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Cooling down this summer with homemade popsicles

A hot summer day with kids is excruciating, especially when everyone is hot and crabby. But there is a solution for moms and dads everywhere — homemade popsicles!

I ventured to the store with my daughter and grabbed a popsicle mould. We made it back home despite the intense heat wave and started making our delicious cool treat. Mix all the ingredients together with a blender by adding an avocado, a can of coconut milk, half a cup of coconut flakes, and 3-6 tbsp sugar depending on your preference for sweetness. Once the ingredients are smooth, pour them into the popsicle mould and freeze until solid. Affordable popsicle moulds can be purchased at the dollar store. These popsicles are full of fibre, protein and iron, and are delicious!

[Other options for homemade popsicles include] AWK TRANSITION. REMEMBER ARTICLES AREN’T LISTS.

If you are looking for something a little less traditional, try this gourmet twist on a strawberry popsicle by adding basil, or oranges for a citrus treat. If you are craving a pina colada on the beach, pineapple chunks blended with coconut milk and flakes makes a delicious popsicle. Most fruits and vegetables will taste delectable if blended with coconut milk and sugar once blended, though it is generally recommended to stay away from peaches because they don’t freeze well.

Acai berry coconut popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.
Acai berry coconut popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.

Nathalie Hernandez, owner of an artisan vegan ice pop company called Santopop, has a few tips. “Use fresh ingredients, the best raw materials means best pops. Also, get local fruits and respect the seasonality, it always tastes better,” Hernandez says. She also supports local farmers, and also handpick the ripest fruits, which helps you to use less sugar when blending the ingredients together.

Mango yangmei berry popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.
Mango yangmei berry popsicle by Santopop. Photo provided by Nathalie Hernandez.

I plan on making homemade popsicles weekly throughout the summer will be trying different handpicked fruits and vegetables from the farmers market. This will help my daughter get excited about picking out healthy foods, and she can help me blend all the ingredients together. By having healthy popsicles in the freezer, my daughter can avoid sugary ice pops and get a nutrition kick from a refreshing treat instead.

Give it a try and let Women’s Post know in the comments below know which fruits and vegetables are your favourite for homemade popsicles!

RECIPE: Mouth-watering savoury vegan cookie

Are you tired of only having sweet vegan baked goods?

Chef Katherine Kooks is breaking new ground in the vegan cookie market by choosing to create a savoury baked good instead of a sweet cookie. Using several healthy ingredients, her savoury vegan cookie is a protein power punch that has distinct garlic and onion flavours, but maintains the chewy texture of a cookie. It is unlike any baked good I have found in a vegan bakery.

Savoury Onion Garlic Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup oats

1 cup quinoa flakes

¼ cup chia seeds

¼ cup flax seeds

¼ cup hemp seeds

1 small Spanish onion

2 cloves of garlic

1/3 bunch thyme

Pinch of sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Soak the chia and flax seeds in ½ cup of water for 20 minutes until a paste is formed.
  2. Combine dry ingredients and flax/chia seed combination. Mix well and let stand for five minutes.
  3. Saute garlic and onion and remove from heat.
  4. Roll out dough with a pin and use a cookie cutter to make uniform cookie shapes.
  5. Place in the dehydrator at 145 degrees for one hour.
  6. Unplug and flip the cookies. Reduce temperature to 115 degrees and let run for 10 to 12 hours.

Katherine Kooks has started selling her cookies at markets in Toronto, and following her on Instagram will give you a heads up on where this ingenious gluten-free and soy-free snack is headed next!

Delicious and refreshing raw vegan chocolate ice cream

On a blazing hot sunny day, a bowl of ice cream is the most refreshing treat imaginable.

Now, there is a way to enjoy this dessert without the guilt of eating something unhealthy. LoveWildLiveFree, a vegan recipe and lifestyle blog by Avra Epstein, brings you a vegan ice cream dish that is healthy and satisfying.

The Raw Banana Chocolate Chunk Nice-Cream uses bananas and chocolate as natural sweetners and it tastes like a delicious bowl of ice cream without any unnecessary additives! Bananas can be used in many dessert recipes as a sugar replacement and instead gives vital nutrients such as potassium and dietary fiber. Cacao, which provides the yummy chocolate addition has magnesium and high antioxidants.

