Half Your Portions

Day 5

You might think I’m going to say half your portions by making your plate smaller — but that’s not what I’m here to tell you today.  (Yay!)

Instead, I want you to make half of your portions at each meal filled with vegetables.  So, fill at least half of your plate with vegetables and fill the remaining area with your other meal choice.  You don’t even have to go wildly healthy here — the other area of your plate could have that spaghetti you’ve been craving or a taco filled to the brim.

The idea here is to BEGIN.  Start with small changes that will lead to big results.  Ditch the idea that living a healthy lifestyle has to be perfect, and make the decision to view each choice you make as an opportunity to add health to your life.

There are countless ways to add delicious, colorful vegetables to your meals.  Salads are a great way to pack a ton of nutrition into one meal — roasted red pepper, carrots, onions, zucchini, and mushrooms over fresh spinach with some balsamic vinaigrette.  Simple, easy and incredibly filling. Other ways are:

  1. Add a serving or 2 to your smoothie
  2. Stir pumpkin puree into your oatmeal
  3. Saute some spinach to have with your eggs
  4. Bake up some kale chips
  5. Add extra veggies to your chili or spaghetti sauce
  6. Make a veggie packed soup
  7. Put a plate of chopped veggies on the kitchen counter – I guarantee you will dig into them without even noticing!
  8. Double the amount of veggies called for in a recipe
  9. Replace pasta and rice with vegetables such as cauliflower mash or rice, sweet potato fries or mash
  10. Add shredded zucchini or carrots to breads, cakes or cookies (check out the recipe below.)

Eating out? That’s ok! Ask for a side salad or extra vegetables.

Have fun and experiment with different ways to add in more veggies to your day. They will help to fill you up and give you the nutrients you need without adding tons of unwanted calories.

Zucchini Chocolate Muffins

2 cups almond flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

3 eggs

1 zucchini (medium, grated)

  • Preheat your oven to 350ºF (177ºC) and line a muffin tin with muffin liners. Brush each liner with a small amount of coconut oil, to prevent sticking.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, sea salt, and baking soda. Mix well.
  • In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix until combined then stir in the zucchini.
  • Spoon the muffin batter between cups, so it’s evenly divided then bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Let cool completely before eating, to prevent the muffins from sticking to the liners.

 

Eat More Whole Foods

Day 3

Eating whole foods (foods that are as close to their natural form as possible) is imperative for your health.  Our culture leans towards convenience foods to fit into our busy lifestyles, but the downside is these prepackaged foods are filled with preservatives, sweeteners and other chemicals that our bodies don’t know how to process and the many of the good nutrients have been removed.

These products are made in a lab with man made ingredients that are designed to allow that product to sit on a shelf for a long period of time. Real food can’t do that!

If the thought of adding more whole foods into your day overwhelms you, don’t worry, it’s actually pretty easy and the benefits to your health are endless. Here are some simple tips to help you get started:

  • Add an extra serving of fruit or vegetables into your morning smoothie.
  • If you consume white pasta often, make the switch to a vegetable-based pasta like zucchini noodles. You can also find dry pasta at the grocery store made with things like brown rice, chickpeas, black beans or other healthier options. My favourites are GoGo Quinoa & Chickapea Pasta
  • Ditch the flavoured yogurt, buy plain and add your own sweetener such as maple syrup or honey and some fresh/frozen fruit
  • Plan your meals around vegetables, remember half your plate should be veggies, not meat or starch
  • When buying a bread, look for one that has 5 grams of fiber minimum per slice, Stonemill & Silver Hills are 2 great brands.

There are many alternatives to processed foods. Eating whole foods doesn’t mean you’re stuck to eating salads every day — get curious about how you can make healthier decisions in your everyday life, and you’ll be surprised at all you can find like with the recipe for Greek chicken burgers below.

As in my previous blogs, there are ALWAYS healthier options available for you to choose.  With a little research and a willingness to change, you’ll be swapping out the not-so-good with the great in no time at all.  Before you know it, it’ll be standard practice for you to hunt for the healthier option — and you’ll even begin enjoying the taste of the healthier whole foods over the processed versions. Believe me, if this ex-sugar addict, binge eating, carb junkie can do it, so can you!

 

Greek Chicken Burgers

(makes 4 burgers)

1.5 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 red bell pepper (diced)

1/4 cup red onion (diced)

4 cups baby spinach

1 cup almond flour

1 lbs extra lean ground chicken

1/4 cup black olives (chopped)

1/4 cup Feta Cheese (crumbled)

1/2 Cucumber (diced)

Sea salt & black pepper (to taste)

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the red pepper and red onion to the skillet. Saute for about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add baby spinach and stir just until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Add almond flour, ground chicken, black olives and feta cheese to the mixing bowl. Now add in your sauteed vegetables. Mix well. Form the mixture into even patties and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Preheat grill over medium heat. Transfer burgers onto grill and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes per side or until burger is cooked through. Remove from grill.
  5. Plate burger over a bed of greens. Enjoy!

