Weight-Loss Plateaus

Few aspects of weight loss are as frustrating as when the changes you’ve seen on the scale begin to slow down, and then seemingly stop altogether. If this sounds familiar, you may be experiencing a weight loss plateau.

Some reasons for slowed weight loss are obvious, such as when healthier diet and exercise choices begin to give way to old, less healthful habits. But it can be hard to identify the reasons for a weight loss plateau when you stick to the healthy lifestyle changes that have already helped you lose weight.

Here are three reasons for running into an unexpected weight loss plateau, along with simple strategies to help get the scale moving again.

1. You’re over your target for calories.

It’s clear that excess calories can slow your weight loss progress. However, it can be difficult to estimate how many calories you consume and expend in a day. Research suggests that most people, including trained healthcare professionals, tend to overestimate calories burned through exercise and underestimate calories consumed in food (1, 2). Even if you carefully keep track with a food journal or phone app, or wear an activity tracker, these methods can only provide a general estimate and are often much less accurate than you might expect (3).

A more practical approach is to look closely at your everyday habits and consider what potential impact they might have on your goals. For example, little “extras” such as sugar and cream in your morning coffee, or absent-minded snacking while you’re cooking a meal can really add up over the course of a day. A closer look at these habits might be what you need to get the scale moving again.

2. You’ve become too fit for your workout.

If your weight loss progress has stalled despite your consistent effort at the gym, it might be time to look at your exercise routine. As you become increasingly fit from the hard work you’re putting in, it’s essential that you adjust your workout routine so that it continues to challenge you.

This idea is captured by what fitness experts call the “overload principle” of training. Essentially, the principle is that when an exercise is below a minimum level of intensity, it doesn’t challenge the body enough to result in any change (4). The level of intensity you need to get results from your workout depends on your current level of fitness. As your level of fitness improves, you need to change your workout in order to keep seeing results. It can be as simple as continuing to increase the amount of weight you lift, or trying a new type of workout.

3. You’ve been skimping on sleep.

Many of us fail to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, research suggests that inadequate sleep could be interfering with weight loss success. Large, population-based studies consistently find a link between poor sleep quality and higher body weights (5). Some of the effects of poor sleep, such as changes in hormone balance, appetite regulation, and metabolism may explain the relationship between too little sleep and weight gain (6-8).

If your goal is weight loss, make sleep a priority. Start with simple changes in your routine such as avoiding caffeine late in the day, sticking to a consistent schedule, and limiting late-night screen time to help your body wind down at the end of the day. Adding a quality melatonin supplement to your evening routine is another step that can help prime your body for a restful, complete night’s sleep.

Making a few small changes might be all you need to get past a plateau. Identifying the cause of a weight loss plateau is key. While weight loss plateaus can be a frustrating part of the weight loss journey, they shouldn’t discourage you from reaching your goals.

References
  1. Brown RE, Canning KL, Fung M, Jiandani D, Riddell MC, Macpherson AK, Kuk JL. Calorie Estimation in Adults Differing in Body Weight Class and Weight Loss Status. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Mar; 48(3):521-6. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000000796.
  2. Cottrell E, Chambers R. Healthcare professionals’ knowledge of calories. Nurs Stand. 2013 Jan 23-29;27(21):35-41.
  3. Chen J, Cade JE, Allman-Farinelli M. The Most Popular Smartphone Apps for Weight Loss: A Quality Assessment. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2015 Dec 16;3(4):e104. doi: 10.2196/mhealth.4334.
  4. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR, Franklin BA, Lamonte MJ, Lee IM, Nieman DC, Swain DP; American College of Sports Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Jul;43(7):1334-59. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318213fefb.
  5. Jean-Louis G, Williams NJ, Sarpong D, Pandey A, Youngstedt S, Zizi F, Ogedegbe G. Associations between inadequate sleep and obesity in the US adult population: analysis of the national health interview survey (1977-2009). BMC Public Health. 2014 Mar 29;14:290. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-290.
  6. Spiegel K, Leproult R & Van Cauter E. Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. Lancet. 1999 Oct 23; 354(9188):1435-9.
  7. Spiegel K, Tasali E & Penev P et al. Brief communication: sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite. Ann Intern Med. 2004 Dec 7; 141(11):846-50.
  8. Miller MA & Cappuccio FP. Inflammation, sleep, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Curr Vasc Pharmacol. 2007 Apr; 5(2):93-102.
*originally posted on IsagenixHealth.com
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Break Up the Monotony!

Cardio … not feeling it? Then it’s time to break up the monotony!

