Make a change – small, that is

“Small changes consistently applied…”

“The best workout is the one you’ll actually do.”

I saw these phrase in an online forum the other day, someone was sharing their story of how the small changes they’ve made have helped them become healthier.

Basically the idea is that small changes are much more realistic and therefore you’re much more likely to actually maintain them – whereas too many changes or too big of a change can lead to you feeling overwhelmed and giving up.

What’s realistic and manageable can change from season to season too. For example, last year I completed P90x. Some of you may know it’s fairly intensive – I was working out 6 days a week for 1 – 1.5 hrs each time. And I loved it. But now I am in a different season, and lately my workouts are 30-40 minutes 5 times a week. And I’m enjoying this, and it is what is realistic and attainable for me right now.

A few weeks ago I started working with a personal trainer online (Converge Fit) and it’s been great. Before we even started training we skyped so he could get to know a bit about me, what kind of workout equipment I have available, if there’s exercises I don’t like (ie: I’m not keen on biking so it’s not in my workouts), how I generally eat, and then figure out a realistic plan from there that fits into my lifestyle.

From there my trainer created a a strength training plan for me and we set goals for the month – the first to make it to the gym 3 times a week for strength trainining (with optional cardio on days off, and the second to eat mindfully and stop at 80% full.

And basically, I’m crushing it. During my last email check in I could only rave about how these changes haven’t felt like a chore, that they’ve been easy and I’ve been on track for the most part, and in turn I’m gaining momentum and staying motivated and continuing to show up, and how because I feel so good it’s in turn making me want to go the extra mile with cardio on days off, putting in effort to eat healthier, etc. Even though that was not the goal.

And it all started with a small change.

Ready for a (small) change? Here’s some ideas:

  • drink more water – I recommend carrying a water bottle with you
  • eat 1 less dessert / drink 1 less can soda (or whatever is a realistic number for you) per week
  • get off the bus a bit sooner and add a little walk into your day
  • park your car further away and walk a bit further
  • take the stairs
  • go to bed earlier. Sleep plays a huge role in our wellness.
  • aim to workout ____ times per week. If you aren’t exercising, maybe 1-2 times is realistic.
  • add more fruit / veggies into your life – this could mean making a smoothie in the morning, or even eating a small handful of baby carrots with your lunch
  • add 1 less spoonful of sugar to your coffee, cereal, etc.

sucess

What are some other small changes you’ve tried?

hippie (grocery) haul + food prep + meal ideas

Just call me krazy kefir lady.

My thought on the bus ride home, as I juggled an armful of bananas, other produce, and kefir. Hello, my name is Rebecca and I am secretly a wannabe hippie. Full disclosure, I had actually never tried kefir before, but clearly it was the next move after combing out my dreads in order to keep what little scraps of hippiedom I may carry. JK.

I am trying to get better at living a healthy lifestyle. I have recently gotten into a regular routine of working out 5 mornings a week – and one of the bonuses of this is that I find I am much more motivated to eat healthier when I am working out, because it makes me feel good and frankly, it would be stupid to derail progress with a momentary pleasure of poor nutrition choices that lead to sluggishness later. *Cough* Except for occasions like my birthday where a pumpkin pie appears and we all know calories don’t count on your birthday. Right? I digress…

Fast forward to me unpacking my groceries and doing some meal prep that same night, when inspiration hit. I know there are others who, like me, are trying to live a healthier lifestyle (and fit it into a busy schedule) / cook on a budget / lack meal ideas. So I figured I’d share a rough list of the groceries I bought, my meal prep, and some ideas of what you can cook. I should foreward you though that strict recipes do not follow, it’s moreso lists of things you can combine that taste good together. Cool? Cool. Let’s carry on.

The Grocery List 

  • 2 cup pkg mixed melon
  • 2 cups raspberries (30% off :D)
  • 1 bunch bananas
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 cucumber
  • lettuce
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 2 crowns broccoli
  • 1 bag bok choy
  • 1 tub hummus
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1 liter kefir
  • 1 small block cheese
  • 1 pkg wholewheat tortillas
  • rice cakes

Meal Prep

  • wash, chop potatoes, eggplant, broccoli, and cauliflower. Toss in a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, roast until cooked. (I kept in separate sections of the pan)*Leaving seasoning simple leaves room for you to add them to various recipes.*
  • wash and slice cucumber and tomato, put in a container / baggie in the fridge
  • wash and tear lettuce into small pieces or just separate the leaves, store in fridge
  • saute some bok choy (I sauteed 2 “bulbs” and ended up eating it all the next day with my breakfast, next time I’d do more)
  • wash and chop green onions, store in fridge
  • (opt) slice cheese (I personally don’t find it horribly time consuming to cut a few slices as needed so I don’t do this)

