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Ashwaganda

Ashwaganda

Two nights ago I found myself searching the shelves of Marshall’s with my husband for Ashwaganda Powder as we had almost ran out of ours. My husband has became obsessed with it and puts it (along with many other superfoods) in his morning smoothie. He is a guy who loves his chicken wings as much as he loves his superfood smoothies so friends, let this be a lesson that anyone can add it to their daily lives! Now some of you are probably wondering what the heck ashwaganda is and thinking I might as well be speaking a different language so I’ll give you the Cole’s notes version and say it’s not meant for everyone so here we go...

Ashwaganda is an “adaptogen”. An “adaptogen” is a “phytonutrient” (beneficial substances from a plant). The word ‘adapt’ is in adaptogen because it quite literally means that, they help your body adapt, find balance and restoration (i.e. adapts to what your body needs)! All adaptogens have different benefits as well (and there are many types of them too)! They interact with each of us differently.

So what is ashwaganda? It is a plant and the extractions we consume usually comes in powder (sometimes liquid or tablet) form. 

Here is what it is great for:

  • regulating our hormones in our body 
  • stress relief, it is very calming to nervous + adrenal system!
  • thyroid stimulation! 
  • strengthening immune system
  • increase energy (my favvvv) ⚡️⚡️⚡️

My husband Jesse says he notices the main difference is his energy levels and brain function (feels clearer)! 

My favourite brand is organic traditions which I usually get from winners/Home Sense/ Marshall’s or Bulk Barn. Comment below if you have any questions! 

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Tamarindo, Costa Rica!

My husband and I decided to delay our honeymoon for a few months. We got married in October and went on a "mini moon" to Charleston, SC for a weekend but decided to hold off on our big trip until it was actually cold in Canada. We went to Tamarindo, Costa Rica for 8 days this February for our big honeymoon (a time when it was freezing at home) as well as for my 30th birthday!

 

Why Costa Rica: the weather, people, food and natural landscapes are all incredible!

Where: Tamarindo, Costa Rica (right on the Pacific coast about 1 hour from the Liberia airport)

  • We stayed at the Wyndham Esplendor and it was incredibly beautiful. We opted to stay at a place that was not all-inclusive because we had heard the food in Tamarindo was amazing (which it is + we are so glad we did!) The hotel included breakfast every day which was good

views from the hotel pool

  • The hotel was at the top of the hill and every single room overlooks the Pacific Ocean! The rooms are modern, simple and clean with gorgeous balcony views!
  • One of the MAJOR benefits of the hotel is that there is a shuttle running every 30 minutes to drive down the hill into town (5 minute drive, 20 minute walk) as well as to a beach club and wellness centre, so we got the views plus the beach, the best of both worlds!

views from the beach club

What we did

  • Ate, swam, relaxed + repeat!

but also...

  • The beach club + wellness centre were amazing! I did yoga and got a massage/body scrub and my husband worked out at the facilities daily
  • A catamaran sunset cruise on my birthday! It started at 1pm and ended at 6pm, which included lunch, an open bar (I have never had better pina coladas in my life!), as well as an hour stop with paddle boarding, snorkelling, and swimming. We saw a school of dolphins and it was the best way to celebrate my 30th.

Our favourite restaurants:

  • Mexican:
    • Green Papaya, loved their shrimp tacos + brownie! They have swings in the restaurant which is very cool too!
    • Little Lucha, a modern and delicious restaurant. We went on Taco Tuesday where they were $2/each

  • Italian: La Pachanga, amazing thin crust pizza and pasta!

  • BBQ: Longboards, we went back here 3 times in 8 days! Best nachos ever! My husband became obsessed + even bought one of their t-shirts to wear back home. We made friends with the owner who is from North Carolina and he even gave me the recipe for their in-house hot sauce that I loved. If you go back tell him the Canadians with the hot sauce recipe sent you!
  • Burgers: Surf Shack, enough said!
  • Mediterranean: The Falafel Bar had the best (you guessed it) falafel plates!

  • Breakfast: La Bodega, it is organic and delicious! I loved their homemade jams and my husband enjoyed it all!
  • Dessert: Waffle Monkey for their waffles and ice cream

  • Other: La Oveja Negra I was able to get Bulletproof coffee there! We liked their nachos a lot too!

 

What else to know:

  • Currency: we brought American and sometimes they would give us the local currency (colón) in change when we paid with USD
  • Average cost per meal: for 2 people was usually approx. $30 USD
  • December-April is high season and it is around 30-45 degrees celsius every day with barely any clouds in the sky. Wear lots of sunscreen, we went  through 4 bottles!
  • Their supermarkets have a great deal of things you would see in Canada. I would buy local Kombucha from them too!
  • Many people rent golf carts for the week and go to and from town!
  • It is very laid back and casual in Tamarindo! Ladies, think flip flops + sun dresses! Guys, t-shirts and shorts.
  • Tamarindo has a very boho, hippy like feel to it! It is like Bali meets Thailand meets Mykonos.

