Live to Inspire

Hey everyone,

Thanks so much for your kind words on my Spring Blogcation! I’ve been truly enjoying these past few weeks, living the life I’ve blogged about for the past year. I started switching up my workouts and fell in love with the Nike Training Club app. If you haven’t tried it out I highly recommend! I started running again when the weather warmed up and I’m still loving my Les Mills classes. I’m eating clean and trying recipes from all around the blogosphere and I’m especially into the Oh She Glows Cookbook right now. I have no problem eating clean 80% of the time but also no problem treating myself to maintain the balance that’s taken me years to find ❤

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I’ve been spending lots of quality time with friends though its the craziest time of year for work andddd we just bought a house! So really it was the perfect time to step back from the blog. Trying to maintain regular posting during the past few weeks would have me pulling my hair out.

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After taking some time to think it over – the blog, my career, my priorities, and what really serves me, I’ve concluded that I’m better off just living to inspire than blogging about it. Know what I mean?

Blogging was starting to stress me out and was taking up all of my free time. Many of the things I used to love doing started to feel like things I HAD to do. By the time I got home from a long day at work, went to the gym, cooked dinner, got stuff ready for the next day and tidied up, it was time for bed. I was often up blogging way past my bedtime or through my lunch breaks. Forget reading, forget making that batch of protein bars, and if a 5 am workout is in the plan, prepare to be zonked for it.

During my blogcation I found I had more time to actually enjoy the life I blog about. I’ve always been a promoter of quality, not quantity. I think I can more effectively inspire the people around me by being relaxed and happy… by exercising regularly and contributing a healthy dish to family dinners, by voting with my dollar and making greener choices when possible, by cooking delicious vegan food for my family and friends and showing them how easy it is to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

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When I started the blog I said that if one post could inspire just one person to live a healthier lifestyle than my intentions have been met. My family and friends were my number one concern and I know I’ve inspired many of them, along with many strangers too! I am so grateful for that but I feel I’ve done what I set out to do. To take the blog further requires a lot of time and effort and as I said in my last post, I want to focus my energy on my career and my family & friends. I want to get back to enjoying my hobbies and having the time to enjoy working out and being in the kitchen!

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One of the personal things I’ve been trying to focus on is mindfulness and to not always be rushing; to prioritize and let go of the things that no longer serve me. I think the blog is one of those things. This little space on the internet will be here as long as WordPress allows so my readers can still find my content on juicing, fitness, and stories of the ups and downs during my first year as a vegan.

I’ll be removing my social media accounts but if you want to follow me personally on Instagram and Twitter you can find me @elysegiselle.

Thank you to everyone who followed and supported me over the past year. I’ve learned so much from other bloggers and met so many great people through the blogosphere. You’ve all inspired me in return more than you could know ❤

Stay healthy. Stay fit!

Liz xo

There’s More to Fitness Than Muscles

Hello lovely friends 🙂

How are you all this week? I am finally recovered from Ryan’s birthday {week} celebrations. Does any one else believe in Birthday Week? One day just isn’t enough…. lol

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On Thursday we went back to Brewbaker’s, a favourite for special occasions. I was going to try their other vegan option, a couscous salad, but I couldn’t help myself and cracked for the Thai Vermicelli again… insert foodgasm face :0

Saturday night we had friends over for food, drinks & games and I wanted to do something to make Ryan’s bday more special that any ol’ Saturday night. I organized for group party shirts: “Out for a Birthday Swim”. Get it?

He was equally as surprised as embarrassed but I’m pretty sure he loved it 😉

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Today I’m talking about something that’s been a frequent conversation over the years: why I value fitness so much. Not just for myself, but for the people in my life as well.

We all know the main reasons why physical fitness is important: decreased risk of disease, reduced risk of injuries, feeling better mentally and physically, etc. But in addition to that, I am very attracted to a fitness-focused person and it’s not just because that type of person is physically attractive. Yes, a lean, toned body is definitely a plus, but there is so much more to it than that.

So what else do I see beyond the physical?

First let’s take a look at the definition of fitness. According to Google Define, fitness means “in good health, esp. because of regular physical exercise”. So I’m not solely referring to ultra-marathoners or bikini models; just your average Joe/Jane who lives an active lifestyle and eats a balanced, healthy diet.

Fit = Dedicated

“Fit” is state of being that must be achieved and maintained. It takes work, it takes time and it takes dedication. A fit person is probably not lazy and will be dedicated to his or her other obligations in life as well. I think anyone can agree that being dedicated is a great quality in career life, relationships, etc. No one wants a flaky friend or a partner with commitment issues.

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Fit = Health Conscious

I am very concerned with my own health because I feel best when I’m treating my body & mind to the best of my knowledge. I love this life and want to be around to enjoy for a very long time. My number one wish for everyone on this planet is that they too can discover how amazing their bodies are designed to feel. We aren’t doomed to experience the illnesses or rely on the drugs that our society has come to accept as a part of life.

