Currently in January

Oh hey there 😉

I’m feeling something a little different on the blog today… If you’re a regular reader of mine you know my blog is mostly informative posts, recipes, & workouts. I tend to stray from the personal posts for the most part. I guess because I feel like that’s why I started this… to inform and inspire, not to talk about myself.

But I love knowing what my favourite bloggers are up to outside of their kitchens & the gym. That’s part of the inspiration factor… What does a fitness & health blogger do when she’s not doing fitness & health related activities?

I got a lot of positive feedback about my WIAW post so I thought I’d jump on the “currently” train as well, a post theme created by Me and the Mountains. I’m sure my current eats & workouts will find their way in there regardless, so let’s do it 😉

Currently in January

Current books:

The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green – Starre Vartan. I’m not going to lie… I take forever to read a book. Mostly because I get busy with other tasks then lose my desire to go back to it. Plus I always seem to have a fiction and a non-fiction on the go at the same time. Currently I also have Wheat Belly half read…. get it together Liz!

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But about the Eco Chick – awesome book so far! I’m very interested in learning about how my everyday behaviours affect the environment. The best part is that the author gives brand names of eco-friendly products she personally uses (including furniture and jeans!) and practical advice on how to change your habits.

Current music:

Lorde – Pure Heroine. I’ve had the entire album on repeat for days and Moksha yoga has been using her songs on their class playlists all month. Love it!

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Current guilty pleasure:

Dipping my finger in the Dark Chocolate Dreams. At least once a day. Oh my…

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Current nail colour:

Fingers? Au Naturel… I can’t keep polish from chipping with my job so I ALWAYS rock toe nail polish. Currently my tootsies are painted in OPI’s Jade is the New Black 🙂

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Current Drink:

Juice, juice and more juice! Ryan thought he felt something coming on this week so I’m thankful we started juicing regularly again (at least 3 x per week). We’ve been able to avoid getting sick so far this year so hopefully #plantpower doesn’t fail me now 😉 Current favourite recipe? The usual suspects. Check out my fave juice recipes.

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Current food:

These 3-ingredients cookies I saw on my friend Britt’s Instagram. Combine 2 mashed ripe bananas with 1 cup of oats and fold in 1/4 cup chocolate chips (Camino or Enjoy Life are vegan). Bake for 13-15 min at 350 C. SO YUMMY!

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Current favourite show:

The Bachelor. No shame. This could part of the reason for slacking on the books 😉

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Current wishlist:

New WARM winter boots! I love my Hunter’s but they are not warm unless wearing massive socks. I’ve been eyeing these Sorel Tivoli boots 😉

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Current needs:

More sleep. I’ve been getting back into bad habits of staying up late and sleeping past my first and second alarm. This leads to cranky, rushed mornings. Me no likey.

Current triumphs:

I did my first supported headstand (Sirasana) this week at hot yoga! I was shocked at how easily my legs floated upward after struggling to find the pose numerous times. My progressive strength and flexibility are amazing me every week 🙂

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Current bane of my existence:

My 30-day yoga challenge. I’m on day 28/30 and so far I’ve only missed one day for the BodyAttack new release class. I did a couple of weight sessions this month but put 95% of my focus on yoga. I wanted to go all in and really see a 30 day challenge could do for me.  I never imagined I would fall in love with yoga like this and I’m kind of sad my unlimited pass is almost up 😦 So what’s next?…. you’ll just have to stay tuned, of course!

Current celebrity crush:

Can a pod-caster count as a celebrity? If so it’s totally Rich Roll right now… I’ve been loving The Rich Roll Podcast and I’ve learned SO MUCH from his episodes. Every day after work I have a new fact or 10 to share with Ryan. Here’s the iTunes description of the podcast:

In The Rich Roll Podcast, vegan ultra-athlete and #1 bestselling author of the inspirational memoir “Finding Ultra”, Rich Roll discusses all things wellness with some of the brightest and most forward thinking minds in health & fitness, including world-class athletes, doctors, nutritionists, trainers, entrepreneurs & artists. Topics include: general fitness & endurance, ultra-endurance multisport training, vegan / plant-based nutrition / cooking, meditation, yoga, sustainable lifestyle and beyond. The goal? To help empower YOU to become your best, most authentic self.

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Current indulgence:

Saturday night drinks has been a more frequent occurrence lately and I’m OK with that. I enjoy having drinks with friends and decided to stop over-thinking the calories and just enjoy it once in a while. Life is too short. Do what makes you happy 🙂

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Current blessing:

A warm house, with hot water and power during this  freezing cold winter. That might sound like such a small, simple thing but after the power outages over the holidays in Ontario and New Brunswick I’ve been especially grateful for the necessities.

