Saturday, June 30, 2012


Sprouting is one of those raw food practices that I'd always meant to try, but never got around to. It's simple enough, but I kept putting it off. That, coupled with my inability to grow anything(it always dies). But I finally gave it a shot, and it worked! It couldn't be easier either, requiring just a few minutes from your day to rinse the sprouts.

Sprouts are one of my favorite foods, they're awesome for bulking up sandwiches and salads, and they're incredibly nutritious. Seeds, grains and legumes are all beneficial to your health, but they're coated in phytic acid which prevents a lot of the nurience from being available to you. Once sprouted, the dormant seed becomes a live plant. Sprouting also neutralizes phytic acid and the enzyme inhibitors on the seeds, making them easier to digest and more nutritious to you. It also increases B vitamin content, produces vitamin C, and carotene.

Sprouts are also alkalizing on the body, we need a balance of acid to alkaline in our diet to maintain good health. Most processed foods and animal by products are acid forming(stress and environment can contribute to this too). Grains and legumes are acid forming as well, which doesn't mean you should avoid them, but simply be conscious that they need to be balance out by alkaline food, such as fruits and vegetables. By sprouting grains and legumes it makes them more alkaline.

Something to be wary of, however is that not all sprouts should be consumed raw. Some sprouted legumes are toxic until they are cooked, and raw sprouts contain irritating substances to keep animals from eating them. These substances are neutralized by heat, so gentle steaming is beneficial in some cases. Most sprouts are fine to eat raw, and you're not likely to over eat sprouts anyways.

How To 
Sprouts and sprouting kits are sold in many health stores, but they're fairly easy to replicate at home. You need a mason jar(like a jam jar), cheesecloth or the foot of a pair of tights(clean ones!), a rubber band, and seeds for sprouting.

Put about 2 tablespoons of seeds in the jar, then stretch the cheesecloth or foot of the tights over the top of the jar and secure with a rubber band. Fill with water and let the seeds soak for about 6 hours. Drain and let the jar sit upside-down on a slant. Rinse twice a day every day until the sprouts reach desired length! Sprouts are sensitive to polluted water so you may want to use filtered or bottled water to rinse them.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Overnight Chocolate Protein Oats

For the past 4 months I've been eating the same thing pretty much religiously for breakfast. I can't seem to stop myself! Prior to this I was never really an oatmeal/porridge person. Except for the ones you get as a kid where the little eggs would melt into a dinosaur in your bowl. Then I would pick out those, then ditch the rest. This little bowl of oaty goodness changed all that! I love it since you don't have to cook anything, you just mix it up the night before and pop it in the fridge and you're good to go in the morning.

I've seen a few variations on Chocolate Protein Oats floating around, but here's my version! I usually top it with whatever berries are around, or chopped banana. Chocolate chips make their way in there too sometimes. You could use any kind of milk for it, almond, cashew, and coconut are all good! Hazelnut would be amazing if you want a Nutella flavour. Water works too, even.

I love this combination since you've got complex carbs, protein, and fruit all together, and it's pretty much the perfect breakfast for me! I stay full for hours, and it's perfect after a workout.

Overnight Chocolate Protein Oats
Vegan, Gluten Free(if you use GF oats), Soy Free

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 scoop chocolate protein powder(Vega is my all time fave)
3/4 cup dairy free milk or water

Chocolate chips
Chia Seeds
Hemp Seeds
Goji berries

Mix oats, protein powder, and milk in a bowl. Leave in fridge overnight. Eat in the morning!

