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The fall of the year is a great time to get into the kitchen. If you love cooking, nothing is more grounding, comforting and enjoyable than nourishing yourself and your family with soups, stews, roasts, hearty root veggies and an array of baked goods with apples and pears. Can’t you just smell that sweet apple crisp baking in the oven?

But I also hear from many of my clients who don’t like to cook, that it can feel like a chore, take too much time and can get boring cooking the same meals over and over again.

We all get in food and cooking ruts from time to time.

Like when you find yourself microwaving frozen lunches, eating leftovers from that Sunday chicken for the past week, or wolfing down that drive-thru sub on the way to book club.

If this is you, I have some tips to help make it more fun. Here are my best “fun” cooking tips:

Fun Cooking Tip #1 – Check out new recipes

I just love pouring a hot cup of tea and sitting down with a stack of cookbooks to leaf through. Sometimes just seeing the beautiful food photos and reading the recipe can spark some inspiration and new ideas.

Especially as the seasons turn, I like to get reacquainted with the flavours and what mother nature is offering us at that time of year.

If you aren’t a big cookbook collector like me, you can easily search online by looking up your favourite nutritionists, chefs, bakers, and other online foodies. Maybe do a quick search on Google or Pinterest to see thousands of new ideas.

Check out this Pinterest board I put together with a few fall inspired low carb recipes.

Pro Tip: Searching through recipes can be so fun and inspiring and can also end up taking waaaay longer than planned. So consider setting your timer when you start browsing. The last thing you want is to take too much time looking, that you don’t leave enough time for cooking.

Fun Cooking Tip #2 – Make grocery shopping fun and inspiring

To be honest, food shopping is one of me and Mike’s favourite things to do. (He’s my hubby) 🙂 Yup we are food nerds!

If you’ve been following me for awhile you’ll know that we go to our local Farmers’ Markets every Saturday and try to get as much as we can from our local farmers and producers.

My suggestion is that after you’ve come up with a few new recipes, make your grocery list and head out to get the ingredients you need.

And don’t limit your new ideas to those recipes, you can also be inspired while you’re at the grocery store, Farmer’s Market, gourmet deli, or health food store.

Check out what’s in season or new this week. Browse around the produce section to see what strikes your fancy. Is there a seasonal fruit or vegetable you haven’t had for awhile? What about a childhood favourite? Did you come across something totally delicious at a restaurant or get-together lately that you can find the ingredients for?

Be adventurous and have some fun. Once you have these new ingredients you can go back to tip #1 to find new and inspiring recipes when you get home.

Fun Cooking Tip #3 – Keep it simple!

To be honest, my husband Mike is more the gourmet cook in our relationship. He loves to find complicated recipes with exotic ingredients, uncommon cooking techniques and many many steps. He’ll spend days working up a recipe.

I on the other hand am a good cook, but it’s simple. I rarely follow a recipe, like one pot meals and have a knack for looking at the ingredients in the fridge and conjuring up quick, tasty meals.

I spent many years waitressing while going through university and think I developed a pretty good instinct of what ingredients work together, have a decent amount of creativity and imagination, fairly solid cooking techniques and a good understanding of flavour pairings and seasonings.

But it has to be simple.

A few ways to keep things simple are to:

  • Search for recipes with 10 or fewer ingredients
  • Make sure you are familiar with most of the ingredients
  • Look for short directions or instructions – five or less is good
  • Search for recipes that can be made in one pot or pan
  • Buy ingredients that are ready to cook with (pre-washed salad greens, pre-cut veggies)
  • Have your fridge and pantry well stocked with the staples so you can throw together a quick meal

Fun Cooking Tip #4. Put on some music and invite someone to join you

Most Sunday afternoons you’ll find Mike and I in the kitchen. We’ve got the music on, each with our separate tasks, chopping boards ready and knives in hand. Pots are simmering, oven is producing heavenly smells and we are in our glory. Laughing, joking, singing and having a great time.

My girlfriend had a wonderful idea to get her kids interested in cooking. She took them to the bookstore where they each selected a cookbook. Once a week they pick a new recipe to try. They head out to the local grocer together to buy their ingredients and then it’s home to prepare their meals. They are excited and learning about cooking, where their food comes from and great skills. And it works because it starts with them and their ideas.

Maybe you and your girlfriend get together once a month to make big batches of soups, stews, sauces, healthy baked goods, etc. You share the time together catching up and you’re doing something productive and healthy. At the end of the day you have a freezer stocked for a few weeks. Isn’t this a much better idea than sitting around with a bottle of wine and a bag of potato chips? (Well let’s face it that has it’s place as well!)