Current slang:

Brain trust. A guy at work uses this to refer to anyone who’s smart (or not) but drives him crazy with their ideas and theories. I told him this week I was going to take it up.

Current outfit:

Tights & heavy sweaters. Everywhere. It’s been ridiculously cold here for the entire winter so far (except for a most appreciated week in mid-January) and I can’t stand to be cold.

Current excitement:

Two upcoming weekends with one of my best girlfriends, Meag 😀 She’s been in Fort MacMurray since last March and I’ve only seen her for a few days in September since she left. I can’t even describe my excitement to spend some girl time with her ❤

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Current mood:

Content. I am very content with where I am life and I am not questioning where I am supposed to be. This is it. The present moment is the only one that I can truly control and I am happiest when I am present 🙂

Current link:

Pandora Internet Radio! Ryan started a music channel with a few artists he likes and as Pandora started introducing similar content we’ve been up-voting/down-voting to make the channel our own personal favourite music station. We like almost all of the same music except Ryan’s not a huge fan of Katy Perry… What’s with that?!

So tell me, what are you currently into?

Liz xo

Love Your Guts: DIY Water Kefir

There are some “weird” things I started doing since taking up a plant-based diet…

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I quote “weird” because really these things aren’t all that weird… they’re great… just different than what the average person would be doing on a given day, like making my own sauerkraut or sprouting at home (post coming soon!)

You don’t have to be into veganism to be into health, but for me, it was transitioning to a plant-based diet that led me to this point of next level health. When I decided to make the change I started to seek out as much information as possible via books, blogs, podcasts, etc., to make the transition in a healthy, sustainable way. Because of the significant relationship between food & health I was unavoidably led to a wealth of information on health & wellness.

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One of the podcasts I really got into was actually not a vegan podcast. The Holistic Health Diary, produced by Ange Peters of Hol-Fit and Gillian Mandich covers all things health & wellness from ultra-marathon training to making your own body scrub. I absolutely love these girls and look forward to a new episode every other Monday.

The HHDiary is what got me really thinking about organic foods and GMOs, using coconut oil as a major part of my beauty routine,  and wanting to improve my gut health….

You may have seen this stuff on the grocery store shelf:

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This is a fermented milk product, known as milk kefir. Water kefir is similar but uses water instead of milk and still provides amazing probiotic benefits. Probiotics are essential to maintaining overall gut health.

So what the heck is water kefir and why are you brewing it in your laundry room…. ?

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First off, kefir has more probiotics than yogurt or any other health drink. Water kefir can contain up to 453 different bacterial strains vs. yogurt which contains only 2 types (source). Most probiotic supplements also contain only a few of the vital bacterial strains, like acidophilus and bifidus.

What is water kefir?

Water kefir is a lacto-fermented beverage made from water, sugar, and kefir grains (SCOBY) They are called grains for their appearance but water kefir is gluten-free. When combined and left to ferment for 48 hours, the sugar is metabolized by the kefir grains and the result is a probiotic-rich drink containing wide variety of beneficial microorganisms, B vitamins & food enzymes. The sugar-content is also reduced to about 20% during the fermentation process.

The water becomes carbonated like soda (weird) and resembles the taste of slightly fizzy lemonade!

How do you say it?

Keff-er? Key-fer? Kuh-feer?

I’ve heard people say key-fir and some say kuh-fir… Tomato/tomato, right?

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What are probiotics?

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”. Simply, probiotics are healthy or “good” bacteria that  help maintain the natural balance of microflora in the intestines (i.e. counteract the “bad” bacteria).

What are the benefits?

Whole food probiotics contain a wide variety of bacterial and yeast strains. “Water kefir grans include include 57 lactic acid bacteria strains, some acetic acid bacteria strains, and at least four yeast strains. Up to 453 different bacterial strains have been identified in water kefir!” (source). What can this healthy bacteria do?

  • Improve digestion
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Boost immunity
  • Reduce allergies
  • Possibly slow/reverse some diseases
  • Prevent diarrhea, gas & cramping
  • Improve women’s health/promote maternal health (reduce UTIs, vaginosis)
  • Possibly aid in weight-loss
  • Promote overall health & wellness

A clean and balanced gut will and allow for better absorption of vitamins, nutrients and minerals!

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Where can I get the grains?

