Food guilt…

There I was this morning, listening to my stomach make funny noises while feeling a little queasy as I woke up. I sighed, I moaned, and I started to feel food guilt. Not the best way to start my Friday; feeling regret about what I ate the night before and beating myself up about it.

I’ll set the story for you… Last night was NFL Kickoff 2013 and I was excited for this year’s football season to start. Yep, I’m a football fanatic and it’s one of my favourite things about the fall (the other being Pumpkin Spice lattes, but that’s a whole other post). We don’t have cable in our house, so my boyfriend and I got ourselves ready and headed out to a local pub to watch some football and grab some eats. Once we finally got seated I scanned the menu and started looking at all the unhealthy things I could eat, drooling over pictures of nachos and burgers. I’d gone for a really good run a few hours earlier, so by this time I was quite hungry – not the best idea! So I started convincing myself how it was a good idea to have a poutine with my glass of wine. I told myself that I had a kick ass workout so I deserve it. It’s the start of the football season, why not? Etc. Etc. Well, I listened to this inner dialogue and ordered the plate of delicious and savoury poutine. Oh yes I did. I enjoyed every damn moment of eating it as well. I didn’t think too much of it really.

Until this morning.

What I may not have mentioned is that I am lactose intolerant. I know this well. Was I thinking about this last night when I ordered the poutine? Hell no. I just wanted my tasty football treat. Which, I then regretted in the morning. I felt like crap. I found myself saying “I’ll never eat that again!”, which sounds oddly like a hangover doesn’t it? It’s quite funny that I only had one glass of wine and instead had a nice FOOD hangover to suffer through. I feel like this is something close to irony.

In the end I only let myself be upset about this for about 20 minutes. Seriously, I had to move on. Life is all about balance and sometimes we just deserve that treat. No sense spending hours berating myself for eating something that I know I really shouldn’t have, I have better things to spend my energy on. I workout, do yoga, or run about fives times per week and eat a mostly clean diet. Sometimes I will falter and have a treat or maybe an extra drink, I’m human. If I would have spent more time in regret than that would have become more harmful than the poutine itself.

This isn't the culprit, but you get the idea. (pic credit: http://www.fritzeuropeanfryhouse.com/images/poutine-1-web.jpg)

This isn’t the culprit, but you get the idea. (pic credit: http://www.fritzeuropeanfryhouse.com/images/poutine-1-web.jpg)

So, when we indulge a little or have that special treat let’s not sit around making ourselves feel guilty. Don’t berate yourself, just acknowledge what you had (and make a note if it gave you a reaction like an intolerance) and move on. Life isn’t all about celery and crazy workouts… Balance is very important in all aspects of our lives – work, play, food, etc. Get yourself out there and Enjoy!   ॐ

Have you ever experienced food guilt? How do you move on?

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Strawberry Spinach Sensation Smoothie

My phone camera doesn't do it justice.

My phone camera doesn’t do it justice.

It occurred to me that I haven’t posted a recipe of any sort in a long, long time… Ok, maybe not that long, but you all know how I can get obsessed with certain foods occasionally and I usually feel the need to share. Well, today my focus is on a new delicious smoothie that I am enjoying that’s packed with awesome fruits that will fuel you in the morning. I’m not saying you have to give up coffee, but c’mon give it a try… just one day? ; )

Spinach Strawberry Sensation Smoothie (say that 10 times fast!)

These measurements are for the Nutribullet, so you may have to alter depending on what tool you use to make smoothies and juices.

5-6 strawberries

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

couple chunks of frozen pineapple

1/2 banana

handful of spinach

1 tbsp ground flax

1 tbsp chia seeds

1-2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp maca powder

1/2 cup to a full cup of unsweetened almond milk (add water too if desired)

1 serving of your protein powder of choice

Blend for 20 – 30 seconds and enjoy with a side of 8 – 10 almonds. Yum!

Throwing together random ingredients you have in your fridge and cupboards can be fun! ॐ

What’s your favourite summer smoothie recipe?