Fun Cooking Tip #5 – If none of the other tips work for you, invest in some kitchen swag!

Nothing gets us excited about being in the kitchen more than new kitchen gadgets, appliances or utensils.

One of our favourite places to shop are kitchen stores. If you are anything like Mike and I you can spend hours browsing, perusing and dreaming in kitchen stores.

Having proper kitchen tools makes cooking so much easier, faster and enjoyable.

When’s the last time you sharpened your (or bought yourself a new) knife? Could dicing carrots with a dull knife be draining the fun from cooking? Or is blending a smoothie with a crummy blender, leaving it too chunky to enjoy?

While you could spend multiple fortunes stocking up your kitchen, even a cheap cutting board, new place mats or veggie peeler can bring the fun back.

What new kitchen item would inspire you to get back to cooking?

Conclusion

You know that home cooking is key to healthy eating. And, while you do a pretty good job most of the time, it can get boring and tedious. I get it.

I hope that my fun cooking tips have inspired you to get back into the kitchen so you can nourish yourself and your family, not only with good food, but with a fun healthy activity that can bring you closer together. It’s a win win all around.

Try one (or all) of my fun cooking tips to inspire you. You already know your health will thank you.

Recipe (simple and fun): Sheet Pan Eggs

This recipes is not only simple but it’ll give you a week’s worth of breakfasts so you can use your morning time in some other fun way!

Servings = 8

  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favourite chopped veggies – onions, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, pre-cooked sweet potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground back paper
  • Optional – 1/2 cup chopped pre-cooked bacon, sausage, ground beef or turkey

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Grease a 10 x 15 rimmed baking sheet with coconut oil.
  • In a large bowl crack all the eggs and whisk until frothy.
  • Add in the veggies, seasonings and meat if using. Mix together.
  • Pour egg mixture onto baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until set.
  • I switched over to the broiler for the last 5 minutes to really firm up the eggs.

Cut the eggs into 8 portions and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in the oven or even enjoy cold.

Pro Tip: Feel free to get creative with these. Make a Mexican version with peppers, onions, leftover chicken, salsa and taco seasoning. Try an Italian flare with onions, tomatoes, zucchini, sausage and fresh basil. Go Greek with peppers, olives, red onion and oregano and a bit of feta.

Have fun with this!

Check out the pictures I posted of my sheet pan eggs in this post on Well Nourished with Michelle. We’d love to see your pictures and hear what combinations you are going to try.

Ketogenic Diet 101

The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, very high-fat diet.

It has recently gained a lot of popularity in wellness circles because of some of its health benefits.

A ketogenic diet has been shown to help some people lose weight (yes, even with high fat). It can also help improve certain health conditions, like epilepsy in children. In fact, the ketogenic diet originated as a treatment for epilepsy.

Read on for some of the lowdown on keto how it reprograms your metabolism and whether or not it’s something for you to consider.

What is “ketosis?”

Carbs (sugars and starches) are what our bodies (brain and muscles) use for fuel. Sugars and starches break down into glucose and this is what the body uses for energy.

It’s a little known fact that the body actually prefers to use fat as fuel. But for most of us there is usually so much glucose to use up that the body never switches over to burning fat.

However, when very low amounts of carbs are available for fuel, your body will start to burn fat. It does this by making compounds known as “ketones.” These are your body’s “backup fuel.”

Ketogenic literally means “the generation of ketones.”

Over time if you minimize carbohydrates, ketone production will increase. This is a metabolic state known as “nutritional ketosis.” It’s the same process that your body goes through if you’ve fasted for 72 hours and have deleted your carb stores. When little or no carbs are present the body will turn fat into ketones.

This is a natural adaptation that gives the body the ability to maintain a stable state of
balanced fuel for your organs. Nutritional ketosis is a beneficial process.

“Ketosis” is not the same thing as the dangerous condition known as “ketoacidosis.” This occurs mostly in Type 1 diabetics or late stage type 2 diabetics with advanced pancreatic burnout.

Ketogenic diet for weight loss

With a high fat intake, it may be surprising to know studies show that a ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss.

But it’s true!

It can also have better results than low-fat diets. At least one study showed that people lost 2.2 times more weight on a ketogenic diet than those on low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.

How is this possible?

Eating all that fat and protein is filling! It helps release satiety hormones that tell us that we’re full and satisfied, and we don’t need to eat anymore. Many people don’t need to count calories or track food intake, as they do with low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.