Doing the same old cardio workout can not only leave you bored and unmotivated, but the combo of routine and less enjoyment during aerobic exercise could also lead to a lack of results and fewer calories burned.

Mix things up to avoid the cardio rut. By keeping things fresh, you can improve workout enjoyment while engaging a new set of muscles. You certainly don’t want to avoid cardio altogether.

As a reminder, there’s strong scientific evidence that regular aerobic physical activity comes with some pretty impressive benefits:

  • Supporting healthy weight loss. Combined with a nutritious and calorie controlled diet, aerobic exercise can help you lose weight and keep it off (1).
  • Improving cardiovascular health. About 40 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise three to four times a week can lower the risk for heart disease and stroke (2, 3).
  • Boosting your mood. Whether you’re in the mood for a workout or not, mounting evidence suggests that you will feel better after you’ve finished one (4).
  • Keeping you active as you age. Regular aerobic exercise paired with good nutrition and resistance training can keep your muscles strong and mobile as you age while supporting healthy cognitive function (5).
  • Supporting immune health. Not only does regular aerobic exercise make you feel better physically, but studies have also shown that it can help support healthy immune function for better long-term health (6).
  • Improving quality of sleep. Aerobic exercise has been shown to promote better quality sleep and the speed in which you fall into REM sleep (7).
  • Increasing your overall energy levels. Regular aerobic exercise helps keep your overall energy levels higher. It’s the release of endorphins during your workout that supports lasting energy throughout your day (8).

But despite the many benefits of cardio, it shouldn’t mean you have to suffer for hours doing an activity you don’t like. There are a number of cardio machine alternatives that can add some variety to your routine while still helping you burn about the same amount of calories as 30 minutes of running on the treadmill (around 300 calories for a 150-pound woman). These include…

60 minutes of…

  • Circuit training – a style of weight training that incorporates aerobic activity
  • Taking a dance, Zumba, or jazzercise class
  • Playing in a softball game
  • Boxing

45 minutes of…

  • Rowing
  • Hiking
  • Swimming laps
  • Playing in a soccer game
  • Playing tennis

40 minutes of…

  • High-intensity interval training
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Playing flag football

30 minutes of…

  • Jumping rope
  • Taking a kickboxing class
  • Taking a spin class or bicycling outdoors

If you haven’t been regularly exercising, are overweight or have medical conditions, don’t forget to check in with your medical care provider before starting any exercise routine.

These are just a few ideas to help you get off the cardio rut. The key is in finding ways to achieve your goals while making aerobic exercise a lot more fun.

References
  1. Curioni CC, Lourenço PM. Long-term weight loss after diet and exercise: a systematic review. International Journal of Obesity (2005) 29, 1168–1174. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803015; published online 31 May 2005
  2. American Heart Association. (2013). American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults. American Heart Association. http://www. heart. org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/Start Walking/American-Heart-Association-Guidelines_UCM_307976_Article. jsp.
  3. Fletcher GF, Balady G, Blair SN, Blumenthal J, Caspersen C, Chaitman B, Epstein S, Sivarajan Froelicher ES, Froelicher VF, Pina IL, Pollock ML. Statement on exercise: benefits and recommendations for physical activity programs for all Americans. A statement for health professionals by the Committee on Exercise and Cardiac Rehabilitation of the Council on Clinical Cardiology, American Heart Association. Circulation. 1996 Aug 15;94(4):857-62. PMID: 8772712
  4. Byrne A, Byrne DG. The effect of exercise on depression, anxiety and other mood states: A review. Journal of Psychosomatic Research , Volume 37 , Issue 6 , 565 – 574
  5. Hyodo K, Dan I, Kyutoku Y, Suwabe K, Byun K, Ochi G, Kato M & Soya H. The association between aerobic fitness and cognitive function in older men mediated by frontal lateralization. Neuroimage. 2016 Jan 15; 125:291-300.
  6. Gleeson M. Immune function in sport and exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology Published 1 August 2007 Vol. 103 no. 2, 693-699 DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00008.2007
  7. Kredlow MA, Capozzoli MC, Hearon BA, Calkins AW, Otto MW. The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. J Behav Med. 2015 Jun;38(3):427-49. doi: 10.1007/s10865-015-9617-6. Epub 2015 Jan 18.
  8. Puetz TW, Flowers SS, O’Connor PJ. A randomized controlled trial of the effect of aerobic exercise training on feelings of energy and fatigue in sedentary young adults with persistent fatigue. Psychother Psychosom. 2008;77(3):167-74. doi: 10.1159/000116610. Epub 2008 Feb 14.
*originally posted on IsagenixHealth.com
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Exercise for Weight Loss

Changing your dietary habits is the most important action you can take for losing weight and keeping it off. However, exercise shouldn’t be ignored as it can make weight-loss results more pronounced.