Infuse your water this summer…

IMG_20130523_113048A few days ago I posted this delightful picture on Instagram, which spurred a great conversation about how to get started with prepping these jars and what you can put in them. Of course, I didn’t start the idea, but I was pretty excited when I finally picked up some jars and prepped them with lemon and cucumber. I already drink a ton of water, along with herbal tea throughout the day (and the occasional decaf coffee), but as the weather gets warmer I want to have some fun alternatives around the house so I can stay hydrated and enjoy what I’m drinking.

There are so many things (fruits, veggies, herbs) you can throw into these jars to spruce up your water, this week I used lemon and cucumber because they taste great and have detoxifying properties. I’ve also seen people throw fresh mint into the jars or frozen berries, which then add a great taste to your water throughout the day. Suggestions from friends on Instagram included ginger, cranberries, and herbal tea bags.

If you’re the type that doesn’t like to drink a lot of water because it has no taste, or it’s boring, you should try these! You don’t need mason jars of course, but reusable glass containers are best. Plus, the jars make it easy to prep some for a couple of days ahead, so you can just grab and go if you need to! You can also create a few different ones – like lemon and cucumber in the morning as you start your day and strawberries and mint for the afternoon. Fun, right?!

For each jar I added a few slices of cucumber and 1/4 lemon, but you can adjust this to your personal tastes and the size of the jars. For fruit jars, add 3 frozen strawberries or a few slices/chunks of orange. Really, you can just play with the amount you add to the jars and see what tastes you prefer. Then, you can continue to refill the jars with filtered water throughout the day – easy way to stay hydrated that’s healthy and delicious. Give it a try and let me know what you think!  ॐ

What’s your favourite healthy way to spruce up your water? Any suggestions for the jars?

Comforting Thai Chicken Soup…

A couple weeks ago I had a crazy craving for some type of Thai chicken soup, but I also wanted to use up items I had in my fridge. So, I googled a bunch of different Thai chicken soup recipes to see what kinds of ingredients are usually included, double checked what I had, and then put together my improvised version.

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts (diced into smaller cubes)

2 cups low sodium, organic chicken broth (or make your own)

1-2 bunches bok choy (chopped)

1-2 handfuls snap peas

2 tsp ginger

2 cloves garlic

2+ tbsp red curry paste

1/2 to a full can lite coconut milk (to taste, I used a 1/2 can)

1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

2 tbsps worcestershire sauce (this is what I had on hand!)

1/2 lime

1/2 cup fresh cilantro (to taste)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

vermicelli rice noodles (optional)

Instructions

In a frying pan add 1 tbsp of coconut oil and once melted add in the chopped up chicken. Cook until no longer pink in the middle.

Meanwhile, in a large soup pot add 2 cups chicken broth with the cloves of garlic, ginger, salt and pepper, bring to a simmer. Add red curry paste (2 tbsp or more to taste) and mix well.

Add bok choy, snap peas, and half cilantro to broth. Add in 1/2 to full can of coconut milk and worcestershire sauce and stir well. Add cooked chicken and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Spritz in soup a half of a lime and stir.

Before serving, prepare vermicelli rice noodles if you would like to add them to the soup. If not, this soup is also great without them.

Add desired amount of noodles to bowl, then soup mixture, and top with remaining fresh cilantro on top.

(Note – you can make this spicier with Thai chilis if that’s your thing or use fish sauce instead of the worcestershire)

I absolutely love this soup and had fun throwing it together with random items I had in my fridge. Of course, I was even happier when it turned out well. Enjoy! : )  ॐ

Doesn't that look good?

Doesn’t that look good?

My new favourite smoothie…

I know you’ve been sitting there wondering… wondering what I have for breakfast to start my day.  How does Yogi Crystal start her day off right you ask?

Well, I will tell you!

This is my new smoothie obsession right now and I wanted to share it with you. It’s so tasty it almost makes you forget that it’s healthy and full of the good stuff for energy.

Keep in mind my measurements are for a Magic Bullet single cup, so if you’re using a blender for one you can do the same but double up if making for two people.