If you’re in the Fredericton area, water kefir grains are sold by a nutritionist from Pepper Creek. It’s $10 for your first batch and an information pamphlet. I checked both health food stores and found that they do sell milk kefir grains but not water kefir grains. I can also hook you up with some of my duplicated grains 😉

Otherwise, check your local health food store. Many businesses take requests for products they don’t currently carry. The only place I’ve seen them online are at Cultures for Health. If you know of anywhere else to get them please share!

How long do the grains last?

If properly taken care of… forever! Once you’ve completed a batch,rinse the grains in spring water and either start a new batch or allow the grains to dry on a piece of parchment paper then store them accordingly (see FAQ link for storage information). Discard or store any multiplied grains.

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Where can I learn more?

I learned most of the basic information from the nutritionist in Fredericton but the articles I sourced are linked up below. I highly recommend the Water Kefir FAQ link before getting started. There is an answer to almost any questions you might have.

Water Kefir FAQ
Composition of Water Kefir Grains: Bacteria and Yeasts
How to Make Water Kefir Soda (with recipe variations)
Probiotics Side Effects, Health Benefits, Types, Research, Food Sources

The internet is a wealth of information. There are numerous variations and “recipes” to help you make this probiotic packed power drink a part of your daily routine 🙂

Here’s the recipe I’ve been using:

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DIY Water Kefir

Yield: 1 x 500 mL serving.

You can multiply the recipe and after 48 hours just strain, cap & refrigerate additional water kefir until ready to drink.

Ingredients: 

  • 500 mL spring water
  • 3 tbsp organic cane sugar
  • 1 organic apricot (available at Bulk Barn)
  • 1 tbsp water kefir grains

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a 1 L glass jar and cover loosely with a lid.
  2. Allow to ferment for 48 hours.
  3. Strain the water for drinking and rinse the grains. Discard fruit along with any multiplied grains or store grains as outlined on the FAQ page. Be sure to keep enough grains out to start a new batch if desired.
  4. Drink immediately or cap and refrigerate until ready to drink.
  5. Start all over again!

So easy. So good for you. I’ve been drinking this almost daily since the fall and I highly recommend this to anyone and everyone (including kids as a healthy alternative to soda!)

Happy culturing >:)

Liz xo

Fit Friday: Stability Ball Plank Circles

It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday 😀

And here I am with another Fit Friday move from the stability ball series. Sorry I just can’t help myself, the ball has so many possibilities!

Speaking of stability…

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Have you ever heard of a core balance cushion? Superstore (Loblaws) has a new line of yoga and gym gear called Jogi. They have everything from kettle bells to athletic gloves to yoga mats. This cushion is partially inflated and most comfortably used when sitting upright, with good posture. If you try to slouch you kind of fall off the side. It can be used anywhere but is recommended for yoga and Pilates to add a balance challenge.

A co-worker showed me this yoga “seat” last week and said she uses it to encourage active sitting at her desk. She’s had two hip transplants and gets really stiff after sitting for a while. Using the ball apparently really helps!

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Of course I had to try one out…

I’ve been a fan of my homemade stand up desk for a couple of months now but I can’t stand all day long. Now when I sit, at least it’s active sitting 🙂

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Fit Friday: Stability Ball Plank Circles

AKA: Swiss, Balance, or Exercise Ball (Plank) Circles
Weight/Equipment: Stability Ball
Reps: 3 sets of 10-12 reps

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Method: Start in a low plank position, with your forearms on the ball, elbows directly under shoulders. Keep your back flat, hips down, & core engaged.

Begin to make a circle with your forearms, moving them to the right, out in front of you, to the left, then back to start. That’s one rep.

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Keep your entire core engaged, and your knees locked to help your balance. Try making 10-12 circles clockwise, then repeat counter-clockwise. Perform at least 3 sets in sequence or as part of a circuit.

This is honestly one of the best core exercises you probably aren’t doing.

For more from the stability ball series check out these moves or head straight to the Fitness page:

Have a fit & healthy weekend 😉

Liz xo

WIAW: So, what DO you eat?

Since going veg, I get asked all the time: What DO you eat?

Reaching my current lifestyle has been a slow process. I’ve made small but significant changes over the past 6 years and I was a very healthy eater before going completely plant-based last spring. The only major difference between then and now  is that I don’t eat any of the small amounts of chicken and fish I used to eat, I replaced my dairy products with dairy-free alternatives (in moderation) – Daiya, So Delicious, Tofutti, etc. – and I cut out eggs.

I probably eat a wider variety of foods than the average person, I definitely don’t have a problem getting enough calories, and I certainly have my fair share of sweet & savoury treats.

