The Green Machine

If food held a popularity content, smoothie would have a good chance of winning. After all, what’s not to love? It can be anything you want it to be – creamy, refreshing, tart, sweet, chocolatey! Talk about versatility.

Personally, I love a creamy smoothie. I also love one thats filling, not overly sweet, and packed with something a little extra for nutrition. I am not opposed to a post-dinner shake, but I tend to have my smoothies first thing in the morning or after the gym.

If you feel the same, I think you’ll find this recipe appealing. It’s simple, delicious, and an easy way to sneak in some greens. It’s pairs perfectly with that post-gym strong-as-a-motha’ **** machine feeling. Hence the name: The Green Machine.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Banana
  • 4 Ice Cubes
  • 1 TBSP Maca
  • 1 Heaping TBSP of Almond Butter (or Peanut Butter)
  • 1/8 TSP Cinnamon
  • Big handful of spinach
  • 1.5 Cups Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high until smooth in consistency. Top with extra banana or hemp seeds (as pictured) if desired!

Not a fan of spinach? Swap for kale, or greens powder of your choosing!

Would you just LOOK at that green! I’m obsessed.

The fat in the almond butter makes this smoothie super satiating, and the maca, although mild in flavour, is an adaptogen that helps regulate cortisol. I try to sneak in adaptogens however and whenever I can.

Still hungry? Find more recipes here.

Curious about adaptogens? There’s more information here.

I hope you enjoy the smoothie!

June and July Update

Well well weeeeeeelll. If it isn’t another update post!

June and July were so amazing. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share it all with you.

Moving to Vancouver late February marked my first move away from home. Still a big deal at 30, right? I’m really close with my family (seriously, my mom and my sisters are my best friends), so being away from them is tough.

But in June, I was lucky enough to have my twin sister and her boyfriend (also my bff) visit, as well as my mom the following week. I want to share some pictures with you guys, and let you know what we got up to!

Lauren and Thomas are amazing, supportive, ridiculously wonderful people. Unlike myself, they are also excellent planners, thank god – because they arrived with a list of things they wanted to check out and do.

And I certainly wasn’t opposed to the sight-seeing! Even after a few months of being here, there is still so much I had to do and see.

One of those things was Lynn Canyon. Lynn Canyon is a big public park, great for walks and hikes. Some people go for the natural swimming pools, and others come to check out the suspension bridge. We just went for the fresh air and the scenery – it really was beautiful!

We visited Granville Island, and I’ve been there many times before, but it never gets old. If you love food and wandering, like I do, it’s always a good time.

We took a sea taxi across the bay, which was super handy and also kinda fun. It also saved my legs, since they were about to be put to work! Once we got across the water, we rented bicycles to ride along the seawall in Stanley Park, which is something I’ve wanted to cross off my list since coming here.

It sounds pretty busy, but we did make some time to just relax and kick it. One of the nights we stayed in an airbnb , cooked bomb Chickpea Burgers and watched a movie.

I’m pretty easy going when it comes to travelling, or having travellers visit me. In my experience I’ve found that you can plan things as much as you’d like, but the best moments always happen unplanned. What I’m going to tell you about next is my favourite moment of the trip. It’s small and it’s silly, but it made my heart warm. It also comes with an embarrassing photo – because this story isn’t the same without it!

As you can tell from this photo, I’m absolutely passed out. Hah! I thought I looked cuter when I slept – apparently not.

This is a good memory for me. I’m laying on the beach during a BEACH DAY with my two best friends. I’ve got my snacks and I was feelin’ pretty good. Lauren started reading a book to us, and I guess the last couple of busy days caught up to me! Soon after I put my head down, I fell asleep. FAST, DEEP, asleep. Enough that they got the chance to snap a few pics.

This is a level of relaxation I aspire to daily. Just three besties, kickin on the beach with their snacks, taking impromptu naps. On the outside, it might not seem special. But to me, moments like these are everything.

Saying goodbye to them was really difficult, especially not knowing when I would see them again. But I had my mom’s visit to look forward to, and I couldn’t wait to see her face.

What I love about hanging out with my mom is that we both have a very easy-going, let’s see what happens kinda-vibe. We’re both good with whatever as long as there is promise of good food and good company. And we had each other – so the company part was already down pat.

