onions
  • 1/2 cup kimchi*
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds


Sauce for the ground meat:

  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Prepare the jasmine rice according to package directions. Let the jasmine rice simmer while preparing the rest of the meal.
  2. Prepare the sautéed leafy greens. Heat a frying pan and add and the oil once hot. Add the fresh leafy greens and cook until they are wilted. Once wilted, drizzle with the sesame oil and set aside in bowl.
  3. Add the ground meat to the frying pan. Cook until fully browned then add the chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Cook a couple more minutes to ensure beef has been fully coated. Remove from heat.
  4. Prepare the raw vegetables – grate the carrot, thinly slice the cucumber, and slice green onion.
  5. Fry the eggs depending on preference however I find a runny yolk is the best.
  6. Construct the bowls! First add the rice on the bottom of the bowl followed by ¼ of the cooked leafy vegetables and weighed out amount of beef. Top with sliced raw vegetables, cooked egg, and kimchi (see note below). Sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds. The measurements do not need to be exact; add the amounts that work for you!

This recipe yielded 2 bowls. You can adjust the amount of meat and eggs depending on how many people you are cooking for. The version in the picture contains ½ cup of cooked rice and 3 ounces of ground meat.

*Note: Kimchi is a staple in Korean culture made from fermented vegetables and spices. Find the brand “Wildbrine” in the refrigerated natural food section of Superstore or the brand “Grimm’s” at Co-op Marketplace stores. Kimchi is a probiotic food to improve immune health and digestion. While pasteurization is an important aspect of food production (by killing harmful bacteria), fermented foods that are pasteurized won’t have naturally occurring probiotics since high heat destroys them.




 
The Smallest Changes Have The Biggest Impact
March 28, 2017

When it comes to weight loss and lifestyle changes, we are always looking for the quick fix. We are easily seduced by the latest trend that promises amazing results in as little as a few days. In reality, it has been demonstrated the time and time again, the smallest dietary changes have the biggest impact to our overall health.

Go through this list and highlight some healthy eating behaviour you could work at adopting as a daily habit! Choose a habit, master it, and the move on to the next!

#1 Don’t drink your calories

One of the biggest mistakes people make is reaching for the sugary caffeinated beverages and juices. Not only do these beverages provide empty calories from sugar, they are not nearly as satisfying as whole foods. If you are hooked on your Tim Horton’s double-double, think about cutting back by a small amount at a time.

#2 Drink water throughout the day

It is easy to mistake hunger for thirst. Make a habit of keeping a glass of water or water bottle in plain sight at work and in your home to remind you to hydrate.

#3 Always have protein with breakfast

The classic breakfast foods such as cereal and jam-laden toast are high in carbohydrates. Incorporating protein-rich foods into your breakfast meal will start your day out right and will keep you satisfied until noon. Try eggs, plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or protein pancakes. 

#4 Have food prepped and ready to eat

Make healthy food convenient to eat by having them ready prepped ahead of time. Check out our past blog post for more tips on effortless meal prep. Click here for the post. 



#5 Go to bed early

Sleep, appetite and weight management are closely connected. Getting a good night's sleep is essential for good health and to avoid food cravings. Research shows that lack of sleep affects the hormones involved in regulating hunger resulting in increased appetite and associated weight gain. To ensure you have restful sleep, start your evening routine early and limit screen time before bed.

#6 Sit down when you are eating

Whether it’s a snack or a meal, food should be eaten at a table and without distractions. When we are focused on the television or our cell phone, it is easy to ignore our satiety cues and over eat. Sit down to enjoy your food and check in on your satiety cues.

 

#7 Change your environment

If you work or study at home, do not set up your laptop at the kitchen table where the fridge and pantry are within easy reach. Try to set up your mobile office as far away from the kitchen as possible or switch up your routine and go to the library to work.

#8 Serve your meals selective-family style

Rather than serving your whole meal at the kitchen table, serve the higher calorie items such as your meat, sauces and starches in the kitchen, and bring the salad or vegetables to the table. If you are still hungry after your first serving, you can help yourself to more high fibre veggies right in front of you to help fill you up.
 



#9 Rearrange the fridge


Move your portioned out fruit and vegetables and high protein snacks such as Greek yogurt and cottage cheese to the front of your fridge so they are the first thing you see when you mindlessly open the door. This way you first instinct will be to grab the sliced veggies rather than the leftover dessert.
 



