It’s been a few years since my university days and without hesitation I can say : I miss it!
I loved learning and being surrounded by like-minded thinkers. I loved digging into text books and the sounds of laptop keys furiously clicking through lectures. I loved the in-betweens of classes, sneaking off into the trails, the late nights working away with friends.
And then I happened upon my friend, Denis, here in the streets of Montreal and I too remembered: the once considered mandatory exam coffees (I don’t even like coffee!), the all nighters, the deadlines, the hunched shoulders, the sugar cravings… oh yes! I remember. And while it took me a few years, by my final year I felt I had just about learned the ways of university and the most useful and practical subject I have studied: nutrition.
Perhaps you are off to school, or simply feeling the stress of the September season. In either case, remember that the psychological key to reducing stress is not in the situation itself, but in your mindset towards it. And as a clean body equates to a clean and clear mind, these are my holistic tips (with the help of our good friend Denis) for a September that’s stress-free!
Refine Your Take On Refined Foods
- You’re under enough stress as it is, you don’t want food to be another!
- Refined foods are stressors to the body as they create unsteady blood sugar levels causing you to crash on the school couch, and create a rapid spike in cortisol – our stress hormone! As the icing on the cake, a junk food diet has been shown to affect your brain’s synapses, thereby impairing learning and memory.
- Instead? Ditch the fried french fries spewed over the bench and burger bag hidden behind Denis’ shoe and opt for fast, fresh and wholesome foods instead!
- Bananas, for example, are conveniently prepackaged, naturally sweet, and packed with stress busting nutrients such as calming magnesium, energizing vitamin B6, and components that increase the production of serotonin in your brain to promote optimal stress relief.
Kick The Coffee
- As my professor once said “coffee is stress in a cup!”
- But as a staple of many students’ daily routines, caffeine is often relied on to boost energy and reduce stress. The issue? This boost of energy is only short lived and unsustainable, and the coffee can actually trigger the body’s stress response.
- Instead? Opt for green tea or matcha (concentrated green tea powder) with the amino acid L-theanine that helps to reduce stress, boost energy and enhance productivity, while promoting a sense of relaxation.
- NOTE: In either case, caffeine should be used as a boost when needed but not as a crutch. For the everyday, opt for energizing B vitamins (a supplement that supports the adrenals, your body’s “stress glands”), and ginkgo biloba which not only works as an adaptogen to help you cope with stress, but is well known for boosting blood flow to the brain to enhance learning and memory – all without the caffeine jitters!
Move To Manage Stress
- While excessive sitting, on city benches or otherwise, has been proclaimed “the new smoking”, exercise has long been known for its stress busting benefits. Movement will instantly refresh and energize you while oxygenating the brain and boosting your feel-good neurotransmitters.
- While movement is a necessity in health, vigorous exercise is a stress to the physical body, so engage predominately in light to moderate movements on a daily basis. Run the stairs at your breaks, take a hike through campus trails, and participate in group activities in between lectures such as yoga (my favourite way to de-stress on a long day!).
A+ For Denis
- What Denis did get right? He’s taken it outside! In fact, I have a feeling he spends an awful lot of time here.
- Fresh air and nature spaces have both been shown to dramatically reduce stress. With the last of our beautiful summer weather and fall on the horizon, it is the perfect time to soak up the sun. Bonus points for removing your shoes to harness the stress relieving benefits of earthing!
- Can’t get outside? Bring the outdoors in with green plants and open windows.
Study these tips and you are well on your way to a healthy, happy, stress free semester!
From A(+) to Zen,
If there’s one thing learned, living out of a suitcase,
its that life becomes fuller when you stick to the bear-necessities.
This point proven not solely by our friend the furry Mountie (and beloved Jungle Book), but in clinical studies of psychology.
So while this may entail leaving our life-sized bear-hugging buddy in Quebec city, it also requires that you live lighter, smarter and with much more happiness!
From our suitcase living, to small cabin bunking, these are 3 ways to stick to the bear-necessities:
Weigh Your Baggage
- Every travel luggage has its limit. Thus preventing you from cramming in the entire contents of your closet, forcing you to evaluate the necessity of each item and become resourceful with your belongings.
- While it’s okay to own more than a suit-case worth of items, it begs the question: how much of it do we actually need? And is our stuff owning us more than we own it?
- When it comes to your home, weigh how much each item means to you, how often you use it, if it is a true necessity, and should you find it weighing you down rather than creating a lighter load upon your shoulders, leave it behind!