Some Meal/Snack Ideas I’ve Enjoyed this Week

  • wrap with hummus and fresh or roasted veggies or a mix and (opt) cheese
  • smoothies with kefir / water, and any combo of fruit, lettuce, bok choy
  • scrambled eggs with roast potatoes, sauteed bok choy and green onions (added soy and teriyaki sauce which I had on hand)
  • rice cakes with hummus, cucumber, and cheese
  • a giant bowl of roasted veggies, green onions topped with hummus
  • cheese quesadilla with bok choy (salsa on hand)
  • fruit salad

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

Last week I walked into the grocery store to find cauliflower featured on sale – and the first thing I thought of was Cauliflower Mac & Cheese (#chefbrain, am I right? :p), particularly THIS RECIPE featured on the show “My Diet Is Better Than Yours”. Anyone else seen it? I blitzed through the season in a few days, much to my dismay.

Anyway, I can no longer stomach boxed Kraft Dinner, and have been trying to eat healthier and especially incorporate more veggies into my life, but also still like a nice helping of carbs and melty cheesy goodness. Enter Cauliflower Mac & Cheese.

I’ll warn you, it’s pretty bland looking, but if you can get past that you will find it tastes delicious. It doesn’t exactly replicate tradition Mac & Cheese, in fact I personally didn’t find it all that “cheesy”, so if you like a strong cheese flavour I’d add more than the recipe calls for. However it was still amazing – turns out blending cauliflower with a touch of milk and cheese creates a delicious “creamy” sauce.

I have made the recipe twice, and have only made minor tweaks so note my tweaks below and send you over to the Dawn’s blog, creator of the Superfood Swap diet and THIS RECIPE. 

My tweaks:

  • the first time I made it I also sauteed a bit of onion and banana peppers and through it in with the sauce
  • the second time I added fresh parsley to the sauce and served it over rice instead of pasta.

Enjoy lovelies!

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos

I have just switched to the morning shift at work. Alongside the benefit of finishing my work day come early afternoon and having evenings and weekends off, comes the battle of a 6 am alarm.

A hearty, healthy breakfast is really important to me, but so is sleep – no joke, yesterday it took me 4 tries to get my leggings on the right way, or I should say, what I thought was the right way, after which I later arrived at work and realized that after all that they were inside out. Mornings. Yeah, mornings and I are still getting acquainted.

So I figured, if I can’t even put my clothes on correctly, there are probably more disasters waiting (I literally just wrote “wating”, clearly it’s almost bedtime though its just 8 pm, don’t judge…) to happen should I choose to embark on cooking breakfast at this dark hour. And there is definitely more sleep to be had should I choose to NOT embark on cooking breakfast at this hour.

Enter freezer friendly breakfast (or anytime for that matter) burritos.

I started off by choppping up some peppers, sweet potato, garlic, onion, spinach, tossed them in a pan with some homemade taco seasoning, and stuck it in the oven to roast for awhile…

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Meanwhile I made some homemade tortillas – though I’ll be honest, though the recipe be simple, the rolling and cooking takes awhile. They taste so much better than store bought, but because I’m guessing you, like me, are a real person with a busy life, store bought ones will also work just fine – I anticipate using them at some point in my future. Anyway, should you accept this tortilla making mission, this is what the dough should look like after kneading, and after separated into “balls”.

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I started out with 14 balls but in conglomerated it into 10 nice sized tortillas. So once you’ve separated the dough, you’ll just lightly flour a surface and roll it out into haphazard beautiful, thin circles like so…

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And then turn on some music that brings you joy, you’re gonna be camped out by the stove frying these babies for awhile. Lightly oil a pan and cook them on a low heat for a couple minutes on each side until they just start to brown. Here would be an appropriate space for a photo of a tortilla frying in a pan, should I have taken one. Hello, my name is Rebecca and I am new to this whole food blogging thing. Thanks for bearing with me. Live and learn, right?

Pull the veggies out of the oven once cooked through. Add fresh cilantro, black beans, and salsa. If you are making freezer burritos, this is where it’s in your best interest to let everything cool completely to avoid freezer burn in your future.  Anyway, I just left the tortillas and veggies on the counter while I went to the gym, and did the rest later.