#10 Change out your serving ware


Use smaller dishes to trick your brain into eating less. You will also be less tempted to fill empty space on your plate with larger portions.

 



Nutrition and healthy eating doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Adopting these behaviours and eating habits is effortless and will improve your health and well-being!

Eating Well at an All Inclusive Resort
March 21, 2017

Submitted by Stephanie Brooks, RD

 

When you hear the words “all inclusive resort” the first things that come to mind are sugary margaritas, tequila, endless buffets, and a la carte restaurants. Over February break, I travelled to Puerto Vallarta for a friend’s wedding. We stayed at an all inclusive resort complete with swim up bars and access to food 24 hours a day. When going on vacation, follow these tips to help you stay on track of your nutrition and fitness goals!

1. Scope out the buffet

Before you pick up a plate, walk around the buffet to see what your options are. The first thing you see when you walk into the breakfast buffet is a display of donuts and loaves. Beside the pastries are trays of churros and sugar-coated French toast. Instead of grabbing what you see first, walk around the entire buffet. As you walk around, you begin to see that there are healthy options including an omelette station with fresh vegetables, oatmeal, hard boiled eggs and a large variety of fruit. I would have my favourite breakfast meal of two eggs and toast followed by a small bowl of oatmeal.

 

2. Grab small plates

There is usually a variety of dinnerware at the buffet ranging from small dessert plates to over-sized dinner plates. Grab the smaller plates to trick your brain into thinking you are eating more. You will also be unable to fill any empty space with excessive portions of food.

3. Start your day off right  

Having a well-balanced breakfast and lunch allows for more flexibility in the evening. Make sure your breakfast includes protein to keep you satisfied throughout the morning. As someone who loves my breakfast routine, I found it easy to avoid the pastries and sugary foods. For lunch, focus on filling your plate with vegetables and have a lean protein. My favourite meal was a large salad topped with salmon and a side of rice. Sticking to my plan for breakfast and lunch allowed for more flexibility in the evenings when we ate at the a la carte restaurants.

Food Picture .JPG

 

4. Be active

Although I did take my gym shoes to Mexico, I admit that they stayed at the bottom of my bag the whole time. Rather than spending my time in the gym, I tried to keep as active as possible while relaxing at the beach. Break up your day of relaxing with walks along the beach. Most resorts offer a variety of watersports including paddle boarding and boogie boarding.

5. Don’t drink your calories

Avoid sugar-loaded margaritas, daiquiris, and pina coladas (unless they are your absolute favorite treat!) If you would like a drink, try a light beer or hard alcohol mixed with club soda or sparkling water. Another option is to bring Mio or Crystal Light along with you to flavour your beverages. Remember to drink water throughout the day to prevent dehydration.

6. Enjoy yourself

Last but not least, relax and focus on enjoying the time with family or friends. This will help you feel recharged to get right back into routine once you get back.


MyFitnessPal Premium Features
March 20, 2017

 

MyFitnessPal can be a great learning tool for clients who have outlined some specific nutriton goals. The App and website have a free version but also have the option to update to a Premium account for a monthly fee or annual cost. While the Free version is great, there are some unique feature on the updated account summarized in this article.


1. Ad-Free

Focus on meeting your goals without distraction!

2. Exclusive Content

Articles and tips available only to Premium subscribers. They often post helpful recipes or articles written by Registered Dietitians!

3. Home Screen Dashboard

Choose from four different profiles for your home screen and graphs to see what matters most to your health instead of just focusing on calories. Some options. There are several options including heart health or carb cautious. But I recommend choosing the "macronutrients" option:





 


 

4. Macronutrients by Gram

Set macronutrient goals per gram rather than percentage to ensure your “goals” and “totals” align each day. The Free version distributes fat, carb and protein calories based on a percentage in five percent increments. If you customize your macronutrient goals, all three goals will adjust to total 100%. Premium users can set a very precise goal, in gram increments, for protein, carbs, or fat, or in calorie increments of one percent. To change this setting from the App:

  • Tap "Goals" in the Menu (or "More" page)
  • Tap the settings  to adjust your weight change and macronutrient goals (Fat, Protein Carbs)
  • Tap "Advanced Nutritional Goals, " to adjust additional micronutrient goals (eg. fibre)

5. Different Goals by Day

Set custom calorie and macronutrient goals for any day of the week. This is helpful for clients who have higher carb days planned as refeeds or for days where activity levels are increased.