So, by eating enough fat and protein to go into “ketosis,” you can actually feel fuller and eat less food overall. Of course, this can help with weight loss.

Ketogenic diet for improved health

Some studies show other health benefits of the ketogenic diet.

As you can imagine, having very low levels of carbs can help reduce blood sugar and insulin issues.

One study showed improved blood triglycerides (fat) and cholesterol numbers. Others show lower blood sugar levels, and even up to 75% improvement in insulin sensitivity.

Several studies show reduced seizures in children who follow a ketogenic diet.

There is also some evidence that a ketogenic diet can be beneficial in lowering risk, even preventing and treating, some types of cancers.

And it could be viewed that eating a ketogenic diet which eliminates sugars and processed refined foods is anti-inflammatory and therefore beneficial for other chronic illnesses.

What exactly is a ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet involves getting 60-75% of your calories from fat, 20-35% from protein, and just 5% from carbs.

The foods to focus on for a ketogenic diet are meat, poultry, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, avocados, and low-carb vegetables (cucumber, celery, peppers, zucchini, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower etc.)

The main thing to avoid are foods that are high in carbs. These include highly refined sugary foods and desserts, grains, fruit, legumes, starchy vegetables, alcohol and “diet foods.”

Should I try a ketogenic diet?

Not everyone should go on a ketogenic diet. Make sure you speak with a trained healthcare practitioner before you try it.

You should expect to go through a transition period where you could experience some side effects as you move from burning glucose to fat.

Some people experience flu like symptoms called the “keto flu.” Including symptoms such as digestive upset, bad breath, fatigue, frequent urination and constipation. But if you stick with it, these symptoms should pass.

Many people also find it quite restrictive and are unable to stay on it for a long time.

A ketogenic diet might NOT be right for you if you have issues with gallbladder, kidney stones or pancreas, if breastfeeding, pregnant or have a history of disordered eating.

Conclusion

The ketogenic diet is very popular these days. While it has been shown to have some benefits for weight loss, it is my personal opinion that it should be reserved as a therapeutic diet for specific health conditions.

It has been used since the 1920 as a therapeutic intervention for diseases like epilepsy, obesity, diabetes, neurological disorders, cancer and many other pathological diseases.

It’s now going mainstream, but it’s not for everyone. I truly believe that it all depends on your health goal and the current state of your health and any conditions you are dealign with. You’ll want to consider these before jumping on the bandwagon.

As with any dietary changes I always recommend listening to your body and trying things out with an experimental mindset.

There are definitely some insider tricks and tips for doing keto the right way. Before you embark on a keto diet you do your research and find a knowledgeable practitioner who can guide you through it.

Recipe (Ketogenic): Frozen Coconut Macadamia Bark

Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (shredded works too but I like the bigger flakes)
1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted macadamia nuts
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon chia seeds – black or white
Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Place the flaked coconut in a skillet on the stove top, heat to medium high and stir it constantly until it lightly browns. Process the macadamia nuts and coconut oil in a food processor until very smooth. Add the coconut flakes and chia seeds and pulse a few times. Pour the batter onto a small baking sheet with a lip. Sprinkle the sea salt over top. Freeze for about 1 hour. When ready break the bark into chunks and enjoy straight out of the freezer.

Tip: These are (high fat) and super rich. Don’t eat too many!

Are you on the fence about signing up for my 7-Day Fall Cleanse?

Maybe you’re ready for a change, but perhaps it feels a bit scary to jump into something new when you don’t know what to expect?

And, if you’re like me and you’ve tried lots of different diets, you may be wondering if this is just “another” plan that will leave you feeling hungry and deprived…

That’s why I want to give you an inside peek at what’s on the menu of my brand new Restore. Reset. Replenish. 7-Day Fall Cleanse.  

Here’s a sample day on the cleanse:

Breakfast: Pomegranate Buckwheat Breakfast Bowl
Lunch: Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
Snack: Green Apples with Almond Butter and Cinnamon
Dinner: Fall Vegetable Curry
Treat: Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

Sounds more like a spa vacation than a cleanse, doesn’t it?

>>> Want to get these recipes plus 30 more? Early bird pricing ends tonight. Register now. 

I’m a foodie, so it was important to me that the meals in this cleanse were not JUST healthy, but also DELICIOUS and SATISFYING.

These brand new recipes have all been designed with the fall harvest in mind. They are seasonal, warming and comforting foods that will nourish you from the inside out.

Not only taste great, but they’re easy to make and provide the nutrient necessary to restore, reset and replenish your body.