Get Rid of the Junk

Day 7

Over the last couple of weeks we have talked about ditching the white stuff & sugary drinks. Next it’s time to clean out the rest of your cupboards, pantry, and fridge.

If you are looking at making healthy food changes, you really need to commit to getting rid of the junk. Grab a garbage bag and start tossing.

The first step is to throw away (or donate) all obviously unhealthy food — chips, cookies, sodas, and other junk foods. If you don’t want to throw away products that you have spent good money on then until you have used the last of it up and make a better choice when buying a replacement.

The second step is to learn how to read labels and figure out what to toss and what you want to keep. Companies use “low fat” or “no fat” to make foods more appealing and to seem healthy, but that can be far from the truth. I always go by Michael Pollan’s rule “Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third grader cannot pronounce.”

The third step is deciding on the more difficult items. These are things such as salad dressings, frozen foods and other things that are not excessively bad but aren’t the best choices either. Check out these previous blogs where I took you on a sneak peek inside my fridge and pantry and show you some of my favourite products.

Once you have done an overhaul of your kitchen, make a meal plan and stock your fridge and cupboards with foods that will keep you on track for your goals.

We tend to grab what’s easy and accessible. Keep the junk out, and you will have no problems sticking to your goals.

If you have already started spring cleaning your kitchen, I would love to hear what shifts you’ve noticed. In the meantime, try out this delicious Maple Tahini Salad Dressing, you won’t want to buy one of those processed bottles of salad dressings ever again!

Maple Tahini Salad Dressing

1/4 cup tahini

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1.5 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp warm water

1/4 tsp sea salt

Whisk all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Season with additional salt if needed. Transfer to an airtight jar or container and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Ditch the Drinks

Day 2

What’s your drink of choice?

When you’re feeling thirsty, do you grab for a can of soda before anything else?  Or perhaps coffee is your drink of choice that you sip on throughout your day.  After all, how else will you make it through the workday with zero energy without it?

One of the fastest ways to see growth and improvements in your sleep patterns, moods, digestion, and overall health is to drink enough water while cutting out the other beverages.

According to Statistics Canada it was found that while sugar intake from sugary drinks went down, they still remained the top source of sugar for all Canadians. The study said that if all sugary drinks — such as soft drinks, milk, juices, fruit drinks, tea, coffee and energy drinks — were combined into one category, they would be the top sugar source for all Canadians.

Here are just a few examples of how much sugar is in those everyday beverages.

  • Tim Hortons Iced Cappucino (380ml) 33g of sugar (8.25 teaspoons)
  • Starbucks Iced Caffe Mocha (345ml) 23g sugar (5.75 teaspoons)
  • Starbucks Chai Latter (236ml) 21g sugar (5.25 teaspoons)
  • Sprite (355ml) 38g sugar (9.5 teaspoons)
  • Booster Juice Breezy Banana Smoothie (Regular) 30g sugar (7.5 teaspoons)
  • Red Bull (250ml) 27g sugar (6.75 teaspoons)
  • Gatorade Perform Cool Blue (591ml) 35g sugar (8.75 teaspoons)
  • Bolthouse Farms Berry Boost (240ml) 21g sugar
  • Tropicana Orange Juice (253ml) 23g sugar

The last 2 products listed, Bolthouse & Tropicana don’t have added sugars, only natural sugars but due to the refining process, the product has lost many of its valuable nutrients such as the fiber & phytonutrients that are present in the whole food version. As a result, drinking too much juice is just another way of giving your body more sugar than it needs.

One of the most common complaints i hear from my clients is that they don’t like the taste of water. If you’re not a big fan of water, try infusing it with fruit, veggies or herbs until you grow a taste for it.

There are loads of ways to jazz up your glass of water — try adding citrus, mint, even cucumber to your water. There are hundreds of different fruit and citrus combos you can create to get a great tasting drink. Try adding a splash of lemon, lime, orange, or a few chunks of pineapple.

If you are addicted to pop, try Zevia as an alternative to help reduce your quantity before full elimination. If you just want the carbonation of a soda, try flavored sparkling water with no sugar or invest in a Soda Stream so you can make your own, it’s one of my favourite kitchen appliances. You may need to drink a few before you get used to the difference in taste from soda, but your tastebuds will adjust, and you’ll love that you can satisfy your carbonated cravings without all the added sugar.

For those special occasions check out my recipe below for a delicious drink to try out this Summer.