- Donate it, discard it, release it. You will feel a lot lighter in doing so and what’s more? You will gain back the average 3,680 hours or 153 days spent searching for misplaced items in a lifetime of losing approximately 9 items a day, according to the Daily Mail. That equals a whole lot more time to explore!
Make It Multipurpose
- When I travel, coming with me are all my own soaps, moisturizers etc. And while I highly recommend doing so to ensure the quality of ingredients and integrity of the products, it’s extra to pack. To get around this, I use multipurpose items such as Green Beaver soap that triples as a body wash, hand soap and facial cleanser.
- This tip can be easily utilized at home with beauty care, furniture, such as our cruise room couch that pulled into a bed, and all-in-one agents like our beloved coconut oil.
- What’s more? Going multipurpose significantly reduces the 14.3 million tonnes of waste Canadian households produced in 2012, reported by stats can.
Shop Smart – Bear Without Your Mountie
“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.”
—Jackie French Koller
- Teaming with adorable shops in every stop, the temptation of coastal trinkets is very alluring. And while we picked up some souvenirs on our trip, all were things that I use virtually everyday (a ring from Maine, a lanyard from Peggy’s cove etc.).
- Knowing you have limited space, in suitcases or otherwise, you’ll spend less and spend smarter. By being more intentional and contemplative with your purchases, you can save for higher quality items that will last and sustain you much longer.
The perks of living the minimalist way are endless! You spend less, clean less, stress less, lose less, define yourself less and free up time to do more and go explore!
Leaving a bounty of furry Quebec Mounties,
If you ever needed an excuse to lust over the majestic forests and cultural wonders of Japan, the cuisine would be your golden ticket!
We are getting so excited for our upcoming trip, but in the meantime I have heard and read and seen Japan everywhere lately. Though this isn’t where we are jetting off to, luckily for us, we don’t need to venture far to reap the benefits of these Japanese staples in our diet. If you needed an excuse, “feast” your eyes on my top five!
1. Matcha is to the Japanese what coffee & bacon are to North Americans
- The Japanese loooove their matcha! It finds its way into just about everything and it’s a good thing too, as this brilliant green powder packs a big nutritional punch.
- Matcha offers moderate amounts of caffeine balanced with calming l-theanine for an energizing boost without the coffee crash. Utilizing the whole tea leaves by grinding them into a powder, it’s a more potent source of catechins (an antioxidant compound known as polyphenols) than your standard green tea.
|| Above : Unsweetened matcha tea latte with almond milk||
2. Get cultured
- Fermented foods such as kimchi are staples in Japan and should ideally be features of every culture. Why? Fermented/cultured foods are rich in wholefood sourced probiotics, energizing B-vitamins and natural enzymes to enhance digestion and promote mental, physical and emotional well-being – no “zen garden” necessary!
3. Soba Your Pasta
- Soba buckwheat noodles are roughly the size of your standard spaghetti and made of buckwheat flour. They are commonly used in Japanese pasta dishes, piled high with fresh vegetables and drizzled with a light sauce (as opposed to smothered – the Western way).
- I LOVE these and you can experiment with traditional pasta sauce, or enjoy the flavour when tossed simply with coconut oil, sea salt and loaded with vegetables or as a tahini based pad Thai as featured below. When savoring Soba at a restaurant, be sure to ask if they are gluten-free.
4. Authentic sushi (of course!)
- This goes without saying; you just can’t have a Japanese cuisine post without the mention of sushi. BUT! And this is a big but ; for all of us sushi lovers, we need to be adamant about sourcing. The seafood commonly used in restaurants is high in toxins (particularly mercury), can be contaminated with parasites and utilize inhumane fishing practices. Think: “The Greatest Catch,” documentary.
- In Japan (and everywhere), look not to the big sushi houses but small, intimate dinning experiences, often more expensive and not “all-you-can-eat,” that offer sustainably caught seafood and quality sushi. The REAL sushi you deserve to experience!
And on the subject of anti- “all-you-can-eat…”
5. Hara Hashi Bu
- This is not a food per se, but a WAY to eat that will skip the sushi coma conundrum and keep you feeling healthy, vibrant, and ready for your next meal. Read more here.
To our future Japanese journeys,
Give us a lifestyle that incorporates ice cream for breakfast and we’re on board!