Raspberry Almond Butter Smoothie Yumminess

Ingredients

1 cup raspberries (frozen is nice for a different texture and keeping the smoothie cool)

1 cup blueberries

1/2 banana

1 to 2 tbsp almond butter

1 tbsp ground flax, 1 tbsp hemp seeds

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup soy or almond milk

25g whey protein (for females, 40g for males) – or a protein of your choice depending on dietary lifestyle

optional – add a little water if it’s thick after mixing

Instructions

In a Magic Bullet cup or your blender add in berries, banana, flax and hemp seeds, cinnamon, almond butter, and milk. Blend until mixed well. Add in protein and blend for another 20 to 30 seconds. Pour into an awesome glass of your choice and enjoy!  ॐ

What’s your smoothie obsession right now?

I drank most of it before snapping a picture, that's how good it is!

I drank most of it before snapping a picture, that’s how good it is!

A new love for smoothies…

I’ve never been much of a smoothie person.  I used to buy the occasional drink at a smoothie stand, but those were usually laced with so much sugar that I never really felt well after drinking them.  I just couldn’t get into making smoothies, even though most of the people I knew were making them.  Well, I recently had to change my breakfast routine because a daily smoothie was part of the detox I was following by the Hormone Diet.  This program calls for a morning smoothie everyday with whey protein isolate as Dr. Turner states that it is the most bio-available source of protein.  Of course, you can use whichever type that suits your needs and preferences.

My smoothies aren’t the most complex, but they taste delicious and satisfy my hunger in the morning.  So, I wanted to share two of my faves with you. I use a Magic Bullet to blend my smoothies, so the measurements I use in the recipes are for blender cups that come with this appliance.  If you are using a big blender, the measurements can most likely be similar for one drink but you can increase the amounts for more than one smoothie.

Delicious Berry Goodness Smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 cup Blueberries, 1/2 cup strawberries, 1/2 banana (more if you’re using something bigger than a Magic Bullet)

1 tbsp ground flax seeds

1 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)

1 tsp real cocoa

1 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)

1 1/2 scoop (or 2 scoops for the guys) whey protein isolate (or a protein powder of your choice/for your needs)

*optional 2 tbsp goat yogurt or Greek yogurt

Instructions –  Add the banana, blueberries, strawberries to Magic Bullet cup or blender.  Then add flax seeds, cinnamon, cocoa, almond milk and yogurt.  Blend until well mixed.  Add protein and blend for 20 – 30 more seconds and pour into your favourite morning glass.  It’s almost too easy!  I also like having some almonds with my morning smoothie, I find they go well together.

This next smoothie has been modified from a lovely Lululemon blog recipe – their’s sounds really good, but I changed up a few things for my tastes and needs.  I love love love pumpkin pie, so making this into a smoothie has been my absolute favourite.  Now I don’t have to wait for pie to enjoy the great taste of pumpkin!  Give this one a try, I bet you’ll love it too. A great colder season smoothie!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 banana

1/2 cup to a cup of pure pumpkin puree

1 cup almond milk (or a milk of your choice)

1 tbsp ground flax seeds

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pumpkin Spice, Cinnamon – 1 tsp each, or more to your taste

1 1/2 scoop (or 2 scoops for the guys) of whey protein isolate (or a protein powder of your choice/for your needs)

*optional – 2 tbsp goat yogurt or Greek yogurt

Pumpkin smoothie goodness!

Instructions – Add the banana, pumpkin puree, flax, spices, vanilla extract, and almond milk to the Magic Bullet cup (or blender).  Blend for up to a minute to really mix the ingredients.  Then add your protein and blend for another 20-30 seconds and voila!  Pumpkin pie smoothie deliciousness.  Mmmm….

I’ve been having fun creating new smoothies with different fruit combinations for the past month.  It’s actually really nice to get up and prepare a delicious, healthy drink to enjoy for breakfast.  The next step I have to take is into green smoothie making.  People seem to love those and the health benefits are endless.  I’m just going to need some help there… so used to eating my veggies raw/cooked, not blended.  Should be fun!  ॐ

What’s your favourite smoothie combination?  Any tips for my recipes?

Turkey Zucchini Lasagna

Before I started a two week detox earlier this month, I knew I was going to have to come up with new meal ideas that would be interesting and fun to keep me from giving up.  I love food and it is usually a big part of my day, so boring/plain meals just don’t cut it.

I found this recipe through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and thought it sounded delicious, but wanted to make my own modifications to it.  Their recipe is vegetarian – I added ground turkey to mine and made some minor adjustments to work with what I had in my fridge.  Let me tell you, this meal was delicious!  It’s not too much work and really quite enjoyable, try it out for yourself!