Blueberry Agua Fresca

1 cup Blueberries

1/2 Lime (juiced)

1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

2 cups water

4 Ice cubes (optional)

  • Combine all ingredients except ice in a blender. Blend well until smooth. Divide ice into glasses, pour in the Blueberry Agua Fresca and enjoy!

Ditch The White Stuff

Ditch the white stuff

Refined sugar is so extremely addictive and hidden in more places than you know.  Just one bite leaves you craving more — putting you on a hamster wheel you can’t seem to find the exit from, take it from someone who was addicted to sugar for decades.

So first thing’s first – what is refined sugar?

Refined sugar is when raw sugar has been processed (or refined) to remove impurities and colours (and nutrients) leaving us with the white pure devoid of nutrients sugar we know as table sugar, icing sugar or granulated sugar to name just a few.

This type of sugar is then added to foods during processing. According to dietary survey intakes, Canadians consume of an average of 55 grams of added sugar per day, which is the equivalent of two Mars bars per day!

Heart & Stroke Association recommends you consume ideally less than 5% of your total daily calories. So for an average 1,500 calorie-a-day diet, 5% is about 18 grams (or 4.5 teaspoons) of added sugars. One 500ml bottle of Coca Cola  contains about 55 grams of refined sugar (or approx 14 teaspoons) that’s nearly 3 times that amount!

Now, don’t be confused, I am not talking about foods that naturally contain sugar such as vegetables and fruit, these real foods are fine to be included in your healthy diet. I am talking about the nutrient devoid foods such as desserts, pop, energy and sports drinks . These are the top sources of refined sugars for most Canadians, but many other foods contain added sugars.

Next, I want you to take a look at what you’re eating on a daily basis and see what items that you regularly consume contain refined sugar.

Check out that loaf of bread you’re eating as toast for breakfast, the ketchup you’re dipping you’re eggs into, the soup or salad dressing making up part of your lunch, the pasta and pasta sauce you’re using for dinner and do i need to mention the drinks you’re consuming throughout the day? The 3 coffees that have 2 sugars each, the pop, the juice. It’s not just the desserts & energy drinks that are the culprits, many of the every day items you are using contain refined sugars and causing havoc internally.

Now you’ve realised how much refined sugar is actually in your diet, the next step is to ditch all the refined white items — sugar, flour, breads, etc.  You’ll be doing yourself a favor, and with so many healthy alternatives, you won’t be missing anything except all the negative consequences!

Some simple swaps include:

  • White Flour  >>  Almond Flour, Coconut Flour, or Brown Rice Flour
  • White Sugar  >>  Coconut Sugar, Raw Honey, Stevia
  • White Pasta  >>  Zucchini noodles, Black Bean Pasta, Chickapea Pasta, GoGo Quinoa Pasta
  • White Bread >>  Sprouted Grain Bread, Lettuce Wraps
  • White Rice  >>  Cauliflower Rice, Brown Rice, Quinoa

Making this change will leave room for amazing improvements in your health in a very short amount of time.

Today’s homework is to go through your kitchen and pack up all the “white stuff” to get rid of.  Make a list of new items you need to pick up during your next grocery store visit to make the swaps required.

What are you excited about trying?! Hit reply and let me know.

Now don’t worry, if you’re thinking you don’t want to give up all the fun food, that is not the case. I love my treats and feel good foods and you’ll find me baking in the kitchen on a regular basis but sans white sugar. Check out one of my favourite recipes from Paleo Running Momma, her Almond Butter Banana Muffins, they will not disappoint and only 1 tsp of added sugar per muffin!

Making Room in Your Life for More of What You Love

Header - Making Room

It has been a while since my last blog and I apologize for the quietness but I have learned over the last couple of years that my health & wellness is a priority and sometimes that means I have to pull back and slow things right down.

During these last few weeks, I read Kate Northrup’s new book “Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Busy Moms.”

It’s a really interesting and easy read and one of my favourite aspects she discussed was streamlining your to do list. I am the queen of lists, my husband Dave always laughs at my lists but it keeps me organized and on top of things. I have to say though that sometimes my to do lists can be pretty long and unobtainable which can often leave me feeling pretty overwhelmed & defeated.

Instead Kate suggests a weekly list versus a daily one and to pick just 3 things that need to be done each week and she focuses her to do list around how she feels and how she wants to feel. Doesn’t that sound amazing? She writes

“how i feel matters the most, not what i accomplish and if i truly believe this, which i do, i have to plan my time from this place not from the place of rushing to get more done and achieve more.”

So, when it comes to your to do lists, how many of you focus on making time for more of what you love? Do you ever feel like you’re giving too much of yourself?