 

6. Macros By Meal

See a macronutrient breakdown for every meal you log right inside your diary. This is helpful to ensure you are getting the recommended balance of carbs, fats, and proteins at a meal or the correct timing of carbs and protein post-workout. For the App version, simply tap the numbers to change it from ‘percentage’ to ‘grams.’



7. Food Analysis

You can view a detailed list of foods you've logged that rank highest and lowest in the graph you're viewing. This allows you to quickly determine, for instance, which foods you’re eating are the highest in fat, carbs, protein and how frequently you are choosing these items. A great tool for nutrition beginners looking to better understand where macronutrients and micronutrients are coming from. 

8. Quick Add Macronutrients

Premium users can quickly add macros to their diary without having to search for the food item in the database. Users of the free version are limited to the addition of 'quick add' calories and not macros. The quick add macro feature is helpful if you know the Nutrition Facts of your meal item but can’t find the item in the database (for example, using the “nutrition builder” feature on many restaurant websites like Mucho Burrito, Subway, Pita Pit, or others). Free users can still add custom macros by searching "gram of carb", "gram of protein", or "gram of fat" in the search column and adjusting to the appropriate serving based on the Nutrition Facts of their meal or ingredient.  



 

 

 

 

"I'm In Love With The Cocoa.." - Double Chocolate Blender Muffins
March 14, 2017

March is Nutrition Month and this year’s public campaign is dedicated to supporting Canadians to stop their struggles with food. The slogan for the campaign is Take the fight out of food! Spot the problem. Get the facts. Seek support.

 



To celebrate nutrition month I created an easy recipe that takes the “fight” out of baking (which can be messy and time consuming). Simply measure the ingredients, process in a blender, bake, and enjoy!

 



I added cacao powder to the muffins for flavour but also for a  boost of antioxidants. Antioxidants are a group of compounds known to fight the damaging effects of oxidative stress on cells within the body (some causes of oxidative stress include environmental pollutants and consumption of processed foods). Dark chocolate or cocoa solids are high in an antioxidant called “flavonol.” Chocolate can vary greatly in flavonol content depending on the amount of cocoa solids it contains and how it’s processed. The labeling of the flavanol content of chocolate products isn’t mandatory, but as a general rule, the higher the percentage of cocoa solids in a chocolate product and the more bitter the taste, the higher the flavanol levels.

What’s the Difference Between Cocoa and Cacao?

Cacao is the term that describes the raw beans that come from the cacao tree.  It is mostly unprocessed and retains a high nutritional value.  Cocoa is the product of cacao being fermented, dried, and roasted.  The processing to produce what is known as “Dutch cocoa” reduces the bitterness but also reduces the flavonol levels of the chocolate. You could use regular cocoa powder in this recipe and the muffins will taste great (but there may be less flavonols present!)

I purchased cacao powder from Bulk Barn, but you could find it in the natural food section at the grocery store. I also used a dark chocolate that was high in cacao solids (the darker the better).



 
Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
122
Fibre:
2g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 5g

 

Fat: 3g

 

Carbohydrates: 18g

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (160g)
  • 2 ripe banana (200g)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (220g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey (42g)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder (14g)
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 30g dark chocolate, chopped (the darker the better!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a blender (except for the chopped dark chocolate). I like to set my blender on a food scale and weigh each ingredient to avoid washing any extra utensils (this method also increases the precision of your measurements).
  3. Blend until the batter is smooth and the oats have broken down almost completely (about 2-3 minutes). You may have to scrape down the sides of the blender with a spatula. 
  4. Fill the muffin tins 3/4 of the way. Top each muffin with dark chocolate chunks. 
  5. Bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Enjoy the muffins and the fast clean up time! 

 


 

White Chicken Chili
March 8, 2017

I thought we had officially existed chili season, but the recent snowfall had me thinking otherwise. The only positive side to winter is an excuse to make a hearty bowl of chili! Typically, I love turkey chilli but my version of White Chicken Chili is definitely a new favorite.  This recipe is almost effortless since it cooks in your slow cooker!

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
340
Fibre:
5g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 35g

 

Fat: 7g

 

Carbohydrates: 32g

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (454g) chicken breasts
  • 1 small onion, diced (150g)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 oz) white kidney beans, drained
  • 1 an (12 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. Add the chicken breast to a slow cooker
  2. Top the chicken with onion, garlic, chicken broth, beans, corn, and spices
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours
  4. After the mixture has cooked, shred the chicken with a fork
  5. Add the light cream cheese and Greek yogurt to the slow cooker and stir until the chili is creamy and thickened
Easy Protein Waffles
February 22, 2017

This high protein recipe can be turned into pancakes or waffles. You can use 1/3 of the recipe for a single serving - but I recommended making the full batch and freezing the leftovers. They can easily be reheated for an on-the-go breakfast.