For just 7 days we remove processed refined foods, the top food allergens and inflammatory foods and nourish our bodies with alkalizing, plant-based, real whole foods as nature intended them.

Don’t have lots of time to cook? No problem. I’ll share time saving tips – as well as strategies for eating out while on the cleanse.

I’ll be here to guide you and support you every step of the way!

Ready to join us? Our kick off conference call happens tomorrow night, you’ll have the weekend to prepare and we start Monday morning. 

>>> Register Now! (Early Bird Pricing Ends tonight at Midnight)

I look forward to seeing you in the cleanse.

Warmly,

P.S. Have questions? I’m here to help you decide if this is right for you. Simply reply to this email and ask away. I’ll get back to you asap. And remember save $50 if you register by midnight tonight. We have our kick off conference call tomorrow night. You’ll have the weekend to prepare and we start Monday morning.

Small Change, Big Gain

One of my core philosophies when it comes to making dietary and lifestyle change, is to start with the baby steps.

It’s all about starting small. Implementing even the tiniest movement toward your goal can help you gain momentum, feel successful and have the desire to keep going. If you tried to tackle a huge action step first off, and you weren’t successful, you might feel frustrated, disappointed and eventually give up.

So start with the baby steps. Add some more dark leafy greens into your day. Switch from soda to sparkling water. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier. Eliminate one sugary item from your diet. Meditate for five minutes. Try a run/walk activity.

As you gain momentum over time, these small shifts will lead to bigger gains in your overall health and wellness. They truly are worth it.

I was recently featured in an infographic produced by Elysium Health entitled, Small Change Big Gain. It aligns with my approach so I was happy to provide a comment to be included in the piece.

The infographic focusses on metabolism and identifies challenges and obstacles to a healthy metabolism and offers small suggestions for making improvements.

Check out the infographic below. And feel free to share on your social media pages. Elysium also wrote a great blog about Metabolism that I thought you might be interested in reading. Check it out. 

 

 

New Dates for FREE 3-Day No-Sugar Challenge

I’m super excited to announce the fall dates for my FREE 3-Day No-Sugar Challenge – Sept 15-17

Read all about it and sign up here. 

If you’re anything like me you are winding down a summer of indulging, imbibing and totally enjoying yourself.

Which I am 100% in favour of! We have to take time to relax, chill out and let off a little steam. Summer vacation is all about getting out of our regular routines, staying up late, having new adventures, enjoying food and drink and spending time with family and friends. This is a normal part of life and the cycle of the year.

And then cycle continues, after times when you’ve fallen off track, with a desire to get back on.

Now is that time. Now is the time to get back on track with your healthy eating, exercising and sleeping routines. 

I’m so ready for this. Ready for a detox! Ready for clean eating, a little self care time, and a pick-me-up to get me back on track.

Are feeling the same way? Are you ready to bring the healthy back?

My FREE 3-Day No-Sugar Challenge is the perfect kick-start to get you back on track!

If you overindulged in sugar and refined processed foods over the summer, drank too much alcohol and ate out far too often, I invite you to join me for three days of no-sugar low-carb eating.

You can read all the about the No-Sugar Challenge here. 

From Friday September 15 to Sunday September 17 we’ll detox from the nasty sweet stuff, nourish our bodies with real whole foods, and come out the other side strong, healthy and energized.

You may know that I created The Blood Sugar Shift, an online group coaching program, well this 3-Day No-Sugar Challenge gives you a taste of my proven Sugar Shift health transformation process.

If you’ve been curious about how The Blood Sugar Shift program works, what you’d be eating and what it’s like to join a group with me, then this is a perfect opportunity to try it out without any financial obligation.

If you are ready to feel better, believe you can have more vitality and are hopeful about the future of your health, then I invite you to join me.

Click here to sign up for my FREE 3-Day No-Sugar Challenge.

With sweetness,

Our garden went mad while we were on vacation this summer. When we came back our veggie boxes were overflowing with three types of lettuce, bok choy, swiss chard, kale, and for the first time, zucchini.

It was so exciting to see so many big orange and yellow flowers decorating the tips of these perfectly formed green summer squashes. YAY!

To be honest, we haven’t been able to keep up with it all. Two people just can’t eat that many veggies! Of course we’ve given some away to friends and family, but what do we do with the rest of this zucchini?

Thus began the hunt for some new recipes and ideas to make use of this abundant harvest.

My search led me to three great summer zucchini recipes I share with you today.

