Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

Today I had chocolate ice cream for breakfast. Okay…maybe I didn’t, but it was just as delicious, and an incredibly healthy version of ice cream!

Chocolate 'Icecream'

Ingredients:

  • ½ avocado (ripe)
  • 1 heaping tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds (1 in recipe and 1 to garnish)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or unpasteurized honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut milk (approx.)
  • 1 cup ice (approx.)
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter

Instructions:

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Garnish with chia seeds and freeze for 10 minutes (uncovered).

Enjoy this amazing bowl of ice cream whenever you crave a sweet treat, or you can add your favourite protein powder for a post-workout snack.

Other than the delicious taste of this treat, there’s another big reason why I love this recipe SO much – it includes some serious power foods!

Avocados contain monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fibre, essential nutrients and phytochemicals. Some studies show that eating avocado can even support weight management, cardiovascular health, and healthy aging! Who can say no to a super-food that does all of that?? And, in this recipe, the avocado makes the ice cream deliciously creamy.

The chia seeds in this recipe add to the texture while packing a punch by providing omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, protein, and minerals!

And that’s just a snapshot of this amazing ice cream, so run, don’t walk to your kitchen and make this delicious ‘treat’ 😉

Until next time,
Sam

Sources:

  1. http://www.nutritionj.com/content/12/1/1
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913/
  3. http://www.naturalnews.com/048362_avocado_heart_disease_LDL_cholesterol.html
  4. http://www.naturalnews.com/040564_chia_seeds_omega-3_sources_healthy.html
Advertisements

7 Tips to Successfully Change Your Lifestyle

The other night I was sitting down eating a salad with homemade dressing before I went to the gym and it hit me just how much my life has changed over the past few months. I have always enjoyed cooking and had an interest in nutrition and health, but I have also had my fair share of hiccups and a couple of months ago, the idea of even making my own salad dressing seemed overwhelming to me.

Thinking of all of these changes that I have made recently made me realize that despite being overwhelmed initially, the transition has felt relatively smooth and sustainable, so I thought I would write a post on some things to keep in mind when making a big lifestyle change. If you find yourself in a similar situation as I was, I recommend the following things to keep in mind to try and make the transition to your new lifestyle as smooth as possible.

Do your research. Before I made any concrete plans of what my diet and lifestyle would look like, I did a lot of research. I read about different approaches to healing my body and my relationship with food; I read about the timelines associated with each approach; I read about other people’s experiences; cooking prep-time etc. The point here is that I read a lot and it gave me a fairly good idea of what to expect when I took the plunge. This really helped me feel mentally prepared to commit to making the changes.

Read!

Make a plan. I am not just talking about an overarching plan (although you need that too); I am talking about a plan for each week. I use an agenda and plan out my workouts and most of my meals for the week and it helps keep me on track.

Planner

Be flexible. I know this seems kind of counterintuitive since I just told you to make a plan, but even with a plan, things will change and you will have to go with the flow in order to be successful and fulfilled with your new lifestyle, which brings me to my next point…

Have a back up. Plan for your pitfalls. If you’ve tried to make a lifestyle change in the past and you didn’t maintain it, what happened? For me, one of my pitfalls is if I let myself get too hungry I will eat anything (embarrassing, but true), so my backup is a quick meal that I know can be done in no time (like a jam-packed salad).

Salad

Keep your fridge stocked. This is sort-of implied in the tip above, but it deserves it’s own paragraph. Trust me, being hungry and finding that there’s nothing in your pantry or fridge that will satisfy you is a HUGE bummer and can limit your chances of sustaining your new lifestyle.

Be willing to try new things and take baby steps. As part of my healing journey, I decided to eliminate processed foods, and this has meant that even something as simple as salad dressing, or granola bars, have to be made from scratch. Two months ago I felt so overwhelmed by the idea of making things from scratch, but it’s not nearly as hard as I thought. In fact, it’s been fun coming up with my own recipes.

