Probiotics – What’s the Deal?

You ARe whatAs of late I have been asked several times why someone would even bother taking a probiotic and what the benefits could possibly be.  After explaining it for the 3rd time in just a handful of days I figured it might be worth wild to explore the benefits of probiotics in a blog post.

Just starting it is important to understand that our bodies are full of various different forms/strains of bacteria at any given point.  We often plug these guys into two categories “good” and “bad” bacteria.  Our body’s goal is to achieve and maintain balance or homeostasis, so too much of one or the other can trigger our bodies to go into action and to attempt to start balancing things out.   The problem is with all the “food” (processed, chemically latent, chemically preserved items) we have at our finger tips we tend to have more of the bad stuff than the good.  Another way we can throw this delicate balance for a loop is the use of good ol’ antibiotics, antibiotics are non-discriminatory meaning that they wipe it all out not just the bad stuff.

So what is up with probiotics?

1. Absorption: probiotics can assist in the body’s absorption of nutrients (vitamins and minerals).  There are some vitamins (such as the Bs) that are made in our intestines.  A healthy balances of intestinal bacteria (good and bad) is what helps our body’s do this optimally.

2. Immunity: balance is always key. There is a pretty strong relationship between what is happening in your gut and how capable your immune system is.  If your breakdown and absorption of food is compromised, plus your intestinal ecology is all out of wack your body will have a hard time supporting your immune system.

3. Lady Health:  having unbalanced intestinal flora can lead to infections, and for us ladies yeast infections and urinary tract infections can be an issue when an imbalance is present. Probiotics can be used orally or vaginally to help bring balance back to the body and ward off infections of this type in the future.

4. Digestion: these little bacteria guys do wonders in breaking down food. If you are often finding yourself feeling bloated, gassy, etc.  Maybe try introducing some probiotics to your life to assist in the break down of food. Some studies have even shown that the use of probiotics might help to increase tolerance to dairy.

5. It doesn’t have to be a supplement. Probiotics are living organisms that get this don’t have to come in a pill! Sure a supplement will give you that boost you might be looking for, but having foods such as Kefir, Kimchi, Komboucha (lots of Ks!), Sauerkraut, etc in your diet might just give your body the sustainability it needs to stay healthy and operate optimally.

So basically probiotics can be a great addition to an already healthy supportive diet.  There are many different strands and varieties out there, and variety is the spice of life, so maybe go get yourself a kombucha or load up on some delicious organic sauerkraut and see what a properly balanced belly feels like for you.

Are you still interested?  If so check out some of these articles:

Harvard Health
Berkley Wellness
Huffington Post

 

Food Time – A Many Mushroom Risotto

I don’t know if you knew this about me but I LOVE mushrooms. I think they are one of the greatest things out there, cooked, raw, mashed into a paste anyway you can think it up I want to eat them. So a couple of weeks ago during a meal prep day I decided to make some delicious Many Mushroom Risotto, and it was so tasty!   Just for the fun of it I made this one vegan and trust you don’t lose any of the delicious creaminess or flavour you would get had I used butter and cheese, plus it cuts the fat/calorie content so it ends up being a super healthy meal.

Enough talk, I am sure you are all salivating so here is the recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Many Mushroom Risotto:

Serves 8-10 as a main meal

mushroom risotto1.5 cups Arborio rice
2 tbsp oil (I used grape seed oil it’s better for frying)
4 cups Vegetable stock (I use homemade, but if you need to get store bough get organic)
1 small Yellow Onion, diced
3 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
3 Leeks, white and light green parts chopped
1 Tbsp fresh Lemon Juice
4 sprigs of Thyme, finely chopped
1 Portobello Mushroom, diced
*4oz (250g) Cremini Mushrooms, diced
*4oz (250g) Oyster Mushrooms, diced
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Prepare all ingredients so that you can easily toss them in, a lot of stirring is involved and you don’t want to let your risotto burn because something wasn’t already chopped up.

2. Heat half the oil in a large skillet or stew pot.  Once oil heats up add in all of your mushrooms, cook them down until they are soft 5-7 minutes.  Once cooked remove and set aside.

3. Add other half of oil to pan and heat, once heated add in leeks, onions and garlic cook for 2-5 minutes until the onions become soft and translucent.

4. Add in arborio rice stir in dry rice for about a minute to coat with all the juices that are going on in the pan.  Add in 1 tbsp of lemon juice, stir until evaporated.

5. Add 1/2 cup of broth to the rice mixture and stir until completely absorbed, then add in another 1/2 cup of broth.  Continue this until all of the broth is gone, stirring constantly. This should take 20-25 minutes and is a great arm workout, for one arm at least.

6. Once all broth is added into the mixture add the cooked mushrooms, fresh thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until well combined and serve immediately.