Inspired by this year’s Vegfest, we were all over the blueberry parfaits with layers of crunchy coconut, freshly sliced strawberries, silvered almonds & a few dark chocolate chips snuck in there too.
Being so simple and easy (just two ingredients!), I had to get my hands on the Vitamix and whip up a spin on this sweet treat. One that features maqui (pronounced “mah-key”) berries, Amazonian acai and a raw cacao sauce. Oh! And being banana based, this ice cream (otherwise known as “nicecream”) can be easily, and holistically indulged in for breakfast and leave you feeling energized and nourished for the day ahead! 100% nutritionist approved 🙂
- Acai & maqui berries are both native to central America and are known for being antioxidant powerhouses with acai containing 10 times the antioxidants found in grapes. Though acai has made a household name of itself in the nutrition community, the lesser known maqui berry surpasses the antioxidant content of acai, making it one of the most potent sources in the world!
- But of course, superfoods don’t have to be foreign and fancy. Some of the best superfoods are found in our gardens and local farmers markets. So if you don’t have these concentrated powders on hand, that’s okay. I have two recipes to accommodate, and of course, you can put your own unique spin on it too!
These parfaits boast the consistency of traditional creamy ice-cream (without any sugar or dairy!), and are layered with fresh berries, slivered almonds and a crunchy cacao drizzle.
BASIC BLUEBERRY BLEND
Adventure level: 1/5
- 1 large frozen banana
- 1/4 cup frozen organic blueberries
- squeeze of lemon or lime
- slivered almonds
- cacao drizzle (below)
- fresh mint leaves
- strawberries (in season now!)
- other fruit such as papaya, pineapple etc.
- coconut chunks
- Peel and slice banana into a container to freeze overnight.
- Once frozen, place in blender with blueberries, a squeeze of lemon/lime and blend. This will take some time and you will need to scrape the sides of the blender as you go. The more ingredients in the blender, the easier it is for the blades to grip.
- Blend until smooth and creamy and layer with your toppings of choice.
Fully Loaded Blueberry Acai & Maqui Parfaits
Adventure level: 3/5
Featuring antioxidant rich berries to boost the nutrition and depth of flavours in the soft-serve.
- 1 large frozen banana
- 1/4 cup frozen organic blueberries
- squeeze of lemon or lime
- 1 tsp acai powder
- 1 tsp maqui powder
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp raw cacao (can substitute carob if sensitive)
- Peel and slice banana into a container to freeze overnight.
- Once frozen, place the banana in your blender with blueberries, a splash of lemon/lime and blend. This will take some time and you will need to scrape the sides of the blender as you go. The more in the blender, the easier it is for the blades to grip.
- Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Pop into the freezer as you melt the coconut oil in a pan and stir in the cacao (optional to add stevia for sweetness, but not necessary).
- Layer the cacao drizzle with your ice cream and toppings (see above) and pop back in the freezer until the cacao sauce hardens (approx. 2 mins). This creates a crunchy topping like a chocolate dipped cone.
- Once solidified, remove from freezer and enjoy!
- The more powerful your blender, the easier and faster it will be to create your ice cream.
I have been nothing shy of obsessed with this parfait for the past two weeks (as evidenced by instagram) and it is with great thanks that I received more maqui berry powder for my birthday, just as I was running out! It’s bursting with naturally sweet flavours, tastes indulgent, and is loaded with superfoods for an ultra healthy breakfast bowl perfect for summer! You will looove this, I promise 🙂
To our Sunday sundaes,
Moms, we love you!
And though the celebratory Mother’s day is behind us, we know that your duties have you working around the clock, 365 (or 366) days a year and for that, we appreciate you everyday!
Whether it’s sharing sprouted quinoa burgers amongst the dandelions, binge watching Will And Grace with you on Sunday mornings, or dancing through the kitchen to the likes of Prince while roasting vegetable dishes from chef Micheal Smith’s cookbook. Yes, everyday is an adventure (and on the rare occasion, one that may even find us at the Eiffel Tower)!
And though not all of your adventurous advice may be tried and true, with these, you were onto a good thing.
In other words, these are 3 reasons (of millions) we thank you!
ADVICE #1: An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away
- My personal favourite! Thank you moms for solidifying our love of nature’s perfect, nutritious snack on the go.
- Benefits: Contains immune boosting vitamin C and soluble fibre in the form of pectin for stable blood sugar levels and a healthy digestive system.