You will need:

4 ripe bananas

Raw chocolate sauce (recipe below)

Raw Heirloom Organic Vanilla Bean and Salt Chocolate Bar

Raw cashew pieces, optional

Raw Chocolate Sauce: 

1 tbsp organic unrefined, virgin coconut oil, melted

1 tbsp raw cacao powder

1-2 tbsp lukewarm filtered water, or more if needed

3 dates, soaked for 10 minutes in lukewarm filtered water

 

Giddy Yo-Yo Chocolate. Photo provided by Avra Epstein
Photo provided by Avra Epstein

Instructions:

  1. Peel bananas and cut into coins. Place the bananas in to an airtight container and freeze for a couple of hours until frozen, or ideally, overnight.
  2. Place the frozen bananas into a food processor. Pulse until you create a crumble, stoping to scrape down the walls of the food processor as you go.
  3. Once you reach an even crumble, blend consistently and stop every so often to scrape down the sides to ensure that you have an even consistency. This will take a little patience, but eventually the mixture will reach a soft-serve ice cream consistency.
  4. Roughly chop a couple of squares of the chocolate bar and add to the food processor, pulsing a few times to evenly distribute.
  5. Depending on your preference, you can eat the ice-cream immediately as soft-serve, or, transfer to an airtight container and freeze until solid.
  6. Top with raw cashews and raw chocolate sauce (recipe below).

 Note: I always use a food processor when making nice-cream, but it can also be made in a high speed blender, just be sure that your blender is powerful enough to handle processing frozen bananas.

Vegan ice cream mix. Photo provided by Avra Epstein.
Vegan ice cream mix. Photo provided by Avra Epstein.

Raw Chocolate Sauce

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. It’s that simple, just make sure to remove the dates from the water they’ve soaked in before adding them to the blender!

Tip: If the sauce is too runny place in refrigerator to thicken; if the sauce is too thick add more lukewarm water and blend.

Original recipe can be found here: Raw Banana Chocolate Chunk Nice-Cream

Five ways to brighten your morning routine

Grey skies, dull commutes, and early daybreak blues — simply put, mornings can be tough. Why not allow yourself a moment of happiness in your morning routine with a few quick and easy exercises that are bound to brighten the day and start you off fresh.

1. Drink Lukewarm Lemon Water

Upon waking, your body can become dehydrated. Drink some lukewarm water with fresh lemon in the morning to increase your metabolism. This early morning habit will help burn fat while keeping muscle, and also helps alleviate the need for caffeine. It is a refreshing start to the day and helps cleanse the throat.

2. Be Mindful for a Moment

Mindfulness and meditation can help you start your day in a peaceful and happy way. That being said, some meditations can take awhile and time is often tight in the morning, so here are a few quick mindfulness exercises to get your day started. First off, do a mindful check-in. Take a moment to assess how you feel at that very moment and meditate on it. After taking time to do a mindful check-in, open your mind to good intentions for your day. Recall what you are grateful for and what your hopeful intentions are.  These short exercises will help you feel ready to conquer the day.

3. Have a good breakfast

After digesting your lemon water for about 30 minutes (if possible), eat a healthy breakfast. Quick and easy ideas are smoothies that were prepped the night prior for a quick meal full of fruits and veggies. Homemade granola with dried fruits and hemp seeds is also an easy grab and can be eaten as a cereal as well. Rushing out in the morning, try making overnight oats with almond milk, bananas, and walnuts. It’s important to fit fresh fruit in your morning routine and a protein so that you can start your day full and energized.

4. Stretch

The body has been in a restful state for hours and stretching helps to reintroduce movement in a slow and relaxing way. First stretch your arms and legs prior to stepping out of bed, then do a few standing stretches to wake yourself up. Sitting cross-legged and turning your body from side to side will help stretch your spine. Yoga moves such as the cat and cow position on all fours and downward dog are quick and energizing movements to do after sleeping.

5. Be Prepared

Being prepared before the morning will not only help you sleep, but it will also create less stress when you wake up.  By setting out your clothes the night prior, it saves a lot of time and energy you’d usually spend picking out an outfit for the day. Preparing smoothies or meals ahead of time will make it easier to eat healthy foods instead of rushing to Tim Horton’s for a bagel. Having completed tasks will provide enough time for a moment of mindfulness or stretching.

