Post-Stampede Healing!

For 10 days every July my city goes absolutely wild, cowboy style. It’s called the Calgary Stampede, which translates as a solid week of work parties, going out with friends and ingesting novelty foods (this year they had scorpion pizza alongside regular favourites like funnel cake, deep fried Oreos/mars bars/peanut butter cups and more. If you want food at Stampede it’s fried or nothing.)

I did a phenomenal amount of drinking last week and completely screwed up my body’s schedule – I was eating late at night and it was unfortunately junk to compensate for the drinking.. To give you an idea, I had one night where I spent hours telling my boyfriend and friends that I desperately needed to ingest some lettuce as soon as we got home (following eating a funnel cake), but somehow my lettuce craving turned into a hot wing craving instead and that was what I ended up with. All said and done, Stampede is basically a work-sanctioned bender that wrecks your body and leaves you wondering how you managed to survive.

Now, my body needs a serious detox! I desperately need to get back to my yoga class, but I think there needs to be some deeper healing than just sweating it out, so cue my latest and greatest idea to try – a juice cleanse.

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a juicer for a while now but haven’t gotten the guts to take the plunge. My NutriBullet was a neat substitute in the mean time, but I decided to take the plunge and ordered myself a juicer last night.

I did lots of research (think reading customer reviews, calling my parents – who are now vegan/raw, and watching YouTube videos) to figure it out and eventually settled on the Breville Two-Speed Juice Fountain Plus (which I got for $145+tax from Amazon – they have all juicers on sale!! – it was like fate)

breville juicerMy new juicer

If you’ve seen the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” (you can watch it by clicking the link) this is the juicer from that, which is probably why it had so many reviews to back it. The guy in the documentary literally juices in the back of his car with the Juice Fountain! It’s definitely worth a watch, and while this guy was juicing for more than a quick detox it certainly highlights what juicing can do for you for health and weight loss.

I’m still trying to choose a cleanse – a task for tomorrow – but if any of you have done one and can recommend, please let me know!

More on my juice cleanse coming soon…

 

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Get Mint-ed!

Ever since I was little, I’ve had a serious thing for mint. Mint candies, mint drinks (this started out as a love for this mint syrup mixed with water that was insanely refreshing, to mint tea & graduated to mojitos), mint ice cream, things that smell like mint (body wash, aromatherapy oil, shampoo)… the list goes on. Now, while trying to be health-conscious, I’ve moved away from the candies, ice creams and syrups but have started regularly buying bunches of mint in my grocery shop to add to my diet.

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As with most things, I had no idea what mint can actually do as a regular part of my diet, so here are a few quick facts that I came across this AM:

  1. Mint promotes digestion! It can soothe stomachs if you have indigestion/inflammation (yay for my new mint flavoured Pepto Bismol chewables), and the smell actually activates salivary glands which get the digestion process going.
  2. The smell of mint can ease nausea
  3. Mint balm or oil can provide headache release when rubbed on your forehead and nose
  4. A strong mint smell can be helpful in clearing up congestion – helps kick colds and soothe asthma. Additionally, the cooling effects of mint can soothe the throat & irritation that causes coughing
  5. Mint is a stimulant! A sniff of mint can wake you up and give you a little boost
  6. Mint oil is good for your skin – for soothing, curing infections/itches, reduce pimples and can cool insect bites
  7. As mentioned in #1, the salivary enhancing benefit of mint can help you lose weight – it stimulates the digestive enzymes that absorb nutrients from food & consume fat
  8. ORAL CARE!!!! I think we all know about that one. Mint is extra helpful for maintaining fresh breath, whether it’s from toothpaste, mouthwash or gum. What you may not know, however, is that mint used to be rubbed directly on the teeth and gums to refresh the mouth and eliminate nasty bacterial growth

My favourite way to use mint is in my water – I throw a few mint leaves into a re-usable bottle, a few ice cubes and after a little shaking my water becomes intensely refreshing. This is something I do every time I head out to my yoga class – I’m always super glad to get a quick sip of water in when it’s extra refreshing. I’ll also include mint water in my daily work routine – I try and prepare a bottle of mint water with lemon to take to work & refill throughout the day. I’ve been throwing mint into my Nutribullets too (today’s is no where near as pretty as yesterdays. It’s pretty thick and scary looking, but tastes good all the same.)

