Fit Friday: Cut to the Core

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Its the last long weekend of the summer but not quite the end of the season just yet. We still have 3 weeks of summer left and I plan on soaking up every ounce of vitamin D I can ๐Ÿ™‚

9

Have you been thinking about your September goals? Tell me 3 of your fall goals so I can check in with you in a month and we can keep each other accountable!

Until then, here’s a killer core workout to keep your mid-section in check during your Labor Day BBQ & beers.

Oblique Side Bend

The gear:

  • 15-25 lb dumbbell for side bends (should be heavy!)
  • 6-8 lb medicine ball for Mason Twist

The workout:

Cut to the Core

Feel the burn, warriors ๐Ÿ˜‰

Liz xo

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Ever get that feeling that you’re the only one?

Well here’s an uplifting story to remind you, whatever the case, you’re probably not!

Since becoming vegan I haven’t had anyone close to relate to or help me through the transition. I know a few vegetarians and have some newly vegan friends outside of town (shout out to Brittany E. and Alison D!) but I felt like I was pretty much on my own here in Fredericton. Then the craziest thing happened one night when my landlord’s wife was in my apartment taking measurements for renovations. She asked if I was vegan because she noticed we had some of the same cookbooks. I told her I was new to the lifestyle but loving it so far and she responded by telling me she’s been vegan since 2011. I was floored! For over a year I’ve been living in the basement of a vegan!

Veganomicon

She then proceeded to tell me that a woman on our street is a long-time vegan who inspired her to make the transition. We texted back and forth a bit that night and she recommended her favorite veg-friendly restaurants in Freddy, her go-to websites/books, and suggested we have a “Vegetarian Wine & Appetizer” night for anyone currently living or interested in this lifestyle. I love that! She sent me our neighbor’s recipe for a spinach and artichoke dip and I had been waiting for an opportunity to make it.

This is an appetizer I used to love, love, LOVE at restaurants but haven’t had it in ages. One, because it’s normally dairy-based, and two, because it’s calorific and cheat-tastic! But that’s the amazing thing about vegan dishes: they often contain only whole, unprocessed foods that you can indulge in guilt-free! The only processed product in this recipe would be the Daiya cheese which still makes it million times better than your average cheesy, baked dip ๐Ÿ˜‰

Daiya

Last weekend I made the dip on Friday night for our company. It turned out so good I finished it off for lunch the next day… cold! I know this recipe will forever hold a special place in my heart because of how I came upon it and I want to share it as a delicious reminder that our world is full of surprises and you are never alone โค

Here it is. Make this ASAP!

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Serves: 6-12, depending on how much you love it

Aug 22 012

For the dip base:

  • 500 g package frozen artichoke hearts, or the equivalent in canned artichoke hearts
  • 500 g package frozen spinach
  • 1 1/2 heaping cup daiya mozzerella style cheese
  1. Defrost all veggies.
  2. Chop artichokes into small pieces.
  3. Drain spinach very well by placing it into a round strainer and pressing down on it with a bowl that fits into the strainer until its nice and dry. You may also need to pat with paper towel to remove excess water.

For the cashew cream sauce:

  • 1/2 cup cashews (be generous), soaked 1 hr or more
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp mellow white miso
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Blend all cream sauce ingredients (except salt & pepper) in a high speed blender until smooth, then season with S&P to taste.

For the breadcrumbs:

  • 2 large slices whole grain bread of choice, torn into pieces (use GF bread if youโ€™re gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until broken into crumbs (1).

Assembly:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine artichokes, veggies and Daiya shreds in a large bowl.
  3. Add 1 1/4 cup cashew cream sauce to the bowl and evenly distribute ingredients. Mixture should be nice and wet. Add more sauce if necessary (2).
  4. Transfer ingredients to a casserole dish and bake for 20-30 min or until bubbly around the edges (3).
  5. Top with bread crumbs when nearly done and bake until crumbs are lightly browned.
  6. Serve with baked pita triangles and/or tortilla chips.