Summer Zucchini Pesto Soup

This really tastes like a big bowl of fresh pesto. Very light and refreshing.

Ingredients:

1 large white onion, chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds (700g) zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
4 cups fresh greens (swiss chard, spinach or kale)
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 organic vegetable bouillon cube
1/2 cup raw cashews
5 cups water
Fresh juice from 1 lemon or to taste

Directions:

Add onion, garlic, zucchini, greens, salt, pepper and bouillon cube to a large pot and cover with water (about 5 cups). Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. In a food processor or high-powered blender, blend the cashews, half of the basil and half of the soup, until smooth and creamy. Place this mixture into a separate bowl and add the rest of the soup and the rest of the basil to the blender. Blend until smooth. Return all the soup back to the pot. Add in the fresh lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Zoodle Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Since going low-carb zucchini noodles have become my go-to replacement for pasta.

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground beef
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
17 ounce can diced organic tomatoes
1/2 small can tomato paste
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (crushed with mortar and pestle)
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
1 pound zucchini (4 medium sized zucchini)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Make the sauce first by adding the coconut oil to a high-sided fry pan and heat until melted. Add the ground beef, onion, garlic and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Scramble fry until the meat is mostly cooked and the onions and garlic are translucent. Add in the can of tomatoes and half the can of tomato paste. Stir together. Add in Italian seasoning and fennel seeds. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add in the fresh basil just before serving. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the noodles you can use either a simple vegetable peeler, julienne peeler or a spiralizer. A spiralizer can be purchased at your local kitchen supply store or through online sites like amazon.com for about $50. If using the veggie/julienne peeler simply make long ribbons/ noodles with the peeler going around and around on your zucchini. If using the spiralizer, attach your zucchini and start turning!

When I made this dish I simply had the noodles raw and added the hot sauce over top and it was great. If you like the noodles warmer and a bit more tender you can either add them directly to the sauce, cook them for no more that 3-5 minutes in a vegetable steamer, or can simply place them in a sauté pan with a little bit of olive oil and that them briefly on the stovetop. They really don’t need to be cooked, but it is nice to have them warm if you are having a heated dish. Also be aware that they give off quite a bit of water when cooked, so factor that into things.

To serve place your noodles on a plate and top with the sauce. Enjoy!

And the grand finale – Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

I’ve already made two batches of these and doubled the recipe the second time I made them. So good and really easy!

1/2 cup almond butter (or other favourite nut butter)
1 ripe medium-sized banana
1 large egg (or 2 small)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup cacao powder
2 tablespoons almond flour/meal
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup zucchini, grated (then squeeze excess liquid out as much as you can)
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling on top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F and prepare an 11 x 7 glass baking dish or similar sized square pan greasing it with coconut oil or butter, or parchment and set aside. Add all ingredients except for zucchini and chocolate chips to a blender and blend on high until batter is smooth and creamy. Place mixture into a bowl and stir in the zucchini and 1/4 cup chocolate chips by hand. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips (optional). Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Place on cooling rack and allow to cool in pan for about 10 minutes (if you can wait that long). They are actually better once cooled. To store, cover pan with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated. Enjoy!

Over to you. In the comments, let me know how these recipes turn out for you if you try them. And please share more of your favourite ways to use up all those beautiful summer zucchini squash!

5 Tips for coping with vacation temptations

I’m just back from an amazing summer vacation in New England with stops in Watch Hill, Rhode Island; Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard; and Cambridge, Boston.

I believe we should enjoy our vacations and all the delicious delights that come with them – the food, drinks, treats, people, places and activities.

With that mindset, I indulged, imbibed and embraced the pleasures of summer during my vacation.

But on my first day back when I stepped on the scale, I was honestly a little disappointed in myself. My immediate thoughts were of regret. Did I really need to indulge that much? Were those almond croissants necessary? Did I have a few too many cocktails? Maybe that ice cream wasn’t such a great idea.

Have you ever had similar thoughts, questions or regrets after a vacation, holiday or special occasion?

I’ve been talking to clients this summer about how they deal with similar temptations while travelling and emotions afterward. And as I reflect upon my vacation, I’m thinking more and more about the stress we put on ourselves around food and drinking and how emotionally challenging that can be. The stress can actually have a greater health impact than the food we eat!