Yay for one of my favourite herbs being beneficial! Time for a mojito 😉

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Neglect, Positivity and BBQ

I have been insanely neglectful of this blog!!! Sorry guys 😦 I will try and be better, I promise.

Lately, I have noticed that my life lacks positivity in most aspects, not just in my self-talk. While I know I have mused on this subject a little in the past, I’m really starting to be bothered by the fact that so much of what I have going on revolves around the negative and need to add altering that to my list (which is becoming oh so very daunting..) I figure this can be done in segments as things are always easier when broken into chunks 🙂

I will start with my biggest source of negativity – my job. MjAxMi0yMzI4NzY1YTEwMzA4ZDdj_517551dc7d61c

When you spend the majority of your time at work, it’s probably a no-brainer that you would prefer it to be a place that you enjoy going to and the work that you do brings you satisfaction and happiness. Sadly, for most people, this is not the case.

After a brief stint with a new boss in a position I was so excited to get into at the end of last year, my workplace happiness took a serious nose dive and I’m back to hating the daily grind (<– see, I even refer to it as a grind. Not good!!) I can pinpoint for you when this happened (my amazing boss left the company) but I can also pinpoint for you when I consciously decided to let it affect each and every day. It’s not that I suddenly stopped enjoying the work that I do – I’m still working in events, which was my dream – but the team and I don’t mesh, and I’ve really let that get to me. It taints every day for me, and I find myself irritable, unmotivated and really down before I’ve even gotten to my desk!

Honestly, if I’m realistic, I don’t see myself being able to overcome this situation. But, I do want to endeavor to hate it less! Yoga has been really helpful for giving me something to look forward to in every day (yes – I’m still going!!) and I try to connect with people who do make me happy – I have one really great friend here who works in another department & soon my friend will be back from Europe and working close by. If I can’t enjoy my actual job, I might as well try and make it better with what I do around it during the day!

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This is how I feel every day!

And the BBQ part of this post!! We moved house at the beginning of the month to a gorgeous 2 bed/2 bath apartment in the same building, and our new landlady very kindly left us her BBQ as part of the deal! I spent weeks amping myself up about grilling – I pinterested the sh*t out of BBQ recipes, got myself the Bobby Flay BBQ Addiction cookbook and tried to make sure I wouldn’t fail in my first foray into outdoor cooking. I didn’t need to worry. BBQ-ing has been phenomenal! Most of all, it’s actually really helped with the amount of vegetables that we have on our plates at any given meal. Typically, I will make a dish with a starch side when we’re eating indoors, but now that I’m grilling we have vegetable skewers, grilled peppers, grilled zucchini – it’s really expanded the way I’m putting together meals. My favourite meal so far (and pretty much 85% have been BBQ meals since we moved) was last night’s – salmon grilled on lemon slices, roast potatoes, hollandaise sauce and grilled garlic parmesan zucchini – the zucchini totally made the whole meal and was amazingly delicious, I highly recommend it!!

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NutriBulleting is still going strong! Today’s green smoothie features kale, spinach, arugula, mint, lemon juice, mango, peaches & strawberry. It came out bright green & delicious!

Eating with Chopsticks (and an update on other new choices)

So I actually Googled the benefits of eating with chopsticks and as it turns out, what I had hypothesized was good about my new lunch habit is right.

Eating with chopsticks means you can’t put half as much food onto your utensils as you might usually do with a fork. This means you’re taking smaller bites. Win #1. The challenge that is picking up your food with chopsticks and only chopsticks also means you take longer chewing and longer between bites – this leaves you more time for your stomach to realize you’re full. Win #2. Chopsticks as your primary utensil means that you’re also less likely to eat foods you can’t grab properly – think saucy foods (cream based/fat loaded delicious sauces) which will eventually help you slim down a bit.

Try it! It’s actually kind of fun 🙂

As you may recall from my Bento & Yoga post, I recently got really into the idea of eating Japanese style lunches from a cute little bento box. This also meant that I wholeheartedly dove into eating lunch with chopsticks. While I haven’t yet applied chopsticks to dinner, I eat with them religiously at lunch time.