Aug 22 010 Aug 22 011

Notes:

  1. I omitted the bread crumbs from my recipe since I didn’t have any GFree bread and my girlfriend recently nixed the gluten.
  2. I didn’t add any extra sauce but next time I’ll be more generous with all sauce ingredients to make a creamier dip!
  3. Bake time will depend on the size of the casserole dish. I used an 8×13 dish and baked for 20 min.

Enjoy!

Liz xo

September Is the New January

Hi Friends ๐Ÿ™‚

How was your weekend? Hope you were as lucky in the weather department as us Maritimers! Friends from home were in town for a visit and we spent all weekend in the sun.

TreeGO was as cool as I expected and pretty challenging too. It was a little intimidating at first but once we got going it was a blast. The zip lines were by far my favorite part with the Tarzan ropes in a close second. It took about 3 hours total to complete, including the sign in process and demo course. It can probably be done in less time but there were groups leaving every hour and each group was full so we ran into a few bottleneck situations.

If you consider giving it a go I suggest taking a snack in your pocket and highly recommend you wear pants or crops… shorts aren’t very harness friendly ๐Ÿ˜‰

Aug 22 013

The course was a workout for sure and were all a little sore the next day; mostly lower back and core from so much balancing. I hear the course in Moncton is even more intense so it’s on my summer ’14 bucket list!

Saturday night was drinks on our favorite patio, The Dip Pool Bar. I had the Leaves & Goat Cheese Salad (sans goat cheese & wonton crisps) and a side of sweet potato fries. A few Rickard’s White were in order as well ๐Ÿ˜‰ Unfortunately, I didn’t get a pic of the 4 of us this weekend but our boys were looking pretty handsome!

The Dip

With August coming to a close, I want to share an inspiring idea with you this week. My BodyPump instructor said something in class on Monday that really stood out to me:

“September is the new January”.

Think about it… September is a significant transitional point in the year. We’ve all spent a large portion of our lives going “back to school” and continue to experience it once we have children or teacher friends, or become involved in the school system ourselves.

Aside from that, summer is still a state of mind. It’s prime vacation season, the workplace is a lot less hectic, and we are all indulging a little more in patio drinks & BBQ’s and working out a little less during hot weather & vacations.

IMG_0442

When summer is over, it’s a similar feeling to when the holiday season is over only more integral when you really think about it. My instructor was right. September is the perfect time to revisit our goals & get back into a routine. I know I’m all about balance and staying on track for life, BUT I think a little summer relaxation is part of that balance and I am ready to refocus this fall as well.

January is a popular time to set goals because it’s a whole new year. But what about last January? What about this year’s new year’s resolution? Where do you stand with your 2013 goals? It’s not too late to make this YOUR YEAR. Why wait until another January when you have September right in front of you, presenting you the perfect window of opportunity before the holiday season is upon us?

We technically still have 3 weeks of the summer left but we all know Labour Day marks the end of our summer state of mind. So this week, I want you to think about your 2013 health & fitness goals and get your head back in the game. Let’s get serious for a few months so we can relax and enjoy the holidays guilt-free ๐Ÿ™‚

Sneaks

Here are 3 goals I want to re-focus on this fall:

1. At least 2 weight-training sessions per week

I’ve been on my way to becoming a cardio bunny, choosing step class or yoga over weights. I don’t want to the lose the muscle definition I’ve gained and I still want to see these abs!

2. Less frequent “cheats”.

I’ve been choosing carby dishes over veggies & salads more often lately. I’ve also been having more drinks & dessert. Time to start cutting back on the indulgences.

3. Seasonal juice cleanse

I decided I would do this once per season. My first was the last week of June so I’m thinking a fall cleanse in last week of September.

4. This one is a secret for now…

Depending on how things go I will share it with you guys a little later ๐Ÿ™‚

I’d love to hear what your September focus is. Share 3 goals with me and we will keep each other accountable. I will write a check-in post at the end of the month so you know I’m not slacking off either.

photo 2

Enjoy your last week of August but don’t be sad… it’s almost pumpkin season ๐Ÿ˜€

Liz xo

Fit Friday: One Arm Row

T.G.I.F.F ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank God it’s Fit Friday! How do you plan on getting sweaty this weekend? Friends of ours are coming up from Nova Scotia to visit and we will be tackling TreeGO for the first time. It’s basically a 2-3 hour obstacle course up in the trees with zip lines, ladders, bridges, etc. I’ve been wanting to try it forever so I’m pretty pumped about it.

