detox salad

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I’m sure you all know this, but this winter was ROUGH. Long, harsh and cold. I honestly never thought we’d see spring weather let alone the patio appropriate weather we’ve had lately! It’s truly a relief to be walking outside and be too warm!

Long, cold winters usually result in the eating of a lot of comfort food. And maybe a little less exercise. If this sounds like you, it’s nothing to beat yourself up over! We are conditioned to crave heavier foods and conserve energy in those circumstances.

That being said, once the warmer weather comes along, I really like to lighten up a bit. Eat lighter and feel lighter! A detox this time of year is a wonderful thing to do. The temperatures are warm which is extremely helpful. Have you ever tried to do a detox in winter? Talk about shivering x 1208348. Spring is also a time of new beginnings and detoxing to release toxins built up in the winter will ensure you start off this season on the right foot! Continue reading

{from left to write} thrive and a call to the 30×30 challenge

Another book club post! Not being in school anymore has afforded me more time for pleasure reading and I couldn’t be happier about it. And this book couldn’t have come at a better time.

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This post was inspired by the book Thrive by Arianna Huffington as a part of the From Left to Write book club. Written by the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, it proposed a new way of defining success called “The Third Metric”. Essentially what her view boiled down to is that Money and Power should not be the only measures of success in life. We are all getting burnt out at the expense of our own health, the quality of relationships and family life and ironically enough, our careers and productivity. We need a new definition of success that incorporates Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder.

First let’s get the bad out of the way- while I agreed with the sentiments of the book, it wasn’t one I particularly enjoyed reading. I found myself skimming over most sections. It could be that being in the health and wellness industry, most of the information wasn’t very ground breaking for me, hence didn’t hold my interest. I found it read like random quotes and factoids rather than being a succinct and cohesive body of knowledge.

That being said, I took away a lot from this book. Did I learn a ton? No, not really. But it was a bit of a wake up call. You know how you can know something to be true a million times over, but all it takes is someone delivering the message in the right way at the right time for you to really listen? Continue reading

inspiring intentions

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While New Years is the traditional time to set goals and intentions, for some reason those never seem to stick for me. We make them and they are quickly forgotten. I'm sure many of you have experienced the over zealous crowds at the gym in January only to see things are back to normal by March. 

For me, it's the transition out of summer and into fall that really inspires change. It just seems more logical doesn't it? School starts again, work starts after summer vacation, we say goodbye to warm weather and hello to cold. Establishing good habits and intentions now seems like a great way to get ahead of the game doesn't it? You will be well on the way to positive change by the time everyone else even thinks about it in January ;)

I like to think of this as my personal new year. My time to lay intentions down for who I want to be and the direction I would like my year to take. Intentions to me don't mean specific goals like working out 3 times a week or eating more meals at home. To me they are more like principles to guide the way I think and act. If I can act in accordance with my intentions, my goals tend to fall in place and I can say i am happy with the year, no matter what else happens!

I wrote a post as a part of Suzanne at hello veggy's Inspiring Intentions Guest Post Series and I hope you'll head over to check it out!

photo credit: Ian Sane via photopin cc

pep talk for the next time you’re ready to give up on clean eating: a guest post from eat well. party hard.

Hello friends!

Today I am so excited to be hosting Claire from Eat Well. Party Hard. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading her blog, Claire is a fun, enthusiastic and inspiring woman whose approach to healthy eating and living is so inspirational and accessible to anyone whether you are an experienced health nut or a complete newbie. She posts recipes and tips aimed at making healthy eating fun and enjoyable which is exactly in line with my beliefs. She is currently teaching English in China so her blog is full of great anecdotes of trying to be healthy in a place where the language an food is completely foreign. Her good humour and positive outlook is infectious and I know you will all love her.

She’s here today to share something that I think everyone should keep in his or her back pocket. Transitioning to or even living a healthy lifestyle can be hard at times. You have so many forces and temptations pulling you in another direction. When you feel lost or are losing motivation a letter like this to remind you of why you have chosen a (at times) more difficult path can be comforting and can reaffirm why you are doing this is in the first place.

So now, with that long-winded introduction, take it away Claire!

A pep talk for the next time you're ready to give up on clean eating

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Hey, friend.

Things are really tough right now. I get that. At this moment, nothing would make life feel easier than digging into a bag of Doritos, or popping open a can of Pepsi.

But here's the thing: you're better than that.

When you set new clean-eating goals for your life–to smash your sugar addiction, to cut refined carbohydrates, maybe to curb your meat intake–you did so with a purpose. You wanted something, and you wanted it bad, and you knew this was one tiny step on the road to getting there.