Homemade Larabars

Show yourself some compassion. I already talked a lot about learning to love yourself, and self-compassion goes hand-in-hand. When you decide to make a lifestyle change, it’s important to recognize the extent of the change you are making. It is a journey, and you need to be patient. When I decided to make all of these changes, I knew it would be drastic, and I decided that I would start with my relationship with food, and once I felt strong enough I would reintroduce fitness back into my routine. I was patient with myself, and took my time adjusting to my new routines, and as a result, I now feel completely at-home in my lifestyle.

If you are facing some big lifestyle changes, I hope you can learn from some of my lessons and make lasting, fulfilling changes in your life. And, if you find yourself needing a little bit of extra support, you can always find it here.

Until next time,
Sam

Recipe of the Weekend: Turkey Burger with Pesto Sauce

Happy Saturday friends, and happy Spring!

I have been craving lighter foods lately, and one of the signature staples of BBQ season (which I keep telling myself is right around the corner)…burgers!

We aren’t quite at that BBQ time of year yet, but that didn’t stop me from craving a burger, so the other night, I whipped up a quick, but delicious burger recipe with an amazing pesto sauce to top it off.

The burger is delicious, but let’s face it – the pesto sauce totally makes this recipe.

Turkey Burger with Pesto Sauce

Burger (makes 8 patties):

  • 1 package ground turkey
  • Finely chopped onion slices (amount depends on your preference – I put about half of a small sweet onion)
  • 4 tablespoons garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 egg
  • Paprika (again, amount depends on your preference – I used about ½ tsp)
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, scoop into ‘burger’ shapes (I used an ice-cream scoop…sounds weird, but hey, it works)

Cook using your method of choice: I fried these in a pan with coconut oil, but come spring and summer weather, hello barbeque!

Pesto:

  • Handful fresh basil
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • Olive oil (approx. 1 – 2 tbsp)
  • Salt (to taste)

Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor (I used a Magic Bullet) – add oil slowly until you reach your desired consistency.

Turkey Burger with pesto

Then voila, put your burger and your pesto on a bed of greens and you’ve got yourself an amazing dinner! And another great thing about these burgers – they are versatile – say hello to an amazing breakfast with your leftovers!

Breakfast with leftover burgers

Enjoy!

Are you excited for lighter Spring foods?

What are your favourite Spring staples?

3 Strategies to Love Your Authentic Self

3 Strategiesto love yourAuthentic Self

In my last post, I talked about the importance of self-love, and how much it helped me make some important life changes. Every day is a wonderful gift, and to spend any part of your day putting yourself down is just not productive or necessary. Especially when you are so AMAZING – yes, you, whoever you are, I guarantee you are amazing.

In my last post, I also told you that getting to a place where I could actually say that I love and accept myself has been a long journey. And it has; it has taken a lot of work and self-reflection, but it has been so worth it. Not all that long ago whenever I thought about making changes in my life, it was often a response to something that I didn’t like about myself – an effort to change what I didn’t like, or to ‘compensate’ for it (as though I somehow needed to apologize for being ME). I had thoughts about not being smart enough, or tall enough, or thin enough, or tanned enough, etc. etc. It all came down to my misinformed belief that in one way or another, I was not good enough. But I was wrong, and after a lot of work and reflection I started to realize just how wrong I was. Now that I can appreciate my own uniqueness and love myself for who I am I want to help you get there too, so I put together a small list of strategies to help you on your own journey to self-love.

