Monthly Archives of: July 2014

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Energy Balls

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I try not to snack unless I really need to. Over the past year I’ve been experimenting with my meal sizes in an effort to figure out just how much food I need at breakfast, lunch, and dinner to avoid getting hungry in between. That being said, sometimes there is no avoiding it. When dinner gets delayed by cranky kids or extra long outings, I like to have something available to quickly grab and tide me over until my next meal. That’s what these energy balls are for. I can also grab a couple on the way to a work out, or take them with me on a hike. There are so many different variations of these that you can make, and I’ve included a few of our favourites. Charley loves making these and I’m happy to have something to offer her instead of a store bought granola bar! Bonus: these are Whole30 approved! Here’s what we created today.

Ingredients

12 dates, pitted and chopped

10 figs, chopped

1 cup hazelnuts, chopped

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

2 tbsp raw cacao nibs

1 cup freeze dried strawberries and bananas

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Raw Cacao Nibs

Raw Cacao Nibs

Directions

1) Mix all ingredients in a large bowl except for the coconut.

2) Working in batches (approximately 2 cups at a time), blend in a Vitamix (or similar food processor) on low speed until the mixture starts to stick together. Scrape the sides and blend for a few more seconds until it becomes it mouldable.

3) Scrape the sticky mixture out (I use a knife to work around the blade. It’s a sticky mess!) into a separate bowl and repeat with the remaining mixture until all of the mixture is combined. You may need to add a tablespoon of water, depending on how moist your dates and figs are.

4) Scrub your hands and remove any jewellery. Leave your hands wet and roll the sticky mixture into balls, approximately 1 inch in size. Press them pretty tightly to ensure they stay together. Keeping your hands wet will allow you to roll them easily without everything sticking to your fingers.

5) Roll the energy balls in the shredded coconut. You should have approximately 15 energy balls, depending on the size. Enjoy!

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Variations

Replace the hazelnuts and almonds with cashews or macadamia nuts.

Use fresh fruit. This makes the process messier but is absolutely delicious! One of my favourite combinations is fresh chopped cherries and 1 tbsp fresh lime juice.

Add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves. Add 1 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice.

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Whole30 Tips

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This post has been updated since it was originally published on 7/29/2014.

I’ve completed the Whole30 challenge a few times now and generally live a Whole30 lifestyle, but I still remember how overwhelmed I felt during my first challenge. Since then I’ve learned a few tips and tricks that will really increase your chance of success. I wish everyone success with their challenge, and here are my top thirteen tips!

1) Choose a reward for yourself.

It may sound childish, but sometimes you just need a little extra push to complete something difficult. Before you start, choose some sort of reward for yourself to meditate on during the thirty days. It should go without saying, but do not use food as a reward. If you spend the thirty days dreaming of a huge ice cream sundae that you can’t wait to stuff into your face as soon as the challenge is complete, then you are missing the point. (And you will end up with a really sore stomach!) Choose something more along the lines of a new pair of shoes, or a day at the spa. On those extra tough days during Whole30 (usually the first few days), look at photos of what you’ve set as your reward. Remind yourself that you can do it!

2) Surround yourself with those who support you.

To the average person, Whole30 sounds extreme. I’ve crossed paths with a lot of people who write it off as a crazy fad diet before actually knowing anything about it. Do not waste your time arguing and trying to convince those people. Avoid them during your Whole30 challenge and surround yourself with family and friends who love and support your lifestyle change. If you can’t find friends and family who support you, look online. The Whole30 community is huge and incredibly encouraging. Search Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and you will find thousands of people going through the challenge with you.

3) Do your research and know what you are getting into.

The official Whole30 website is fantastic. It’s clear and easy to understand. Make sure you read it and know what to expect. Know that you will probably feel worse before you feel better, and that this is normal and good! Take a look at this timeline to get an idea of what your thirty days will feel like.

4) Build your resources.

Now that Whole30 has gained so much popularity, there are never ending resources online. Spend some time looking at all of the recipes available online. A bunch of us foodies have already done all the work for you, so take advantage of it! Some of my favourite recipe resources are: Well Fed 1&2 By Melissa Joulwan and her blog, Nom Nom Paleo, and The Foodie. There are so many more, so keep looking!  Most of the recipes I post under ‘Cooking with Joanna’ are Whole30 approved or easily modifiable.

5) Meal plan.

Once you’ve found a bunch of recipes that you’re interested in, set up a meal plan and a corresponding grocery list. The first few times you do this it might seem time consuming, but as it becomes a habit and as you become more familiar with the foods you eat, it becomes easier and much faster. Now, I spend about thirty minutes, once a week, setting up my meal plan and grocery list for the next 7 days.