I appreciate my friends and family making health & fitness a priority because it gives me peace of mind knowing they are doing something to help keep them in my life for many years to come! I tell my mom all the time, “Drink your greens! I need you around for a while yet.” 😉

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Fit = Strong

Physically: A balanced fitness routine improves functional strength. This allows you to easily carry out everyday activities like lifting heavy objects without straining yourself. Cardiovascular training keeps your heart strong and improves endurance which allows you to take the stairs without losing your breath, keep up with your kids or pets, and enjoy outdoor activities.

Mentally: It takes focus and willpower to lift one more rep or continue running to your goal even after you think you’re spent. It also takes some serious willpower to make a healthy choice when your surrounded by fast, cheap, & convenient options. Yoga is the ultimate way to develop mental strength. It’s not easy for everyone to shut out their busy life for an hour to just “be”. In yoga, we focus on our breath to hold and transition into poses. This practice can be applied to everyday life to help deal with stressful situations.

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Fit = Happy

I would say 99% of fit, healthy people are generally happy with themselves and their lives. Exercise is known to improve your mood and reduce stress levels. Fit people are confident in the way they look, have good energy levels, and probably have regular sleeping and eating habits. When you are happy with yourself you can be happy for others and from that stems a whole lot of good 🙂

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There is so much more to fitness than muscles or being a certain size or shape. There are qualities that any of us would be happy to possess or to have in a partner or friend. If you haven’t already, check out my post on 6 Ways To Make Exercise a Habit. Set your sustainable goals to make fitness about dedication, health, strength and happiness 🙂

I’d love to hear from you guys…

Why is fitness important to you?
What qualities attract you to a fit and healthy person?

Liz xo

6 Ways to Make Exercise a Habit

Exercise.

Habit.

Two words that most people don’t see going in the same sentence. How can exercise be something you “just do”? If you’re not one of those people who enjoy exercise (there are more out there than you may think!) how can it ever not be a forced activity in your day?

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I remember when my workout felt like a chore. It was painful to drag myself to the gym (or in front of a P90X video) and get started. Once I did start it was fine, but getting started was the worst part of my day. I would so rather be sleeping, watching tv, shopping, eating, ANYTHING but working out.

But we all know that exercise is good for us. It’s not necessary to workout 7 days a week but according to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, you should get at least 150 minutes per week (source).

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (18-64 years) #
To achieve health benefits, adults aged 18-64 years should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least 2 days per week.
More daily physical activity provides greater health benefits.

So how can you make this a habit; something you just do without thinking about? Here are my 6 tips for making exercise a non-negotiable part of your day:

1. Have a Clear Vision

There is a difference between a goal to lose weight or be fit vs. losing weight or getting fit to reach your goal. I’m not exercising to lose weight or to look good for a specific event. I’m in it for life. I want to feel sexy and confident every day. I want to have energy and regular sleeping & eating patterns.  I want to live long enough to see my children’s, children have children. And I want to be the best possible version of myself so I can be my best for others.

I think being fit and healthy will allow me to be all of these things.

Having my priorities straight is what keeps me going back to the gym day after day. Shallow goals are too easy to make excuses for. For example, I strength train because I want to have functional strength for everyday activities. If my goal was to be able to squat 100 lbs, it would be a lot easier to put that off for another day, and then another…

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2. Plan Your Week

Every Sunday I take a look at the upcoming week and my work/personal commitments. I schedule my workouts from Monday-Saturday around those plans. For example, on a travel day I may need to work out a little later in the evening or if I have dinner plans with friends, I’ll hit the gym in the morning before work.

I have a to-do list for each day which includes my meals and fitness for that day. It doesn’t always have to be perfect; some nights are busy, canned soup nights (Amy‘s are the best!) and sometimes the best workout I can squeeze in is 30 minutes on the elliptical. Regardless, having a plan keeps me on track.

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3. Prep The Night Before

If I know I’m taking a yoga class the following day, my mat, towel & yoga bag are sitting by the door. If I’m working out in the morning, I’m sure to have an on-the-go breakfast ready like these vegan overnight oats!