But the road's been pretty hard, hasn't it? There have definitely been some bumps along the way. That energy crash around 3pm, when a bag of Skittles seems like it could save the world. Or that whiff of fresh muffins from the bakery next to your apartment; how is one supposed to get through the day without giving into that? Or–and I always find this one the toughest–Pizza Fridays/Taco Tuesdays/Burger & Beer night out with friends. "Aw, come on, you're seriously ordering salad? You're no fun anymore, dude."

With temptation to fall back into old habits taunting you at every turn, I totally get the desire to just yell F*ck it! and down a Snickers or two in defiance. And hey, is one candy bar going to kill you? Probably not.

BUT.

Before you rip open that wrapper, stop a second. Breathe. And remember these things:

1. You are not alone.

Immediate circle of real-life friends giving you crap for trying to change your habits? Get new friends. They're totally out there.

I'm not saying that isolating yourself from your social group will solve every problem–and by all means, it's important to keep close to your tribe. But it's also important to find a network of people who truly support your efforts to improve, and for that? The internet is a gift from above. Whether you wanna make long-distance, online friends through outlets like Heathy Vegan Fridays or VeggieBoards, or connecting with a crew nearer to home via MeetUp is more your jam, there approximately 2.5 bajillion fellow humans pursuing the same goals you are–it's just a matter of saying hello.

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2. Change really is happening–though you may not be measuring it.

Wanna know a surefire way to forever feel disappointed with yourself? Place all of your worth on outcomes, not efforts.

"I didn't lose ten pounds in two weeks–I'm a failure. Someone please pass me the brownies."

Instead of beating yourself up over the results that haven't materialized in exactly the way you'd pictured, reflect on the actions you took to move closer to those results.

"I haven't lost the weight I'd wanted yet, but I ate 12 clean, super-healthy meals this week and only two junk ones; that's five more healthy meals than I ate the week before, and seven more healthy ones than I ate the week before that. I'm actually making steady progress!"

See the difference?

3. The new life you're designing? It's worth so much more than what's in front of you right now.

Back to reality: look at that Snickers bar in your hand. What's it worth to you, really? About three minutes of sweetness, saltiness and comfort, right? But what about a minute after that–guilt? Or 40 minutes after that–ugh, a sugar crash? Or a few hours after that–annoyance at the fact that cravings, not you, are still running the show?

A deeper satisfaction than a candy bar can ever provide awaits you in the future–I swear it does. And though you haven't completely achieved it yet, you know for yourself that this is true. A cleaner, lighter, addiction-free and more conscious life is totally possible, and you're on the path to it this very second. Trust me here, okay? It's seriously gonna rule, and you deserve it.

bio_photo Claire Suellentrop is a catalyst for purposeful change. A passionate whole foods enthusiast and organizational whiz, she shares lifehacks that allow busy people to make healthier food choices on Eat Well. Party Hard. She's happiest when helping others take greater control of their lives through knowledge and action, and fuels her own weird life with a plant-based diet, black coffee and whiskey. She'd love to hear from you at eatwellpartyhard (at) gmail (dot) com.

let’s talk about skin

Skin can be a tricky and sensitive subject. It is one of the first things people see when they look at us, the barrier between us and the rest of the world. So naturally, when it isn’t cooperating it can be a source of stress and insecurities. While there are so many causes of skin issues and I can’t hope to address them all in one blog post, I have been getting questions recently on tips for what to eat for better skin. Thankfully there are a whole host of foods in the plant-based world that can help your skin look and feel its best!

I have a ton of recipes that include all of these foods so make sure to browse my recipe index for ideas. I’ve provided a link for my favourite recipe in each section to get you started.

The Basics

Organic fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants and critical vitamins and are low in toxins. Try and choose organic whenever possible since they are grown in more nutrient rich soil and have lower exposure to environmental toxins and are guaranteed GMO free!

Drink lots of filtered water to help flush toxins from the body and keep your skin hydrated. If you aren’t able to detoxify all the bad stuff coming in, it will make an appearance on your skin! Other great options for hydration include green tea which is rich in antioxidants and kombucha for a dose of living enzymes and good bacteria to help your body digest your food properly and get all the skin-loving nutrients from it!

Now for more specifics…

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid Foods

These fatty acids provide your body with the building blocks to produce anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and help maintain the integrity of your cell walls. This helps with everything from inflammatory conditions like acne and eczema to dry skin.

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Other Healthy Fats

Other healthy fats like monounsaturated fats found in foods like olive oil and avocado as well as the good saturated fats like MCTs found in coconut oil help keep your skin moisturized from the inside out. Your skin needs fat so trying to avoid it can be very detrimental to your healthy glow!

  • Foods to add: avocados, olives, coconut, nuts and seeds
  • Recipe to try: Kale Avocado Pesto

Vitamin A

Carotenoids helps with natural skin turnover and are potent antioxidants.