Typically, when individuals lose weight, up to a quarter of that lost weight comes from lost lean body mass that includes muscle mass (1). By adding exercise into a weight loss plan, these individuals can minimize the muscle loss and lose higher amounts of fat than those who lose the same amount of weight without exercise.

Exercise also might help with keeping off the weight once it’s lost. As much of an hour of exercise per day is associated with successful weight loss maintenance or avoiding weight regain (2).

Add High-Intensity Interval Training

One type of exercise that may have especially pronounced benefits is high-intensity interval training. Try adding sprint intervals into your next jog by including 60-second bursts at an all-out pace followed by three minutes of recovery at a comfortable pace.

By adding high-intensity intervals to your exercise routine, you can stimulate your metabolism for up to 24-hours, post-exercise. These brief, all-out bursts of activity rev up your calorie burn and keep it elevated long after your workout ends.

Lift Weights or Use Resistance Bands

Resistance training exercises can help build muscle and burn fat. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so your overall calorie burn will be higher throughout the day and the drop in metabolism that comes with most weight loss will be prevented. You’ll also look leaner if you have more muscle and less fat.

Start with two or three sets of 10-12 repetitions of bicep curls, overhead presses, squats, and lunges using light weights until your body has adapted and you become comfortable. Then increase the weight and number of repetitions as you get stronger.

Don’t Forget the Cardio

While most cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, cycling, etc.) will not build muscle, it will help you to burn calories and lose fat mass. Cardio itself burns calories and those trying to lose weight and who include cardio into their plan lose more weight compared to those who don’t include exercise (3).

In addition, studies have demonstrated that those who perform cardio are more likely to lose visceral fat (4, 5). Visceral fat is the dangerous kind of “belly fat” that exists internally and can increase risk of chronic disease states (4,5).

Reduce Your Chance of Weight Regain

Most people who lose weight regain it all back and then some within three -to -five years, but regular exercise makes it more likely that you’ll maintain your ideal weight.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, those with a goal of preventing weight regain should complete 150-250 minutes per week of moderate physical activity – such as brisk walking, mowing the lawn, and swimming (6). The overall calorie burn should be between 1200-2000 calories per week, which is considered enough to prevent weight gain greater than 3 percent.

Incorporating exercise into your lifestyle will not only contribute to benefits in your overall health, but will aid in your weight loss journey as well. However, it’s always suggested that you check with your doctor before starting any type of exercise regimen.

References:
  1. Heymsfield SB, Gonzalez MCC, Shen W, Redman L, and Thomas D. Weight loss composition is one-fourth fat-free mass: a critical review and critique of this widely cited rule. Obes Rev. 2014 Apr; 15(4): 310-21. doi: 1111/obr.12143.
  2. Santos I, Vierira PN, Silva MN, Sardinha LB, and Teixeira PJ. Weight control behaviors of highly successful weight loss maintainers: the Portuguese Weight Control Registry. J Behav Med. 2017 Apr; 40(2): 366-71. doi: 1007/s10865-016-9786-y.
  3. Wu T, Gao X, Chen M, and Van Dam RM. Long-term effectiveness of diet-plus-exercise interventions vs. diet-only interventions for weight loss: a meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2009 May; 10(3): 313-323. doi: 1111/j.1467-789X.2008.00547.x.
  4. Keating SE, Hackett, DA, Parker HM, O’Connor HT, Gerofi JA, Sainsbury A, Baker MK, Chuter VH, Caterson ID, George J, and Johnson NA. Effect of aerobic exercise training dose on liver fat and visceral adiposity. J Hepatol. 2015 Jul; 63(1): 174-82. doi: 1016/j.jhep.2015.02.022.
  5. Ohkawara K, Tanaka S, Miyachi M, Ishikawa-Takata K, and Tabata I. A dose-response relation between aerobic exercise and visceral fat reduction: systematic review of clinical trials. Int J Obes. 2007 Dec 1: 31(12): 1786.
  6. Donnelly JE, Blair SN, Jakicic JM, Manore MM, Rankin JW, and Smith BK. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Feb; 41(2): 459-71. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181949333.
*originally posted on IsagenixHealth.com
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Transformation Tuesday … Work in Progress

Ever had a weight-loss goal? My goal is lofty … I want to lose upwards of 100 pounds.

For YEARS, I’ve had a shake for breakfast … trying different brands and flavors, but never really noticing any health benefits or changes, and feeling hungry by mid-morning, with those never-ending afternoon sugar-cravings!