Now that it’s spring, there’s no better time to do some spring cleaning for your personal life to get back more of what you put out there and here are some ways you can do that.

  1. Be honest with yourself

If you could create your perfect life, what would it be?  Write down the things that you would like to have more time for in your life, like reading, learning a hobby or spending time with people that you enjoy being around.

  1. Reflect on the things you’re currently doing

It helps to make a list of what you currently spend your time on — from working to caring for kids to running errands. Think of it as a synopsis of your weekly life. You’ll want to look at this compared to what you want to see more of in your week.

  1. Decide what you can compromise on

You might not be able to change the fact that you have to go to work, but how you get there could be changed. Maybe the stress of driving is wearing you down. Instead of making yourself crazy, try taking the subway if you can and reading while on the train. Then you get more time to read, and you don’t have to deal with traffic — a win-win.

  1. Stop saying “but”

If you’re always saying you want to do something and adding “but” in there afterward, it’s time to change that way of thinking. Those three little letters are convincing you that you don’t deserve the things you want more of.

Let’s look at a common place where you add “but” in your life. You need to get groceries for your family. No one can deny that’s not important. “I want to take that new hot yoga class, but I have to go to the supermarket.” Well, not exactly correct!  Our marvelous online world allows you to order all of the things you need and either run by and have it brought out to your car or even better, in some areas delivered to your door.  Honestly, since I have started using this, it’s been a game changer and another problem solved.

We even add this “but” when we need to make dinner. No, you don’t. You can prep those meals on your Sunday and voila! Your early evenings are free to pick up another pursuit. We’re so trained to feel guilty for indulging the things we want, but we need to do those things because we can’t be our best for everyone else.

What are 3 things you want to make more room for in your life?

For me personally, I have begun to free up more time in my day for exercising, walks with Scout the puppy & meditation. Hit reply and let me know what you’d love to make room for in your life.

If you feel like you need more accountability or help to do this, then shoot me a message at melaniegrimerhn@gmail.com and let me know as I am here for you!

Mel

I Struggle Too

I have been absent from my blog and social media for a few weeks and I thought it was time to share what’s been happening in my life and how I have been struggling.

The reason I am going to share such personal information with you is not because I want your sympathy but because I want you to know that I don’t always have things together. I may be a nutritionist but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deal with the same struggles as you when it comes to my eating and emotions. My life is far from perfect and I want you to see that side of things too as sometimes social media doesn’t always portray reality.

I became a nutritionist at 34 years of age but before that, 3 decades of my life were spent addicted to sugar, emotionally eating and never being satisfied with how I looked and all of those feelings have resurfaced recently. The reason for this is that my Uncle Dave in England fell very ill and has since passed away. He is very close to myself and my family so I flew home to see him while he was in hospital and feel very blessed to have had the chance to spend some quality time with him.

After my visit, I have gone through the roller coaster of emotions that comes with these times. Sadness of course for the loss of him, guilt because I haven’t been able to be with him throughout his lasts days and weeks and for not being able to help and support my family through this transition. As a result of these feelings I have been completely demotivated, my energy has been super low so the thought of even doing yoga has been too much (thank goodness for puppy Scout and his walks.)

My food has taken a turn for the worse, I have been eating for my emotions and really haven’t had any motivation to spend time in the kitchen. When I have it’s been getting in and out as quickly as possible. This has meant I have been reaching for comfort food alot which for me is gluten, dairy and sugar – all the things that have been out of my diet for so long and that my body negatively reacts to. Veggies have been on the bottom of the list of desires for me and I have been eating out or diving into the kids treat bags on a regular basis normally accompanied by a glass of wine!

On Friday I went out for dinner with the family and ate pretty well but then we got home and I took Bens leftover mac n cheese, went and hid in the bathroom upstairs and devoured half of it. I was sitting there on the toilet eating and it took me back to the many years prior where this had been a regular occurrence. I would always hide food and binge eat, I felt so guilty then as i did now. This was a turning point for me. I don’t want to feel that way anymore. I have worked SO hard to become healthy again, not only in my body but also my mind and it shocked me how quickly I reverted to my old coping mechanisms.

Like I said, I don’t want your sympathy. I know this isn’t the happiest of blogs but it is important for me to share this with you. My passion is to help women who are where I have been, I want to help you rebuild your health and love for yourself. I know how crappy it can feel, I know how sad and guilty you can feel, I know how tired and stressed out you can feel. I have been there, just recently in fact as a BIG reminder.

As women, we need to hold each other up, support each other, send love to each other and let each other know that we are not alone. I am on this journey with you and if you need help I will hold your hand and guide you. As my friend Sarah calls us, “we are warriors baby.” Be strong, you are worth it, you are enough, you are loved.