Hope you have a great morning!

 

Do you have any morning rituals that leave you feeling warm and fuzzy? Share them in the comments below!

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March yourself into a 100 meal journey

It’s been two months since you’ve made that New Year’s resolution to eat well this year … and you may be hitting a plateau. It’s hard to keep inspired and motivated when the weather just makes you want to stuff your face. Luckily, Dieticians of Canada can help you change those eating habits. You may even eat 100 healthy meals in a row! Sound impossible? Trust us, it’s not!

March is Nutrition Month, or at least, it’s labelled that way by the Dieticians of Canada. They started as a Nutrition Week in 1981 and has since expanded into a monthly celebration of healthy eating with a new theme each year. This year’s theme is dedicated to making small changes — one meal at a time. It’s called the 100 meal journey.

The Dieticians of Canada are promoting a series of fun events across the country that help Canadians eat healthy meals throughout the month of March. Each week of the month has a specific theme. March 16 is also Dietician’s Day and is an opportunity to take part in healthy eating events across the country, details of which can be found on this activity map.  This year, the weekly themes are: Getting Started, Quality Counts!, Prioritize Portion Size, Try Something New!, and Make it Stick.

Getting started in any healthy eating initiative can be daunting, but there are certain steps that you can take to get the process started. Creating a list of healthy eating goals and then posting it in your desk area or on the fridge will help enforce the new habits. It also takes a community to make a great change — enlisting friends and family. Instead of waiting until the last minute — because let’s be real, it’s exhausting to figure out dinner at 7 p.m. — try making a weekly meal plan.  Remember: whole grains instead of white bread and fill that list with fresh veggies and fruits!

Quality cooking is essential in any healthy meal. Dieticians of Canada provide Cookspiration, a link with several delicious recipes that help to plan for hale and hearty options. The Dieticians also provide apps that can be installed to help set goals, give portion size measurements, and provide ideas for the 100 meals healthy eating plan. Some of the better apps are eaTracker and eaTipster.

The number one tip: be prepared. If you are in a hurry, prepare smoothies in advance with frozen fruit, ground flax and hemp seed, spinach, and almond milk. A great snack for those on the run is peanut butter, banana, and trail mix in a whole-grain tortilla for a yummy breakfast.

Another tip the Dieticians of Canada provide in their 100 healthy meals campaign is how to pack protein into meals. Protein reduces the appetite and keeps people healthy. Lentils are a great way to sneak protein into dishes, because the grain has the capability to take on whatever taste is in the dish at hand. The ground-up chickpeas in hummus provide a yummy dipping option with veggies. Pairing protein-packed foods with high-fibre foods is another great way to fill up and avoid overeating. Fantastic fibre foods include whole veggies and fruits, whole grains such as barley and lentils, nuts, seeds, and beans.

Finally, don’t give up! Making healthy lifestyle changes can be a challenge, but the rewards are great.

Are you brave enough to tackle the 100 meal challenge? Leave us some of your meal ideas below!

10 reasons to avoid the gym

Happy New Year, folks!

This is probably the 94th article you’re reading about new year’s resolutions, but let me tell you the only resolution you’ll need to make this year. It involves the gym. But, I’m not here to tell you to start going to the gym, because you probably already promised yourself that you would. Instead, I am going to tell you the reasons why you shouldn’t go to the gym at any time of the year. So cross that cute ambition off your list because these 10 reasons will change your mind!

1. January brings forth the likes of many

Believe it or not, everyone’s New Year resolution is to start going to the gym. And like you, a lot of people attempt to accomplish this resolution, especially the first few weeks of the year. That’s why, during last year’s attempt to begin a healthy lifestyle, you might have noticed the large rush of people who do not look like they belong there. Men and women alike struggle to keep up on the treadmill, weights scattered across the studio, and confused folks trying to determine how to work their legs out of the complicated machines. It’s an absolute madhouse. Do yourself a favour and stay at home.

2. Money, money, money

The cheapest gym membership is roughly $30. That is, without the activation fees, maintenance fees, late fees, and other unnecessary, existing fees. Every month, whether you go regularly or not, money will be taken out of your account. There is no cash-only option or month-by-month payments. All gyms will require you to hand over credit card information to automatically withdraw money from your bank account. Instead of using this money toward a gym membership you won’t use, hand over that information to a children’s charity, women’s shelter, or buy yourself a really nice dinner.