  1. Learn to distinguish between negative and positive self-talk, and then build up the positive and dismiss the negative. I like to call the negative voice, the ‘nattering parrot on your shoulder’, and whenever I feel the negativity creeping in, I picture that parrot on my shoulder and I acknowledge that it is there and then ask it to leave and take it’s negativity with it. It sounds very silly, I know, but give it a try – it just might help! Once you learn to dismiss the negative self-talk you can focus on that positive self-talk – that is the voice you need to listen to! For more help on this strategy I recommend you visit http://adashofmeg.com/2015/03/11/the-first-step-to-bringing-freedom-into-your-life/ and watch Meg’s vlog – she totally gets it and perfectly describes this strategy.
  1. Make time for yourself to do something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be long, and it can be simple. For me, it’s a cup of tea. I make time every day to sit and enjoy a cup of tea. Even though this is so simple, it helps in two ways: 1) It acknowledges that I am worthy of doing something that I love every single day, and 2) It gives me time to sit, relax, and refresh.
  1. Start doing positive affirmations every day. There are two kinds of affirmations that I recommend:
  • Every morning, look at yourself in the mirror and repeat your positive affirmation three times and then smile. Your affirmation can be anything you like, but I will give some ideas (below) to get you started in case you have trouble thinking of one at first.
  • The second type of affirmation doesn’t require a mirror. At various points in your day simply repeat your affirmation to yourself. You can do this at any point in your day as a reminder, but I find this technique is also really good if there’s an event or anything coming up that makes you a little bit nervous. For example, if I’m nervous for a meeting or presentation I will give myself a quiet moment to say my affirmations to myself and build myself up.

In case you aren’t sure where to start with your affirmations, here are some examples of affirmations you can use (but feel free to get creative and make up your own!):

“My mind is brilliant, my body is healthy, my soul is tranquil.”

“I love and accept myself exactly as I am.”

“All is well in my world.”

“I am enough.”

“I am amazing, and bring many gifts to this world.”

I will openly admit that when I first started doing positive affirmations I felt very awkward! The idea of saying something so self-appreciating felt unnatural and arrogant, but, with time, I have come to love my positive affirmations and I never go a day without them. I truly believe that this has made a huge difference in my journey to self-love. You might not believe the affirmations at first when you say them, and you may even feel a little bit uncomfortable like I did, but I have found that the more I say them, the more I whole-heartedly believe in the affirmation, so try to get past feeling silly or awkward!

I hope that these strategies will help you! They’re pretty simple, but they’ve made a world of difference for me.

Is self-love an area you struggle with? What other strategies have you tried? Share them in the comments below!

Until the next time,

Sam

Back to the Gym and Feeling Awesome – a Mishmash Post!

Well friends, I am so happy to tell you that I am finally feeling well enough to get back to the gym. No, scratch that, I am feeling amazing! Between the treatment that my doctor gave me, and the complete change-up of my diet, I am feeling SO MUCH BETTER. And that is exciting! So, this post is going to be a bit of a mishmash of things. One, I want to tell you about some of the things that are making me feel better, because even though I know my situation is somewhat unique, I am so sure that the lessons I am learning can help other people too! And, because it is so exciting to be back at the gym, I am also going to share a lower body workout with you.

Let’s start with what has been making me feel better – I’m not going to talk about the medication side of things because that is pretty self explanatory, but I’m going to talk about some of the other changes that I have been making that have made a HUGE difference in my recovery, but also in my life in general. Remember when I said that sometimes challenges are truly just opportunities? It has already proven so true for me in this situation.

So what are these big changes?

There is the obvious diet overhaul. This has made a huge difference in how I’m feeling. For the past three weeks I have been on an ‘elimination diet’ – for those of you who don’t know, this is just a very basic diet that contains only food that I know doesn’t hurt me (coincidentally, for me, this looks a lot like a modified Paleo approach). After 30 days, I can start adding in foods gradually to determine which foods my body can and cannot tolerate. I honestly do not feel rushed at all to start adding foods back in – I am feeling so strong and nourished right now that I haven’t even been missing other foods.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

Now, this leads me to the other things that I have been changing in my life. This is not the first time that I have made changes to my diet, or tried to change my lifestyle. But, this is the first time it has felt easy, and balanced. The reason it seems so different this time is because all of the changes I am making have come from a place of self-love. This has been a long journey for me. In the past I would try to make changes that were motivated by something I didn’t like or accept about myself, and this time, I decided to make changes because I love myself as I am, and want to help myself feel even better. I know this is not the first time I’ve talked about it, but I cannot express just how important self-love and self-compassion truly are. When you decide to make a change in your life, doing it out of self-love makes it so much easier, and it helps make sure that you are making the changes for the right reasons! I could talk about this all day, but I did promise you a workout, so I will continue this rant in a future post!