For legs day I did two of Nike Training Club's leg and butt focused videos, and then followed it up with some HIIT on the stationary bike. This time I tried out the reclining bike, and I'm pretty sure it's more difficult than the regular one. I couldn't tell if that was actually the case or it was because my legs were dying from the previous exercises.  Intriguing either way!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Yesterday was arm day at the gym, and it killed. Plus there was no one in the gym, which was lovely.
It went something like this:

1 mile bike warmup
Lying down chest fly 10x15 15x15 20x15
Overhead tricep dip 10x15 10x20 10x25
DB bench press 10x15 15x15 20x15
Tricep kickbacks 10x15 10x15 15x15
Bent over fly 10x15 15x15 20x15
Machine chest fly 10x30 10x40 10x40
Machine chest press 10x30 10x40 10x30
Bench dips with legs straight out 15 15 15
30 mins HIIT workout

Today my arms are dying! I was feeling inspired yesterday so I went for an 8k run along the water cause it was so nice out, and I'd spent most of the day on the computer reading the Fundamentals section for IIN, so I was getting antsy. The only problem with me going for evening runs is that it makes it so hard for me to go to bed after!

I hated Brussels Sprouts for the longest time. It was completely unfounded, I just refused to try them. This changed about 2 years ago when I finally gave them a try, and I'm in love. Roasting them is my favorite way, so they're a little crispy and crunchy but soft too. I could eat them all day! This is so simple I'd hardly call it a recipe, but it's what I do to pretty much all veggies when I'm going to roast them. You could do this with broccoli, cauliflower, yams, whatever.

I use coconut oil because of it's high smoke point. Olive oil has an extremely low smoke point(the point at which the oil starts decomposing, as well as the antioxidants), and when this happens it starts to release free radicals which are carcinogenic. While olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which help with improvement in cholestrol, blood pressure, and diabetes it is best left for finishing dishes, or used in dressings. Other oils that are good for cooking are sunflower, almond, avocado, and grapeseed.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free

2 cups brussels sprouts, halved or quartered
1/4 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
pinch of parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper

Toss ingredients in a pan large enough for them to lay flat in, roast at 400 for 12-15 minutes, check frequently towards end to make sure they don't burn!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Coconut Dream Bars

As of late I've been on a coconut binge. No shame though. Coconut is awesome for you! It may have gotten a bad rep in the past due to it's saturated fat content, but since it's natural saturated fat, not man made, it's not bad for you. Some fats are healthy for you, and the fat in coconut oil can improve your heart health, boost your thyroid, increase your metabolism, and support your immune system. The magic ingredient in coconuts is lauric acid, which has unique health benefits. Your body converts it into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-protozoa properties. The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil are also smaller, so they're easier for your body to digest and use as fuel. Whereas long-chain triglycerides, which are harder for your body to break down, and therefore easier to store as fat.

Farmers discovered this back in 1940 when they tried to use low grade coconut oil to fatten their livestock. It didn't work! Instead it made the animals leaner and more active. Coconut oil has shown to help optimize body weight, and can improve healing and immune function. All the more reason to scarf down these bars!!

Coconut Dream Bars
Raw, Vegan, Gluten and Soy Free

2 cups pitted dates
2/3 cup almonds
2/3 cup cashews
2/3 cup shredded,unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons coconut oil(melted)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
2-3 packets stevia
coconut for sprinkling

In a food processor process dates, almonds, cashews and coconut oil until thoroughly mixed, but a little chunky. Add in coconut and chocolate chips and process until combined. Press into a 9x9 pan.

Topping: Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, pour over bars. Sprinkle with coconut.

Place bars in fridge or freezer to set, cut into pieces!

A New Journey!

Today marks the beginning of a new journey! I enrolled at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, a school that I've been eyeballing for awhile now. I've kind of always had more of a holistic approach to health, even before I was conscious of what that meant. I've never really thought popping pills would make a problem go away, and was sort of wary of medicine. More and more though I think I'm realizing that our health care system is failing us. The majority of people are overfed and undernourished, and it's leading us to incredibly unhealthy lifestyles.

Healthy eating can seem complicated at times. There's a billion different people telling you to do a billion different things, and it's hard to make heads or tails of. IIN's approach to it is trying to find your health through eating whole foods and finding what makes sense to you in terms of bio-individuality. It teaches the process of curing your health through looking at the patient as an entire person, and doesn't aim to just treat their symptoms. For me this made so much sense, especially in terms of my eating disorder. It was a cry for help, a sign that things were out of balance in the rest of my life. Typical treatment for anorexics and bulimics seems to entail locking them in a clinic, and force feeding them unhealthy food til they gain weight. In what sense is this a recovery? Eating Disorders are so much more a disease of the mind, and the body is the symptom. I owe a huge part of my recovery to learning proper nutrition through whole, plant based foods, and learning why they are good for my body.