6) Meal prep.

Once you’ve set up your meal plan and shopped for your groceries, prepare those meals ahead of time as much as you can. Spend a couple hours at the beginning of the week chopping your vegetables, partially steaming your vegetables, and cooking your meat. You will be so glad you did! Melissa Joulwan teaches you how to prepare your meals in detail in her cookbooks Well Fed 1&2. I highly recommend them, as all the recipes are Whole30 approved.

7) Cook once, eat twice.

Leftovers are a huge key to surviving Whole30. Look through each recipe in your meal plan and decide which ones are the most simple to double or triple. I always double or triple any meatballs, hamburgers, soups, chilis or casseroles that I make. You can either eat the leftovers over the next few days just as they are, or repurpose them (use leftover meatballs to make a soup), or freeze them for future days in the month where you are too tired or too busy to cook a fresh meal.

8) Keep emergency food handy at all times.

Snacking is not encouraged during Whole30, but neither is starving yourself. During the first few days of your challenge, experiment with the size of your 3 meals a day to make sure you are eating enough to keep you satiated until your next meal. However, sometimes life gets in the way and we can’t eat our breakfast, lunch or dinner at a regular time. In this situation it is so helpful to have “emergency” Whole30 snacks easily available to you. I like to keep Larabars (you can buy them at Costco, but read your labels because not every flavour is approved), approved beef jerky, Energy Balls, hardboiled eggs, and meatballs either in my fridge or in my purse. The hungrier you become, the less likely you are to make a smart decision about food, so in a pinch, use a snack to stop you from making a poor food choice. Do not use these snacks if you are feeling bored, tired, or emotional. Only use them if you are legitimately hungry and will not be able to have a meal soon. (Side note: notice that all of these snacks are mainly protein. If you snack on fruit, you will be hungry in 10 minutes. Protein and healthy fats are the way to go for snacking.)

9) Read your labels.

The first grocery shop that you do during Whole30 will take twice as long as usual just because of all the label reading you will need to do. To avoid an accidental slip up, check the label on everything you buy. It is shocking how many products contain sugar, preservatives and soy. Be aware and watch out!

10) Focus on what you CAN have, not what you can’t have.

Yes, you need to memorize the list of foods you can’t have during the Whole30 program. But once you’ve done that, stop focusing on those foods and start to get excited about all the new vegetables, spices and herbs you are going to try. I kept this Whole30 Shopping List on my fridge during my first few rounds of Whole30 and it helped immensely.

11) Get outside.

If you are feeling tired and sluggish, get outside. Breathe in the fresh air. Remind yourself why you are doing this challenge. It is amazing how many times I find myself in a slump in the middle of the afternoon, and then when I force myself to go outside even just for a quick walk, my mood improves dramatically. Remind yourself that you are changing your life by doing this challenge, and that is very admirable!

12) Make sure you eat enough.

I hear lots of people complain that they are constantly hungry during Whole30. I take a look at what they’re eating and immediately see one of two problems. Either they’re eating toddler sized portions each meal, or they are not eating any carb-dense or starchy vegetables and healthy fats. If you are eating the same amount as your three year old, then yes, you will be hungry all the time. If you are trying to survive on a small chicken breast and spinach salad every day then yes, you will be hungry all the time. Make sure you include vegetables like yams, sweet potatoes, beets, broccoli and cauliflower, and healthy fats like avocados, olives and nuts. Your body needs them for so many reasons, one of them being to keep you full.

13) Don’t measure your success by the number on your scale.

Say it with me, your value has nothing to do with your weight. Absolutely nothing. Get that idea out of your head. Our society has pounded it into our minds, but I’m challenging you to spend the rest of your life erasing it from your psyche. Instead, be in tune with your body to notice more important changes. How are you sleeping? How do your nails, skin and hair feel? How is your mood? Energy level? Bloating? These are the results that are life changing, not a number on the scale.

I love this post on the topic of weight and the scale.


I’m so excited for you and wish you the best of luck! Feel free to comment and share your own tips or ask any questions. I would love to be a Whole30 resource for you!

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Lemon Pepper Spaghetti Squash with Scallops and Kale

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I absolutely love scallops! They are a quick and easy source of protein and completely versatile when it comes to flavour. This is one of my favourite lunches to eat post workout.

Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash, cooked and threaded into ‘noodles’

8-10 scallops, ocean wise

1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped, stems removed

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/8 cup of Tessemae’s Lemon Pepper sauce, approximately

Directions

1) Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat.

2) Pour into the pan about half of the Tessemae’s Lemon Pepper sauce

3) Place your scallops in the pan, leaving lots of wiggle room between them. Leave them to cook for 3-5 minutes.