3. Guilty until proven guilty 

 Eating is so much more fun when there are no weight commitments involved. Calorie counting is not only tedious, but it’s time consuming. Besides, no one needs the stress of overeating amongst the thousands of other first world problems we have. Gluten-free meals may seem like all the rage, but what is bread without the gluten? So just eat your cake and don’t think about the consequences. Chocolate is a great source of iron, especially during your time of month. And fries? Well, given the fact they were once potatoes, they technically qualify as vegetable, you know. Life is too short to not indulge in your favourite foods.

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4. Instagram food, not your bod

And while you’re eating your favourite foods, go ahead and let your followers know. Don’t be that woman who posts a picture in front of the studio mirror with your workout ensemble on. Nobody likes that girl. We realize that with a gym membership comes great responsibility. You constantly have to prove you actually use it. Without a gym membership, the pressure is off! Besides, a beautifully plate of pasta is not only more like-worthy, it’s also more realistic. There’s no added pressure of making pasta look good, as there are with your body. Dimming the studio lights, standing with your chest out and sucking in your gut is just too much effort to demonstrate you are leading a healthy lifestyle. That plate of pasta, however, needs #nofilter.

5. Life is too short

There is probably a list of many other things you would rather be doing than going to the gym. Ending world hunger, knitting a sweater, reading a book, or Netflix binging all seem much more appealing than sweating and panting. If you’re life is busy enough, just keep telling yourself that you’re tired enough by the end of the day to skip going to the gym. The gym is for those people who have the ambition to take the time time and put in the effort to burn some calories. Calories that can be burnt doing something else– such as walking to the nearest bakery.
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6. Home is where the heart is

Work out in the comfort of your own home. Merely watching a YouTube video of yogis and boot camp enthusiasts will have you feeling good as new. The next step will be to try out these moves one day. This way, you won’t have to spend time travelling, sharing equipment, or staring at people who are too fit to be at the gym in the first place. After your ‘workout,’ you have instant access to a fridge full of food so you can replenish those calories. Whether you’re doing crunches on your living room floor, doing leg lifts on your couch, or getting frisky with your loved one in the bedroom, burning calories at home is just more convenient.

7. Gym nuts are intimidating

They grunt, they sweat all over the equipment, and they make you feel less of a woman than you actually are. You don’t need to be exposed to that type of negativity! Gym nuts are people that have already accomplished their goals of attaining the perfect body, so the fact that they continue to take up space on the elliptical beside you is rather pretentious. While you’re struggling to keep up with the beginner level workout, the gym nut beside you is going at 100 km/h and doesn’t seem to be winded. Do yourself a favour and make friends in the same fitness level as you. That way, you can share stories about your late night walks to the fridge and your struggles to wake up in the morning. How romantic.

8. You’ll get your workout clothes sweaty

It’s difficult enough doing laundry — there’s only so many gym outfits you can buy to avoid washing the same set after each session. After an hour of cardio, the only thing you can think about is how to get your clothes off your body and into the hamper. Not only is dealing with clothes an added chore to your already hectic life, but it’s also a waste of water. They look better while you’re running errands, anyways. Create the illusion of a healthy lifestyle at the grocery store with some cute running shoes and a pair of yoga pants while you’re shopping for avocados and kale. People will look at you the same way they look at the Kardashians; a whole lot of envy with an added sense of judgment.  

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9. Love yourself

So what if you have a hard time going up two flights of stairs? At least you look good. Sure, your clothes might be a little more snug then usual, but curves are gorgeous! If stairs leave you winded, take the elevator. That’s why they’re there in the first place. It’s 2016; technology is advancing at the speed of light. Soon enough, we won’t even have to lift a finger. (We all know how difficult that is) These luxuries were invented with people like us in mind. The least we can do is be thankful for them.

10. Find alternatives 

Maybe living a healthy lifestyle isn’t a bad thing. But I stand by my advice on avoiding the gym. Especially during the first few weeks of the year, where everyone will have the same mindset about shedding off their eggnog. Just know there are alternatives to getting fit, without the commitment of a gym membership. Like eating one slice of pizza instead of 10.

Progress.