- What mom didn’t tell you: fruit needs to be consumed on an empty stomach, away from most other foods, for proper digestion. Otherwise you may be going to your doctor with complaints of excessive bloating and indigestion. Pairing this fruit with a little spread of pure almond butter, however, is both digestion friendly and equipped with satiating fats and protein to make this a well-rounded snack.
ADVICE #2: Eat Your Carrots For Good Eye Sight
- Not just an old wives tale! As a part of the doctrine of signatures, a sliced carrot’s resemblance to the human eye, including the pupil and iris, is an indicator of one of its primary functions. How so?
- Benefits: Carrots are packed with beta-carotene (the component which also gives them their bright colour). This antioxidant is converted into vitamin A in the body and according to The World’s Healthiest Foods, 1 cup of raw carrots translates to 113% of our daily recommended intake of vitamin A!
- What mom didn’t tell you: Though eating an abundance of carrots may not restore your vision to 20/20, a deficiency of vitamin A may cause symptoms such as: dry/itchy eyes, blurred vision, and difficulty seeing at night. Tip: dip your carrots in avocado for a strangely delicious combo!
ADVICE #3: Have Soup For The Soul (And A Common Cold)
- Turns out, these comforting soups are medicinal bowls beyond just soup for the soul!
- Benefits: The warmth of soup can ease congestion to reduce blocked sinuses while the liquids help to clear the congestion and bacteria from the body. You simply can’t drink enough when sick and this is the way to boost it!
- What your mother didn’t tell you: While your body requires nutrients to support the immune system during this time, it also needs easily digestible foods as digestion drains your body’s energy needed to fight the virus. Highly nutritious broths, such as fermented miso or bone broth, offer both nutrients and involves very little digesting, leaving you more energy to heal!
Whether she’s dishing out health advice, homemade dinners from Michael Smith, or exploiting her love of fine dinning with Mother’s day lunches at the Stone House (for candied pecan & cranberry salad with carmelized mushrooms, toasted leeks & balsamic reduction!), we’re all along for an appetizing ride ❤
Moms: for all of your wise and worldly advice, we thank you!
Cuba is one of the top spring break destinations for us Canadians and I rounded out my fourth trip to the tropical island two years ago. Though my vacation is a stay-cation this year, a friend of mine asked for some advice which resulted in nothing shy of a texting novel and it was then that I realized I had plenty to share!
And no, you can’t take a yogi anywhere 😉 …
Tropics bound? Here are my top 15 tips to know!
1) Plane Food Is Plain Food
- Not only loaded with chemicals and preservatives, the packaged food is bland. Bring your own food for traveling such as quinoa tabouli, pesto wraps and homemade trail mixes.
- Note: when you land at your destination, fresh foods will often be discarded by customs. This past trip, however, they completely overlooked my grapes, courteously leaving them for me to enjoy on the long, scenic bus ride to the resort.
- Also note: Not all food travels well. Take my banana, for example, that blackened in my carry on and split open on the plane. Making not only a mess but a very fragrant bag every time I opened it. Next time, I think I’ll stick with apples!
2) Don’t Remove Your Shoes!
- Firstly, not on the flight. For someone who is eternally barefoot, I had to learn this the hard way. The pressure causes your extremities to swell and it won’t be a swell time trying to fit back into your shoes.
- Secondly, not at the hotel. Bring socks and slippers with you. I love to go barefoot as much as the next guy (more so, to be honest) but even I have my limits.
3) Keep Your Bikini In Your Carry-on
- In case of missing luggage, pack all your essentials on your carry-on. A book, a bikini, your yoga mat and you’re set!
4) Be Sun Safe
- Due to the proximity to the equator, the sun is stronger than you think and too many travelers begin their vacation looking like the lobster dished up for dinner.
- Wear a natural sunscreen (without the use of synthetic chemicals which cause cellular damage and are absorbed into your bloodstream), whether you think you need it or not… You do.
- In case you do become dinner… topically apply pure aloe gel which contains glyconutrients and anti-inflammatory agents to increase healing and soothe your sunburn. Apply liberally.
6) Snorkel With Bananas..
- Sneak some bananas from the breakfast buffet. When going snorkeling, this is how to bring the fish out. Do this as an amateur snorkeler along the shore for the pretty little fish, but not in the deep blue where you will likely attract banana loving barracudas (but who could blame them?!).
