3 Great Spinach Smoothies for The Morning (Gluten + Dairy Free)

spinach smoothies for breakfastI tried my first green smoothie two weeks ago when I was looking for gluten free and dairy free breakfast ideas. At first I was intimidated by the idea of having spinach and fruit mixed together. I feared that I would just taste a cup of greens… which is not the most appetizing idea for some first thing in the morning.

After blending up my first smoothie and hoping for the best, I was pleasantly surprised I didn’t taste the spinach at all!! Getting enough green in your day can sometimes be a challenge. A green smoothie to start your day is a great way to make sure you don’t miss them.

These are my 3 favourite smoothies from the past two weeks of blending.

Spinach Kiwi Smoothie

2 kiwi
1 heaping cup spinach
1/2 cup apple juice
1 frozen banana
1 tbsp ground chia seeds

Feeling like your body needs a cleanse.. Start your day with a green smoothie. So much goodness packed in one cup. Starting your day off healthy will set the tone for the rest of the day.

Pina Colada Spinach Smoothie

2 cups spinach
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 small can pineapple chunks with juice
1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)
1 frozen banana
2 tbsp ground chia seeds

This shake is packed with great fats for heart health and essential for your bodies function. Loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C from the spinach and pineapple. This drink is sure to make your skin and insides glow. Enjoy!

Apple Spinach Smoothie

2 cups of spinach
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 apple
1/2 avocado
2 tbsp ground chia seeds

Blend until smooth. This green smoothie is great because the apple taste overpowers the spinach taste. The taste of fruit in the morning is often more attractive to people than spinach.

Hearty Chicken Soup with Lots of Vegetables

Right now I am doing an elimination diet to determine a potential food sensitivity so I can’t have gluten, eggs, dairy, soy or corn for three weeks. The first couple days I was eating carrots and hummus, quinoa salad, nuts and smoothies all day because I wasn’t really sure what else to eat. I am now on Day 5 and starting to explore more food options.

I’d say the biggest challenge with this elimination diet is that these foods are in everything!!! The other day I planned on making a chicken sandwich on gluten free bread served with coleslaw for lunch but found eggs, soy and corn in mayonnaise! So the mayo got replaced with avocado and switched my coleslaw for a spinach salad topped with quinoa salad.

I found this really great blog the other day that listed gluten free and dairy free recipes. I could have pinned them all but only picked out a few recipes to start. There is something different about these recipes…you can tell they were made with love. This chicken soup I’m about to share with you is like she describes it “Gluten-Free Chicken Soup for Body and Soul”.

crockpot chicken soup

Hearty Chicken Soup with Lots of Vegetables

This recipe is inspired by and adapted from the Gluten Free Goddess’s “Gluten-Free Chicken Soup for Body and Soul“. This recipe makes a large crock pot full of soup to feed a small army :P. Great to make on the weekend and have for your lunch the whole week. A bowl of this is surprisingly very filling and will last you a couple hours.

If you are feeling ambitious you could make double the recipe and freeze one batch to through in the slow cooker on a busy weeknight. If you are already making the kitchen a mess with prep work, you might as well make two to have a healthy meal for later.

The Recipe
gluten free chicken soup with vegetables
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
1/2 whole cooked chicken, chopped
8 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 bag of coleslaw mix
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, chopped
2 zucchini squash, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon each of: dried basil, oregano and parsley
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
4 cups organic chicken broth
A dash or two of balsamic vinegar to taste

Add all ingredients to the crock pot and cook for 5 hours on high. Pretty easy and so delicious!

The garlic, chicken and spice are all great foods for boosting the immunity during flu season. Nothing like a warm bowl of soup on a cold day.

Enjoy!

Healthy Habit #1: Drink More Water

We’re going to start this blog series “12 steps to dramatically improve your health” with a baby step of drinking more water. In theory this should be really easy to do, but the challenge is having water beside you to drink it.

Benefits of Water

There are SO many great reasons why you should drink the recommended intake of water in a day. To name a few…

  • Clear up your skin
  • Reduce aches and pains
  • Improve digestion and circulation
  • Suppresses appetite (most times you think you are hungry but actually your thirsty)
  • Reduce fatigue and increase energy
  • Help body repair and eliminate wastes

drinkmorewaterHow Much is Enough

As a easy rule of thumb, your recommended daily intake of water should be half your weight in ounces. So if you are 150 lbs for example, your body requires 75 ozs of water. Another great indicator that your body is getting enough water is if your urine is clear.

Many of us know that water is a good thing to add into our daily diet/routine but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. When making a new healthy routine for yourself, it is a daily effort to stick to it. It would be awesome if these things just fell into our life easily, but that isn’t always the case.

How To Integrate More Water Into Your Day

I’d say I’m a pretty healthy person but I am even guilty of not getting enough water everyday. Often I will fill up my glass to bring to my work station (or wherever I’m going), drink it within a couple minutes and forget to fill it back up for a couple hours. We get busy in our days and often won’t drink the water if it isn’t there.