Ingredients

1 lb ground chicken or turkey

4 -5 zucchini

1/2 red onion, 4 celery stalks, mushrooms

tomato sauce (organic – I know I should make my own, but I was short on time!)

extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic and basil, sea salt and pepper to taste

goat’s feta

Instructions

Start by slicing zucchini length-wise into lasagna noodle like strips and set aside.

In a pan, brown ground turkey/chicken that has been seasoned with sea salt and pepper.  Once browned, add chopped celery, onion, and mushrooms.  Cook until veggies are tender and then add organic tomato/pasta sauce and simmer.

Lightly oil the bottom of a glass baking dish with the olive oil then add a little bit of the sauce to the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of zucchini and then more sauce.  On top of the sauce, add crumbled goat’s feta then place another layer of zucchini.  Continue this until you are out of sauce and have a layer of zucchini on the top.  Lightly brush a little olive oil on the zucchini, add some more basil on top if desired.

Bake for 20-25 mins at 375 fahrenheit (depending on your oven), then broil for 5 mins.  Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes and then cut into squares to serve.  Enjoy with a light salad if desired.   This is so good, I can’t wait to make it again.  I love lasagna (gluten free), but this is a nice light alternative if you are trying to cut out starches.  ॐ

Eggs and Kale Breakfast Bowl

Happy Thanksgiving Canadian readers!

Yep, it’s that time of year again when we’re asking everyone what they’re thankful or grateful for (and enjoying big meals!).  It’s very nice to share these feelings now, especially when surrounded by friends and family, but it’s also important to think about being grateful all year round.  It’s a wonderful practice to remind ourselves what we’re grateful for, or even keep a journal, especially during tough times.  That way we can try to focus on the positive aspects of life when the going gets a little rough.  I’ve kept a gratefulness journal and let me tell you, no idea is too big or too small because we know that even the little things in life can keep us going.  This weekend I’m thankful for friends, great company, and the delicious turkey dinner that I will be preparing.

That’s right, the detox is over and I can have my fill of turkey dinner!

But as I reflect, being on a detox gave me the opportunity to change up how I eat and think of new ways to enjoy some of my favourite meals.    Since I wasn’t allowed starches, I had to figure out a different way to eat my classic eggs on (gluten free) toast – a staple for breakfast or lunch.  I’ve been obsessed with kale for awhile, so here’s a new fave of mine that I think you should definitely give a try!

Ingredients

Organic Eggs

Kale

Tomato slices

Goat’s Feta

Extra virgin olive oil, Salt, Pepper, Basil to taste

Wash off a couple leaves of kale (as much as you like) and either chop or tear up into smaller pieces.  Toss the kale pieces in a frying pan that has 1 – 2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil in it, add basil to taste.  Cook on low to medium heat until desired ‘crunchiness’ (I like mine a bit more crunchy).  Put kale aside.  Crack desired amount of eggs into frying pan and add salt & pepper to taste, cook to desired yoke consistency.  Once eggs are almost done, toss some sliced tomato into the pan to warm them up.

Place the cooked kale in the bottom of the bowl and add crumbled goat’s feta on top.  Add sliced tomato and then the fried eggs on the very top.  Eat and enjoy!  ॐ

(If you’re currently not eating eggs with the yoke, scrambled egg whites would work well too)

What are you thankful/grateful for this weekend?

Yummmmmm!

I miss coffee…

I miss coffee.

There, I said it.  And, I am not ashamed.

I miss trying coffees from different countries.  I miss going to fun and interesting coffee shops to try these exotic coffees.  I miss the taste.

Back in April I wrote a post about healthy changes that I was making and my task of reducing coffee consumption.  I used to drink only one coffee per day, small to medium sized, but the Naturopath I was seeing at the time thought I should switch to none at all.  In fact, she compromised with me and let me still have decaf coffee and green tea.  Green tea has many health benefits, so I don’t think it’s right to give it up entirely.