To help minimize some of your stress around vacation indulgences so that you are able to be in the moment and enjoy your holiday, I offer these tips and suggestions for dealing with the temptations and coping with the emotional and physical aftermath:

Be realistic. One of my core beliefs is to be realistic about your healthy habits. It’s not realistic to think you’ll be able to stick to them 100% of the time. There will be times when you’re doing well, on track, eating cleanly and exercising regularly. And then there will be interruptions to this flow. Times when life gets in the way and you are unable to keep this focus. And vacations are one of these times. Vacations are all about relaxing, rewarding yourself for all that hard work and taking your foot off the gas pedal. It’s not realistic to think you’re going to stick to your healthy habits while on vacation. So ease that rigid thinking, cut yourself some slack and enjoy. This realistic attitude will help to ease some of that post-vacation regret.

Have a plan. With your realistic mindset in place, you may also want to have a plan or a strategy going into your vacation. Decide what foods, alcohol, treats you want to enjoy. Where is that happy point between restriction and debauchery that feels right for you? The place that allows for some indulgence but doesn’t completely blow all your hard work. For me it is usually allowing in some carbs and sweets which I don’t eat on a regular basis. You also want to think ahead. If you’re on a road trip why not pack a cooler of healthy food to eat instead of resorting to unhealthy fast foods at road stops. Bring a healthy dish to the potluck. Eat a healthy snack before you go to the barbecue. Opt for a lower carb beverage versus the sweet mixed alcoholic drinks. Check out the restaurant menu in advance. Having a plan in place and thinking ahead will help you make some more mindful decisions around food and drink while travelling.

Focus on the primary foods. Instead of focusing so much on the food you’re eating, while on vacation I invite you to shift your focus to the other things that nourish you. This is what I call primary food. The stuff that feeds your soul and nourishes you at a deep level. Things like spending time with the people who matter most. Seeing new places and having new experiences. Doing activities that thrill and excite you. Spending time in nature. Feeling connected to something greater. Taking time to rest, sleep, relax and decompress. Primary foods are the people, places, things and experiences that bring meaning and purpose into your life. Focus on these types of “foods” during vacation and I promise you’ll come back feeling well-fed, satisfied and deeply nourished.

Enjoy with gusto. This is one of my favourite food tips from Geneen Roth. She’s developed a list of seven guidelines to eating more consciously. The last one is “Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.” When you’ve made a decision on what you’re going to indulge in, she advises to fully enjoy the experience. Don’t beat yourself up, stress-out or feel guilty about it. Taste and savour every bite. Be fully present to the experience and embrace it with all of your senses. I employed this guideline a few (let’s be real, many) times on my vacation. One of the most memorable was an ice cream. When someone mentioned Dusty’s Dairy Bar in Rhode Island that had a peanut butter flavoured soft serve dip, I just knew I had to have it. So I did. I didn’t have the biggest one available. I had a small with no cone and enjoyed every single lick and drip. I was present for every spoonful. I didn’t go back for more. I allowed myself the treat, soothed the craving, ate it with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure and I moved on.

Get back on track. We’ve already established we all have times during the course of the year where we aren’t eating that well. Vacations, busy work times, stressful life events, loss and grief can all cause us to stray from our healthy eating habits. The success factor here is not about giving in to those times (because we know we will) the key to success is how quickly can we get back on track after them. These times will happen. This is life. We’ve agreed to be realistic about it, right? The question is, will you let these interruptions spiral out of control and lead you into weeks and months of binge eating and debauchery, or will you accept the meal, one or two days, or the vacation, and get back on track as soon as possible? As soon as life settles down, or vacation is over you get back on track. Once you get back to healthy eating, regular exercise and routine, and any repercussions from the vacation will be remedied pretty quickly. Those few extra pounds will drop, the cravings will cease and you’ll be back to your healthy self in no time.

I hope these 5 tips are helpful as you return to life after vacation or plan an upcoming one. And I’d love to hear from you in the comments…what are the strategies or tips you implement during vacation to deal with temptations, indulgences and post-vacation regret?

If you’re looking for some support and guidance before of after your summer vacation, my Summer Action Plan Package is still available. We’ll connect for 90 minutes to develop your action steps and accountabilities and then we’ll touch base two more times to check-in, tweak, refine and re-commit. Review the full package and register here.

Join my FREE 48-Hour Smoothie Challenge

In the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, we often choose convenience over nutrition. By making this compromise, many of us are challenged to get enough fruits and vegetables into our diets.

That’s why (I’m excited to announce) I’ve created a FREE 48-Hour Summer Smoothie Challenge.

The Smoothie Challenge is a great way to inject your system with fruits and veggies in a simple, nutritious and tasty way! You’ll get a high dose of vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals to rev up your system and protect it against illness.