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There’s just something about the words plant-based and vegan that make people think you’re restricting yourself. The truth is that this lifestyle has been just the opposite, introducing me to a whole new world of food, health, & wellness possibilities!

Though it sometimes surprises me to be asked, “what DO I eat?”, a few years ago I would have asked my future-self the same question. SO, regardless of being a veg-head, what do I eat as part of a healthy, balanced diet to maintain my weight and feel good in my skin?

What gives me the energy to get through my crazy week of work, exercise, blogging, cooking, socializing, and bachelor watching?!

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I’ve been a huge fan of What I Ate Wednesday posts from the bloggers I regularly follow. I love knowing what my inspirations eat on a daily basis when they aren’t posting delicious recipes & product reviews. Here is my very first WIAW post, brought to you by my last home-office Friday:

Breakfast: Pumpkin Oats
1/2 cup oats, 1/3 cup pure pumpkin, 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
topped with 2 tbsp hemp granola, 1/2 tbsp almond butter & a little almond milk

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Mid-morning snack: banana + protein drink
1 scoop chocolate Sunwarrior, 1 tbsp raw cacao powder, 1 cup almond milk

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Lunch: Cafe Loka date with my boy
Vegan Your Day: Scrambled tofu w/ potatoes, veggies & spices w/ toast & side salad
black bean brownie for dessert (covered in almond butter when I got home ;).. )

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Afternoon snacks:
Almond Joy Energy Balls
handful of baby carrots + 2 tbsp hummus

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Dinner: The Big Vegan Bowl
greens topped w/ carrot, tomato, quinoa, avocado, hummus, & roasted chickpeas & sweet potato

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Evening Snack:
DIY water kefir & a {vegan} Pumpkin Quinoa Muffin

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So there you have it! A day of simple, healthy plant-based eats, at home & at a restaurant (for more tips on eating out, check out my post on Vegging Out at Conventional Restaurants).

What are some healthy weekday eats you’ve been into lately??

Liz xo

Sweet Potato Hummus

It’s been a foodie kinda weekend over here… 

Ryan requested some healthy muffins for a quick weekday breakfast so I whipped up some Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins {vegan-style) on Friday. These did not last for weekday morning breakfasts as planned…

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So I whipped up another batch, this time Zucchini Spelt muffins from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. Another total win in the kitchen. Notice how I throw “whipped up” around like it was a total cinch and I did it in high heels while doing laundry and dancing backwards…?

Cuz that’s exactly how it was… come on, don’t you believe me? 😉

But honestly, it is pretty simple to make your own muffins, snacks, and meals at home. It’s much cheaper, healthier and tastier too! I take the time each weekend to plan the upcoming week’s meals, prep a few things in advance and have enough groceries on hand to last until at least Thursday.

In case you’re interested, some other Lizzie approved recipes of the week:

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Speaking of DIY…

A few weeks ago I made my first attempt at homemade hummus. I could have just tried regular, ol garlicky hummus but I’ve had this recipe lingering around from an old Women’s Health magazine since way before the blog. I finally decided to go for it, and guess what…

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It rocked! So light and creamy, unlike a lot of the store bought hummus. Not to mention, I’ve never seen sweet potato hummus in a store. Original 😉

I took it in my lunch every day to eat with veggies, spread it on sandwiches, snacked with tortilla chips, and then some. The only downside (but more of an upside) is that this recipe made a huge batch so it went bad before I could eat it all.

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I recommend having plans to eat a lot of hummus over the next couple of weeks before getting out your food processor. This would make a good party dish too, mainly for the reasons above: 1. huge batch, 2. original!

Sweet Potato Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato*, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp unrefined brown sugar (I used Sucanat)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Steam sweet potato until tender.
  2. Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until creamy.
  3. Store in an air-tight container and refrigerate. Mine lasted a little over 2 weeks.

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*Note: The original recipe called for 1 lb of sweet potato but I thought it was a bit too much. I preferred the taste and texture with just 1 large SP.

Sweet!

Liz xo

Black Is The New Brown {Rice}

Hey friends 🙂

How’s your week going so far? Have you done something to get moving today? How about yesterday?

As part of our #JumpstartJanuary challenge, Georgia and I got together last night for a Hatha Yoga class from our friend Rachel at the YMCA. Afterwards, we met up with Kaylee and took over one of the private workout rooms to totally kick each others butts with a quick circuit.

