5 Weight-Loss Friendly Snacks You Will Love

The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” often appear in the same sentence.

But that might also bring thoughts of “tasteless,” “cardboard,” and “completely unsatisfying.”

Right?

Let me give you my best weight-loss friendly snacks that aren’t just nutritious but also delicious!

What’s my criteria you ask?

They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way;  foods that contain fiber and/or protein.

1.Nuts

nuts and seed collection (cashew, pecan, hazelnut,pine nuts, pea

It’s true – nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening!

Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. Those probably are fattening.

Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.

By the way, nuts also contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.

Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!

Snack Ideas:  Pair them up with fresh fruit – cashews & raspberries are my favourite! Make up your own trail mix with your favourite nuts & seeds, even add a little dried fruit or dark chocolate to spruce it up. Add nut butter to apples or inside dates.

2. Fruit

Strawberries At Farmer's Market

As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)

Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I’m not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.

Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the “satiety factor”) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike.”

Win-win!

Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts or you just grab a peach dive right in. Peach season is my favourite, the kids & I just can’t get enough of them, if i had to pick a favourite fruit this would be eat – local, fresh, juicy peaches. If i am not eating them on their own, i am adding them to smoothies, coconut yogurt and salads. Check out my recipe for Peach & Sweet Potato Salad below.

Snack Ideas: Well, the obvious is to just eat real fruit. If you can’t do fresh? Try dried or frozen. Plus, they’re already chopped for you. My kids love frozen mango & cherries. Pair an apple with cheddar cheese. Some frozen blueberries with plain Greek yogurt & honey. Wrap some prosciutto around a peach or pear or another of my favourites fill some dates with natural almond butter.

3. Chia seeds

This is one of my personal favourites.

Chia is not only high in fibre (I mean HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.

Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?

They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).

Snack Idea: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of coconut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy. Also check out my recipe below!

4. Boiled or poached eggs

Half Boiled Eggs

Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.

They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.

And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.

Yup, you read that right!

Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!

5. Vegetables

Organic vegetables on a stand at a farmers market with a sign re

I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.

Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up, and you don’t need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?

You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).

Snack Idea: Use some hummus or gaucamole as a dip or put some nut butter on celery.

Conclusion:

Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be “tasteless,” like “cardboard,” or “completely unsatisfying.” Trust me.

As a little bonus, I have included 2 recipes this week a great healthy snack of Banana Chia Crisps. and my Peach & Sweet Potato Salad. Let me know what you think of them.

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-most-weight-loss-friendly-foods/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/almonds/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/almonds/

https://authoritynutrition.com/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/best-fruits-diabetics/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/apples/

https://authoritynutrition.com/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables/

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/

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What Are Your Cravings Trying To Tell You?

A few years ago cravings ruled my life. I was constantly craving sugar or bread and even wine but despite how much i ate/drank i was never satisfied, i still wanted more.

At the time, i didn’t understand that my body was trying to tell me something. Symptoms are our bodies language and cravings are a symptom. It could be caused by nutritional deficiencies, hunger or emotions. Either way, honor your cravings by getting to the root cause, and find out what your body really needs.

Yin/Yang Imbalance

First, let’s look at the concept of Yin/Yang balance.

Eating foods that throw our body out of balance can create food cravings. It is very helpful to look at this idea under the lens of Yin/Yang balance. We can put all our foods along the Yin/Yang spectrum. Yin foods are the ones that are cool and expanding in nature, while Yang foods are ones that are warm and contracting in nature.

When we eat too much Yang foods – such as red meat, salt and egg, our body will want some Yin foods to restore balance. Sugar and alcohol are extreme Yin foods that our body would usually crave.

Armed with this knowledge, you can reduce your sugar cravings by eating less extreme yang foods and instead, choose foods that are more neutral on the spectrum. Examples are whole grains, fish, sea vegetables, beans, root vegetables, and squash.

Energy Quick Fix

Cravings for sugar or refined carbohydrates can happen when our body needs a quick energy fix. Our body can extract energy from sugar very quickly, and is therefore the “food of choice” when a quick fix is needed.

To avoid the need for an energy quick fix, eat for sustained energy. Eat meals that are low in glycemic load – whole unprocessed foods such as whole grains, vegetables, and beans are great choices. They are high in fiber, which moderates the speed at which the sugar is absorbed by the body. Also, make sure you include a moderate amount of good fat and lean protein to slow down stomach emptying and increase satiety.

To support the body’s energy production, increase intake of foods rich in vitamin Bs – they are vital in our body’s energy production cycle. Good choices are whole grains, wheat germ, and brewer’s yeast.