I fully acknowledge that I may be laughed at for this, but I got myself the cutest little Totoro bento (Totoro is a cartoon character in Japan). Psychologically, I don’t enjoy feeding myself in the middle of the day (let alone the beginning…. and sometimes the end). So, getting myself a bento box that makes me smile was step 1 in looking forward to lunch. I don’t care how old I get, I will never be too old to enjoy Disney or other cute things. This, coupled with the appealing appearance of the lunch I actually pack, means that when lunch time rolls around I’m actually excited to take out my little bento and eat. Bento_Totoro_Kit_-_2_grande

My Totoro Bento Box Set – one larger, lower box, a smaller upper box and a utensil case with chopsticks and a small spoon

The large section of the box is 6″ long, 1.5″ deep and 2.5″ wide, so right off the bat I’ve been taking more appropriately sized lunches to work. I fill just over 1/3 of the big box with the protein portion and the rest with seasoned sushi rice, then the small box (5.5″ long, 1″ deep, 2.5″ wide) is filled with a salad item.

Yay for eating a balanced, fun & enjoyable lunch every day! (Today, I had Hambagu – a take on Salisbury steak made with tofu and beef mince, kale gomaae & ebi seasoned sushi rice)

If you are interested in purchasing a bento box, I recommend Bento & Co (I was so pleased with my first order that I’ve already placed a second!) and if you are curious about bento or other Japanese recipes, you can start at my Bento Board on Pinterest. Learning to cook in the Japanese style has been quite an adventure and a lot of fun in itself!

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In other news, I withdrew from my gym membership last week. I spent a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons of that decision, and in the end, it came out that dedicating myself to my yoga practice was the best decision for me. I’ve been so enjoying the calming effect of my yoga classes and the strength training and cardio that it promotes that there really isn’t any need for me to spend an extra $50 each month to go to the gym where I end up more stressed than when I walked in.

I set myself the goal of attending yoga twice a week (or more) and have been successful so far. I guess all I needed was a self-wake up call because now, deciding not to go to yoga makes me kick rather than thank myself.

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Almond Milk

Downstairs in the building I work in, they just opened a Good Earth Cafe. They have a bunch of delicious sandwiches, salads and hand-made drinks on offer but by far my favourite thing to get there is the green tea latte.

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I think I might have mentioned earlier how much of a green tea snob I am, so I was particularly delighted to find that my GTL was made with real matcha. Then I tried it made with almond milk.

I’ve heard a lot lately that cows milk is not good for you (hormones/humans are the only mammals that drink another mammal’s milk) and I should make the switch to almond/soy/rice milk instead. So, when I saw they offered it I figured what the hell and gave it a try. IT WAS SO GOOD! The almond milk goes so well with the matcha and it’s pretty awesome to know you’re drinking something that’s good for you.

If, like me, you’ve never really bothered to look into almond milk, here are a few points to mull over:

  • Almond milk is lactose and soy free! So if you have lactose allergies or soy allergies, this is the one for you
  • Almond milk contains no casein (think chemically like gluten, but a milk protein) so it’s good if you are gluten free
  • Almond milk is one of the most nutritious milk substitutes out there.
  • Almond milk contains omega-3s – great for your heart
  • Almond milk has no saturated fats or cholesterol
  • Almond milk is high in protein and has good fiber content
  • Almond milk is low in calories and has about the same fat content as rice milk. This and the low fat content is great for those on the quest for weight loss!
  • Almond milk has flavonoids that help prevent cancer and slow the signs of aging
  • Almond milk has high levels of vitamin E, an antioxidant, which is good for the prevention of cancer
  • Almond milk doesn’t need to be padded out with added vitamins and minerals – it already contains vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc, iron, calcium, phosphorus and fiber

Neat!

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I found that almond milk tasted a bit sweeter than the regular stuff, so that was interesting to experience. I don’t know if I’d quite be reaching for a glass of almond milk to have with cookies just yet but I’m really glad I gave it a shot and will be featuring it in my diet a little more!

PS – like coconut milk, almond milk in a NutriBullet makes for a really creamy and delicious drink. Especially if you add matcha!