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

As promised, here is the workout:

  • 3 x 10-12 squats
  • 3 x 10-12 deadlifts
  • 3 x 10-12 walking lunges with hand weights
  • 3 x 10-12 standing calf raises
  • 3 x 20 sumo touches (sit into sumo squat with a hand weight in each hand and alternate touching the floor behind each heel with your weights)
  • 3 x 10-12 seated leg extensions

I felt like Bambi learning to walk after this workout – it’s a good one! Give it a try!

Until next time,
Sam

Homemade Peanut Butter ‘Larabars’

I absolutely love peanut butter Larabars. They are delicious and have the added bonus of only containing 3 ingredients (and the ingredients are all simple and natural)!

Every time I eat a Larabar I think to myself that with only 3 ingredients, surely I could handle trying to make a batch myself. So, finally, I did! I am so excited to share this recipe with you because it is a good one!

So say hello to my new post-workout snack:

Peanut Butter Larabar Balls

Peanut Butter Larabar Balls

These bars are extremely easy to make, and so delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup all natural peanut butter (I wanted very peanut-butter-y bars, so if your peanut butter addiction is not as extensive as mine, adjust accordingly)
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 4 tbsp roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 1/4 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Throw everything into your food processor and combine until smooth.

Roll into balls (or you can shape them like a bar, or whatever fun shape your heart desires).

You can eat them right away or throw them in the freezer for 10 minutes and then eat them. I liked them better after they were in the freezer.

These are seriously amazing – Cam and I gobbled them up in no time!

I definitely recommend giving the recipe a try! And let me know if you do!

Until next time,

Sam

Positivity Needs a Plan

One of the things I talk a lot about on this blog is positivity. I 100% believe that positive thinking is a powerful tool to achieving your goals, and to feeling fulfilled. But here’s the thing – positivity is not where it ends.

I was talking to my mom today about positivity and how if positivity is the only tool you’re using to achieve your goals and dreams, then you might be in for a surprise. I see so many messages on social media about positivity. Like the one below:

positivemind

Source: Pinterest

And I agree to some extent. Our behaviour is determined by our mindset and our perspective is critical. So I do 100% agree that positivity breeds positivity. In fact, I whole-heartedly agree that positivity and positive thinking are the best place to start. But, that’s exactly what it is – a start. Positivity is your foundation, but you need to build on that foundation to get where you want to go. There needs to be a plan to follow through.

I’ll give you an example.

I often use visualization as a positive thinking tool. I visualize my goals and dreams. I do it so often that it comes naturally now. For me, visualization and positive thinking are very similar to daydreaming, but with one important difference: visualization is daydreaming with a purpose. It helps me see my end goal – the big picture. What I am really trying to achieve.

Souce: Google Images

Souce: Google Images

But, it never stops there, or else it truly would just be daydreaming. After visualizing the ‘big picture’ goal, I always make a plan because I need to know the steps required to get me to that goal. So I make a realistic, actionable, clear plan, and then work hard to carry it out. And this is a critical piece that I think is sometimes missed in the wave of support for positive thinking.

Sometimes positive thinking is considered to be the notion that you must believe ‘everything will work out’. And it might, but most things will work out a lot better if you have a plan and you follow through.

To me, positive thinking also doesn’t mean that you ignore the possibility of failure. It means that you decide that you will find a way to get to your end-goal, happy-state, whatever it may be, despite the obstacles that may arise. You have the courage to accept that failure is a possibility, but you will try anyways. That has to include a plan. And sometimes, part of your plan will have to include contingencies. Because life happens.

Source: Google Images

Source: google images

I’m not suggesting that we need to plan every aspect of our lives, because that can be equally as detrimental as not having any plans. And, I do also think that positive thinking is critical in helping us maintain perspective, and for allowing us to have grand dreams. But, I do think that big dreams require good planning and hard work, and that is what I consider to be the trifecta of success.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

So what does that mean?

Positivity extends beyond just believing the best will happen. It means being a dreamer, and being willing to work for those dreams in any circumstance that may arise.