Nutrient Deficiency

Cravings can be a sign of nutrient deficiency. Cravings for different flavor or texture can translate to a lack of various nutrients such as chromium, sulfur and tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an amino acid readily available in animal foods, eggs, dairy products, and some nuts and seeds, and is particularly rich in turkey meat.

Low Protein Intake

If you have a relatively low protein diet and tend to crave sugar and feel fatigue easily, try increasing your protein intake, or experiment with the type of protein in your diet.

Besides meat, fish and milk, you can try nuts and seeds, good quality cheese in moderate amount, as well as eggs, yogurt and beans. For vegetarians, and particularly vegan, pay more attention to food combining to get a complete protein profile from various plant sources.

Dehydration

Cravings can be caused by dehydration. Our body often misinterprets the sensation of thirst and translates that into hunger. Next time when you feel your cravings coming on, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes, and see if you are still hungry.

Click here for my Turkey & Quinoa Zucchini Boats recipe.

Enjoy!

How Do I Keep My Blood Sugar Stable?

Oh, the words “blood sugar.”

Does it conjure up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or insulin injections?

Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. You need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.

The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.

This fluctuation is the natural balance between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat food with sugars or starches (“carbs”), then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy

Why keep my blood sugar stable?

Your body wants your blood sugar to be at an optimal level. It should be high enough, so you’re not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable. It should be low enough that your body isn’t scrambling to remove excess from the blood.

When blood sugar is too low, this is referred to as “hypoglycemia.”

When blood sugar is too high, it is referred to as hyperglycemia.  Prolonged periods of elevated blood sugar levels (chronic hyperglycemia) can lead to “insulin resistance.”

Insulin resistance is when your cells are just so bored of the excess insulin that they start ignoring (resisting) it, and that keeps your blood sugar levels too high.

Insulin resistance and chronic hyperglycemia can eventually lead to diabetes.

So let’s look at what you can do with your diet and lifestyle to keep your blood sugar stable.

 

Food for stable blood sugar

The simplest thing to do to balance your blood sugar is to reduce the number of refined sugars and starches you eat.  To do this, you can start by dumping sweet drinks and having smaller portions of dessert.

Eating more fiber is helpful too. Fiber helps to slow down the amount of sugar absorbed from your meal; it reduces the “spike” in your blood sugar level.  Fiber is found in plant-based foods (as long as they are eaten in their natural state, processing foods removed fiber).  Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) is a great way to increase your fiber intake.

FUN FACT: Cinnamon has been shown to help cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it’s a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar. (HINT: It’s in the recipe below)

 

Lifestyle for stable blood sugar

Exercise also helps to improve your insulin sensitivity; this means that your cells don’t ignore insulin’s call to get excess sugar out of the blood.  Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar they absorbed from your blood. But you already knew that exercise is healthy, didn’t you?

Would you believe that stress affects your blood sugar levels? Yup! Stress hormones increase your blood sugar levels. If you think about the “fight or flight” stress response, what fuel do your brain and muscles need to “fight” or “flee”? Sugar! When you are stressed signals are sent to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels.  So, try to reduce the stress you’re under and manage it more effectively. Check out last weeks blog about what you can do to nourish your soul.

Sleep goes hand-in-hand with stress. When you don’t get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Sleep is crucial, often overlooked, factor when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make sleep more of a priority – it will do your blood sugar (and the rest of your physical and mental health) good.

 

Conclusion 

Your body is on a constant 24-hour quest to keep your blood sugar stable. The body has mechanisms in place to do this, but those mechanisms can get tired (resistant).  Long-term blood sugar issues can spell trouble.

There are many nutrition and lifestyle approaches you can take to help keep your blood sugar stable. Minimizing excessive carbs, and eating more fiber, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep are all key to having stable blood sugar (and overall good health).

Check out my recipe for No Bake Apple Cinnamon Bites to help curb those cravings.

 

Boost Your Energy with Food for the Soul

Increasing self-care is one of the best ways to improve your energy level. When you do things that you are passionate about, it fuels your soul. When you allow yourself to take a break and relax, you feel refreshed and have all the energy to take on the world.

Here are some ideas to nourish your soul:

  1. Clean, fresh air in other words get outside!
  2. Exercise or movement. Find something that you love to do and do it on a regular basis!
  3. Surround yourself with meaningful relationships.
  4. Fulfilling career or hobbies.
  5. Rest and relaxation and I mean really rest. Not lying down and scrolling through your phone. 100% pure relaxing.
  6. Spiritual practice. What is that you say? Well it can be as simple as beginning to decrease stress, calm your mind, deepen your spiritual connection, and increase your overall happiness and health. Spending time alone or aligning yourself with like-minded people or developing daily habits such as 5 minutes of breathing or meditating.
  7. Journaling. I love the Five Minute Journal. I use this every morning and evening.