At the moment I'm not entirely sure where I want to go with it. I have a feeling that after this year is done I'd like to get a degree/diploma in holistic nutrition to gain further knowledge into natural cures for diseases, since I believe most of the diseases that afflict the population today are lifestyle diseases. It breaks my heart that so many people are suffering because of something that is fixed so easily. I want to be able to share this knowledge with others, and maybe make it a little easier for them to figure out. I want to help them learn that when you're stressed, binging will not make you happier. I want to help other people learn from my mistakes and experiences.

So here's to new adventures!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Black Bean Quina Burgers

Continuing along in my attempt to start trying to incorporate more beans into my diet, I decided to give black bean burgers a try. I've been on a quinoa binge as of late, so I decided to throw that in too. I recently watched the documentary Simply Raw:Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days, and it was so awe inspiring the amazing changes that happened to these people simply by adopting a completely raw vegan diet. It's so inspiring to me to see people who had been told that they would spend the rest of their life taking insulin and pricking their fingers be able to completely stop taking any of their medications(it's Doctor supervised, of course), and halt their insulin use. Yet another testament to a medical system which is failing it's patients by simply trying to bandaid the problem with drugs, instead of treating the cause for disease.

These burgers aren't raw, but I ate them on top of a huge green salad. David Wolfe, a raw food health expert, mentions that if you incorporate at least 51 % of raw foods into each meal it stops your body from reacting towards (cooked)food as a toxin. A study by Dr. Paul Kouchakoff shows when you eat cooked food your body increases white blood cell count,  a phenomenon called 'digestive leukocytosis'. This is the same reaction your body has to infection, or exposure to toxic chemicals or trauma.  

I started this blog as a raw blog, but drifted away from raw foodism since I found it restrictive, and the mental pattern of thinking I had 'failed' if I ate anything not raw wasn't really conductive to recovery. Exploring and including more raw foods in my diet is something I think I'm going to try to make an effort at, especially since I noticeably felt the effects of eating a high raw diet at the time. Plus all the summer produce available now is definitely making it easier!! I don't think I'm going to try to make a commitment to going all raw again, but I'm definitely going to make more of an effort to incorporate more raw foods into my diet.

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

This recipe made about 9 smaller burgers, you could make them larger or smaller depending on your preference. I topped mine with sauteed mushrooms and hummus.

1/4 cup dry quinoa
2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt and pepper(or to taste)

Cook the quiona in 1/2 cup water, bring to a boil on stove(with a lid), then turn heat to low and leave to sit for 15 minutes. Don't stir or peek!

Mix the black beans and seasonings together, and place half the mixture in a food processor or blender. Blend or process until chunky, then mix in with the rest of the black beans in a bowl. Add quinoa when finished, and stir to combine(using your hands is easier). Cook in a skillet with a little bit of coconut oil, or on a BBQ.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Peaches and Cream Smoothie

This post is to prove that I am, in fact, capable of making a smoothie and not stuffing fistfuls of kale in it. Peaches were looking super amazing when I went grocery shopping today, so I decided I wanted them in a smoothie pre hot yoga class! They, along with my last packet of Perfect Fit Protein, made for an amazing mid afternoon snack.

Unfortunately my cinnamon dusting skills are not what I would like them to be.

Peaches and Cream Smoothie

1 banana
1 peach, chopped
3-5 ice cubes
1/4 cup almond milk(or more)
1 packet of Perfect Fit Protein, or any Vanilla Protein Powder
1 tsp coconut oil(optional)
Cinnamon to taste

Blend until smooth!