I’m also looking forward to spending an entire weekend sleeping in my own bed and a Sunday doing anything but driving. We haven’t seen enough of these two since graduation so I think a good weekend lies ahead ๐Ÿ™‚

Jays vs Rays

This week I chose a basic, but effective back exercise that I feel everyone should have in their mental exercise bank. When I throw a quick circuit together and I want to target my upper back & lats I always think of one arm rows.

Ladies, kiss that bra fat goodbye ๐Ÿ˜‰ and fellas… well, who doesn’t love back muscles? ๐Ÿ™‚

Fit Friday: One Arm Row

AKA: One Arm Bent-Over Row, One Arm Dumbbell Row

Weight: 8-12 lb weight

Reps: 3 sets of 12-15 on each side

Method:

1. Stand with your left leg in front of your right. Bend your front knee and rest your hand on your thigh to make a 45 degree angle with your body. You can also do this with both your left knee and hand on a bench.

IMG_0827

2. With your weight in your right hand, palms facing in, & core engaged, raise the weight to your right hip. You arm should form a horizontal line from your shoulder to your elbow. Do not rotate your upper body or your hips.

IMG_0826

3. Return to position #1, resisting the weight on the way back down. That’s one rep. Repeat for 12-15 reps then switch sides.

*Tip: Try not to create momentum by swinging your arm up and down (i.e. don’t try to start the lawnmower). Each movement should be slow and controlled. The last 3 reps should be a struggle to complete.

Want to put your own circuit together? Here are some moves to help you out:

Or why not try out a killer HIIT workout, circuit style or via your favourite cardio equipment

Don’t let the weekend get in the way of your goals. Have fun but keep your health & fitness in mind ๐Ÿ™‚

Liz xo

Vanilla Almond Warrior Balls

Hey wellness warriors,

If you’ve tried my Cocoanut Warrior Balls and liked them, you are going to LOVE these. I felt like my first recipe had too much protein powder, leaving a weird aftertaste so I reduced it from 1/2 to 1/3 cup and added 2 tbsp hemp seeds. You can get pretty creative with this kind of no-bake snack and still have an awesome final product ๐Ÿ™‚

Vanilla Almond Warrior Balls

Makes 15 balls, 30 g each

IMG_0755

Prep Time: 10 min + 1 hour refrigeration

Nutritional Stats: Per ball: 166 calories, 5 g protein, 9 g carbs, 12 g fat

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp agave
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a medium-large sized bowl.
  2. Melt coconut oil in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Combine with nut butter and sweetener.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry and combine until mixture is evenly distributed and crumbly.
  4. Form into 15 balls (~30 g each) and arrange on a baking sheet.
  5. Refrigerate for ~1 hour. Grab. Go. Nom!

I only got 15 balls out of this recipe vs. 16 with the last version. You could stretch it out but I prefer them to be at least this size.

IMG_0750 IMG_0752

My next batch of ballz will be something funky so stay tuned ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you try these or the Cocoanut version please let me know what you think. Tag me in your pics on Instagram @lizziefit_ or tweet me @ElleGregg. Enjoy!

Liz xo

Creamy Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Happy Hump Day ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you had a chance to check out my guest recipe post on Tofutti?

After tagging their brand on my blog I was invited to guest post a recipe using their products. I mentioned before that I was considering my pizza dip but decided on something else…

IMG_0856

Tofutti makes a wide variety of dairy-free products including cheeses, dips, ice cream and frozen dinners. I find their stuff in the Natural section of the grocery store or at my local health food store.

I used to make twice baked sweet potatoes with goat cheese all the time. Now that I am vegan, Better Than Cream Cheese is an amazing substitute in this and in many of my old favorite recipes.

It’s a pretty quick and easy recipe if you pre-bake the sweet potatoes. Otherwise, the only time consuming part is the 45 minute wait for the baking and you might as well carmelize the onions if you’re hanging around ๐Ÿ˜‰

IMG_0846 IMG_0851

Swing by Tofutti’s recipe page and check out my Creamy Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes then come back and let me know what you think!