  • Dream big, and keep a positive mind.
  • Make a plan to achieve your dreams.
  • And finally, be willing to work hard for your dreams and roll with the obstacles that might arise.
Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

How do you use positivity as a tool to achieve your dreams?

What else do you do to reach your goals?

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Until next time,

Sam

Chickpea Curry Soup Recipe

Cam and I got some incredible gifts when we got married. Seriously. We were overwhelmed with the generosity of our family and friends! No surprise that a lot of our gifts were related to cooking.

I told you about my love for soup in the winter, and a couple of the wedding gifts we received are really fuelling this love, because it’s easier than ever to make (here’s looking at you crockpot and food processor…)!

This week I was having a major soup craving, but I wanted something a little bit different, and curry was sounding really good, so I took a bunch of stuff that Cam and I had in the kitchen and made up a curry soup recipe on the spot. Who says you can’t satisfy two cravings at once??

Despite the lack of planning, thought, and effort that went into it – Cam and I both loved it. So much so that I thought I better document the recipe for the future, and share it with you!

Ingredients:

1 Butternut Squash (cubed)

4 large carrots cut into bite site pieces

2 cans of chickpeas

½ small sweet onion

1 carton chicken broth

3 cups water

1 small handful of curly parsley

Approximately 1 tbsp mild curry powder

Directions:

Throw all of your ingredients into a crockpot and let it cook on low for about 8 hours.

IMG_2160

Once your soup is done cooking you can serve as-is, or puree it in a food processor (or blender). We tried it both ways and couldn’t decide which we liked better so I pureed half and kept the un-pureed portion for leftovers. And, if you’re really feeling adventurous go ahead and dip a plantain fry or two….yummm!

IMG_2145

Let me know if you try it!

Until next time,

Sam

Learning to Work With Yourself

Hi friends,

In my post on thinking outside the box, I talk a little bit about working with yourself instead of against yourself. Since that post I have been thinking a lot about this idea and I’ve realized just how important it is and just how deep it goes.

I recently watched a TED talk by Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability. Some of you may have seen it already, but, if not, I recommend it – it was an extremely powerful talk and I thought it fit in really well with the idea of working with yourself.

One of the things that Brene mentions in her talk, that really caught my attention, is that in order to achieve human connection (which we all need and want) you have to be willing to be vulnerable and let yourself truly be seen for who you are. This made me realize that the same is true for learning to work with yourself. In any aspect of our lives it is so important that we learn to work with our own strengths and needs. This is the only way we can ever achieve our true potential. And, in order to really work with yourself, you need to know who you are, and you need to be willing to let others see that too.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

This year I took a 360 assessment. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it is an assessment where you choose 10 people to answer a series of questions about your skills and reactive tendencies. In my assessment I scored very high on the relational side. Which means that my strengths are relational and people skills. At first when I saw this I was not so happy. The idea of being a people-oriented person in a workforce that seemed to really value processes, and logic, and reasoning made me feel like my skills were somehow ‘wrong’. Why? Because I had started comparing myself to others, and to what I thought was the ‘proper’ way to do things.

After thinking a lot about it, I realized a few things:

  1. Just because someone else is smart, and successful by doing things one way, doesn’t mean that I can’t be successful doing things my own way. In fact, I will always be more successful if I do things in a way that works with my own thinking-process. And, I will be much more useful in my work if I am willing to embrace and use all of my strengths.
  2. Deciding to do things my own way means that I have be willing to be comfortable in my own skin. I have to be willing to be vulnerable and show the world who I really am. It sounds so simple, but can be hard to do.
  3. Sometimes the things that we perceive as weaknesses are actually strengths. In my case, I had to realize that relational skills are not a weakness! They mean that I connect with people, that I collaborate, and that I value the opinion of others. These can be powerful tools if I am willing to let them shine.
  4. It takes all kinds. Just how boring would it be if we were all the same? I know that this is not a new idea, but it is so true. Being different is what makes us all work well together, and what makes for beautiful diversity in the world.

We can all embrace our uniqueness and realize that this is what makes us so wonderful!

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

What are some of the unique things about yourself that make you wonderful?

Until next time,

Sam