4) Flip over your scallops and allow them to cook for another few minutes.

5) Add your red pepper and stir to combine with the scallops. Let cook for a minute.

6) Add your kale and the rest of your Tessemae’s sauce. Mix everything and fry until kale is softened and scallops are completely cooked through.

7) Remove from pan and serve over spaghetti squash noodles. Enjoy!

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How Whole30 Changed My Life

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Have you heard of the Whole30 craze yet? It has gained a lot of popularity since I first discovered it a few years ago. I discovered Whole30 about 4 years after ‘recovering’ from an eating disorder. I had finished my therapy and was now trying to figure out how to live a balanced life. Even though I was finally eating three meals a day, my relationship with food was still so damaged. I found that if I tried to focus on getting in shape again and being healthy, it would trigger old habits too quickly and I would start to obsess and quickly become miserable again. If I went the other way and didn’t try at all, then I felt sluggish and heavy and guilty. I was using an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication to dull the guilt and anxiety surrounding food, but I knew I couldn’t do that forever. I hated my postpartum body but was too scared to try and fix it. I feared becoming ‘sick’ again, and I had sworn to myself I would never do that to my husband and daughter.

About a year and a half after my daughter was born, a friend of mine posted a food photo on Instagram with the hashtag #whole30. I asked her what it was, and got the run down: No grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, or alcohol for 30 days. This intrigued me! I jumped in without doing much research and not fully understanding the concept. I admit that I desperately wanted to lose a bit of weight and this seemed like a great way to do it. (Now, years later, I understand that the program is NOT meant for losing weight, although most people do lose weight on it).

Seven days into the program, I couldn’t believe how different I felt. My body was settling into a natural and comfortable weight. Energy was coursing through me for the first time since before puberty. I was able to eat and not feel guilty after. I was having fun experimenting with new foods and new ways to cook. My clothes were fitting differently and I had an overall feeling of lightness. I often joke that I even became more fertile than usual as I discovered that I had become pregnant with our son during the thirty days, completely by surprise.

By the end of the thirty days I felt fantastic. I was so happy with the results. I was convinced that everyone I knew needed to try the program! Unfortunately a few weeks later I became extremely ill while pregnant and could not stand the sight or smell of any protein and very few vegetables. For the rest of my pregnancy I survived on toast, apple juice, goldfish crackers and the occasional carrot. I undid all the good things accomplished during my first Whole30 challenge, but this time I knew how to fix it. I knew that as soon as my pregnancy was finished, I could do another round of Whole30 and get back on track.

Six weeks after my son was born, I did my second round. This time I researched a lot and read It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, the creators of Whole30. I learned the reasons behind it, how to properly reintroduce food after the thirty days, and how to live a balanced life after. I incorporated all kinds of exercise. Again the results were so fantastic and came quicker during the second round.

The best thing of all: I learned to stop seeing food as the enemy.  I learned that the number on the scale is meaningless. I learned that I don’t have to waste my time counting calories. I learned that strength is beautiful. I learned that it’s important for my children to see me eat and enjoy food and use food to give me energy. I learned to see food as fuel for my body.

I can’t even begin to explain the freedom I have experienced. Freedom from medication, freedom from guilt, freedom from self-hatred. I used to fall asleep at night in tears, hating myself and hoping that the next day I would be able to eat less and less and less until there was nothing left of me. Now, I fall asleep knowing that I’ve done my best for that day to show my children that food is wonderful, food is energy, food is strength. 

So, now what? Almost a year and a half after my second round of Whole30, this is how I live: All the food that I eat in my home is Whole30 approved. Because I am a stay at home mom, this makes up about 90% of my meals each week. When I go out for dinner with friends, holidays, or special occasions, I enjoy myself and eat whatever I feel like eating, knowing that I will most likely not feel my best the next day. I understand that when I do this, I am not choosing the best fuel for my body. But because I do not do this often, I am completely okay with those choices. There is no more guilt associated with poor food choices. I am not ‘cheating’ on some kind of diet; I am making conscious decisions. This kind of balance works for me. My body feels better than ever. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. I am a good example for my children. I feel healed.

If you feel guilty about your food choices, if your body feels exhausted, or if you just want to clean out your system, I really encourage you to check it out. Click here to check out the official program.

If you decide to try out the program or if you have any questions, I would love to be a resource for you. Almost all of my recipes filed under ‘Cooking with Joanna’ are Whole30 approved, and I think you’ll find my Ten Tips for a successful Whole30 very helpful. I am happy to answer any questions you might have and would love to offer encouragement! Follow me on Instagram at @wellnesswithjoanna also, as I am constantly collecting and sharing Whole30 approved recipes from other recipe bloggers. Happy Whole30-ing!