EVERYTHING changed when I finally had enough! Enough uncomfortably tight clothes, enough self-doubt, and enough struggling! I decided to dive in with this nutritional system to boost my confidence and ignite some weight-loss.

With the full support and encouragement of a long-time high school friend, I embarked on this 30-day journey. And honestly, I didn’t have high hopes given my past “results” with other programs.

I snapped some “before” pictures, wearing a workout outfit that I felt good in, hopped on the scale to find out my starting weight, took my measurements … and in true Shannon form, I created a Fitness Tracking spreadsheet!

Every morning I weighed myself. Some may not agree with that, but it helps keep me accountable. And a surprising revelation was the number on the scale … it was going DOWN!

I hadn’t changed my normal amount of exercise – I still took the bus to and from work every day, and enjoyed being home most evenings and weekends – I simply followed the system, as best I could, which allowed me to still socialize and enjoy life.

After I completed my first month, I weighed and measured. Seven pounds and 6 ½ inches … in 30 DAYS! OMG – this system WORKS! I annihilated over 6% of my weight-loss goal IN THE FIRST MONTH!!! I knew I had to keep going!

The second month was different, however. I had 5 days of vacation right smack-dab in the middle. I knew I wouldn’t be 100% with the program during this time, but did what I could to keep the motivation train on the track. At the end of the month, I checked in and realized I obliterated another 9.2 pounds and 14 more inches!

I’ve incorporated this simple system into my lifestyle, enjoyed my vacation, and I KEEP SEEING RESULTS! I’ve lost a total of 16.2 pounds and a whopping 20 ½ inches … and I’m NOT done yet!

My ultimate goal is to maintain a healthy weight for a minimum of 2 years prior to my 40th birthday … giving me just over 2 ½ years to reach that goal.

If you can relate to any of this, are feeling stuck or just curious to know more I’d love to share. If you can’t already tell I’m pretty thrilled!

Front

Side

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Night Time Skin Care Routine

I’ve been blessed, throughout my life, with good skin. I experienced some acne as a teenager, but nothing that caused scarring or such.

However, I’m now 35 years old and feel like I should put a bit of care into my skin to ensure it stays good!

IMG_6711

For a few years I’ve been using the Oil-Free Acne Wash from Neutrogena (yes, even thought I’m not acne prone) and find it’s a very nice cleanser.

neutrogena-oli-free-acne-wash

But a couple of years ago, I started to use the Sublime Radiance Cleansing Oil from L’Oreal Paris. I used this product first … you apply it to your dry face, massage it lightly, then add a smidge of water and massage further. This product really helped lift mascara, foundation, and other make-up from my skin prior to using the Neutrogena cleanser.

I would use this, then use a small amount of Neutrogena cleanser, then a second small amount of Neutrogena cleanser. Not that the first round didn’t cleanse my skin, but I liked how my face felt after the second round of cleansing.

loreal-sublime-radiance-cleansing-oil

However, the last time I went to buy the L’Oreal “face oil”, as I call it, I couldn’t find it anywhere!!! So searching through the shelves, I came upon the Cleansing Oil from Burt’s Bees. It’s the same concept … oil, massage, bit of water, massage, rince, cleanse …

I’ve been using the Burt’s Bees now for about a month and find my skin is great. I didn’t notice any changes going from the L’Oreal product to the Burt’s Bees product (thank goodness)!

burts-bees-cleansing-oil

So in the shower, I use the Burt’s Bees face oil, then 2 small rounds of Neutrogena cleanser. Nice and spiffy clean!

Out of the shower, I had previously used Tea Tree Toner from The Body Shop.

bodyshop-tea-tree-toner

And it was great, but I wanted to see if there was something a little less tea-tree-smelling! I ventured into Lush and was directed to the Breath of Fresh Air Toner. It has a nice light, maybe rose smell. I find it refreshing and light.

lush-breath-of-fresh-air

Ok so now that I’ve used Toner, I had previously used the simple/basic Daily Moisturizing Lotion from Aveeno (like, Jennifer Aniston uses it and looks amazing … so it must be great, right!?) But I wanted something a bit more substantial. Something like a night cream, but I wasn’t willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a coin-sized bottle.

aveeno-daily-moisturizer

So again while I was in Lush, I was directed towards the Celestial Facial Moisturizer. This cream is thick, but light. You don’t have to use much as it goes on thin and absorbs very well. But it leaves you feeling moisturized … even using a small amount!

lush-celestial

And there you have it! A slightly conveluted description of my nightly skin care routine! But just to keep things clear as to my current selection:

  1. Burt’s Bees Cleansing Oil, then
  2. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, then
  3. Lush Breath of Fresh Air Toner, then
  4. Lush Celestial Facial Moisturizer

Voila!