Good luck and happy fitnessing!

5 Fruit Smoothies To Quench Your Thirst

Summer is here! With the warm weather tickling our fancy for a cold, summer drink, we couldn’t resist putting together these smoothie recipes for you to try. The colours will excite you, the taste will please you, and the satisfaction will complete you. What are you waiting for? Grab your blender and try out these 5 smoothie recipes now!

 

watermelon-frosty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watermelon Frosty
serves 2

2 1/4 cups frozen watermelon cubes
1/2+ cup water
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 large lemon, squeezed
1 fresh banana

Directions: Add all ingredients to the blender – plus 1/4 cup of water. Start blending. Add more water as needed to blend. Add as little liquid as possible to keep your frosty thick and “frosty!”

 

 smoothie 1 FINAL

Basil- Lime Delight

Serves 4 

1 lemon peeled, sliced and seeded.

2 limes peeled and halved

1/4 cup sugar or sweetener of choice

6-7 fresh basil leaves

3 cups ice

1 cup water or apple juice

Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender and secure lid. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to high. Blend for 90 seconds. Garnish with fresh basil leaf or lemon wedge.

 

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 Very Peachy BlueBerry

Serves 3-4

1/4 cup Stewed Peaches

1/2 cup frozen Blueberries (plus extra for topping)

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

3/4 cup unsweetened Almond Milk

handful of Ice

Stevia, Honey, Agave or Maple Syrup to taste

Fresh Mint for garnish

Directions: Stew peaches by cutting them into pieces and placing them in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil then simmer. Mash them against the side of the pan to release juices. Simmer about 6 minutes. Let the peaches chill in the fridge.

Blend all ingredients together. Sweeten to taste if needed. Garnish with mint and frozen blueberries.

 

mango_pineapple 

Mango Tango Pineapple-o

Serves 2

1 cup chopped fresh pineapple

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen mango, peeled, cubed, and frozen

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup cranberry-pomegranate-cherry juice

Directions: Blend all ingredients together. Sweeten to taste if needed. Garnish with mango chunks and one slice of pineapple.

 

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If you’re up for a challenge or have some extra time (and fruits) laying around, try this layered smoothie to leave a lasting impression on your friends- and their tummies! 

Dare to Layer

Serves 4

10 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed

2 tablespoons honey

12 ounces unsweetened lemon-lime sparkling water

5 kiwis, peeled

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 cup roughly chopped cantaloupe

4 kiwi slices, for garnish

 Directions:

1. In the basin of a food processor or blender, combine raspberries and honey. Pulse or blend until pureed. Strain raspberry puree through a fine mesh sieve and discard seeds. Mix in lemon-lime sparkling water and set aside.

2. Combine the peeled kiwi and lime juice in the clean basin of a food processor or blender. Pulse or blend until pureed. Set aside.

3. Add the cantaloupe in the clean basin of a food processor or blender. Pulse or blend until pureed. Set aside.

4. To layer your drink, gently spoon equal amounts of kiwi puree into each of four bowls or glasses. Repeat with cantaloupe puree and raspberry puree. Garnish with kiwi slices.

 

Happy blending!

 

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RECIPE: The homemade granola formula

The first time I decided to make my own, I felt like some sort of domestic goddess. The truth is, making this tasty cereal at home couldn’t be easier and, because it’s endlessly customizable, you’ll never get bored and can tailor each batch to suit whatever you’re in the mood for. Try using the basic formula below to make your own blend (share it in the comments below if you do!), or try my favourite spring-time mix.

Yummy homemade granola

3 cups of rolled grains
1.5 cups nuts and seeds
3/4 cups dried fruit
6 tablespoons liquid sweetener
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tsp dried spices
1 teaspoons salt
Optional mix-ins, like dried coconut and chocolate chips

Springtime granola mix

3 cups rolled oats 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup cashews, roughly chopped
1/4 cup sun dried raisins
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
4 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tea spoon sea salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 300F.
2. Mix all ingredients together (except dried fruit and chocolate if you’re using it) in a large mixing bowl.
3. Spread the mixture onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, checking every 5 until it starts to get golden brown. It won’t be crunchy yet.
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool, at which point you can mix in your additional ingredients.
6. Store in airtight containers. Enjoy with milk, yogurt, or all on its own as a great snack.