We visited the houseboats on Granville, spent time at the beach, enjoyed a meal ocean-side, and even went to a spooky-themed restaurant. I soaked up every minute. But in running with the theme of the small things mattering, my favourite moment was dipping in the pool with her one afternoon and fooling around like a couple of teenagers. We were laughing and joking, swimming and relaxing. Again on the surface – nothing that seems extraordinary. But it was extraordinary for me.

I feel so lucky to have had these amazing people come out and spend time with me. It makes being away a little less tough. There’s still 2 more people missing – my other sister and my niece – who I would love to get out here at some point! But if I need to, I’ll settle for going to them – and SOON! I’m missing them badly (I’m comin for you Steph!) .

And with that, I swung into July full-force work mode. July saw me jumping into taking life a little more serious. I had the full freedom of eating and doing whatever I wanted while my family was here, but to some extend I do enjoy routine and discipline.

July was all about me following the Strong Babe Summer Guide, concentrating on my health and fitness. I’ve been reaping the benefits (!!!), but I’ll save those details for August – when I can tell you so much more.

For now, I’ll leave you with a few photos from July of our various adventures – including Whistler, Squamish, and Vancouver Island. I’m so glad we made the time to travel and see the sights this summer – so many memories were made and new places seen. It breathes life into me to adventure somewhere new.

Thanks for stopping by my corner of the internet to catch up with me today! I hope you enjoyed the bit of my summer I’ve shared thus far. I won’t procrastinate on August, so that will be up for you shortly!

In the meantime of course, feel free to sit down, relax, and hang out here a while. There’s tons of other good stuff to read.

Until Next Time!

May Update – The Itch for Adventure

Cycles in your life will repeat until the lesson you are supposed to learn from the situation is fully understood. I can appreciate that so much in my life right now.

So many feelings and events of my past are popping up in new and exciting ways. For instance, I go through a constant cycle of neglecting myself, only to remember that without my self-care routine I am not myself.

I go through cycles of feeling like my life is spinning out of control, and my failed attempts to grasp it make me feel like I’m doing something wrong, even though letting go is what I was supposed to do the WHOLE. TIME.

I also go through this phase of not voicing my thoughts and feelings, and then resenting other people for not being able to read my mind. Which isn’t fair at all, and it in the end I am only working against myself. Really, this is something that I need to work on.

It’s a friendly reminder for me that no matter where you go, there you are. And even though so much has changed in the past few months, there are still a few layers to be shed! Life is all about growth and process, and it really doesn’t end. But it’s all apart of the fun.

Repeating cycles aside, life is just peachy right now. I wake up every day and I feel GOOD – and I can appreciate that for all the times that that wasn’t the case even though it’s already been over 3 months since we moved to Vancouver, I’m still so into it.

Yes, we’re still exploring new areas, new coffee shops, and making new memories. It is important to me that we never lose that, no matter how long we stay here. For me, getting back into a stale routine is not even negotiable, I won’t do it! Luckily, my partner feels the same way. Normal sucks, so we intended to keep life wild and adventurous every step of the way!

Speaking of adventure, travel is still on my mind. I will always have the itch for adventure, and the desire to travel. No final decisions have been made, but we’d better get on it soon huh? I would love to get on a houseboat for a few days, or even drive over the border to explore Seattle and Portland. The destination doesn’t matter to me as much as the idea of exploring in and of itself.

I also want to set aside some time this summer to get back into the activities that I really enjoy. I miss taking advanced selfies, making videos, and reading. Those are all things I haven’t done much of since moving here. Truly, that’s on me. I need to make the time.

What’s something you are passionate about that you feel like you’ve kinda let fall to the wayside? Perhaps we can work together to hold one another accountable on picking it up again!

I hope you guys have a super awesome, totally memorable June. It’s going to be an epic summer!

Make it Happen Monday

It’s a special Make it Happen Monday!

Why? Because something big has just happened. I’ve made a big move to a new city.

Moving is intimidating. It’s scary. It’s starting fresh.

It’s also full of opportunity. And I won’t let it get away.

Here’s a video for those of you who need a little pick me up today!

“You knew it was hard, but you did it hard”

 

Have a great week babes!

5 Best Supplements for Anxiety

Two things we know a lot about here at SSW: supplements and anxiety. Finally, it’s time to combine the two into one epic blog post. Anxiety is a monster that needs to be managed, so in this case the supplements are… the manager? The assistant manager? Okay, that makes their job sound way less cool than it is.

What’s great about adding supplements to your wellness routine is that it is a preventative way to support your mental health. This could result in less anxiety and panic attacks over time.