On Living Social I snagged a 16 Hot Yoga Class package for $27, so despite the fact I could probably just do yoga outside to the same effect, I'm going to my first class today! Practicing yoga on your own just isn't the same as a class atmosphere, I get too distracted!

Running Adventures

For the first time in a long time I went running outside the other day. Not quite sure why I picked a 35 degree day with 40 humidex warning to run outdoors, but I couldn't help myself. It was worth every second though! I ran along the Lakeshore without any real plan in mind for how long I was going to go, or where I was going to go. Which is something different for me cause a lot of the time when doing cardio I can feel myself counting down the minutes of how much I have left, or how many calories I think I've burned, etc. It was nice just to let go of all that and just run for the sake of running. I found a little patch of beach beside a rowing club, and hung out there watching the sun set and rowers practicing.

How can you not love this view?

It was peaceful and the breeze was perfect and I think this may become my new summer routine. Running on cement kills my knees and I can't do it long, but there's lots of grassy area along the path so I've been running on those instead.

Have you ever discovered something amazing that was right in front of you but you never noticed it? That was me and this trail. Safe to say I'm in love. I'm definitely a city girl and I love the hustle and bustle, but there's just something so instantly calming about seeing water. Maybe I'm just used to it growing up on the ocean surrounded by water, trees and mountains. You never realize how little you see nature living in Toronto, until you find a little patch of it and it's magic.

This year it's been on my goal list to run a 5K, and while I've run them on the treadmill I wasn't sure if I'd still be able to do it outside! However, this route affirmed that I can(it's 3.6K each way), so I'm pumped! Now I've just got to pick a race to enter. My time for it was about 35 minutes which isn't too bad I don't think. I want to see if I can get it down to 30.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Jamie Oliver

Today I was watching Jamie Oliver's TED Talk, and there was footage showing school age children not knowing the names of basic vegetables. Honestly it kind of broke my heart, how can we expect children to grow up into healthy adults when they don't even know basic vegetables or how to feed themselves? The rampant obesity of the first world is reaching a ridiculous point. When will people learn that these so called 'cheaper', fast foods are killing them and their children at an alarming rate?

I never realized that it was such a large(pardon the pun) issue in the states. When I was in school our parents packed our lunches, my mom made dinner pretty much every night, and while it was nothing fancy there was always vegetables included. Yes, we sometimes went to McDonalds and sometimes my school had Pizza Day. It was nothing like the extremes in the States! While I agree with most of what Jamie Oliver says in his speech, the one thing I have issue with is his stance on milk. Milk does nothing for you, especially the sugared up chocolate type. It leaches calcium from your bones, is pumped full of hormones, and creates an acidic environment in your body. It's due to advertising and lies from the Dairy industry that has caused everyone to think you need it to survive. This is a lie I'd like to see be exposed sooner rather than later! Almond or Soy milk is an easy switch, and much better for everyone.

I guess I'm lucky that one day in 8th grade I decided I wanted to be a vegetarian. I remember my Mom taking it in stride, she told me point blank I'd be learning to cook for myself since she wasn't going to cook two meals separately. Which I'm eternally grateful to her for. It ignited a passion for making food in me that's been going ever since. It forced me to think about what I was eating, and to learn how to obtain proper macro and micro nutrients. It taught me to be self sufficient, to experiment, and to not be afraid to try things that are a little different. Her and my Dad always willingly ate their way through many a strange experiment, and always told me whatever it was tasted good(even though many times I think this was debatable).

I totally admire Jamie Oliver's cause, and the message he is trying to portray. However I do think it could be improved upon by being a little more plant focussed and a little less meat. Meat, regardless of being organic, or hormone free, is still an incredible strain upon our planet and our health. It's a source for heart disease, cancer, and doesn't come anywhere close to providing as many nutrients or antioxidants for your body as fresh vegetables do.