IMG_6773

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Life Update

March 12, 2017 … that was the last blog post I made?! Holy heck where have the past almost-4 months gone!?

I’m now just shy of two months from the start of my schooling, Holistic Nutrition! I have received all but one of my 1st semester books and I have begun reading … but my mindset isn’t quite there.

Work is good. Life is good. That about sums it up!

Ok, bye!

 

Just kidding! But yeah, work is good – there have been some changes to personnel, but luckily I’m still an employee! Life is good – summer is finally here (with a vengeance!) and I am NOT complaining!!

I took a weekend in March to visit a high school friend in Kelowna. Then I took a weekend in April to visit my best friend, also in Kelowna. And I took a second long weekend in May, but just stayed home and relaxed. Otherwise I haven’t had any time (or money – thanks tuition!) for a vacation.

I’m heading home, to Penticton, next weekend to visit my folks and a couple of friends, but it’ll also be a quick trip. I even decided to pay the high cost to fly instead of taking the bus – since it’s such a quick trip, I didn’t want to spend 10 total hours on a bus when I could pony up a bit more cash and fly for 45 minutes each way!

I have made the August-, October-, and November long weekends into 4-day weekends, and I have a week booked off at the end of August when my folks are coming for a visit, and to attend a couple of concerts at the PNE!

June 1st I started a 30-day program with Isagenix. The program is to do “shake days” and 4 “cleanse days”. On the shake days, you ideally replace 2 meals with Isagenix shakes, have one 400-600 calorie meal, and a couple of small snacks. On the cleanse days, you consume 4 servings of Isagenix’s Cleanse for Life product at regular intervals.

Now, I will admit that I was NOT diligent when it came to having 2 shakes a day. Probably 25%-35% of the time was on par … but the rest, well … I wanted a meal.

I lost a total of 7 pounds during this 30-day program, and I’ll reiterate … I DIDN’T FOLLOW THE PLAN 100%!

So I decided to compress the cleanse days into a 12 day program to be completed right before I head home for the visit. This is not abnormal as Isagenix offers a 9-day program, too.

I’ve completed 2 cleanse days already and tomorrow is # 3. As of this morning, I’m down about 3 pounds in 8 days … again, not being 100% on the shake days.

It’s a huge help getting and keeping me motivated on my health journey! Every little bit helps!!!

Other things that have happened is Baunzai turned 11 in June, and Waszabi turned 17 at the beginning of July.

Seventeen. Holy heck! I love that girl so flipping much!

Baunzai’s birthday collage:

baunzai

Waszabi’s birthday collage:

waszabi

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Inspired Creations

Clearly I have not been very diligent with writing blog posts, recipes tests, or anything on here! So much has happened since the last time we “met” …

First off, it’s March … so we’ve by-passed February completely! In missing February, I can’t recall anything of great importance that happened.

Except my birthday :o) my 35th birthday, to be exact! I love my birthday and this year was great! I had multiple lunch dates (obvi not on the same day!) and was able to celebrate during the evening of the specific date with a group of friends & coworkers!

At the very beginning of February, I was accepted into the Diploma Program in Applied Holistic Nutrition at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition! I chose the part-time evening program, as I cannot afford to quit my job to attend school, so I will be attending class Monday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm for a 2 year period! I am beyond exciting to get this started … which isn’t until September!

Luckily, that time is going to be well spent re-doing, arranging, and organizing a new office/work space at home, as well as doing as much bookkeeping as possible to help pay for this program!

One thing I didn’t have much of in February was inspiration or the desire to cook. It’s kind of weird how it ebbs and flows! March has been a bit different because I’ve been following more people on Instagram, through my GonaGetHealthy account, and found some great Instagram Stories and links for recipes!

The first one that caught my eye was the Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce as shown on the Instagram account and the website of Pinch of Yum!

It looked easy to make, with simple ingredients, and turned out really flipping delicious!

Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce

I was previously displaying my kitchen & cooking skills on Snapchat, but since it’s more of a personal account, I decided to move my health, food, and cooking trials to Instagram, and this recipe was the first that I did using Instagram Stories.

I had many people watch the story, and even a few friends & co-workers comment or ask questions in person! I think I’ve convinced a few people to go out and buy a spiralizer … they are affordable and can make “noodles” out of so many vegetables!! I have many in mind that I plan on trying out in the coming days/weeks/months as spring arrives and local produce becomes more readily available!