Create a “nourishment menu” for yourself. When you feel like you need a boost, take the list out and do one of the things that fuels your soul. Some ideas: taking a walk in nature, calling your loved ones, doing yoga or stretching exercises, taking your dog out for a walk, taking a walk with a friend to catch up, or working on a hobby.

Now a little extra treat to nourish not only your soul but your body too. Click here for my recipe for Strawberry Ice Cream. Enjoy!

Ban The Bloat This Summer

Are you tired of feeling like you’re still pregnant even though you’ve never had kids or gave birth years ago??? Here are my top 3 ban the bloat tips to help you get back into those pre-mom jeans!

Ban the Bloat Tip #1 – Keep Your Digestive System Happy 🙂 

A lot of times we feel “big” in the middle not because of fat (thankfully!) but what’s going on in our stomach. Keeping our digestive system happy, especially avoiding bloat, can go a long way in helping us look and feel slimmer.

Here are a few tips to ban bloat:

  • Use herbs such as basil, dill, ginger, fennel, and mint – all of these herbs have gas-relieving properties. Traditional Medicinals do a couple of great digestive teas.
  • Introduce fiber-rich food gradually – fiber is great, but if you are not used to a fiber-rich diet and suddenly eat a lot of fiber-rich food, your GI tract will act up.
  • Cook beans properly – soak beans for at least 4 hours, and use spices or kombu to improve digestibility.
  • Notice how your body reacts to vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, and moderate intake if necessary.
  • Look for potential food intolerance (e.g. lactose or gluten) – if your body cannot digest and assimilate these properly, they can cause gas.
  • Yoga poses such as twisting can help relieve gas – these poses stimulate the movement of the smooth muscles of the intestinal walls and help “move things along”. Check out this video.

 

Ban the Bloat Tip #2 – Reduce Fluid Retention

You can easily gain 3 – 5 pounds, even a dress size, if you are experiencing water retention. For most women, hormonal fluctuation is the main cause of fluid retention. Food allergies and intolerance can also be a cause for water retention. Although you may not be able to get rid of all the fluids that Mother Nature imposes on you, there are a few things you can do to reduce the “impact”:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Reduce salt intake
  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Reduce toxic load and detox regularly. This doesn’t mean you have to rush out and buy one of those detox packs at your local health food store where you can only drink crazy shakes and not eat any food. By detox, i mean keep things really simple, just eat real food, avoid sugar, alcohol, dairy & gluten.
  • Use herbs with diuretic properties such as dandelion greens, uva ursi, corn silk, alfalfa, stinging nettle, celery seeds and parsley. Traditional Medicinals does a great diuretic tea.
  • Use an infrared sauna to help relieve stored water
  • Discover if you may have any food allergies or intolerance by doing an elimination diet or seeing your local Naturopath for testing.

 

Ban the Bloat Tip #3 – Facilitate Elimination

Facilitating elimination can help get rid of “dead weight” that is bogging you down. Here are a few things you can do to help “move things along”:

  • Drink fresh juice of carrot and apple to aid colon detox
  • Drink a cup of warm water with 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, first thing in the morning – it is very alkalinizing and cleansing
  • Make sure you are getting enough fiber – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, flaxseed, oat bran, psyllium husk are all great sources.Check out the recipe below to help you out.
  • Eat foods rich in prebiotics (garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas) and probiotics (kefir, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi)
  • Exercise regularly – movement helps peristalsis which is the wave like movements your intestines use to help move food, nutrients and waste along.
  • Do yoga poses such as twisting and cat-cow to massage the digestive organs. This is a great video to use

I hope the above tips can help you reduce your bloat, click here for my Bloat Fighting Tropical Smoothie Recipe.

Enjoy!

 

 

My Top 10 Tips to Avoid Weight Gain

Over a quarter of Canadians are obese – and with that comes many weight-related health issues. Here are the top 10 reasons why Canada has become a country of overweight people – avoid them and you can free yourself from our nation’s “fat trap”:

