The holiday season is here and that typically means sweet treats at home, in the office, all over the stores, basically there are infinite stacks of sugar lying around every corner in waiting. That being said just because you are leading this new or maybe old healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to abstain from all these once a year sweets and treats, it just means you should probably be a bit pickier about the sweets you do decide to indulge in.
Many of us when the season of eating, drinking and merriment rolls around do one of two things and they both involve going over board. We either completely abstain locking ourselves in our homes, avoiding eye contact with Carole from work who always brings in those delicious peppermint pinwheels and stressing ourselves out about all the things we are missing out on – OR – We end up throwing caution to the wind and losing track of all those hard to develop healthy habits and all that wonderful self care you had been doing for the past few months and decide that it will just be January’s problem. Neither of these options are optimal and they’re definitely not what I want for any of you because either way you look at the above you are stressing your body and mind out and probably aren’t going to be having as awesome of a time as you could be.
So, before we get into a delicious recipe that will please even the most skeptical individuals let’s talk about how to not veer too far off track this holiday season.
3 Tips for Staying on Track this Holiday:
Now that you are set to enjoy and nourish yourself this holiday season here is a delicious treat that is sure to please a crowd. This treat unlike most of the other sweets you will be presented with this holiday season is not filled with processed sugar and flour, plus it is vegan and paleo friendly and nut free which means most of your friends and family will be able to indulge without allergy or dietary restrictions. Now all of this is great, but truly the best part is all you need is a spatula, bowl and a microwave, it is quick, it is easy, and if you are a parent this might be a fun one to try with the kids!
Paleo & Vegan Nut Free Holiday Bark (serves 8-10)
6oz of Quality 70% dark chocolate
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp sugar free Sun Butter
¼ cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/8 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
¼ cup Gogi Berries or unsweetened dried cranberries
2 tbsp candied ginger, finely diced.
Other toppings: sunflower seeds, dates, dried banana, dried apple, dried cherries
Note: if you are making this with children in mind you may want to omit the ginger. Even candied ginger packs a pretty strong flavor, so heads up!
As I am sure a lot of you’re are aware I am a huge proponent of creating and maintaining happy healthy bodies through the use of whole, live and natural foods. That being said there are items we can add to our healthy diets and lifestyles to help support our body in times of stress and demand.
One of those things are adaptogens. Adaptogens help to balance, restore and protect the body. They are by no means a new thing and have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries, it is very likely that you have even seen them on the shelves of your local health food.
Adaptogens are a mix of herbs, mushrooms and products from nature that function as regulators in our body. They help to support healthy energy levels, combat stress and exhaustion and support the immune system. A simple way of thinking about adaptogens is to liken them to a thermometer. Our body is always fighting for homeostasis, this is where it is happiest and thrives. Adaptogens help to “set that temperature” they assist the body to get it back to that homeostasis.
So now that we know about these mystical plant supporters where do we find them? How can you bring them into your life?
5 of the most commonly available adaptogens:
Probably one of the most commonly known adaptogens as it received its turn in the spot light in the mid to late 90’s. This root has been associated with improving mental performance and the body’s ability to withstand stress. Some varieties of ginseng have also been known to help lower blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar levels and have an antioxidant effect. All of these leads to healthier looking skin, a healthier heart, and a more energy which means you won’t be reaching for that 2pm cup of coffee.
Is a root and belongs to the cruciferous family, yes that’s right the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Unlike it’s sulfuric smelling cousins maca root has a pleasant almost burnt caramel like flavour. This root is often associated with promoting vitality and energy, it is associated with these benefits because of its hormonal balancing tendencies. Maca has been known to assist in increasing energy, support immune health, increase stamina and increase the potential for fertility in both men and women.
Turmeric assists the body in its natural detoxification process, and with all that our liver does for us I am sure a little help is appreciated. By supporting the body’s detoxification systems turmeric also actively works to assist in maintaining cortisol levels in our bodies. Additionally, its active compound curcumin is excellent at reducing inflammation, which means this is a great addition to any active individual’s lifestyle.
Reishi is probably one of the most commonly known fungi adaptogen. Reishi has been associated with helping to calm the nervous system, balance out blood sugar levels and strengthen the immune system, making it a great addition to any winter flu fighting kit!