Laying everything out the night before saves a lot of time and stress in the morning. Plus, you will be less likely to forget your socks or headphones and you’ll show up with the right gear! I’d prefer not to do BodyAttack in a Free-To-Be bra 😉

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4. Choose Workouts You Enjoy

If you hate spin (like me), don’t spin. Just because it’s amazing cardio doesn’t mean its for everyone. I’d rather do 10,000 burpees. If it’s a gorgeous day out and you’re dreading the gym, go for a run outside. When it comes to exercise, there  is something for everyone. Just to name a few:

  • Organized sports – Join a basketball team or a dance club
  • Casual sports – Have a tennis match with your bestie or go snowshoeing
  • Running/walking – Go solo, with a friend, join a running group, or go all out and start marathon training
  • Group fitness classes – Both Les Mills and the YMCA offer something for everyone who thrives in a group atmosphere
  • The gym – TRX, weight lifting, cardio machines
  • Home workout videos – Beach Body videos (i.e. P90X), Jillian Michaels, TIU
  • Online fitness – BlogilatesYou Tube videos

The list goes on…

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5. Commit to Friends

If you tell someone your going to be there, you probably will. When I was in university I always worked out with my friend Britt. I remember a lot of mornings wishing we hadn’t made plans to be at the gym first thing, but I wasn’t about to be the one to back out. Afterwards, I was always SO glad I dragged myself out of bed. Usually once our weekly schedule was set, we rarely missed a workout.

Meeting friends to workout can be a bit of a social thing too. I love having company for a yoga class or a circuit and you wouldn’t believe the cool people you meet through healthy living 😉

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6. Acknowledge & Celebrate Progress!

Of course doing something over and over will get frustrating if you aren’t seeing any results, but remember your weight is not the only indicator of progress. There are a number of factors that can prove you are making headway:

  • Body measurements
  • Body fat percentage
  • Blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol
  • How your clothes feel
  • Energy levels
  • Strength
  • Endurance

Remember to set realistic, sustainable goals (see #1) and celebrate even the smallest successes! If you beat your 5k time, maybe buy yourself a new pair of running shorts. If you’re at a plateau, reassess your routine and make some changes.

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Exercise needs to be fun and enjoyable or it will never be a habit. It can be all of these things if above all, you want it to be. You need to decide for yourself that you want to live a healthy, active lifestyle; that you want to be fit & healthy and are willing to work for it.

You are the only person who can make those things happen. Not your gym buddy, not your trainer, not Jillian Michaels… YOU! So get out your to-do list, plan your week, and pack your gym bag. There’s no time like the present… 🙂

Here’s to healthy habits!

Liz xo

WIAW: The Lunchbox Edition

Oooh!

Guess what! I remember to take pics of all of my meals after writing it on my to-do list everyday for like 2 weeks… what’s the use of a to-do list if you never use it to remember “to-do” anything?!

Actually, I make very good use of my lists I just never look at them before 7:30 am so my breakfast is usually a distant memory by then. I had so much fun doing my first WIAW post about a typical home-office day I wanted to do one for a day on site. Not to mention I totally dropped the ball on Peas & Crayons’ link up last time. Maybe I should add “link up” to my to-do list today.. hmm..

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The majority of the time I have to pack a lunch to keep me fueled from the time I leave the house at 7:15 am (5:30 if I’m hitting the gym – eek!) and return at 6-7 pm, depending on what time I get to the gym after work.

I always eat breakfast at home because my belly is growling when my feet hit the floor then I’m dining on the road until dinner. Here’s a look into what I ate this Monday while on the job:

Breakfast: My first “oats in the bottom of a nut butter jar” (AMAZING)
~1.5 tbsp almond butter, 1/2 cup cooked oats, 1 tsp cinnamon,
1 tbsp maple syrup, handful blueberries

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Morning Snack:
Peppermint Stick LUNA bar + Cara Cara Orange

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Lunch: Buffalo Cauliflower Salad
huge handful spinach, 1/4 cucumber, few grape tomatoes, 1/2 cup buffalo cauliflower,
1/2 cup green garbanzo beans + 1 tbsp Goddess Dressing (watered down)

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Afternoon Snack: Veg+Hummus
1/2 cup baby carrots, 1/2 cup broccoli + 2 tbsp hummus
(oops, almost didn’t get a pic…)

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Pre-gym: The ushe 😉
Hey, if it ain’t broke…

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Dinner: Buffalo Cauliflower Tortilla Pizza
1 brown rice tortilla, 1/3 cup pizza sauce, handful spinach, few mushrooms,
1/2 tomato, 1/2 cup buffalo cauli, heaping 1/4 cup Daiya mozzarella + side garden salad

I made a batch of the cauliflower on the weekend… don’t judge 😉

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Evening Snack: Yogurt bowl + homemade water kefir
1/2 cup So Delicious coconut yogurt, 1/2 tbsp almond butter,
2 tbsp brown rice crisp cereal, 1/4 cup blueberries

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Along with 3-4 litres of water, that’s a wrap!

In case you’re wondering, which I’m all of the non-veggies are, my total protein intake for the day was 68 g. I’ve been using My Fitness Pal to do a little experimenting and I’m loving it!

It’s recommended to get 9-10% of your daily calorie intake from protein and I average about 12%. Check out this post for more details on your true protein requirements 🙂

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Click here to see what other bloggers are chowing down on this week!

Did you eat anything interesting this week?
What’s the ushe in your lunchbox?

Liz xo

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

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