  1. Too many processed foods – they are cheap and convenient, but they are also full out sodium, sugar, chemicals and empty calories. When your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, it will crave more food. So the answer to this one is simple just Eat More Real Food!
  2. Low intake of fresh, whole foods.  Real food is nutrient dense, and when your body gets the necessary nutrients, you will have fewer cravings so again Eat More Real Food!
  3. Sedentary lifestyle – many people are taking in more than they burn so start moving. Doesn’t have to be high intensity crazy workouts, just walking regular will help.
  4. Supersized portions – the larger the portion in front of us, the more we eat so make sure that half your plate is vegetables, a quarter lean protein and the other quarter carbs such as whole grains, starchy veggies or beans/lentils.
  5. Supersized dishware – our plates has become larger and larger. We need more food to fill the plate. Our perception of portion size apparently is affected by the size of the plate. A simple solution is using a smaller plate.
  6. Advertising and marketing – big corporations throw a lot of marketing money on processed foods and making them seem like they are healthy. Don’t be fooled, read the ingredients and nutrition facts to inform yourself as to what you really are consuming.
  7. Misinformation and disinformation – people are confused what to eat. Unfortunately the labels on process and packaged foods are not always telling the whole story. Can you pronounce the ingredients, are they real food? How much sugar and sodium is in the product? Where are the calories coming from? These are the questions you should be asking yourself.
  8. Cost of food – processed, massed produced food, and foods made with subsidized crops are cheaper than fresh produce and other sustainably grown whole foods. High fructose corn syrup is a great example – it is found in a lot of food items we get in the store. Unfortunately spending money of food like products such as these are going to lead you to spend more money on your health when you get sick later on. Set a weekly/monthly budget, plan your meals, leave nights for leftovers and make sure you clean out your fridge before shopping. These are simple ways you can save money by purchasing real food.
  9. Time management – most people are always on the go. They eat while they are doing other things, and this mindless eating often makes people overeat. Many people don’t have time to cook – they depend on fast food, take out, or dining out – most of the time such foods are loaded with fat, sugar, sodium, and hidden calories. Track your time over a day or two and see where you are really spending your time. How much is on Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest, how much time is spent watching TV? Could you reduce these and put that time into the kitchen?
  10. Stress – when we are stressed, our body produce the stress hormone cortisol, which packs a triple whammy. Cortisol slows metabolism, affects blood sugar level, increase fat storage, and promote cravings for fatty, salty and sugary foods. Make sure that self care and stress management is at the top of the list. How much time do you spend on you each day or week? Could you go to bed a little earlier? Hit a yoga class? Read a book? Lock the door and take a bath in peace and quiet? What can you do for yourself today?

 

For this weeks recipe, I wanted to share a super simple option that you can use for breakfast or afternoon snack (just reduce the quantity to half if using for a snack.) Click here for my Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Parfait. Enjoy!

Haven’t Changed Anything in Your Diet But Getting Fatter?

Weight Scale

You are positive that you’re not eating more food or “junkier” food but you’re still gaining weight.

Is this possible?

Yes!  You are NOT crazy!

And here’s why.

We both know that the whole “calories in, calories out” argument is an overly simplistic view of weight.

There’s definitely more to the story than just what you’re eating, right?

A lot of this comes right down to your metabolic rate which is affected by things like your activity level, history of dieting, body composition, and even what you eat.

But, let’s go beyond the “eat less and exercise more” advice and dive into some of the less obvious underlying reasons why you may be gaining weight even though you’re eating the same.

Things like:

  • Aging;
  • Hormones;
  • Sleep;

Aging

Funny things happen the older we get.  People commonly experience lower energy levels, more digestive discomfort, weight gain, as well as aches and pains.

Aging can result in hormonal changes for both men and women.  And these can contribute to loss of some lean muscle mass, as well as increases and changes in fat storage on our bodies.

The good thing is that, this is very common and not your fault one bit.

Hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism and can be a massive contributor to your weight gain.  There are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.

When your thyroid gets off course and produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  And when your metabolism slows down you can gain weight.  Even though you’re eating the same way you always have.

Pro Tip: Talk with your friendly Naturopath about having your hormones tested.

Sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.

And as we age it can become harder and harder to get a good night’s sleep.

The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to help avoid weight gain.

It’s true!  Lack of sleep is linked with weight gain.

Who ever thought you can sleep off your weight?

Pro Tip: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  The first place to start is by implementing a calming before bedtime routine such as switching off all technology at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime.

Stress

It seems to be everywhere!  So many things that can cause stress responses in your body.

And you know that stress hormones are not going to help you sustain healthy habits or maintain a healthy weight, right?

While you can’t necessarily change your stressors you can try to adjust your stress response to them.

Pro Tip:  Try meditation or yoga.  Or even mindful eating.  What about those new adult colouring books that are all the rage now?

Conclusion:

There are lots of factors that can affect your weight, even if you’re eating the same way you always have.  Aging, hormones, stress, and sleep are all interconnected to each other and can all contribute to weight gain, even if you’re eating the same way you always have.

Recipe: Sushi Bowl

Serves 2

1 cup cooked rice

1 avocado (thinly sliced)

½ cucumber (diced)

½ red pepper (thinly sliced)

1 green onion (chopped)

2 tablespoons dried seaweed (arame, wakame, or crumbled nori sheets)

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon sesame oil

½ garlic clove

dash salt and pepper

  • Split the first seven ingredients into two bowls.
  • Mix the rest of the ingredients together to make the dressing.
  • Pour the dressing over the sushi bowl.