*these sizes are just one prepackaged container of mushrooms, also if you want to add more go for it, it will be super delicious!

Let me know what you think of this recipe.   I hope to be back blogging on a regular basis shortly.  School is starting to calm down (not really but I keep telling myself this) and my work and life schedule is starting to actually find a nice balance.  I hope to bring you more updates, workouts, yoga routines and recipes soon.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Summer Time!

This summer seems like it is really trying to wrap itself up. I am definitely not ready for the warm weather and sun to be over though so hopefully time starts to slow down a little bit, so I can add in some more relaxing and outdoor time.   In the mean time this summer has been a super exciting one for me. I have wrapped up a handful of challenges and started new ones.

My goal this summer was to start getting myself out there and working a bit more to achieving my goals of teaching yoga in an established yoga studio.  I have been class time from a local studio since I received my yoga teacher certification but there is something comforting and encouraging about having the opportunity to be apart of a yoga studio and the yoga community in your hometown.

I am proud to say that this past month has brought with it many successes, one of which is having the opportunity to sub at a studio in our Byward Market here in Ottawa and another one happened this morning.  I had the opportunity today to be on a live news broadcast to tell everyone who was awake and tuned in this morning about my Rock n’ Roll yoga class.   It is something that I came up with before even heading off to Costa Rica for YTT and I am so happy I have the opportunity to share what it is all about with people through a new medium.

RRY

A huge thank you to CTV Morning News Live and to Studio X Ottawa for giving me this fantastic opportunity to talk about something I love, and love to share with others. If you want to see the whole little segment click on the link (News Clip)

I also have one more surprise, but I am waiting for it to be announced officially before I share it with everyone here on my blog.  So stay tuned to find out what my other big adventure/opportunity is!

blissI am so excited and feeling so blessed and lucky for all these positive and awesome things that are seemingly happening all at once. Thank you for all the support from you my readers and from my friends and family.

Hope you are all having a glorious Tuesday!

 

Food Friday – Freezer Meals

I have talked a load about meal prep in the past so I don’t want to get into that today. I do however want to give some food making time saving ideas.

Recently I have gone back to school and started teaching yoga, all while keeping my day job and yup meal prep can often feel like the last thing I want to do but I know in the long run it will save me some time. So after speaking with a good friend we settled on a great way to do meal prep and keep some variety in our lives.

Starting with just the two of us writing emails back and forth figuring out our guidelines we formed a little two person freezer meal group.

What’s a freezer meal group? It is a group where people with common interests in food get together and bulk make some meals for sharing. When we stared our group we agreed on a couple things:

1. We would make healthy clean meals
2. We would give the other members of the group the power to say no to certain ingredients or meals as a whole. For dietary restriction reasons and taste, no one wants to get stuck with something they can’t or won’t eat.
3. Portion would have to be enough for a meal and left overs for a second meal. We also got specific on the size of dish for casseroles and such, we picked something that would be easy to make and still provide enough food.
4. We would exchange food stuffs once a month.

Pretty simple right! It has also been fun to challenge myself to keep finding tasty healthy meals that will do well in the freezer and it has saved me am infinite amount of time.

Now this idea isn’t a new one and it isn’t something I came up with off the top of my head. I have seen multiple blog posts about it but to be honest it always looked like more trouble than it was worth. Perhaps it was because those groups always had a minimum of 4 people and they always seemed to cook together.

Either way we have found something that works for us and I am sure happy we did. On nights where I have my own gym session, am teaching a yoga class and still have to come home and study meals that can just be popped into the oven have saved my life. Also knowing that the meals are clean and healthy makes me feel even more excited about their convince.

Just another example about how clean eating doesn’t have to be hard and complicated.

Have you ever tried something like this? Would you be interested in hearing more about this or what types of meals we make? I would love to hear back from you.

Happy Friday!

Sugar Cravings are the Worst

Putting all things in perspective sugar cravings probably aren’t the “worst” but they can get pretty brutal at times. Between the headache that seems like it will never go away, the intense compulsion to eat any baked goods in your vicinity or the extreme irritability that comes with withdrawals it is hard to pick which is worse.

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Now I am someone that generally eats fairly healthy. I always do my best to eat loads of fruit and vegetable, whole grains, complex carbohydrates,and lean proteins but that isn’t to say I don’t indulge every once in a while. Unfortunately, as I have stated in the past my last “indulgence” has lasted for months so as a special treat I am currently going through delayed sugar withdrawal.

I have done cleanses and clean eating challenges in the past and I would have to say with the exception of my first cleanse ever (10 years ago) this will be ranking as one of my worst sugar withdrawals of life.