The recipe provided is the "base" but you can experiment by incorporating flavored protein powder, extracts, vanilla, or cinnamon. Take your waffle to the next level by topping it with fun ingredients. Some ideas: 

  • Natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • Thawed berries (a lower sugar 'syrup' alternative as the juices from the berries add sweetness and moisture)
  • A sprinkle of unsweetened coconut
  • Chopped nuts 
  • Slice bananas 

My friend, Leah, shared this recipe with me. She adds lemon extract and poppy seeds for a "lemon poppy seed" variation. 

Recipe from: http://mealsandmovesblog.com/meals/protein-pancakeswaffles/

 

Yields:

3 Servings

Calories:
249
Fibre:
3g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 32g

 

Fat: 3g

 

Carbohydrates: 24g

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked oats (80g)
  • 1 cup liquid egg whites (252g)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (250g) *
  • 30g protein powder (1 scoop) **
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Experiment with flavored protein powders, extracts, vanilla, or cinnamon for a unique twist on the classic recipe. 
  2. Cook in a waffle iron (or griddle for pancakes) as you would other recipes
  3. Dress up your waffle or pancakes with your favorite toppings (note: the nutrition facts provided are for the base recipe). 

* I have made the recipe with 'regular' cottage cheese or 'dry curd' cottage cheese. If you use the dry curd, add an extra 1/3 cup water or milk

** the protein powder can be omitted from the recipe and they will turn out just fine!

   

 

Jeff's Customizable Rice Krispie Squares
February 14, 2017

My friend Jeff recently shared his recipe for "healthy" rice krispie squares. What I love about this recipe is that is completely customizable. I have provided the "base" recipe (with a few tweaks) but you can experiment by changing the puffed grain, sweeteners, add-ins, and protein powder to create your favorite flavor combination. These make an awesome post-workout treat - especially if you add in some protein powder! 

Some ideas:

Puffed Grain:

  • Brown Rice Krispies 
  • Puffed Quinoa 
  • Puffed Kamut
  • Puffed Wheat

Sweeteners

  • Honey
  • Agave Syrup
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Reduced Sugar Syrup

Nut butter:

  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Cashew butter
  • Homemade nut butter

Add-ins:

  • 1/2 cup dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts 

Example: sliver almonds and cranberries; macadamia nuts, coconut, and mango; fried apples and walnuts 

Protein powder:

  • Chocolate protein
  • Vanilla protein
  • Snickerdoodle protein
  • Cake Batter protein
  • Unflavored protein

Note: if you add additional protein powder, increase the amount of nut butter in the recipe by 2 tablespoons and the amount of sweetener by 2 tablespoons. I have had success with a version where I eliminated the ground flax and replaced it with 1 scoop (30g) of protein powder and did not increase the amount of nut butter and sweetener. 

Yields:

12 Servings

Calories:
180
Fibre:
3g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 4g

 

Fat: 8g

 

Carbohydrates: 26g

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (16g) rice krispies
  • 1 1/2 cups (120g) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons (30g) ground flax
  • 2 tablespoons (24g) chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup (160g) honey
  • 1/2 cup (120g) natural almond butter
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (include any extra add-ins not outlined in the base recipe). 
  2. Note: if you add 1 scoop (30g) of protein powder, increase the amount of nut butter in the recipe by 2 tablespoons and the amount of sweetener by 2 tablespoons. I have had success with a version where I eliminated the ground flax and replaced it with 1 scoop (30g) of protein powder without increasing the amount of nut butter and honey. If you want to include the flax and add protein powder it is ideal to increase the wet ingredients (honey and almond butter as described). 
  3. Add the almond butter, honey, and salt to a sauce pan and heat on low until the almond butter and honey melt together.
  4. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Press the mixture in to a 8x8 pan and let the mixture set for one hour.
  6. Cut into 12 bars. I recommend wrapping each bar individually and storing them in the refrigerator. You can enjoy these bars as a treat or a post-workout snack!
  7. Note: the nutrition facts provided are for the base recipe and not the optional add-ins (nuts, dried fruits, and protein powder). 