I can't imagine living a life of just eating fast food, not knowing how to feed myself in a way that would provide optimal health. This is such an incredibly urgent issue, since kids are so impressionable. I admire Michelle Obama's crusade to teach kids how to eat in a whole food based way. Hopefully this is the start of a new beginning, that companies are going to wake up and start noticing that they need to stop adding so much crap into food. Hopefully people will be able to change their eating habits, and realize that what is cheap food now will be extraordinarily expensive in their future. The primary cause for death is disease related to diet. Heart Disease, Diabetes, and even types of cancer can be prevented if people just take steps towards eating a plant based diet. Why would you not want to give yourself the chance to live a long and healthy life?

If you want to check out the TED talk I'm referring to, go here:

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Struggles of Being a Vegan

For me, being a vegan, not eating animals and their byproducts is not the hardest part. It's the easiest, I would say. Trying to live in, and explain and defend your beliefs to the rest of the world which shares such a different view of it is. The more I find out about factory farming, slaughterhouses, and the environmental impact of meat upon our planet, the more it honestly makes me want to cry.

For the most part I've been incredibly blessed to have openminded, respectful friends and family who are conscious and courteous of my decision to abstain from meat. More often than not I find people who love eating meat, and feel it necessary to articulate to me that they're never going to stop, for whatever various reasons they have. I try to make a point to not judge, that's not my position, and there are enough vegans who I feel shame others. Making someone feel guilt about something has never been the road to educating them on it, so it's something I make an effort to avoid.

Lately though, whenever I hear someone talking about eating meat, etc. it makes me so sad. So sad, and so incredibly angry. I don't believe that most people have the intent to aid and abet incredibly brutal and cruel practices upon animals, most people are just ignorant. But whenever I hear it I want to shake them, force them to watch videos such as this one. It feels like the equivalent to me of hearing someone say they want to brutally murder someone close to me. Which sounds extreme, but I can't help but think of it in extreme terms. And it makes me discouraged. It makes me heartbroken that I can't do anything. Forcing someone into something never works, but keeping your beliefs to yourself entirely in attempts not to perpetuate the stereotype of a 'crazy' vegan/vegetarian doesn't seem like the solution either.

Maybe it's because I don't believe there should be a difference between a dog and a cow. I don't see how it's fine to brutally murder one, and keep the other as a pet. I don't think this is such a radical statement, but it seems to be one. It feels like a failure of compassion as a human race to extend respect and care to creatures that make up such a huge part of our world. I have to clue how to resolve this, or when everyone will finally come around to seeing that this is wrong. Or how I'm supposed to deal with something I have such strong emotions towards, without making others feel uncomfortable.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rest Days & Lara Bars

This Monday when I went to do my workout my body just felt exhausted. Which is to be expected I guess, I'm bad at trying to take rest days. Comes with the territory of never feeling like I'm doing enough, I guess. But I'm trying to learn to listen to my body's cues, and so it says it's exhausted I guess I've got to give it a break. I've been taking it easy the past couple days and just doing a little bit of pilates and yoga, and making tons of goodies in the meantime.

I saw the recipe for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie, so I decided to make mini versions of that! I halved the recipe, and swapped applesauce for mashed banana. I also accidentally forgot the oil, but since I used coconut milk which is fairly high in fat it didn't affect it too much. They're to die for!!!

Since I had purchased the biggest bag of dates ever, I decided to make something else I've been meaning to try forever; making my own Lara Bars. I just kept adding random things from my cupboard into them, and they turned out great! One thing I love about recipes like this is they're so open to experimentation, you can swap out different types of nuts, and whatever goodies you want to put in them. I went with chocolate chips, chocolate protein powder, and cocoa powder(there's never enough chocolate). A handful of gojis and hemp seeds finished it off!

Chocolate Cashew Energy Bars

1 cup Cashews(or any nut)
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 scoop chocolate protein powder(I used Vega)
1/4 cup goji berries
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Process everything in a food processor(I used my vitamix and did small batches, but a food processor would definitely be better) until it starts to stick together. Press into a parchment lined pan, and let set in the fridge or freezer for a couple hours. Cut into slices and enjoy!

Nutritional Info(1 serving of 12)
Calories: 140
Protein 5 grams
Fibre: 3 grams