 

If you have never been to Costa Rica, I would highly recommend it! It is in my top 3 places I have ever been (along with the Greek and Thai islands, what can I say I am a water baby!). PURA VIDA BABY!

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Gluten Free + Vegan Pancakes

Gluten Free + Vegan Pancakes

These pancakes are not only tasty but they are also super healthy! 

GF + Vegan Pancakes (yields 20 pancakes)

 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut or almond milk (from carton)
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (you can opt for whey protein too if you do not want it to be vegan)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup natural almond, peanut or cashew butter
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract (vanilla bean or pure vanilla liquid)

 

Instructions

  1. Mix together milk, bananas, protein powder, vanilla, nut butter + cinnamon in a blender until fully combined
  2. Next add in the oats + blend until well combined
  3. Finally, add in chia seeds + blend. Pour mixture into a bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes. (FYI the chia seeds are an egg replacement, so letting the chia seeds settle allows them to expand and essentially replicate what an egg does!)
  4. Grease a frying pan with coconut oil and set temperature to medium. I use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to place the batter onto the pan (+ to portion). Cook for at least 3 minutes, flip + cook other side for 2 minutes. The time may vary but I usually flip when the outsides of the pancakes start to harden and batter begins to bubble on top of pancake. Repeat with all the batter.
  5. Top with raspberry chia jam, berries, maple syrup, unsweetened shredded coconut, nuts, seeds, whatever you like!
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Spaghetti Squash + Pesto

Spaghetti Squash + Pesto

I remember when spaghetti squash came into my life and I was SO CONFUSED. So it's a vegetable that turns into spaghetti? Is it new? How have I never heard of this before and why isn't everyone eating it!? Do I just cook it and it comes out like that?

If you had these questions too, you are not alone! Below I will help clear things up!

Spaghetti Squash 

There are multiple techniques but this is the one I like the most!

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Place the spaghetti squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook whole for 40 minutes. Flip halfway to ensure it cooks all the way through
  3. Once complete, let cool for at least 10 minutes and then cut in half (lengthwise). Let cool again for at least 5 minutes
  4. There will likely be seeds in the middle (resemble pumpkin seeds) that you will need to scoop out (this is the tedious part). Use a fork or your hand to remove
  5. Once the seeds are removed, use a fork to scrape the sides of the spaghetti squash (this is way easier than it sounds and it happens pretty naturally! See picture as an example)
  6. Place in a bowl and discard the skin. You can top however you like- with pesto, tomato sauce, pad thai sauce, it is so versatile!

 Now for my...

Dairy Free Pesto
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Mix together all the above ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until fully combined. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (the lemon helps it stay fresh)!

 

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Sweet Potato Protein Brownies

Sweet Potato Protein Brownies

Who would have thought!? You can have your brownie and eat it too. These babies have 6g of protein per brownie! 

 

Sweet Potato Protein Brownies (yields 16)

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed)
  • 2 scoops chocolate protein powder (I used Genuine Health's Fermented Vegan)
  • 3/4 cup natural nut butter (suggestions: almond, hazelnut or peanut)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla 
  • 1 tsp. flaked sea salt (regular is fine too)
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • for greasing: 1/4 cup coconut or avocado oil

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a 9x9 pan with coconut or avocado oil
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in sweet potatoes and cook until the sweet potatoes rise near the surface of the water
  4. In the meantime, mix together eggs, maple syrup, cinnamon + vanilla in a blender (or food processor) until fully combined
  5. Next, add in nut butter and mix until combined. Lastly, add in the protein powder and mix again until fully combined
  6. Once the sweet potatoes are finished, pour over a strainer. Let cool for a few minutes in your sink
  7. Finally, add the sweet potatoes into the blender and mix until fully blended
  8. Pour mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Spread the sea salt evenly over the brownies.
  9. Cook for 40 minutes and let cool for at least 15 minutes
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Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup

Back at it again on the slow cooker! Here is another delicious and easy recipe to keep you warm and nourished this winter.

Butternut Squash Soup

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butternut squash  (peeled + cubed)
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup sweet potato (peeled + cubed)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (from a can or carton)
  • 1 shallot (chopped in half)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients into a slow cooker
  2. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours
  3. Once complete, place entire contents into a blender and mix until fully combined

ENJOY!

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Slow Cooker Chili

Slow Cooker Chili

It's that time of year again, and no I do not mean the holiday season. I mean it is freezin' season... I am perma cold from November to March so instead of hibernating and burrito-ing myself in blankets, I warm my body from the inside out. I crave warm foods in the winter like it is nobody's business so rely heavily on my Cuisinart Slow Cooker to stay warm (and to make delicious + easy meals with minimal effort)!