This may sound funny to you, but it’s not the morning jolt that I am missing.  I believe that since my switch to decaf was so gradual, that at this point I have cleared up those caffeinated coffee cravings.  This process was all small steps for me: smaller portion sizes of coffee –> half-caf –> half-caf every other day –> half-caf as a treat –> decaf –> a cup of decaf every once in awhile (with green tea maybe 3 times a week).  Now, I go days without even having a decaf coffee or a green tea and I have not experienced headaches or any other noticeable symptoms that come with cutting out coffee.  Well, I guess that is something to be happy about, right?

But, I miss the delightful aromas… the great tastes of a fresh french press.

Of course, I realize there are health benefits to avoiding coffee – the main one for me was to give my adrenal glands a rest. I was definitely suffering from adrenal fatigue and needed to make changes to give them a break and essentially reset a little.  So, cutting out the coffee was one way, assisted by supplements and certain diet changes.  To read more about some easy changes you can make to help your adrenals rest, check out this article on Yoga Girl Revolution titled 4 Nutrition Tips to Beat Adrenal Fatigue.  I love how simple she explains the role that the adrenals play in the body and how you can help them.

As we know when it comes to the discussion about coffee, there are two sides – the good and the bad.  Although cutting out coffee is good for your adrenals and giving your body a break, there are also benefits to consuming coffee in moderation.  Some of the research out there speaks to depression reducing and cancer preventing properties – you can also check out more benefits in this Huffington Post article here.

At this moment, I am totally focused on healing and getting things back in order when it comes to my health so I will still be off caffeinated coffee for awhile.  I personally haven’t noticed that I feel much better without it, but that could be because I only had one a day.  It may not become a daily practice again, but I will certainly have a delicious, exotic cup as a treat every once in awhile.  Moderation is key when it comes to so many things, so I believe I can still have this treat every once in awhile.  (Of course, I realize there are health conditions out there that require cutting out coffee altogether and I respect that – always talk to your doctor.)   ॐ

Delicious almond milk latte from Balzac’s in Toronto

Have you given up coffee before or are thinking about it now?  How was your experience and do you have tips for others?

Chicken, kale, gluten free pasta dish…

Have you ever tried a new food and loved it so much that you want to throw it into everything you cook?  This is me right now with kale.  Yes, I said it. Kale. (It was hard for me to believe too!)

I finally picked up this green leafy goodness a couple of weeks ago and I have been throwing it into every stir fry or pasta that I make.  It actually tastes great and the benefits of this veggie are awesome!  It is said that kale is very vitamin rich; high in vitamins A, K, and C while also having cholesterol lowering and cancer fighting properties.  This great article shows a vitamin breakdown and speaks to some of the research being done on this ‘superfood’.

So, since I am now in love with this great veggie, I wanted to share with your my favourite recent recipe that I have been whipping up a lot lately.  I hope you give it a try and enjoy it just as much – here we go!

Chicken, kale, gluten free pasta dish

Ingredients

Boneless, skinless chicken breast(s)

Gluten free pasta (I have used fettucini or rotini style by Rizopia lately)

Kale, zuchinni, asparagus, red onion, tomato

Extra virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, pepper, lemon

Instructions

Add a dash of olive oil to a frying pan and toss in cubed chicken and cook till no longer pink inside, or slightly browned on the outside.  In a separate pan, add a small amount of olive oil and toss in chopped zucchini, red onion, asparagus, and season with desired amount of garlic and cook for approximately 5-10 minutes.  Wash kale leaves, chop into bite size portions, and then toss into the veggie pan mixture – cook for up to 5 more minutes and toss in chopped tomatoes at the end to warm them up (but not too long so they don’t get mushy).

At the same time in a different pot, cook gluten free pasta of your choice to cooking instructions for your desired amount of servings.  If you are not required to be gluten free, try using a whole wheat pasta of your choice for this recipe.

Once all is cooked, grab a mixing bowl and add the cooked chicken, pasta, and veggies and then a half to a full teaspoon of olive oil, pepper and basil to taste, and squeeze the juice from half a lemon on top.  Toss to mix in the flavours well.  Serve and enjoy!  ॐ

(You can also choose to omit the chicken to make it veggie only or make the pasta as a side-dish to fish or another meat of choice.  I’m eating this recipe meat-free as a left over for lunch right now as I write this post, yum!)

Yummy greeny goodness!