If you try this recipe, tag us on Instagram @vitalitynutrition_ 

 



 

 

 

To Drink or Not To Drink...
February 7, 2017

A few years ago, you may have seen a research study from the University of Alberta go viral boldly stating that drinking a glass of red wine is as healthy as an hour at the gym. Dietitians and other health professions across North America rolled their eyes as people began citing the research as an excuse to skip the gym and indulge in a few extra glasses of wine. The research focused on an antioxidant found in red wine called resveratrol which may improve heart, muscle, and bone function. Although the science behind the health benefits of resveratrol is promising, the results of the study were over generalized and exaggerated. The head researcher behind the study later clarified their results stating that they did not use red wine nor did they recommend skipping the gym.

The good news…

When consumed in moderation, alcohol can be part of a healthy diet. Enjoying an alcoholic beverage with friends and family can be an integral part of social interaction.

But is it worth it?

Before reaching for that drink, take a minute to think about your overall health and fitness goals. Having a few drinks will undoubtedly affect your performance in the gym the next day. It will affect your ability to lose weight and may prevent you from reaching your macronutrient target. Alcohol is considered a macronutrient as it provides calories per gram. Unlike the other macronutrients, these are considered to be “empty calories” as they provide no nutritional benefits. A night out drinking often ends in a trip to the closest fast food chain to curb those cravings for foods you wouldn’t normally eat. In the end, if you do decide to have a few beverages, you might want to consider these tips to prevent that morning after regret.

                                                
15 oz serving of Long Island Iced Tea:                            Red Velvet Cupcake from Crave:
Calories: 454 kcal                                                       Calories: 497 kcal
Sugar: 62g                                                                 Sugar: 45g


1. Food first

Having something to eat before or while you are having a few beverages will help slow the rate the alcohol is absorbed into our body preventing us from going completely “off the rails.” Make sure your snack consists of protein and fat and try to limit the amount of carbohydrates in your meal as there will be plenty in the alcoholic beverages.

2. Plan ahead

Have a game plan going into the evening and stick to it. It can be easy to get caught up in the moment, especially if your friends are being extra generous and have offered to buy the next round. Take a minute to remind yourself of your health goals. Will having that next drink prevent you from reaching them? If the answer is yes, respect your initial game plan and switch to water!

3. Stay hydrated

Alcohol affects a hormone in our body involved in urine regulation causing us to become dehydrated. Drink non-alcoholic beverages between drinks to help you stay hydrated.

4. Make it a spritzer

If you are having a glass of wine or two, try adding carbonated water. This will help you stay hydrated without adding extra sugar and will enable you to pour that next drink without going overboard.

5. Choose low sugar or low carbohydrate beverages and cocktails.

Choose dry white and red wines and champagnes. Apple ciders that are labeled as “dry” contain less sugar. Avoid the wine coolers, spiked lemonades, margaritas and other sweet cocktails that are loaded with sugar. Always skip the sugary mixes and instead opt for club soda, diet soda, Mio, or lime juice.

Bottom line: You should never feel pressured to drink. People should respect your decision to stay sober and stick to your health goals. Remember that everyone loves the designated driver who saves their friends money on cab rides!

Check out our previous post "Tracking Alcohol" if you are curious how alcohol can be accounted for in your total caloric and macronutrient goals. 

Submitted by: Stephanie Brooks, RD

Tracking Alcohol
February 6, 2017

Alcohol needs to be tracked in a special way because the calories that pure alcohol provides to the body are neither a carbohydrate, protein, or fat. If you have ever entered an alcoholic beverage in MyFitnessPal you may notice that the drink has calories but little carb, no fat, and no protein. This is because the calories are coming from the alcohol in the drink (which isn’t a nutrient tracked in MyFitnessPal or most other food tracking programs). Since it doesn’t fall into any of the macro categories we are monitoring, we need to do some math to determine how to count it towards our macro goals or be aware that it will contribute calories to your day (throwing off your macro targets for those who track).

Alcohol can be accounted for in your total caloric goal for the day or by deducting choices from your carbohydrate or fat (depending on your preference). The reason we don’t deduct from protein is that it is ideal to keep protein intake high to reserve lean body mass.

1. Account for in your caloric targets.

As mentioned, alcohol has calories but no protein or fat. Certain beverages (like wine, cocktails, or beer) will have carbohydrate in them. Track your alcohol beverage and plan your daily intake to be as close to your calorie target as possible.