This morning while I was procrastinating the start of bookkeeping (which I’m still procrastinating on), I saw an Instagram Story via the Vital Proteins account, on which Kelsey of Little Bits Of was making her Vanilla Shortbread Energy Balls!

Again, this recipe looked SO SIMPLE with easy ingredients! I did have to hit up the health store for a couple of items, but that was on my list of chores for the day anyways!

While I was shopping, I did a bit of research (thank you awesome cell phone data plan!!) regarding buying almond flour vs. buying almonds and making flour …

The ~400 gram bag of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour retailed at this store for $18.99, and from what I could tell, was not derived from organic almonds.

Whereas I bought 300 grams of organic raw almonds and simply put them in my Vitamix dry container to make flour! This amount of almonds retailed for just less than $15.00 and they were ORGANIC! So not really any question of which to use or if I made the right choice!

Vanilla Shortbread Energy Balls

These bites came together very nicely and taste fabulous! Definitely a recipe to go into my collection to be made again and again!

If you know of anyone on Instagram or who has a great website, whom you feel I should check out and/or follow, or if you come across any amazing recipes that you think I should test, please comment below, or send me an email with the details!

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Cookie Craving Conundrum

craving

noun crav·ing \ˈkrā-viŋ\

Definition of craving

  • an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing

012917

I woke up this morning with a craving for oatmeal raisin cookies! But I also knew I needed to get some work done to pad my bank account to pay for college … to which I have my Admissions Interview on Tuesday! Fingers crossed!!!

So in between work, I brought up the websites of some of my favorite health/nutrition mentors:

After reading oatmeal cookie recipes on their sites, I settled on the Gluten-Free Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from Meghan’s website. I quickly jotted down the ingredients and figured I needed to hit up my local health food store for the necessary flours and coconut sugar.

I did stop by Safeway on my way to the health food store to see if they carried the ingredients and if so, what was the price point. (Un)luckily, Safeway did not carry the flours or sugar … so one more block to walk!

At the health food store, I was able to easily locate the buckwheat and brown rice flours … and it made me think I might have some at home … but I wasn’t willing to walk home to check! So I grabbed one of each, plus a bag of coconut sugar – something I hadn’t cooked/baked with before. (As it turns out, I did have both buckwheat and brown rice flour at home, but they’d been open and unused for so long, that I felt it was better to toss them and start fresh!)

I had included eggs on my grocery list, but thought I should try to follow the base of the recipe as best possible, which means using “chia paste” instead of egg (also – to keep it vegan!) … so no eggs made it into my basket.

I’m very thankful that all of Meghan’s recipes that I’ve attempted thus far have been very clear and easy to follow. In order to make the chia paste, I needed to grind some chia seeds … and I thought of 3 different “appliances” to make this happen:

  1. Electric spice grinder
  2. Mortar & pestle
  3. Vitamix dry container

Starting with the quickest and easiest … the electric spice grinder (a coffee grinder … but I don’t drink coffee, so it’s never had coffee beans in it). This tool was perfect! It took literally seconds and voila! the chia seeds were now a chia powder!

Mixing the powder with warm water quickly created the chia paste and again – it pasted up in mere seconds!

When making this recipe, I followed the base recipe (wet & dry ingredients) but was VERY skeptical as the recipe called for 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened! HALF A CUP!!! Holy Hannah!

The changes I made were:

  • Raisins instead of chocolate chips
  • Walnuts instead of pecans
  • Cornstarch instead of arrowroot starch
  • Baked 11 minutes in stead of 15 minutes

After the wet ingredients were added to the dry and thoroughly combined, I was still skeptical as the “batter” was very oily …

I scooped out 5 cookies and spaced them well apart on the parchment-lined baking tray … in case they decided to become 1 cookie! I was very pleased to see the cookies completely held their shape and didn’t spread AT ALL!

I was able to fit the rest of the batter, shaped into cookie balls, on the second tray, so not to take too long with multiple batches.

These cookies have great sweetness, but not overly sweet. The coconut sugar definitely has a different smell/taste/texture than regular granular sugar, but it’s so enjoyable!

I’ve changed the color below to show my changes:

Ingredients
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 serving chia paste*
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

*Chia Paste – 1 tbsp chia seeds, ground … mixed with ¼ cup warm water (now, 1 tbsp of chia seeds yields more than 1 tbsp when ground … I only used 1 tbsp of the ground chia seeds … not sure if that was right, or if I should have used the whole amount of ground seeds!)