Liz xo

La (en)Vie est Belle!

Exciting news…

I finally got to try enVie in Halifax!

I’ve been so excited since first hearing the news they’d be opening and our first attempt to try it was a fail… we were too early :/

Setting

It was so nice to dine at a place where I could eat anything on the menu. I didn’t have to ask any questions except for what our server would recommend because I could not decide! I first asked for the Quinoa burger but figured I could do ย burgers in many non-veg places so I’d better get something special. I went for the seitan donair…

Seitan Donair

Wow… I haven’t had a donair since I was a teenager living at home when my mom and I would buy the do-it-yourself kits at the grocery store. It was my first time trying seitan and though it’s probably not something I’d make at home it was a nice treat ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seitan is also known as wheat gluten and becomes surprisingly similar to the look and texture of meat when cooked. I’ve said before that I try to eat gluten-free most of the time but it’s not my priority.

My lovely lunch date ordered the daily special, kale mac n’ cheese , which I of course had to taste test and it was crazy good! He said he never would have known it wasn’t dairy based cheese. So there you go… straight from the mouth of a non- veg!

Mac n Chz

Now you know I wasn’t walking out of there without a dessert (or 2) because it’s not very often I get this kind of full experience ๐Ÿ˜‰ I recently had chocolate torte at Nirvana in Fredericton so I went for the chocolate macaroons. Unfortunately I couldn’t wait to taste one before taking a pic hehe. I also got a carrot cake muffin for an afternoon snack later on. Sweet tooth = satisfied โค

Macaroons

The next day I saw on their Facebook page that they had Tofu Benedict for their Sunday special. I was already wanting to go back!

Overall it was a great experience. It was a mid-sized venue with a bright, warm atmosphere. The place was full, even at 11:30, just half an hour after they opened. They are able to seat groups as well as couples and you can see into the kitchen where the food is prepped. ย Also, the front entrance was filled withย goodies for sale like kale chips, granola, biscotti, etc.

The menu is pretty small right now since they are just getting started and focus on local ingredients. However, I did notice a decent sized drink (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) & dessert menu which also changes often.

Muffin

Though it’s a vegan restaurant, there is definitely something for everyone. There were meatless, non-dairy versions of a few classic dishes and of course their specials change daily. Mushroom “scallops” anyone?

Feeling satisfied, we made our way to Chester for a friend’s wedding (after I stopped at VS for a few things ๐Ÿ˜‰ Umm 40% off swimwear? I had to!)

We didn’t have much time because Ryan and I are the kind of people who need to stop at roadside markets & yard sales and dilly dally on the scenic route. If you’ve never taken the old highway from Halifax to the south shore you need to add it to your bucket list.ย We got ready in record time and even got to test some beer from the taster packs I brought home from Maine last week.

photo 2

It was the perfect day for an outdoor wedding. The ceremony was down by the ocean and the dinner/reception were in the main building of the Oak Island Resort. I loved how the entire event was in one location so we could all relax & socialize down by the cottages while the wedding party did the picture thing.

Love

The highlight of my night?! The bride & groom arranged for a few vegan/vegetarian meals which I had no idea they were doing. I had one of the most delicious vegan meals I’ve ever eaten out! It was a mushroom & potato pot-pie type of dish served with rice and a stuffed tomato. I was in my glory ๐Ÿ˜€

We had an awesome time at the wedding but Sunday is always a rough one when we have to get up and drive home… someone made it much better for me and took me to lunch at The Gazebo Cafe before we hit the road โค

I tried the Peace Burger this time and had the avocado mayo subbed for their house hummus. Just what I needed to bring me around for a 5 hour drive ๐Ÿ˜‰

photo 3

Being vegan outside the home can be challenging and I am feeling very blessed to have such a supportive community of family & friends. I ask my bf every now and then if I’m driving him crazy and he always says he’s fine as long as I’m happy. Keeper โค

Stay tuned later this week for some Vanilla Almond Warrior Balls. They are a slight variation of the Cocoanut version but I think I like them better. And I’m a chocoholic!

Liz xo