Keep reading because in this article we are going to let you know, with the most updated information possible, what the best supplements for anxiety are.

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B-Vitamins

B-vitamins are really important for both energy production and supporting the central nervous system on a cellular level (1). Supporting brain function of course in turn supports one’s ability to deal with stress, think clearly, and problem solve, thereby aiding in ones ability to deal with anxiety. However it doesn’t just stop there – studies have actually been shown that supplementing b-vitamins is helpful in improving mood. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) has been used to treat patients with anxiety with promising results (2). That being said, b-vitamins compete for absorption so it’s best to take a good quality complex in which all b-vitamins can be taken and absorbed.

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Adaptogens

We’ve talked about adaptogens and anxiety here before, so naturally it’s made the list for the 5 best supplements for anxiety. Adaptogens are substances which help to regulate cortisol – common examples are maca, ashwagandha, and matcha (3). Balancing cortisol is important for keeping stress under control, thereby aiding in ones ability to deal with anxiety.

The bonus here is that many adaptogenic substances also have a host of other benefits. Some are great anti-inflammatories, while others are useful in boosting energy (3). Talk to a professional if you are unsure which one will be right for you. Most adaptogens are sold in pill and powder form. The powder forms are easily mixed into elixirs and smoothies.

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D is something that our bodies are able to synthesize in sunlight. But if you’re confined to the indoors for most of the day, or you happen to live in a climate that doesn’t get very much sun, you might want to look into supplementing with vitamin D, because over time these particular situations could lead to a vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is important in maintaining the health of the immune, cardiovascular, brain, and nervous systems (4). Because vitamin D is so vital to brain health, it makes sense that a deficiency could lead to mood instability. Various studies have been done on both animal and human subjects supporting that supplementing with vitamin D can lead to decreased levels of anxiety (5,6,7).

Always buy a vitamin D supplement that is suspended in oil (liquid or capsule), as vitamin D is fat soluble.

probiotics

Probiotics

The biggest revelation in mental health recently has been the impact that your gut can have on your mood. That’s right: gut health and mental health are linked much more than ever previously thought (8). This is where probiotics come in, as probiotics are helpful in cultivating proper gut health.

Probiotics contain healthy bacteria needed by the gut to function optimally. Gut health can be compromised when the bad bacteria out weighs the good. Compromising your gut health could result in having compromised mental health (9). Although this area of research is relatively new, the positive effects of probiotics towards minimizing anxiety are promising (10). Probiotics are sold in capsule form and should be stored in the refrigerator for longevity. Most health food stores will also keep their probiotic stock in a fridge.

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Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals for the body. It is a cofactor in hundreds of different processes in the body. One thing that makes it really valuable in terms of anxiety is it’s capacity to help with muscle relaxation. It is also important in the role it plays regulating the HPA-axis. A deficiency in magnesium does have a relationship with increased anxiety (11).

Sufficient levels of magnesium has been shown to result in stabilized anxiety symptoms in multiple trials (12). The unfortunate part is that dietary intake of magnesium is typically poor in western culture. That’s where supplements come in. Because calcium and magnesium often work together in the body, they are often sold together in supplement form. You can find them in pill and also powder forms.

 

There are all kinds of avenues to explore when it comes to treating your anxiety, and supplementation is one avenue worth delving into. Not only is the science there to support it, but it also adds another aspect to a well-rounded mental-health wellness routine.

Are you using any supplements to support your mental health? We love hearing your two cents in the comments. 

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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, naturopath, or pharmacist. As a CHNC I am only qualified to work with food. Even though these supplements have been scientifically backed by research for use,  you should take these suggestions to your health professional before adding them to your wellness routine. 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772032/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3046018/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php
  5. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19390211.2017.1334736
  6. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.721.8885&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29082262
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27793225
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30026389
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25470391
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028390811003054
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452159/

What is MCT Oil?

Fat is freakin’ awesome. Recent developments in science have been showing that fat doesn’t live up to it’s former bad rep, and that in reality a high fat diet actually has a lot of benefits. However, not all fats are created equal, and some are better for you than others. MCT oil is generally one of the good ones, and if you’re interested in learning about it, you came to the right place. In this post we’ll be covering all the bases about MCT oil: what it is, why it’s great, and how you should take it.

 

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What is MCT Oil?

MCT actually stands for medium-chain triglycerides. Medium-chain triglycerides are fat chains that are medium length, having less carbon-chains than long-chain triglycerides. MCTs are found in highest concentration in coconut oil, so mct oil is typically derived from this source through a process called fractionation.