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Georgia says that’s a fake smile because I made her do burpees… muahaha >:)

As much as I am loving my 30 day yoga challenge, I still want to keep up with my weight-training and HIIT. Yes hot yoga is challenging and yes I’ve been sore pretty much everyday but I don’t want to lose what I’ve gained at the gym.

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The purpose of JSJ is not to workout everyday, its to do something to MOVE everyday. The longer you sit, the slower your metabolism, even if you exercise later! The Lean Green Bean posted an amazing list of mini-routines to “Move for 5” this week. Brittany @ My Own Balance is also posting tips to help you #JumpstartJanuary all month long!

Now onto some foodie fun…

Food for Life recently contacted me and asked if I was interested in reviewing their new Black Rice Tortillas. I jumped at the opportunity since this is my first food product review on the blog! I love Food for Life’s products, especially their Ezekial bread and brown rice tortillas.

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The black rice tortillas are vegan, gluten-free, and yeast-free but what really sparked my interest was in the product details on their website:

“Many don’t know this, but black rice rivals and often exceeds some of the most notable antioxidant rich foods. Plus it’s loaded with natural fiber – A great healthy alternative to traditional wheat flour tortillas.” 

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Since we made two batches of Buffalo Cauliflower last weekend (yes, I have an addiction), Ryan suggested I make buffalo cauliflower wraps with the tortillas. Perfect.

I topped the tortillas with sauteed red pepper & onion, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and buffalo cauliflower. I enjoyed one wrap with a side salad for dinner and packed the other for the next day’s lunch!

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So what did I think?

Well… I really, really love the brown rice tortillas. I enjoyed the black rice version but I didn’t love them quite as much. The texture was a little tough but this could be due to thawing then re-freezing during transit time. They were, however, very malleable and didn’t crack or break when rolling into wraps. Sometimes this happens with gluten-free tortillas and it always happens with whole wheat pitas, grrr!

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I had a feeling that I might enjoys these most as baked pitas triangles as a side or an appetizer, dipped in salsa or hummus. We had my all-time favourite Mexican Lettuce Wraps for a quick dinner on Thursday night so I baked up a few pitas for a side. I loved them like this!

Overall, it was nice to try something different than my usual Ezekial  or brown rice fare but I think I still prefer brown to black rice.

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So is black the new brown rice? I’d say it depends on the person. This chick will probably be sticking to the original 😉

Big thanks to Food for Life for the opportunity to review their product! If you have any questions about any of their products you can check out foodforlife.com or contact them for more information.

Are you a fan of Food for Life products?

Have you tried the new Black Rice Tortillas?

Liz xo

*Food for Life supplied me with tortillas but I was not compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own*

#JumpstartJanuary Detox Smoothie

So you’d think it was a little cold for smoothies right…

This is a video of people ice skating on the ROADS in Fredericton this Saturday (click for link):

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We went to brunch around 11:30 and the freezing rain was just starting. We came out around 1:00 and the roads and sidewalks were sheets of ice. I’ve never seen anything like it! We could barely get up the driveway without sliding back down. Our vehicles were coated in ice and some sections of the highway were even closed. I knew the forecast called for freezing rain but I never expected it to have that much of an effect that quickly.

One bonus to the crappy weather? Our friends got storm stayed and we had a second night of games & food!

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If you’ve lived on the East Coast (especially near Halifax) or if you’ve ever had a donair, you will appreciate this: The Hot Donair Dip (aka HaliDip). I veganized the recipe using some simple substitutions and it was killer… I might have to blog about it in the future with Heather‘s approval 😉

Jenna and I escaped the freezing cold for some Hot Moksha Yoga – today marks day 11/30 of my 30 day yoga challenge! And regardless of the winter weather, I made yummy smoothies all weekend 😉

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The January edition of Smoothie of the Month is inspired by the Juice Master’s  Super Detox Smoothie from the 3-Day Detox. I couldn’t think of a something more fitting for the month where 97% of the population is trying to start a new year off on a healthy foot.

The name, of course, is inspired by the #JumpstartJanuary challenge that Georgia and I are totally owning right now! Keep up with her progress here and check out her gorgeous new blog design.

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The original recipe uses fresh juiced pineapple but since most people don’t own a juicer, I decided to create a smoothie that uses whole pineapple and a little additional liquid to thin it out.

For those of you who aren’t fans of bananas in your smoothies, this one is for you! Finally…. sorry, I kind of LOVE bananas!

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#JumpstartJanuary Detox Smoothie

  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 3/4 cup yogurt (I use So Delicious coconut yogurt, plain)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup almond milk
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Blend all ingredients until smooth and enjoy 🙂

Bottoms up!

Liz xo