2. Account for alcohol within your macro targets

Background: 

Each macro has the follow calories per gram. This background is useful for the substitutions.
Alcohol= 7 kcal/g
Carbohydrate= 4 kcal/g
Fat= 9 kcal/g
Protein= 4 kcal/g

You will also need to know the number of calories in your alcoholic beverage.
 

Track as fat:
Take the total amount of calories in your alcoholic beverage and divide by 9 for the grams of fat it contributes

Track as carbohydrate:
Take the total amount of calories in your alcoholic beverage and divide by 4 for the grams of carbs it contributes

Track as protein:
Keep your protein choices up to your usual target. We want to keep protein high throughout the day!

Note: You can manually account for alcohol calories by adding them to your carb or fat macroz

1. If you purchased the Premium MyFitnessPal account you can select “Quick Tools” then “Quick Add Calories” and enter the macro information you have calculated for your alcoholic beverage.
2. You can also search your choice of alcohol in the database as a carb or fat choice. For example search “wine as carb” or “wine as fat” and enter your serving size. The calories from your alcohol will then be accounted for as a fat or carb depending on your choice.
3. Search "gram of carb" or "gram of fat" as a food in MyFitnessPal and manually enter the amount you want to add to your diary. This works well for those who have the free version of MyFintessPal

 

Examples: Wine (5 ounce) at 125 calories
Tracked as carb: 31g (125 cal ÷ 4 cal/g)
Tracked as fat: 13g  (125 cal ÷ 9 cal/g)

Shot (1.5 ounce) at 100 calories
Tracked as carb: 20g (100 cal ÷ 4 cal/g)
Tracked as fat: 11g (100 cal ÷ 9 cal/g)

Beer (12 ounce) at ~150 calories:
Tracked as carbs: 38g (150 cal ÷ 4 cal/g)
Tracked as fat:  18g (150 cal ÷ 9 cal/g)

You can split between carb and fat by dividing the calories by 2.
Beer (12 ounce) at ~150 calories:
Split between carb and fat:
75cal/4 = 19g of carbs AND + 75cal/9 =8g of fat

Remember: alcohol is considered an empty calorie and a depressant. It doesn’t have any micronutrients and can hinder strength gains and performance in the gym. Alcohol may cause moodiness, lower inhibitions, upset the cycle of restorative sleep, increase the symptoms of depression, and interfere with prescribed medication. Drinking alcohol may become a dangerous coping mechanism, one that can ultimately lead to substance abuse. If you, or someone you care about, cannot refrain from consuming alcohol, or when drinking habits interfere with daily activities, worsening symptoms of anxiety or depression, it may be time to seek the guidance of professional support.

Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
January 31, 2017

Football season is almost over (yay - haha!) and what better way to celebrate than with a flavourful appetizer! This recipe is a tasty substitution to classic buffalo wings.

Yields:

6 Servings

Calories:
90
Fibre:
8g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 5g

 

Fat: 2g

 

Carbohydrates: 14g

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower (approx 600g)
  • 1/2 cup milk (use water or almond milk if preferred)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour (84g)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce 

Directions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 425F
  2. Wash and cut cauliflower into bite size pieces/florets
  3. Mix the milk, water, flour, and spices in a medium bowl. The batter should be the consistency of pancake batter.
  4. Coat the cauliflower in the batter. Shake off the excess batter before placing the cauliflower pieces on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown, flipping the florets over half way through baking.
  6. Remove the florets from the oven and put all of the baked florets into a mixing bowl with the Frank's Red Hot Sauce and coat evenly. Return the caulifloewr florets to the baking sheet and bake in the oven for another 20-25 minutes.
Abstainers vs. Moderators
January 17, 2017

 
The topic of ‘abstainers vs. moderators’ has been on my mind lately after listening to a podcast called “Happier” hosted by Gretchen Rubin. You might recognize Gretchen as the author of The Happiness Project, a self-help book that provides concrete ideas to increase your personal happiness. Gretchen’s work investigates the multiple strategies she’s identified that help us make and break our habits. Gretchen believes that the secret to changing a habit is to understand ourselves so we can suit our habits to our personality. When it comes to changing nutrition habits, I agree with Gretchen that understanding whether we are an abstainer or a moderator can be helpful.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, below is a brief breakdown of how Gretchen describes abstainers and moderators:

Abstainer:
  • Has trouble stopping something once they have started (eg. would rather watch an entire season on Netflix rather than one episode per week)
  • Aren’t tempted when they have decided something is ‘off-limits’ (eg. can easily say “no” to the bread basket if they’ve decided not to have any)
Moderator:
  • Finds the occasional indulgence strengthens resolve (eg. a square of dark chocolate each day improves their ability to make nutritious choices for other meals)
  • Panic at the thought of “never” getting to do or have something (eg. would quickly rebel if their diet prescribed that they never eat a particular food)
It can be easier to figure out whether you are an abstainer or a moderator when you think about it in a certain context. Moderators succeed more frequently when they avoid absolutes and defined lines. For example, the thought of a nutrition plan where they could never eat bread is enough to immediately turn them off. Following a restrictive diet would lead to a ‘panic’ or a need to rebel against the defined line. A plan that allows a square of chocolate or a handful of chips would be much more appealing to a moderator.  
 
An abstainer would have an entirely different perspective on the same scenarios. Abstainers have a harder time with moderation. Completely removing something from the life of an abstainer is easier than indulging daily. A plan that encourages a square of chocolate or a handful of chips would be frustrating for an abstainer who would struggle to stop eating the treat once they have started.
 

 

Gretchen notes that understanding whether you’re an abstainer or a moderator can increase your personal happiness as it allows you to make decisions that best suit your character.

I believe that it is possible to be an abstainer AND a moderator in different areas of your life or even with different food groups. For example, I love ice cream. A tub of ice cream would be gone within a day or two as I would be tempted to sneak scoops all day long. However, I am not an abstainer in the sense that I don’t decide ice cream is completely off limits. But I know that having immediate access to it doesn’t work for me. I would rather go to an ice cream shop and purchase a serving of ice cream when I feel that I want to indulge. By keeping the ice cream out of the house, I eliminate the stress of avoiding sweets on a daily basis. On the other hand, a bag of chips wouldn't tempt me at all. One or two could satisfy a craving. 

I can easily adopt the moderator mentality in other areas of my life, for example, with television or technology. I would have no problem watching one episode of a show on Netflix instead of the entire season or playing Candy Crush for 10 minutes (unlike those who purchase additional lives for $1 - ha!).   

 



Like Gretchen, I believe there is no right way or wrong way–it’s just a matter of knowing which strategy works better for you. When moderators try to abstain they will likely rebel. If abstainers try to moderate, they constantly fight back the urge to go overboard.

Being an abstainer in some areas of my life, I recognize that it would be helpful for me to learn how to be a moderator. I can’t avoid cake and desserts forever so learning how to be moderate instead of going overboard is helpful to prevent the negative feelings that follow over-indulging.  When you’re able to control your environment by eliminating certain foods from the house or planning/cooking meals at home, abstinence is easy. But what happens when you’re at a party or the holidays roll around? Not so easy then. If you identify as a moderator, these situations are just a part of life. If you are an abstainer, like me, learning moderation can be hard and leave you feeling like you have zero control.

Despite being an abstainer, I don’t encourage that people limit or avoid certain foods. Instead, I encourage them to include them in their diet in such a way that they can enjoy them moderately. Going back to the ice cream example. I don’t tell myself I can’t have ice cream. Instead, I plan to go to an ice cream shop, purchase a reasonable portion, and savour the flavor - this is my personal strategy to incorporate all foods in my diet (while eliminating the daily struggle). 

Are you an abstainer or a moderator? Do you think understanding whether you are an abstainer or a moderator could help you make healthy living easier? 
 
Thai Coconut Cauliflower "Rice"
January 3, 2017

I like to call foods that are high in water and fibre, like fruits and vegetables, “volume foods.” I have talked about it on the blog before and mention it to clients often. Volume foods add bulk to your meals and help fill your stomach. Part of feeling full is having a stretch reflex in your stomach that tells your brain “I am satisfied.” Foods high in fibre (like veggies) are not only high in fibre but they are rich in the micronutrients that are important to keep you healthy and energized (#iifymicros!)

A common mistake I see with clients who are striving to lose body fat is that they are choosing foods that are low in volume. These “calorie-dense” food choices might even be healthy, but the meal misses out on the volume required to feel satisfied.