How Should I Take MCT Oil?

As MCTs are a fat product, and as such they are often sold in liquid form. They can be found at most supplement and health food stores, and even some grocers are beginning to carry it as well. There are also some MCT powders sold on the market, known for dissolving better, however keep in mind that these powders are actually sprayed and encapsulated forms of mct oil, so it is not as pure as the oil form.

In liquid or powder form MCT is easily added to hot beverages like coffee and tea, or soups and smoothies. You could also simply add the MCT onto your plate on top of your food as well, although in this case the texture would be much more prevalent.

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What are the Benefits of MCT oil?

Energy Source In Ketosis

A lot of people are drawn to using MCT oil to supplement the fat in their high-fat keto diet. What makes MCT oil an especially good energy source for those in ketosis is that MCTs break down faster than their aforementioned long-chain counterparts. Because people in ketosis rely on fat for fuel, MCT essentially provides that quick energy source.

Help You Feel Satiated 

Fat is the slowest digesting macronutrient. When fat is added to any meal, it slows down the digest rate, leading to a feeling of being satiated or full for longer periods of time. If you have a fast metabolism, find yourself constantly hungry, or are prone to snacking then supplementing with MCT might be helpful for you.

Help to Maintain Energy Levels

One study also found that MCT consumption was better at regulating insulin response, compared to LCT consumption. Moderate blood sugar levels typically translates to more sustained energy levels throughout the day. If you find yourself crashing after a meal, MCT might be something helpful to add to help keep you from getting fatigued during the day.

Effective in Working Against Alzheimer’s Disease 

Alzheimer’s is gaining a reputation as “type 3 diabetes”. We now know that Alzheimer’s has a deep connection with brain glucose and the body’s inability to uptake it in the same way it used to. But there’s a catch: you have to be in a ketogenic state. Being in ketosis allows your brain to switch from using glucose as fuel to using ketones, thus providing your brain with an effective and more easily accessible energy source.

More studies are currently being conducted to study the relationship between MCT oil and autism, heart disease, and mood – just to name a few.

ketogenic

As it currently stands, those who would benefit the most from MCT consumption would be those who are fat-fuelled: that is, people on the ketogenic diet. This is because they can take advantage of this fast-digesting fat as a fuel source for both body and brain, as well as gain all of the other benefits it has to offer as well in terms of energy and satiation.

If you’re on the keto diet or struggling with hunger and low energy, MCT might be worth trying. If MCT supplementation is out of your budget, go for regular coconut oil, as it still has a really high concentration (50%!) of MCTs.

As always leave any questions or comments for us below – we’re curious to know what you think about MCT oil!

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References

  1. https://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/medium-chain-triglycerides-mcts/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874191/
  3. https://ketosource.co.uk/mct-powder/
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mct-oil-101#section3
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4192077/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4882694/
  7. https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nyas.12999
  8. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1474442217304088

Make it Happen Monday

You know those phases you go through where you’re just… “building character”?

Like things are so tough the only way to rationalize your struggle right now is to put all your faith in believing: this is building me.

I get it. And all I have to say is keep moving forward.

The only way out is through, and you will get through it.

“This might a page in your life – it might be a chapter in your life – but it ain’t the book baby. You are not finished writing yet. So I need you to get busy living.”

Have a great week everyone!

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What is Moon Milk?

Any restless sleepers out there? I am not one to have any trouble staying asleep – but falling asleep on the other hand, well that’s a whole different story.

When I had those nights as a child, my mum would always encourage me to heat up a cup of warm milk and sip on it. There is something about warm milk that is always so comforting. Of course, any warm beverage can make you feel warm and cozy inside – but warm milk brings me back to those childhood nights. I still love drinking warm milk before bed to this day.

However, long gone are the days of drinking cows milk. Now, it’s usually an unsweetened cashew or when I’m feeling adventurous, an almond hazelnut blend. And being the health enthusiast that I am, I love putting a delicious, nutritious twist on it.

That’s what Moon Milk really is. A health-infused update of that warm milk I always had as a child. It’s a warm hug. It’s nurturing. And it’s so easy to make.

How do you make Moon Milk?  Take your favourite nut milk and add your favourite non-caffienated tea, spices, and other creative (non-stimulating!) ingredients – warm on the stovetop – and you’ve got your very own Moon Milk.