 

Slow Cooker Chili (yields 6 servings, or 4 really big ones)

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
    • Vegetarian/Vegan alternative: 1 cup diced sweet potato
  • 3 cups plain tomato sauce
  • 2 cans of kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Optional toppings (not to be put in slow cooker)
    • Avocado
    • Shredded Cheese
    • Icelandic or Greek Yogurt (with 1/2 tsp chili powder mixed in)- it is thicker than most yogurts which makes it a great topping in lieu of sour cream
    • Green Onions

 

Instructions:

  1. Place all the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 3-4 hours depending on what best fits your schedule (or your hanger level)
  2. Once your slow cooker's time is done, mix it around and serve with your desired toppings! (pictured: skyr yogurt, avocado, cheese + green onions with beef)

 

STAY WARM! xo

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Staying Sane During Wedding Prep!

Staying Sane During Wedding Prep!

4 weeks ago I got married! It was as stereotypical they say "the best day of my life". Today I'm still buzzing from it and reflecting (surprise, surprise) on what made it so great. Below are my suggestions on how to make things as positive as possible! 

5 things I would suggest for any bride to be

  1. Mentally decide it's not going to be stressful. I will preface this by saying I am verrrry organized which made this process quite easy. You can make the process and planning as complicated + stressful as you want it to be. I decided very early on it was not going to be a stressful thing and that I was going to make decisions efficiently. We saw one venue, I chose my bridesmaid dresses and my own wedding dress in one day, and most importantly we always remembered what a wedding was all about; our love + the people there to celebrate that with us. If you keep that in mind throughout the process it's so much easier to stay calm, grounded and keep things in perspective. Stress is how you carry it! We could all be raging monsters over decor but is that really worth it?! 
  2. Etsy is the most wonderful online marketplace ever. Have some fun on there to make your wedding customized to your liking! You are also supporting small businesses which is a bonus!
  3. Take time to curate your music played at your wedding. Seems like a weird suggestion but we hired a band and one of the most fun parts of the planning was picking a set list! Let me just say that our dance floor was packed the entire night which made Jesse (my husband) and I so happy! We wanted our guests to have as much fun as we were having and I can confidently say that they did!
  4. In regards to your health, be nice to yourself! If you're not happy with yourself, set a realistic and achievable goal that doesn't make you feel like crap. Avoid the "lose 20lbs or else" mentality and make smaller weekly ones such as: go to bootcamp 3x/week + yoga once. Or drink 2L water daily for glowing skin. The small changes add up and help you stay focused and positive. Like I said earlier, stress is how you carry it and if you go through the wedding planning process in a "I need to lose 20lbs to be happy" mindset, it's going to put you in that negative state of mind which will have a ripple effect on your stress, the people around you, and the whole process. Be nice to yourself and remember, there's a lot bigger things in life to worry about then a dress size! 
  5. 2 weeks leading up to your wedding: sweat, hydrate + nourish! Support your adrenals, work out any stress + give your body every ounce of nutrients it needs to be in the best mental and physical state. For me that just meant working out, drinking lots of water, and making sure I was eating lots of nutritious foods to help me feel energetic throughout it all!

 What helped you stay grounded and sane during your wedding planning process? Feel free to share below!

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Green Goddess Smoothie

Green Goddess Smoothie

Let me start off by saying that I have a lot of energy naturally but there is a difference between natural energy and food energy. When I am eating my healthiest and incorporating green smoothies in the morning, my energy is sharper and more consistent. 

In my detoxes, the first meal on day 1 is our green smoothie. Below is one of the recipes I use to step up both my mental + physical game.

Green Goddess:

  • 1.5 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 avocado 
  • 1/4 cup frozen berries (optional, I do not use)
  • 1 scoop vegan vanilla protein powder (I either use Sun Warrior, Genuine Health or Vega)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed, chia seed or hemp seed
  • 1 tbsp spirulina powder
  • Optional superfoods + herbs: ashwaganda powder, moringa powder, matcha, reishi, MCT oil, etc! 

Mix together the above mentioned ingredients until well combined (the less green particles the better). Use frozen berries or ice to make sure the smoothie does not get too warm.

Try this out and let me know what you think, more importantly how you feel!

 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of chickpeas
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (either vegan or regular)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or natural vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.

  1. In a food processor, mix chickpeas until well combined
  2. Mix in honey, vanilla bean sea salt
  3. Next, add in the peanut butter. You can also choose to manually stir this in.
  4. Finally, mix in chocolate chips manually
  5. Roll into balls and press flat
  6. Cook for 12-15 minutes based on desired crispness + let cool

ENJOY!

 

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