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I find myself sitting here picturing floating Easter chocolate, licorice and red velvet cake hoping that my berry smoothie with satisfy my need for sweets knowing it won’t because there is no refined sugar in it. I think the worst part of it (besides knowing this would happen when I was eating all the food mentioned above) is knowing that besides doing a handful of things (like putting cinnamon in everything) there isn’t much I can do but wait it out and just waiting is a terrible feeling. But alas I have done this to myself so no complaining.

Have you ever experience this from sugar, wheat or dairy (they are my big three)? Or any other food that you find yourself craving intensely after cutting it out or reducing it from your regular diet? Let me know I would love to hear it.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Food Friday – Fish Tacos

So earlier this week I posted a beautiful picture of some tacos.  After being asked several times for the recipe I decided to postpone what I had planned for this Friday’s food Friday and to share the fish taco recipe instead.

These tacos were a bit of an experiment and I was so excited with how they turned out.  They definitely have a little kick to them, so if you are heat sensitive you might want to reduce the chili powder in fish rub as there is a bit more chili powder in the taco sauce.

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Serves 4 – serving size 2 tacos

6 small Tilapia fillets
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp sea salt
Squirt of lime

1 cup low fat Greek yogurt
1-3 tsp chipotle chili powder (to taste)
2.5 tsp lime juice

2 cups shredded cabbage
4 diced scallions
1/2 cup shredded cucumber
1 diced orange or red pepper

8 soft taco shells

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a small bowl mix together cumin, chili powder and salt. Set aside.
3. Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil. Place filets on the cookie sheet and rum with spiced. Place in preheated ovens for 10-15minutes.
4. Chop, slice and grate veggies and get them ready for taco assembly.
5. In a small bowl mix together Greek yogurt, like fresh squeezed juice and chipotle pepper.
6. Prepare taco shells according to their directions. For fish tacos I prefer getting nice quality soft tacos so you can warm them up in a pan and get them a little crispy.
7. Stack all the delicious veggies, top with fish and Greek yogurt sauce and ENJOY!

I hope you all enjoy this recipe my husband and I definitely did.

Happy Friday Everyone!

 

Food Friday – Chocolate Edition

Now I am not a huge chocolate or sweets person, I generally go for food that is overly saturated in sodium, delicious salty food.  But I mean like everyone else every now and again I crave something sweet, something chocolaty, you know something that isn’t an apple.  When this type of craving hits me I try my best to satisfy my sweets craving in a healthy way.  No it doesn’t always happen but in my mind it is always worth the effort.

The other day I was thinking to myself how bored I am with my regular breakfast of oatmeal and a hard boiled egg.  Sure I could have defaulted to my breakfast smoothies, but people it is winter and it is freezing. I don’t always want to start my day off with a cold smoothie, so I got to thinking.  What could I make that would be warm or neutral temperature and potentially full of delicious protein.  I figured it had been a while since I had played around with my protein powders so I figured it was time to test out making another delicious protein type square, this time with chocolate as it’s focus.

So I set myself up in the kitchen and got to baking.  After two attempts (the first one was so dry) I came up with this delicious, sweet, healthy peanut butter protein brownie.   They would be great coupled with some fruit for breakfast, or as a grab and go snack for your day.

Peanut Butter Protein Brownies:

Prep: 10 minutes Cooking: 15-20 minutes  Total Time: 30 minutes

Nutritional Information (9 servings):Calories: 144.3   Total Fat: 3.1g  Total Carbohydrate: 13.8g Fiber: 1.3g Sugars: 4.5g Protein: 15.8g

ingredients.jpg1 cup Oat Flour
3 scoops Chocolate Protein Powder of your choice
1 cup Greek Yogurt
4 Egg Whites
2 Tbsp Organic Maple Syrup or Organic Honey
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix (flower and protein powder) set aside.

3. In a small bowl mix yogurt, egg whites, maple syrup and peanut butter until smooth. Once smooth transfer to larger bowl with dry ingredients and stir.  Stir until well blended, the consistency should be slightly runny, if it isn’t add a bit more greek yogurt or milk/ a dairy free alternative (although you shouldn’t have to do this).

4. Grease a small square pan no larger than 6×4.  Once greased take a bit of extra protein powder and coat the pan, this will help prevent the brownies from sticking.

5. Pour mixture into greased pan and place in preheated oven.  Should take between 15-20minutes to cook.  Do not over cook, the oat flour absorbs quite a bit of moisture and overcooking will leave the brownies dry.

6. Once done baking, use a spatula to separate the sides from the pan and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.   Once cool flip pan upside down to remove brownies, cut into equal portions, yields approximate 9 squares.20140124-102109.jpg

*please note that although these brownies are delicious they are slightly drier than your regular fudge brownie, and much like a fudge brownie should be consumed in moderation.

I hope you enjoy these “brownies” and I hope they bring a bit of variety to your snack and morning routines.