Return home, feeling like a champ after all that weight lifting, and find a nice sized space to work. Grab the tortillas, filling, saran wrap, and cheese. Lay down a piece of saran wrap, then a tortilla, then fill it to your hearts content (keeping in mind that if you, like me, need it to be portable and somewhat neat to eat, you want to be able to close it easily). Sprinkle on some cheese, fold up the bottom and sides of tortilla, wrap tightly in saran wrap.

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I then threw them all into a large ziploc bag in my freezer and pull out one before I go to bed for the following morning, then reheat for 1 min 30 ish in the saran wrap.

Alas, here’s the recipe broken down. Happy burrito making :D…

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos

Tortillas (makes approx 10)
1/2 tsp (heaped) baking powder
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup oil

Mix dry ingredients. Make a well and add water and oil. Mix, and knead 10-12 times in bowl, let rest 10 minutes. Form into 10 balls, roll thin. Lightly oil a pan and heat, cook tortillas a couple minutes on each side on low heat, until just starting to brown.

Filling
*measurements for this are completely approximate*
1/2 sweet potato, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tomato, diced
3 bell peppers, diced
spinach, as much as you like
oil
1 1/2 Tbsp taco seasoning (recipe below)
1/2 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
cilantro to taste
salsa to taste
cheese to taste (added when assembling burritos)

Chop veggies and toss into a baking pan together with taco seasoning, drizzle on a bit of oil and mix. Roast @ 200 F for approx 1 hr, until cooked through.

Add 1/2 can black beans and as much cilantro and salsa as you like.

Taco Seasoning
*makes approx 2 Tbsp*
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp oregano

Pancake Par-tay!

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Fun fact: I have a notebook of pancake recipes that I call “The Great Book of Pancakes”. I have yet to try most of the recipes, but I will definitely be adding this recipe to it.

Though I have a major sweet tooth, I tend to lean towards the savoury side for breakfast, generally in the form of egg on toast, and if there’s sweet involved it’s in the form of a bit of fruit on the side or in smoothie form. But somedays, a girl just needs some pancakes.

Particularly after a long, full week last week. Thursday night I was talking about how I wanted pancakes to my sweet blue eyed boy, but alas, in light of his wheat allergy that idea was quickly nicked (but he did make me a scrumptious omelette when I said I was tired and hungry and had no energy to cook and could he please feed me – clearly I got the right guy :D). Anyway, the next morning THIS RECIPE was at the top of my pinterest feed and I promptly whipped up some pancakes for myself.

Now, you should know, pancakes is something I lack skill in making, so when a recipe works for me, you know it’s a keeper. All credit goes to Mellisa from Mom Luck for this recipe, so I’ll leave you here to head to her blog and make these pancakes .

Morrocan Carrot Soup

I don’t often share youtube videos, but this one makes me laugh because I too, am not big on salad, which is surprising, because (a)I am a vegetarian and (b)I actually love vegetables. I just prefer them roasted. Or stirfried. Or blended into a creamy soup. Or anything that is not salad-esque at all. Anyway, I was thinking about this video as I was eating a big ole bowl of blended vegetables for lunch today and thought it’d I’d better include it in this post.

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Before I share the recipe, you should know it was tweaked and that the original recipe can be found HERE. And you should check out that recipe as well as I’m sure it’s fantastic – I just find it impossible to stick to a recipe as is and dislike making an extra trip to the grocery store for coconut milk.

Now that you’re back, let’s make a big ole bowl of blended veggies. Aka soup 😀

Morrocan Carrot Soup
serves 4

1/2 an onion, diced
2 cups carrots, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
cream and lemon wedges to serve (optional)

Slow Cooker (aka Becca’s Lifesaver): Throw everything into the slow cooker for 4 hrs on high. Blend. When serving add a swirl of cream and a touch of lemon juice if you like.

Stovetop (I’ve only used the slow cooker, but here’s a recommendation): Saute onion and ginger a couple minutes, add the other veggies and saute around 7 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until veggies are cooked through. Blend, serve with a swirl of cream and a touch of lemon juice if you like.

Hydration Smoothie

Lately it seems I’ve been putting more sugar and less nutrient rich foods into my body. Isn’t it strange how sometimes we eat so well and then all of a sudden we totally don’t?

Anyway, I’m at this place today where I’m not super hungry as I don’t eat supper this early, but I’m heading out in a bit so wanted to get something into my system. I’ll be honest, I headed into the kitchen intent on a coke, figuring a fizzy could tide me over for a few hours. And then I paused to check in with my body and realized, that I didn’t actually want a coke right now (the same thing happened last night, yay for small victories!), but I was really craving some fruit, in smoothie form.