  • Foods to add: red, orange and yellow coloured foods like tomatoes, mangoes sweet potatoes and carrots. Green veggies like spinach and kale are also high in this important nutrient too.
  • Recipe to try: Bruschetta Quinoa

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Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps in the production of collagen which is vital to our skin’s structure and maintaining a youthful appearance. It also helps to fight inflammation and it an important antioxidant to help fight the aging process!

  • Foods to add: fruits and veggies particularly citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, sprouts, kale
  • Recipe to try: Massaged Kale Salad

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Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and helps protect the skin from free radicals which age us and protect us from sun damage as well as helping to reduce inflammation.

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Zinc

Zinc helps regulate sebum production in the skin by helping metabolize testosterone (sebum is the stuff that clogs our pores and makes our face shiny). It is involved in the generation of new skin.

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Whole Grains

When we eat refined grains, our body has to dump out insulin in response which triggers a hormonal cascade leading increased oil and cellular production (think clogged pores) and inflammation! Choosing whole grains to prevent a blood sugar spike and to provide fiber helps combat this cycle. Whole grains are also rich in the B-vitamin biotin which is crucial in helping your body process fats.

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Fermented Foods

Bacteria is such an important part of our overall health, so making sure we have an optimal balance of good and bad bacteria is important! Choosing fermented foods will make sure your good bacteria flourish so they can help us obtain all the nutrients from our food and keep inflammation in the body down.

  • Foods to add: sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, non-dairy yogurt, miso, raw apple cider vinegar
  • Recipe to try: Chipotle Tempeh Burgers

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Foods to Avoid

Trans and hydrogenated fats, coffee, dairy, refined grains, refined sugars and fried foods all make skin issues worse so avoid these as much as possible! When it comes to healthy natural sweeteners (like coconut sugar, maple syrup, dates, honey, etc.), they are still sugar so keep their use to a minimum to avoid blood sugar spikes. 

And Remember…

  • Your skin is your body’s largest organ and one of a few used for detoxification. So if you taking in too many toxins or aren’t detoxifying properly through other organs like your liver, kidneys and colon, you are going to see it in your skin! Make sure you keep your liver happy and are eliminating properly. That means fibre and antioxidants!
  • Hormones play a huge role in your skin’s appearance! Make sure you are providing your adrenals and thyroid with solid nutrition, getting appropriate rest and keeping your stress levels to a minimum. Also, having too much circulating estrogen can wreak havoc: avoid external estrogens in plastics and eat lots of estrogen detoxifying foods like cruciferous veggies and pumpkin seeds! Avoid foods like coffee (yes, even decaf).
  • If you aren’t digesting your food properly you are not only not getting all the nutrients from your food but you are also taxing the body, creating toxins. And those toxins have to come out somewhere…Aim for good digestion by using probiotics, digestive enzymes if necessary and practicing food combining principle whenever possible. Also consider stimulating stomach acid procudtion by using apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or ginger before meals. If your stomach acid is really low (like it is for me) supplement with Betaine HCl (supplemental stomach acid) until levels are up to par. If anyone wants tips on how to do this, just email me!

Healthy Skin from the Outside In

It’s very important to consider what you are putting on your skin as well! Most commercially available products are packed with toxins that will do more harm than good. Choose your products wisely and when possible make your own! Here are some of my favourite recommendations:

  • Coconut oil or almond oil to moisturize
  • Oil cleansing instead of face wash
  • Witch hazel as a toner
  • Avocado face masks
  • Evening primrose oil or vitamin E as serum
  • Tea tree oil for spot treatment
  • Lavender oil to calm redness

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Finally I want to mention a couple products I was lucky enough to sample from Gabriela. She makes 2 wonderful products that exemplify exactly what you should look for in skin care: simple ingredients and no fillers. Her products all contain pomegranate seed oil which is a powerful antioxidant to help revitalize your skin and reduce signs of aging and tiredness.

Her Citrus Chiffon Skin Brightening Scrub contains jojoba oil, pomegranate seed oil and olive oil to help nourish and brighten your skin and I found after a couple times using it may skin was so soft and bright! I used it every day for about a week and then a couple times a week to maintain after that. My skin hasn’t been so soft in ages! I also tried her Almaretto Lip Softening Balm. This product does contain beeswax (so it’s not vegan) but contains coconut oil, vitamin E and pomegranate seed oil. This product left my lips so soft even when faced with an extremely dry work environment!

Her products are not expensive at all and she ships all over the place! I highly recommend her products if you are looking for a natural alternative to conventional products but aren’t quite ready to make your own ;)

Do you guys have any tips or advice for healthy skin? Favourite products or at home remedies?