I’ve seen all sorts of recipes out there – and these add-ins are my favorites:

  • Cherry Juice – naturally high in melatonin, which helps reset your sleep cycle
  • Turmeric – contains circumin, a potent anti-inflammatory 
  • Cinnamon – helps stabilize blood sugar
  • Ashwaghanda –  adaptogen that supports balanced cortisol levels 
  • Ginger – aids digestion
  • Lavender Tea – promotes relaxation
  • Black Pepper – helps with absorption 

Those are just a few of the options – but if you are going to make Moon Milk, why not dream up your own blend? It’s easy, and all you need are a few simple ingredients.

If following a recipe is more your thing, keep reading – I’m going to share with you my own personal Moon Milk blend. Only 3 ingredients needed!

Chamomile Moon Milk Recipe: 

Ingredients: 

  • Cashew milk (unsweetened)
  • Chamomile Vanilla Tea* – promotes relaxation
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg – used for sleep and digestive support in Ayurveda

Directions: In a small stove top pot, add 2.5 cups of your favorite nut milk. Add chamomile vanilla tea, and sprinkle in nutmeg. Let it simmer on low-medium for about ten minutes. We want this warmed, not burning hot! After ten minutes, whisk to froth. Pour into a cup and enjoy. Rest easy.

*You could go with straight chamomile, but chamomile vanilla is on a whole ‘nother level! 

The best part about this recipe is that you probably have the ingredients on hand already – and you can easily swap out the chamomile tea for your favorite caffeine free blend.

What do you think of this warm milk for grownups with a nutritious twist?

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Make it Happen Monday

It’s up to you.

It’s your story.

It is your book, and you get to write it. You have so much more control, and so much more credit in your life than you give yourself.

But don’t let that scare you – let it empower you. 

“You’re gonna do what you’re called to do –

you’re gonna be who you’re called to be”

 

Lets make it another great week in series of many to come!

 

Happy Monday Strong Babes!

 

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Period Probs: What You Didn’t Know

My Basic Premenstrual Problems:

Death cramps, extreme hunger, wild mood swings, and muscle aches.

Most of you reading this will not be surprised at my list – 80% of women report having PMS symptoms. Therefore, I am not the exception. In fact, a couple of days ago in between a handful of popcorn and a spoonful of peanut butter, I asked myself: why am I so insatiably hungry? Is this a normal PMS symptom – and if so, why?

I loved the answers I found. You know why? Because we’ve come to expect feeling crappy for a week – but now we can figure out why, and what we can do about it. Let’s start right here, with this post.

So what kind of changes does the body actually go through premenstrually? Here’s the breakdown:

Changes during PMS

 

Did you also know: premenstrually, a woman’s basal metabolic rate, or BMR, increases. Because you are burning more calories, this sends a signal to your body to also send in more. If you’ve ever had that “bottomless pit” symptom of PMS, you know just what I mean.

The descending estrogen levels is what throws off serotonin. Serotonin is a feel good hormone, and a lack of this can lead to feelings of anxiety and irritability. In turn, we tend to look for carbohydrate and sugar heavy foods to boost our mood – hence the insatiable hunger and intense chocolate cravings.

But there might be another reason for that chocolate craving: magnesium. Cacao is high in magnesium, which is in high demand during PMS. Magnesium can help with the muscle aches and cramping associated with PMS and menstruation.

So what can you do about it?

  • Eat lots of nutrient dense foods – the vitamins and minerals in nutrient dense foods (think brightly coloured fruits and vegetables) not only help support depletions during menstruation, but they also help the body deal with premenstrual stress.
  • Take a epsom salt bath – Epsom salts are high in magnesium. Magnesium is in high demand premenstrually, and as mentioned can help relax muscles and reduce cramping.
  • Go for a walk  – Exercise can help to boost your mood by releasing endorphins, with bonus points if you can do this outside.
  • Eat extra – yes, you read that correctly. If your body is in demand for more calories, then give it more calories! You don’t have to go haywire – but 200-300 extra calories might just be enough to keep you feeling energetic and reduce the possibility of your mood falling down in the dumps.

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Most importantly: go easy on yourself! Your body is amazing and is taking on a lot. Don’t feel too badly if you’re moody, needed a nap, or ate that extra piece of chocolate cake. Take care of yourself.

I’m curious to hear from you, reader! Do you get bad PMS symptoms? What do you do for it? Please feel free to share in the comments below!

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