I love using cauliflower as a higher volume alternative to standard rice. This recipe is loaded with veggies and protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Yields:

4 Servings

Calories:
236
Fibre:
5g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 23g

 

Fat: 10g

 

Carbohydrates: 23g

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • ½ medium onion (150g)
  • 2 bell peppers (300g)
  • 1 pound shrimp, thawed
  • 1 head of cauliflower (~600g)
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained (160g)
  • 1.5 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Head olive oil over medium heat
  2. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add onion and peppers and cook until soft
  4. If you have a food processor, use it to shred the cauliflower to a rice-like texture. Shredding the cauliflower with a box grater or knife works as well (it’s just a bit messy!)
  5. Add the riced-cauliflower, coconut milk, water chestnuts, and tamari and reduce the mixture for 15-20 minutes on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  6. Divide into 4 servings
Gratitude Jar 2017
December 28, 2016

My roommate and I often ask each other “what was the best part of your day?” It never seems to be related to money or material items. It’s usually the small things like “the first sip of coffee in the morning”, a small victory at the gym, or a funny story with a friend. These small moments are often forgotten about when reflecting on the big events that take place over the course of a year.

The solution = a Gratitude Jar! Have you heard of gratitude jars? The idea is simple: Get a jar, write down the things that make you smile, jot down the date, put it in the jar, and read through them at the end of the year.

We tend to think the year flies by, and we don’t always remember it very clearly. Ask yourself: What was the best thing that happened in September? How were the first two weeks of the New Year? You likely can’t remember! For most of us, opening the jar will bring the recollections flooding back: a special meal with family, a compliment received from a friend, a triumph at work, a personal best at the gym, or a cozy Sunday spent enjoying your favorite breakfast. You’ll have a great time reflecting on all the “little things” that made your year great.

You don’t have to write every day if you don’t want to. Just jot down any burst of feeling or random act of kindness and throw it in the jar. Taking time to appreciate the small things helps you to cherish your life and yourself.

“Enjoy the little things in life for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things”

Football season is almost over (yay - haha!) and what better way to celebrate than with a flavourful appetizer! This recipe is a tasty substitution to classic buffalo wings.

Yields:

Unlimited notes of gratitude

Inspired by:
Carrots N' Cake

Ingredients:

  • One jar (a box or plastic container would work too!)
  • Ribbon to decorate
  • Label
  • Paper for writing “gratitude notes”
  • Gratitude

Directions:

  1. Collect your ingredients
  2. Write down the things that make you smile
  3. Include the date on the note
  4. Put the note in the jar
  5. Read through the notes at the end of the year (or end of each month if you prefer!)
Paleo Stuffing
December 20, 2016

This is my absolute favorite recipe of all time and it’s perfect for the holidays! Inspired by Jocelyn’s recipe and PaleoOMG, this is my version of a grain-free stuffing recipe that (in my opinion) is better than the real thing. Prepare it as a side dish for your next family get-together or make a big batch to eat for lunch and supper throughout the week.

Yields:

6 Servings

Calories:
363
Fibre:
6g

Nutrition Facts

 

 

Protein: 20g

 

Fat: 16g

 

Carbohydrates: 42g

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (~500g)
  • 2 slices bacon, diced
  • 5 celery stalks, diced (~200g)
  • 1 small onion, diced (~150g)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, diced (~300g)
  • 1 lb extra lean ground turkey
  • 2 cups mushrooms, diced (~200g)
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • ½ cup egg whites or 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (60g)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (60g)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the sweet potato cubes on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake for 15-20 min.
  2. Fry the sliced bacon in a large skillet. Add the diced celery, onion, and apples.
  3. When the vegetables soften, add the ground turkey, mushrooms, and vinegar. Stir and cook until the turkey is no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large casserole dish to cool.
  5. When the mixture has cooled, mix in the egg, cranberries, raisins, nuts, and sweet potato.
  6. Bake the mixture at 375F in a casserole dish or baking sheet for 20 minutes.
This is my absolute favorite recipe of all time and it’s perfect for the holidays! Inspired by Jocelyn’s recipe and PaleoOMG, this is my version of a grain-free stuffing recipe that (in my opinion) is better than the real thing. Prepare it as a side dish for your next family get-together or make a big batch to eat for lunch and supper throughout the week.
Customizable Chicken Fajitas
December 14, 2016

 

This recipe is easy and versatile. Adjust the ingredients to meet your personal goals or flavour preferences. Perfect for people tracking their nutrition or simply those looking for a fast meal. It’s easy to adjust this recipe for a single serving or to feed an entire family!

How to adjust the macronutrients for a