Probably more commonly consumed in Canada than all the above combined cacao is the unprocessed no sugar added sister of cocoa that we consume in the form of chocolate bars. Raw cacao is slightly more bitter than its more processed sister and with that bitterness comes a whole lot of healing. Raw cacao assists the body in lowering oxidative stress (i.e. wrinkles), it provides a generous serving of magnesium, vitamin B and more antioxidants than blueberries.
If you are interested in more information, here is a link to that time I talked about adaptogens on CTV. I hope you are able to find something that might fit into lifestyle and diet to help assist you in continuing to be the healthy happiest version of you.
With more people becoming more and more aware of the foods they consume sometimes it can begin to feel overwhelming when we are hosting parties or contributing to a potluck. It can be challenging to take into considerations everyone's eating preferences, dietary restrictions and severe allergies. The following recipe is not only a crowd pleaser but it is safe for any of your friends practicing the keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian or just eating healthy lifestyle.
The following appetizer is made with some pretty simple ingredients loaded up with flavour, healthy fats and detoxifying herbs, while remaining low in carbohydrate, free from additives and preservatives and probably the best part it is SUPER simple and quick to make!
First we will start with making the Olive and Sundried Tomato Tapenade...
1/2 cup Mixed olives
1/4 cup slices sundried tomatoes (can omit if there is a nightshade sensitivity, just add more olives)
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
Now that you have made the Tapenade what should you serve it in? Well a great keto and paleo friendly option would be in a cucumber boat. So here is how I went about doing that.
Take two cucumbers...
Peel them and cut them into 1-2 inch blocks. Then using a mellon baller or super tiny spoon scoop out the seeds. Be careful to leave a bit at the bottom otherwise you will have more of a tube than a bowl.
Using that same little spoon or mellon baller stuff those cucumber cups with your tapenade. You can do this several hours before your party or get together and not have to worry about juices running or bleeding colour, which helps in reducing your stress levels when it comes to hosting an event.
Et vola! you have a delicious healthy appetizer to wow any crowd while still being respectful of at least a handful of various eating styles and allergies. Plus it was still super simple and you didn't have to rely on a bag of potato chips to save the day!
I know I am a little late on this recipe seeing how most coffee shops that carry the coveted pumpkin spice latte tend to have them out by what mid-August these days, I have finally found a super simple, super delicious Pumpkin Spice Latte that you can make at home, tastes fairly similar to the conventional one but without the weird chemicals and flavour science that goes into that fancy cup of joe.
So it took me some time to come up with recipe mainly because everything I tested out ended up being totally disgusting and I just couldn't figure out why so many people were putting actual pumpkin puree into their coffee. So after several horrible cups of coffee I finally landed on this recipe and it felt like striking gold!
Pumpkin Spice Latte (serves 1)
½ cup coffee or espresso
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp vanilla
¼ cup full fat coconut milk from can
1 tbsp maple or honey
Now you have a delicious PSL but what are you going to do with the left of the coconut milk in that open can? Yes, for sure you can keep drinking lattes all week long OR you could turn those left overs into pumpkin spiced pudding. Now you are not only getting to enjoy that delicious cup of coffee, but now you also have 3-4 nice servings of breakfast or a sweet treat for your mid afternoon snack.
Pumpkin Spice Chia Seed Pudding: (serves 3-4)
Left over coconut milk from the can (from the recipe above)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup chia seeds
There you have it two delicious fall inspired treats that are free from processed ingredients, chemicals and refined sugars. Instead you will have treats filled with healthy satiating fats, omega 3, blood sugar stabilizing ingredients which are all sure to put a smile on your face!
Happy Fall Everyone!
We have all been there before, suffereing from restless nights, staring up at the ceiling fan wondering just how many hours of sleep you will get now if you close your eyes and actually fall asleep, bargaining with your brain to just afford you 4 hours just 4 hours of uninterupted sleep will let you function through your work day, make lunches for your kids and be an alright person.
From stress to lack of physical activity to the foods we are eating there are a ton of reasons why sleep might be out of your reach these days, the good thing is it doesn't need to be! By modifying some small things in your diet you will be able to find that elusive sandman in no time.
My name is Brittany, I am a Holistic Nutritionist, Yoga Teacher and Certified Personal trainer. My hope is to help inspire, encourage and motivate others to live their happiest and healthiest lives.