Because it contains melon I find it super hydrating, hence the name. I kinda just came up with it on the spot based on what I had on hand. The great thing about smoothies is that the recipes are flexible.

Hydration Smoothie

a handful golden melon
a handful watermelon
a handful spinach
1/2 apple
~1 Tbsp raw honey
splash orange juice
water as needed to help with blending

Carrot-Orange-Berrytastic Muffins

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I’m pretty sure that somewhere long ago a wise man once said “mornings are for muffins”. Specifically, these muffins. Because with the addition of berries, oranges, and carrots they *practically* equal health food, right? If this post was a conversation with my sweet blue eyed boy, he would give me a skeptical look, to which I’d scrunch my nose and say something about how he should know by now that I’m (almost) always right. Anyway, you should do as my blue eyed boy doesn’t, refrain from directing skepticism my way and let me pretend that this is health food. How else am I supposed to lay claim that it’s okay to eat multiple muffins in one day? :p

Anyway, one of these mornings, you should make these.

Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned today, it’s that mornings are for muffins.

Carrot Orange Berrytastic Muffins 

2-3 oranges pureed (you need 1/2 cup of this)
3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla (though the world will not crash and burn if it turns out you’re out)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch allspice
2-3 med carrots, largely grated, depending on how much “filler” you like
berries, fresh or frozen (I just eyeball this)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix wet ingredients and sugar. In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients. Mix dry into wet, fold in carrots and berries. Line a muffin pan and scoop this in (I get 21 muffins) and bake for around 25 minutes.

Little Things

“All sanity depends on this: that it should be a delight to feel the roughness of a carpet under smooth soles, a delight to feel heat strike the skin, a delight to stand upright, knowing the bones are moving easily under the flesh.” -Doris Lessing

“This is one of my most favourite things,” I whispered the other day to my blue eyed boy as he gently kissed my forehead – it’s hard to describe but in moments like these (among others) I can feel that he loves me tenderly and deeply. I have been in Calgary nearly 3 weeks now, and lately I have been thinking about all the wonderful things, some blue eyed boy related and some not, some seemingly small and insignificant, that are a part of this new season I’m in and figured I would share just for fun:

  • walks with my fella
  • landing the job I wanted
    • and the benefit of a free gym membership
  • not having to cook in bulk
  • iced cappucinos and boston cremes from Tim Hortons
  • arriving in time to enjoy the tail end of summer
  • Peter’s Drive-In – if you’re every in Calgary it’s a must, blue eyed boy took me there the other night for milkshakes and onion rings which were AMAZING and worth every calorie
  • being jumped on the second I get home from work by Winnie the dog
  • Canadian prices
  • fantastic pressure in the shower – seriously, after using an “ok” shower for the last year, having some serious pressure in the house is such a luxury
  • getting to know my fella’s family
  • being 1 hr behind MB time instead of 18 ahead – makes skype dates with my siblings so much easier

I’m sure there’s more but I’m blanking and will leave it at that for now, and maybe do a second list later down the road. Thanks for reading!

Apple Lentil Chocolate Chip Muffins

As a vegetarian, lentils are one of the staples in my diet. Awhile back I tried this recipe for a Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondie with success, which led me to wonder if one could make desserts with lentils. After all, if you could put things like chickpeas into blondies and spinach into brownies and zucchini into muffins, surely there was a place for lentils in the realm of desserts.

A quick search on pinterest proved my hunch to be on point. And somewhere there, or on the googlesphere I found a recipe that begged me to test it out, and waited for the perfect day, a lazy day where no schedule existed and the cold chased me into close proximity to a warm kitchen. The day arrived. And so began the baking…

Check out the original recipe HERE which I’ve tweaked because well tweak is my middle name (aka I’ve got preferences and limited ingredients on hand). Tweaked recipe below…

Apple Lentil Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup dry brown lentils or 2 cups cooked lentils
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 dash of salt
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups apple finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

*(Skip first step if using cooked lentils)* In medium saucepan, combine lentils and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until lentils break down and most of the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

-Put lentils into food processor and blend until smooth (I use the “S” blade). At this point, you may find your nose wrinkling at the gross greyish color that is the base of these muffins and wonder how anything good can come from this. Have faith, young grasshopper.
-Add egg, sugar, oil, to lentil puree in food processor and mix well.
-Add flour, flaxseed, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves to food processor and mix well.
-Transfer mixture to a bowl and fold in chocolate chips and apple.
-Divide mixture among 12 greased muffin cups and bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick (or knife, for those of us who neglect to stock toothpicks) inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.