Make It Like So

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix together coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and chia paste
  3. In a separate bowl, mix flours, oats, baking soda, salt, raisins & walnuts
  4. Add wet into dry and stir until combined
  5. Using 1-2 tbsp of mixture, form into balls and flattery slightly and place in parchment lined cookie sheet
  6. Bake for about 10 – 11 minutes, until golden
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The rest of the day was pretty lazy … for the whole household …

waszabi-baunzai-january-29-2017

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Ayurveda … Doshas … Kapha …

I’ve heard much chatter about Ayurveda, but have read little. Today I decided to dabble …

Having listened to one of my favorite podcasts, The Ultimate Health Podcast hosted by Dr. Jesse Chappus and Marni Wasserman, and their interview with Julie Daniluk, I was drawn to do a bit more research. Based on their brief touch on the topic of doshas, I felt my dosha was Kapha.

I searched “Ayurveda” and picked The Chopra Centre website as a good place to start.

This site so far has some great information. Here, in PURPLE, is some of what I found regarding the dosha of Kapha … my comments are in GREEN.

Qualities of Kapha:

  • Heavy
  • Slow
  • Steady
  • Solid
  • Cold
  • Soft
  • Oily

Physical Characteristics

Kapha types have a strong build and excellent stamina. Large, soft eyes; smooth, radiant skin; and thick hair are also important Kapha characteristics. (I couldn’t agree more about the large soft eyes, smooth radiant skin, and thick hair – these all match my characterists!) Those who are predominantly Kapha sleep soundly and have regular digestion. (I’m more of a light sleeper, and didn’t have regular digestion until becoming vegan (briefly) in 2013 … then I was regular (TMI!!)) But when Kapha builds to excess, weight gain, fluid retention, and allergies manifest in the body. When they’re out of balance, Kapha types may become overweight, sleep excessively, and suffer from asthma, diabetes, and depression. (Overweight – check. Sleep excessively – not quite. Asthma – trouble catching my breath sometimes. Diabetes – possibly … in follow-up stages right now to determine if this is the case. Depression – in my past, yes absolutely … some low days at present, yes sometimes)

Emotional Characteristics

Kaphas are naturally calm, thoughtful, and loving. They have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with routine. (I think I thrive with routine!) When in balance, Kaphas are strong, loyal, patient, steady, and supportive. People with an excess of Kapha tend to hold on to things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer nourishing or necessary. Excess Kapha in the mind manifests as resistance to change and stubbornness. In the face of stress, the typical Kapha response is, “I don’t want to deal with it.”

How to Balance Kapha

Seek stimulation. Since Kapha is inherently cold, heavy, and dense, the key to balancing Kapha is stimulation. Kaphas tend to cling to the status quo and routine (yes, very), so they need the stimulation of new sights, sounds, and experiences. (one reason I love the choice I made to move to Vancouver … new sights, sounds, and experiences!)

Follow a regular daily routine, ideally awakening before 6 a.m. each morning. (meh … not before 6 a.m. … but almost always by 6:30 a.m. … “sleeping in” means possibly 7 a.m.) Avoid taking naps during the day.

Stay warm and avoid dampness. Kaphas are particularly sensitive to cold, damp conditions and benefit from heat. (take me to Jamaica!!) Use dry heat if you are congested—a common Kapha complaint. Using a heating pad under your back or a sunlamp at your chest is often helpful. Avoid exposing your nose, throat, and lungs to cold winter air if you aren’t feeling well.

Perform a daily Garshana (dry massage) on your body to stimulate circulation. (have also been hearing much about dry brushing and I do have the brush required … just need to build that into my daily routine!)

Use an Ayurvedic neti pot to help prevent congestion. The neti pot is powerful tool for nasal cleansing. (I could see this being very beneficial. I have a deviated septum and often experience “nasal dripping” (gross, right!?) and congestion.)

Clear your space. To avoid clutter from accumulating in your home, office, car, and other physical spaces, regularly clean out and give away things that you know you’ll never use. (this is something I do often! If I don’t use it on a regular basis – I toss/donate it!)

Get regular exercise. This is the best way to avoid stagnation and the accumulation of toxins in the body. Focus on building endurance. Favor running (um, no. nope. not with this body yet), bicycling (yes!), swimming (yes!), aerobics, and competitive sports (does watching count!? LOL). You can also dance to energizing rhythmic music.

Use warm, stimulating aromas including cloves, camphor, cinnamon, eucalyptus, juniper, and marjoram.

Favor colors that are warm and bright, including yellow, orange, and red. (seriously!? I have always been drawn towards the cooler colours of blues, greens, etc.)