Here are a couple tricks I’ve learned to drink enough water in a day:

  • Buy a large water bottle and fill it to the top first things in the morning.. take this with you everywhere you go and sip away. When it’s empty, fill it up again.
  • Sometimes water can be BORING, so I like to add the juice of a lemon to a glass. We have even started drinking this at night a couple nights a week in place of the wine/beer. Lemon water is very alkalizing..so if you don’t get alot of vegetables in your diet, this will have a great affect on balancing your body
  • Start drinking water early in the morning.  If you fulfill your water intake earlier in the day, you don’t have to worry about. The more water you drink, the less coffee/alcohol/juice you will drink. Your body can only hold so many liquids
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables which contain water naturally.
  • Herbal teas also count as water intake! Unfortunately caffeinated teas/coffees/pop do not because they are dehydrating. For ever caffeinated drink, you need to drink one full glass of water to offset.
  • Juice contains water but it doesn’t count as a water serving. Juice contains lots of sugar so doesn’t have the same purifying effect as water.
  • Track your progress and set a timeline. If you are mindful of a deadline you have set to complete this goal, you will be more likely to succeed. For example, you can say for the next three weeks I want to drink my recommended intake of water. Did you know it takes 21 days to develop a new habit?

Best of luck with your first challenge. If you have any other strategies that have helped you drink more water, I encourage you write a comment below.

Cheers!

12 Easy Steps To Dramatically Improve Your Health

20140115-222116.jpgEvery since I was a young kid I’ve been passionate about health. My favourite things as a kid were the easy bake oven, the play kitchen and playing any sport. Eating healthy, staying active and practicing self-care are things that come natural for me. I know that isn’t something that comes easy to all… Just like math and science are not my strong points :p

As I pursue my education to become a certified health coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I have learned even more about health and how to help others who want to improve their lives as well. The reasons to eat healthy, stay active and practice self-care go way beyond losing weight. Nourishing your body, mind and soul with only the best will give you the opportunity to feel more vitalized, happy in your own skin, and ready to “turn the world on its ass” (like my mom says after a couple cups of coffee lol).

Are you ready to take the health challenge??? In the beginning doing anything new can be a challenge but soon enough it will be second nature. If you are committed in your mind, you can do anything.

In this blog series I’m going to share 12 simple health transitions you can start integrating into your life right now. If you’d like to follow this series I encourage you to subscribe to my newsletter (sign up form in right side bar) or follow on Facebook.

I hope these health tips bring you closer to your health goals…whether it is to reach your target weight, feel more energized or happier in any area of your life.

Healthy Habit #1: Drink More Water >>

Unlimited Yoga Online For Only $9.95 a Month

January of the new year is typically the most popular for starting a new health regime. On my list of goals for the next 3-6 months is to do more yoga. I find yoga to be so rejuvenating and relaxing. When you carry a 20 lb baby around for a better part of a day, yoga can be extra great for loosening those tight muscles. I remember when I was working full time, yoga was great to relax my mind and stretch from body after sitting at a desk all day.

My favourite yoga classes are power yoga, hot yoga, yin yoga, and kundalini yoga. The power and hot yoga are more fast paced flow style classes that work on strengthening your core, back and leg muscles. The yin yoga is a more relaxing style of yoga that moves slower into each pose and focuses more on lengthening and stretching. And the kundalini yoga tends to bring out the `wild side` in you because it involves lots of chanting, sometimes awkward movements and breath work.

Since I am now a busy mom of a 5 month year old baby, I haven`t made a lot of time to dedicate to exercise since he was born. After a busy day, the last thing on my mind is to go out into the cold winter to drive to a fitness class. Once I get to the class I`m fine but most nights its a real push to get out the door. A fellow student at IIN, whom I am health coaching with, suggested myyogaonline.com to provide an affordable option to practice yoga from the comfort of my home. I love the option to try different styles of yoga and teachers. I am still planning on sticking to my once a week yoga class at the studio but it`s great to have the option to integrate more practice into my week without the extra cost.

yoga videos online

Are you making enough time for self-care during your week? What is something fun and rejuvenating you could do for yourself?

For more on achieving your fitness goals see: 6 Ways to Get More Exercise in Your Week

4 Hearty Meatless Soup Recipes

In the theme of Meatless Monday‘s this week, there isn’t anything I love more than a big bowl of a hearty homemade soup. I love making my own soups because they are so cheap and easy to make. Most weeks I will make a big batch of soup to have as lunch for the week served with a sandwich or crackers and cheese.

Here are some of my favourite meatless soups chalked up with great antioxidant rich plants and vegetable proteins. Big warm hug on a cold friggid day (which us Canadian’s understand).

hearty meatless soup recipes

4 Hearty Meatless Soup Recipes for Winter

  1. Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (easier to make than you think)
  2. Broccoli Soup with a Kick (great for the sinuses)
  3. Carrot Ginger Soup (also WAY easier than you think)
  4. Hearty Lentil Soup

If you are intimidated by making soup, know that it’s hard to screw it up (unless you dump too much cumin in the pot..which I have done..and sucks! little life lesson – don’t pour spices over the pot :P). With practice you won’t even need a recipe and will feel confident making your own concoction from your spice cupboard, pantry and vegetable drawer.

4 Healthy Recipes for Eggplant (Great Meat Alternative)

The other day as I was going through the checkout line in the grocery store with my egggplant, the cashier said “oh wow eggplant.. I’ve always wanted to cook with it but don’t know what to make”. Eggplant is one of the vegetables in the store that not many people add to their cart because it’s a “foreign food”, meaning they don’t know what to do with it.

I love cooking with eggplant because it’s a great meat alternative in recipes. It has a great texture and lots of flavour. Eggplant is a hearty low-calorie plant substitute for meat in stews, soups and stir fries! These are my favourite eggplant recipes that are so easy to make and extra yummy (even my husband “the meat eater” loves them)!

recipes for eggplant

Four Healthy Recipes for Eggplant

  1. Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
  2. Baingan Bharta (Indian Dish)
  3. Spicy Eggplant Rigatoni
  4. Baked Eggplant Parmesan Casserole

I’d be happy to hear how your new adventures in the supermarket and in the kitchen go.