And it’s 100% FREE to join. Click here to register. 

As we move into the summer months it’s a perfect time to lighten up your eating from the heavier foods we tend to gravitate toward during the winter months. And with more fresh fruits and veggies available there will be an abundance to choose from to keep things fun and interesting.

Think of the 48-hour Smoothie Challenge as a nutrient boost to your system. It’s not so much about taking things away or removing items from your diet (as a cleanse, detox or elimination diet would be), but to add in and increase your consumption of fruits and veggies. 

The Challenge is designed to incorporate more real, whole-food smoothies into your daily meal plan. You will still enjoy your regular meals (maybe with a few tweaks) and will simply add in up to a litre of smoothie each day.

As you flood your body with beneficial nutrient-dense foods, you may also start to release and clean out some of the toxic waste that has accumulated over the years. As a result, you may experience increased energy, weight loss, reduced cravings, better sleep, improved moods, less brain fog and reduced muscle and joint pain.

The Challenges runs for 2 days – Wednesday, July 5 and Thursday, July 6th. 

Click here to register. It is FREE to join. No hidden costs. No gimmicks. Just straight up delicious recipes, easy-to-follow guidelines, community support and a bit of experimental fun!

Looking forward to blending our way to health and vitality! Are you in?

Yes, I’m ready to take the 48-Hour Smoothie Challenge

Warmly,

 

 

P.S. Feel free to share with friends, family members or co-workers who might like a healthy boost this summer. Plus, taking challenges like this with a buddy is always more fun.

Are you getting enough vitamin D?

The warmer weather is coming, and for those of us living in more northern locations, that means we’ll be able to get some natural vitamin D. YES!

Among the vitamins, vitamin D is pretty special.

And because we get it primarily from the sun, many of us have a hard time getting enough and are deficient.

Today let’s talk about how much of this critical fat-soluble vitamin we need and how you can get enough.

Why is vitamin D important, and how much do we need?

Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our food and acts like a hormone to help us build strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D can also help with immune function, cellular growth and help to prevent mood imbalances such as depression and seasonal affective disorder.

  • Low vitamin D levels can lead to:
  • Loss of muscle mass and strength over time
  • Higher risk for certain cancers
  • Decreased immune function
  • Higher blood pressure
  • The development of neurological disorders, diabetes and bone diseases

Health Canada’s daily recommended intakes (RDAs) for vitamin D, updated in 2011, are 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for children aged one to adults aged 70, and 800 IU for adults over 70. Health Canada’s safe upper limit is 4,000 IU per day.

The three ways to get vitamin D are exposure to the sun, consuming vitamin D containing food, and through supplements.

How can I get enough vitamin D from the sun?

Your skin makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to the sun; that’s why it’s referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” How much vitamin D your skin makes depends on many things. Location, season, clouds, clothing – all affect the amount of vitamin D your skin can produce from the sun. One standard recommendation is to get about 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to the face, arms, legs, or back. This should be done without sunscreen, at least twice a week. Of course, we should always avoid sunburns and of course in some locations (and seasons of the year) it’s not easy to get sun exposure. So, how can we get enough vitamin D in other ways?

The other thing to know is that even if you are getting mega doses from the sun, once your levels reach a certain number, any excess is inactivated. Also you can store some reserves of vitamin D, but they’ll only last a few weeks.

How can I get enough vitamin D from food?

Vitamin D is naturally found in some foods like fatty fish, liver and egg yolks but in very small quantities. Some foods are “fortified” (which means “added to”) with vitamin D. These include milk, some orange juices, breakfast cereals and yogurt. It will say on the label how much vitamin D has been added per serving.

Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, you can increase absorption of it from your food if you eat it with some fat (healthy fat, of course).Between sun exposure and food, it still may be difficult to get even the minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D each day; this is why vitamin D supplements are quite popular.

Check out the salmon recipe below for an extra doe of vitamin D.

How can I get enough vitamin D from supplements?

It’s easy enough to just “pop a pill” or take some cod liver oil (which also contains vitamin A). Either of these can ensure you get the minimum amount of vitamin D, plus a bit extra.

But before you take vitamin D containing supplements, make sure it won’t interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. Always read your labels and ask a healthcare professional for advice.

Do not take more than the suggested dosage on the label of any vitamin D supplement, except under medical care.

As mentioned, the maximum amount recommended (for the general population) is 4,000 IU/day. Too much vitamin D can raise your blood levels of calcium (to an unsafe level) and this can affect your heart and kidneys.