7) Go On An Excursion
- Resorts are wonderful, but to experience authentic Cuba, you need to venture off the less-than-beaten path into the rustic cities and towns. Do so with structured bus passes, day trips and local market runs (also the way to the freshest produce!).
8) Fresh Coconuts And Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice Are MUSTS!
- This is no exception. If I was to die tomorrow and I got one last thing to eat, it would be freshly squeezed orange juice from the Cuban oranges.
9) Drink Tons And Tons And Tons Of Water
- Tropical climates are incredibly dehydrating, especially if you spend the majority of your days soaking up the sun on the beach. Ease up on the caffeine and swim-up bars and load up on large mason jars of clean water.
10) BUT DON’T EVER USE THEIR WATER
- Not even to brush your teeth. Use bottled water at all times. This is how many travelers fall ill because our body’s microbiome is not used to the foreign strands of bacteria that congregate in the faucets.
- To protect your delicate gut bacteria, load up on your shelf stable travelers probiotics and avoid any ingestion of tap water.
10) Opt Out Of Ice
- Though tempting to refresh yourself with an ice-cold beverage, skip this step! As noted above, ice is an easily forgettable source of tap water.
11) Eat The Right Things
- You know what it’s like to eat at a buffet from the time you’ve spent at all-you-can-eat-shushi. The last thing you want is a food coma when you can be setting sail on the waters, exploring the resort and salsa dancing your way across the stage.
- Skip excessively heavy foods and navigate to your best ability. Always keep snacks on hand for during the day. This means packing food bars, trail mixes etc. into luggage before you go and sneaking some bananas from the buffet, not just for the fish but for you too!
12) But For When You Accidentally Eat The Wrong Thing…
- Come prepared for food poisoning, which can be caused by anything from contamination by E.coli to the bacteria from food preparation.
- The fix? Pack activated charcoal in your holistic arsenal. This chelates toxins in the body to get it out of your system and fast! Do not use it every day as it is non-selective in its chelation meaning that it will remove harmful toxins but also beneficial vitamins and minerals along with it. The key? Use it when it is needed, but not as a preventative.
15) Last But Not Least:
- Talk to the locals! Socialize to your heart’s content but be sure to do so with your servers, and bartenders and the exceptionally nice man who tends the garden outside your room. The locals are full of interesting stories, will give you a great insight into their culture (the highs and lows) and will offer you an incredibly deep appreciation for the luxury of being there (and yes, even a greater appreciation for the snow you may come home to). But the best part; you may just brighten their day!
While I continue to reminisce over our time spent in the sunshine, I will be relishing in the beautiful weather we have here in Canada this year.
Wishing you safe and sunny travels,
From last night’s Leonardo Oscar triumph to today’s leap day, we have a lot to celebrate!
Rich and decadent, this chocolate pudding is brilliant and comes with a twist: it’s based with creamy, anti-oxidant rich avocado… but no-one ever has to know!
As the next installment to the Jesse Lane E-book series comes the collaborative cookbook : Healthy Dairy Free Desserts. Do note that not all the recipes are gluten-free and may need to be adapted to suit your dietary needs, but it is filled with decadent goodies, including this quick and easy, creamy chocolate pudding.
Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, allergen friendly, cacao-free option (for those who are sensitive), whole food based.
- Avocados are loaded with healthy fats and fibre to slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream to keep you feeling energized after enjoying dessert.
- It is dairy-free to avoid unwanted bloating and congestion.
- White, refined sugar is swapped for its superfood counterpart: maple syrup containing the minerals manganese, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.
- Being a raw dessert, all nutrients are preserved and readily available.
Creamy Chocolate Avocado Pudding
ADVENTURE LEVEL: 2/5
- 1 avocado
- 3 Tbsp raw cacao powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp milk alternative (either almond, coconut or brown rice)
- Combine all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Blend well until smooth and enjoy!
- Maple syrup -> Stevia for a sugar-free dessert (may need to add more dairy-free “milk” for consistency).
- Cacao powder -> carob powder for those who are sensitive to chocolate.
- Cayenne pepper for a spicy kick, my favourite!
- Additional Toppings: Gogi berries, coconut flakes, cacao nibs, fresh berries, etc.
Like this recipe? Jesse’s e-book features over 30 delicious desserts free of soy, dairy, white flour or processed sugar and you can check it out HERE.
Whether you are celebrating Leo’s well deserved win or are taking in every last moment of our extra day of the year, enjoy pudding this new recipe to the taste test!