Totally Addictive Popcorn Tofu

Totally Addictive Popcorn Tofu

So back in the day, I used to eat a fairly steady amount of fast food. And yes, I even ate KFC! AAAK! Does anyone remember Popcorn Chicken? Those tiny little bites of chicken, breaded and deep fried? Nothing but terrible for you, but tasted pretty good? Well, I may have stumbled upon the ultimate, vegan substitute for popcorn chicken! Yep, POPCORN TOFU!

And it’s actually kinda good for you. No meat, no deep frying and makes an amazing addition to so many dishes, plus it tastes great on it’s own! Give it a try for yourself and see what you think!

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My 5 Favorite Vegan Proteins

My 5 Favorite Vegan Proteins

Where do you get your protein from?

The eternal question I hear over and over again when people find out I don’t eat meat. But here’s the thing…plants have protein! Yup, you heard that right…Plants. Have. Protein.

I figured that since I seem to get this question a lot, and I’m sure you do too, that I would share some of my favorite plant-based proteins. Now this is just a short list…the ones that are my go-to’s and that you will always find in my kitchen.

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Multivitamins: Are They Really a Waste of Money?

Multivitamins: Are They Really a Waste of Money?

Are you one of the many people who feels that multivitamins are an “insurance policy” for your health? Do you take the very popular “Jack of all trades” of the supplement world?

Or, have you been told that they’re not worth anything, and just make expensive pee?

I’m spilling the truth in today’s post.


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Everything You Think You Know About Healthy Eating is Wrong

Everything You Think You Know About Healthy Eating is Wrong.jpg

And...it's making you fat and tired! Seriously.

HOLY COW...nutrition and diet info is everywhere!  And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you.  Right?  Well, maybe…

Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat.  This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it's certainly not the “holy grail” of health.  

Let's focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.

What you eat and drink

The whole “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important.  Don't get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that's simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.  

When the intense focus on how much we ate didn't work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn't we?

You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don't forget to also pay attention to what you eat.  

Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods).  This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.

Every day this is what you should aim for:

  • A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack.  You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. (Eat a rainbow!)

  • Enough protein.  Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).

  • Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones).  There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” - you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads.  Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, chia, hemp hearts and eat your avocados.  You don't need to overdo it here.  Just make sure you're getting some high-quality fats.

How you eat and drink

Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.  Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.  Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?

When it comes to how you eat let's first look at “mindful eating”.  Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.  This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.

This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less.  Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?

Thought so!

We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.

And don't forget about drinking your food.  Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.  

Don't get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack.  And don't gulp it down too fast.  If your smoothies don't fill you up like a full meal, try adding in a spoonful of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.

Summary:

Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.

Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie

Serves 1

  • handful spinach
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 banana
  • 1 chopped peach
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).

Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk.

Blend, Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions.  Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.

Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they  contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.

References:

http://summertomato.com/wisdom-wednesday-salad-dressing-is-your-friend

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-reasons-you-are-not-losing-weight/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2

Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

Sometimes those holiday feasts, birthday dinners and potlucks are just amazing!

And it's not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance. It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days. But it doesn't always stop there.  Sometimes we overeat on regular days.  Or at regular meals.  Or All. The. Time.

Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals:

(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

3 Ways to Avoid.jpg

Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it's too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.

But did you know that it's possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger?  Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.  Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten.  And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (...just sayin').

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.  Win-win!

Tip #2: Try eating “Mindfully”

You may have heard of mindfulness a lot lately,  but have you applied that to your eating habits?  This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.

Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.

Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.  When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.  So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.  But don't start there. (Don't worry, you can have some...just after you've eaten your salad).

Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they're full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.

Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller.  They're “satiating”.  And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you're about to indulge in a large meal.

Summary:

Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.

Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas

If you're not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:

  • Slices of lemon & ginger

  • Slices of strawberries & orange

  • Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick

  • Chopped pineapple & mango

  • Blueberries & raspberries

Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning.  They're already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

What the Heck is Metabolism Anyway?

So what IS Metabolism?

This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.  Boost your metabolism! Is your metabolism slow?Well, you know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight.  But what exactly does this all mean?

Metabolism.png

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It's how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do. Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive.  And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).

  • Allow activities you can't control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).

  • Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.  Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.  

 Metabolic rate:

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!). So those calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  • Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).

  • Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).

  • Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat- EEK!).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later. Makes sense, right?!

Now, there are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate.  One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you're not being physically active.

The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

So, what affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: A LOT!

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid.  This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism.  Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you'll burn.  But that's not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

How big you are counts too!  Yep, size matters!

Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!  As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does.  So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be.  Even when you're not working out! Yes, those muscles keep on burning calories even when they're sitting on the couch. This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program.  Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.  

The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don't want to happen.  So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.  Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they're doing “work”.

Did you know type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate?!

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF). You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.  

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.  Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow.  By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

And don't forget the mind-body connection.  There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

Remember, we are all unique.  What works for one person may not work for you as there are many more variables at play when it comes to bumping up your metabolism.  By increasing your lean muscle (ie. lifting stuff), making better food choices, managing stress and getting your ZZZZ's you will get your metabolism headed in the right direction!

Try this super simple Hummus recipe for a great protein boosting snack!

  • 1 can Chickpeas (look for no-salt added and/or organic)

  • 1-3 Cloves of Garlic

  • 1 Lemon

  • 2 Tbsp Tahini

  • Sea Salt to taste

Juice your lemon and pour into your food processor or high-speed blender.  Drain and rinse your chickpeas and add to the lemon.  Add the rest of your ingredients and blend until smooth.  If your mixture is a little on the thick side, add 1-2 tbsp of water  or lemon juice to get the right consistency.  And then enjoy! No cooking or waiting, your hummus is ready to eat straight away!  The recipe makes about 2 cups.

Want to mix it up a bit? Try adding 1/2 tsp of cumin, smoked paprika or chili powder to give your hummus an extra kick!

References:
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/