Nutritional Guidelines for Kapha

According to Ayurveda, it’s important to eat foods that have a balancing effect on the dominant dosha or that will pacify (stabilize) a dosha that has become excessive or aggravated. Because Kapha is heavy, oily, and cold, favor foods that are light, dry, or warm. Foods with pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes are most beneficial for pacifying Kapha. Reduce foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes.

Recommendations:

Try a liquid fast one day per week, ingesting only fresh vegetable and fruit juices, and pureed vegetable soup. (this would be awesome … will have to see about working this in! I juiced 2 meals a day for about 6 weeks at the beginning of 2013 and found I experienced great health benefits!)

Reduce the intake of dairy, which tends to increase Kapha. You can use small amounts of ghee, low-fat milk, and low-fat yogurt.

Avoid most sweeteners. Honey is one sweetener that can best pacify Kapha. Other sweeteners, however, should be avoided because they increase the Kapha dosha, contributing to problems such as blocked sinuses, allergies, colds, and lethargy. Take a tablespoon or two (but no more) of raw honey every day can help release excess Kapha. Do not cook with honey though.

Drink hot ginger tea with meals to help stimulate slow digestion and sharpen dull taste buds. Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily. (something to try!)

Eat beans. All beans are good for Kapha types except for soybeans and soybean-based foods such as tofu, which should be eaten in moderation. (this is interesting as I find beans (canned, at the moment) really cause me to experience much flatulence. I want to try soaking and cooking dry beans to see if they better digest for me)

Favor lighter fruits such as apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, and apricots. Reduce heavier fruits like bananas, avocados, pineapples, oranges, peaches, coconuts, melons, dates, and figs. (omg … how to avoid some of my favourite fruits like bananas (in my smoothies), pineapples, peaches, coconuts, dates!!! Of course I have no problem eating more pomegranates … but they are so damned expensive!)

Eat lots of vegetables. In general, all vegetables are recommended but you should reduce consumption of sweet and juicy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini. (vegetables – blech! LOL … and again – how to avoid a favourite like sweet potatoes!?)

All spices except salt are pacifying to Kapha. Use pungent spices like pepper, cayenne, mustard seed, and ginger freely in your diet.

Reduce intake of all nuts and seeds. Favor pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Limit consumption of red meat. For non-vegetarians, fresh, organic white meat chicken, turkey, eggs, and seafood are acceptable.

Use small amounts of fats and oils. Try extra virgin olive oil, ghee, almond oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, mustard oil, or safflower oil. (what about coconut oil?)

For grains, favor barley, corn, millet, buckwheat, rye. Reduce intake of oats, rice, and wheat. (yes – this makes sense … well, the wheat part makes sense. I thought oats were good … and they’re so easy!!)

In general, a Kapha diet should be lively and full of energy to help spark the digestive and metabolic systems. Eat your largest meal at lunchtime and a smaller meal at dinnertime. Allow at least three hours for digestion before bedtime.

What do you think? Have you read, heard or done any research on Ayurveda?

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Cashew No-Cheese Sauce

I have a co-worker who, many times, said how she isn’t a good cook. She doesn’t feel confident in the kitchen and most recipes intimidate her.

She is Celiac, and also has allergies to soy and almonds (?) … plus her husband is a “meat and potatoes” kind of dinner eater! LOL

I often think of her when I find easy DELICIOUS recipes … and I’ve started to pass them on to her. The first was the Takeaway Taco Salad recipe from The Un-Diet Cookbook by Meghan Telpner.

I wasn’t surprised when she came to work and told me that she made it, how easy it was, how DELICIOUS it was, and that her husband liked it (it has no meat)! He has even stopped by my desk (yes, also a co-worker) to thank me for passing along recipes to them.

However, when she made the Takeaway Taco Salad, they didn’t make the Cashew Cream Cheese sub-recipe … but since, she has made a recipe she found on her nutritional yeast package.

And she asked me to make it so that I could let her know how it compares to Meghan Telpner’s Cashew Cream Cheese. So today that was my weekly test recipe …

The recipe is found on the package of Bob’s Red Mill‘s Nutritional Yeast (I bought my bag from Safeway for around $11.50 CAD).

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

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Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blender, process into a fine powder
  2. Add nutritional yeast, salt & garlic powder – blend until combined
  3. Add water and lemon juice – blend until smooth

Makes 2 cups

This Cashew No-Cheese Sauce recipe is absolutely like cheese sauce – it’s creamy and cheesy! It would be divine over some steamed veggies or even as a nacho dip!

It differs greatly from the Cashew Cream Cheese by Meghan Telpner as that recipe is much more like cream cheese … it’s smooth and thick.

I like the fact that these are vastly different as they can have their own time and place!

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