If you’re concerned, the best thing to do is to ask your healthcare professional to do a blood test and then recommend if a supplement is right for you and how much to take.

Conclusion:

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin which many people are deficient in. Low levels can lead to varying degrees of health implications.

There are three ways to get enough vitamin D: sun exposure, through certain foods, and in supplements. Many people require a combination of the three to get adequate amounts.

If you’re concerned, it’s best to request a blood test that tests your vitamin D levels to be sure what’s right for you. Always take supplements as directed.

Vitamin D Recipe – Lemony Dill Broiled Salmon

Serves 4

4 wild salmon fillets
1 bunch asparagus
8 round slices of fresh lemon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 black pepper
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried dill
4 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven broiler and raise the oven rack. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and place fish on top, skin-side down. Surround with a single layer of asparagus.

Sprinkle the fish and asparagus with sea salt, pepper, parsley and dill. Top each fillet with 2 slices of lemon and drizzle with olive oil.

Broil for 8-10 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serve & enjoy with a seasonal salad.

Over to you. Have you ever had your vitamin D levels checked? How do you make sure you have enough? Please share your thoughts on vitamin D in the comments below.

References:

http://thewellnessbusinesshub.com/yes-nutrient-deficiencies-heres-proof-can/

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/ref_vitam_tbl-eng.php

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-vitamin-d

https://authoritynutrition.com/vitamin-d-101/

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/brain-food-essentials-sardines

The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” often appear in the same sentence.

But what usually comes along with this combination are additional words like “tasteless,” “cardboard,” and “completely unsatisfying.”

Right?

Well it doesn’t have to be this way. You can have weight-loss friendly snacks that aren’t just nutritious but also delicious.

My rule of thumb for snacks is they have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way; foods containing protein and/or fibre and some healthy fats (which just happens to be the perfect combination to keep you full, satisfied and balanced in the blood sugar department).

Here are my top 5 weight-loss friendly snacks:

1 – Nuts

It’s true – nuts contain calories and fat, but they are generally NOT fattening if eaten in small portions.

And of course I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones. Those are fattening mostly because of all the sugar they contain.

Studies show people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.

By the way, nuts also contain protein and fibre, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.

Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!

Tip: Put a handful of various unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your purse or bag to snack on between meals.

2 – Fresh Fruit

As with nuts, studies show people who eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)

Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but if you eat the whole fruit (I’m not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) you’ll also get a fair bit of water and fibre; and they have high nutrient values with lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.

Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the “satiety factor”) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike.”

Win-win!

Try a variety of seasonal fruit and pair them with a handful of nuts, some nut butter or sliced avocado (for that dose of healthy fat).

Tip: While fresh is best, keep your freezer stocked with different frozen fruits for smoothies, adding to baked goods, toppings and healthy ice cream recipes.

3 – Chia Seeds

Chia is not only high in fibre (I mean HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes those healthy omega-3s). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.

Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?

They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).

Tip: Put two tablespoons of chia seeds in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts and/or cinnamon and enjoy! Make a chocolate version with a teaspoon of cacao powder.

4 – Boiled Eggs

Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.

They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.

And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.

Yup, you read that right! So go ahead and enjoy the whole egg.

Tip: Boil half-a-dozen eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!

5 – Vegetables

I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.

Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up and I’m sure you know that are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, right?

Yes they take a bit of time to chop and slice, but many supermarkets have veggies pre-chopped and bags of organic baby carrots or cherry tomatoes ready to go in bit-sized pieces.

Tip: Jazz up your veggies with a bit of dip. Have you tried almond butter on celery? How about dipping your veggies in guacamole? The healthy fats from the avocado will help keep you satisfied and full. Keep a batch on hand for easy quick, nutrient-dense snacks. See my recipe below.

Conclusion:

Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before and have them ready to go for your busy day. They will not be “tasteless,” like “cardboard,” or “completely unsatisfying.” I promise, your tastebuds and waistline will love them.

Over to you. In the comments tell me what your favourite, healthy, waistline-friendly snacks are!

Garlicky Guacamole

Makes about 2 cups

2 ripe avocados
1 clove garlic
juice from 1/2 lime (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Peel and core the avocados and place in small bowl. Mash with fork or veggie masher. Add in remaining ingredients and stir/mash until well combined. Store in fridge with avocado pit in centre to avoid turing brown. Serve with sliced/chopped fresh veggies.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-most-weight-loss-friendly-foods/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/almonds/

https://authoritynutrition.com/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/apples/

https://authoritynutrition.com/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables/

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/