And PS – so much thanks to that friend for sharing her Whole30 experience on Instagram. You know who you are.

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Paleo Chocolate Banana Muffins with Charley

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I’ve really never been a fan of Paleo baking. For the most part, I rarely find it to be on par with regular baking and I find it easier to just cut baked goods out altogether, or reserve them for special moments like birthdays or Christmas. 

However, baking is one of the sneaky ways that I can trick my kids into eating fruit. (Yes, the goal is to not have to sneak or trick them into it, but we’re not at that point yet). Charley gags on a bite of banana by itself but doesn’t notice if it’s pureed into muffins or pancakes, so we’ve been experimenting together. She waited all week for the bunch of bananas in our fruit bowl to turn brown so we could bake today. I think her favourite part was peeling them!

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I based the recipe off of the Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread recipe from The Paleo Kitchen cookbook by Juli Bauer and George Bryant (aka Paleomg and Civilized Caveman). All I did was make it more kid friendly and baked it into muffins instead of a loaf. Muffins are so much easier to take with us to the park or on a playdate. Enjoy!

Ingredients

12 cupcake liners

4 ripe bananas

4 large eggs

1/4 cup grass fed butter, melted

1/2 cup almond butter

1/2 cup coconut flour 

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract 

1/2 cup chocolate chips

pinch of salt

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

2) Combine the bananas, eggs, butter and almond butter in a bowl and mix until well blended.

3) Add the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and salt and mix until all the ingredients are well combined.

4) Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed. 

5) Pour into the muffin pan lined with cupcake liners.

6) Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a big chunk of grass fed butter!

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Balsamic Beef Stew

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I woke up to the sound of pouring rain this morning and immediately thought to myself that today is a good day for stew. A couple of hours later I got a text from my sister in law asking if I had any good stew recipes. Great minds think alike! There’s just something comforting about curling up with a bowl of hot stew while the rain comes down outside….

Ha! Who am I kidding? No mom ever gets to eat their stew while it’s still hot. I’m usually scarfing down my dinner as fast as I can while simultaneously doing the airplane move, trying to shovel food into my 1 year old’s mouth and chanting “You can do it!” to my 3 year old, desperately trying to convince her to eat her carrots. Bonus points if I can get the dirty dishes loaded before the 1 year old climbs out of his high chair and starts climbing right into the dishwasher. What is it with babies and dishwashers? Good thing he’s so cute!

IMG_9921Back to the stew. It takes some time, but the end result is completely worth it. Serve it with a side salad and enjoy!

Ingredients

1 lb stewing beef (grass fed and local if possible)

1 tbsp steak spice (sugar free)

1 tbsp coconut oil 

4 cups of yams, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks

2 cups of parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks

2 cups of carrot, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 tbsp of fresh rosemary, chopped (dried will work just fine but fresh is always better!)

1 tbsp of fresh thyme leaves

2 cups beef bone broth (sugar free)

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (sugar free)

Directions

1) Preheat your oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit.

2) Dry the stewing beef by blotting it with paper towel. Toss it in the steak spice to coat it evenly.

3) Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and melt the coconut oil in it. Working in batches if necessary, brown all sides of the beef in the pan. Don’t crowd the beef, give it lots of wriggle room to properly brown the sides. Remove the beef to a dutch oven or large, deep casserole dish with a lid. 

4) Pile the yams, carrots and parsnips on top of the beef.

5) Return to the same saucepan and add your onion, rosemary and thyme. Saute for a few minutes to soften. Add the bone broth and balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil, all the while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all the juicy beefy bits.

6) Pour the contents of the saucepan into your dutch oven or casserole dish, put the lid on, and place it in the oven for three hours, if you can wait that long. The delicious aroma will drive you crazy while you wait! Enjoy.

 

 

 

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Italian Sausage and Zoodles

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If you don’t have a vegetable spiralizer yet, you need to go get yourself one. Right now we are squeezing our little family into a basement suite and my kitchen is tiny, so I was thrilled when I found this little hand held one for $10 at Ross last week.

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However, someday when we are living in a bigger space with a bigger kitchen, I’m going to order this bad boy. But for right now I’m happy with my little one and it’s doing the job just fine. Look at these beautiful zoodles!

photo copy 2Zoodles are quick, easy, delicious, and a great substitute for pasta, which is what I used them for last night. This recipe makes enough for about 3 people. Enjoy!

Ingredients

5-6 large zucchini, spiralized into zoodles

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 lb Italian sausage (pastured pork and sugar free)

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 carrot, diced

2 garlic scapes, diced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1-2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 jar of your favourite sugar free pasta sauce (I usually just blend fresh tomatoes with some Italian herbs rather than buying pasta sauce)

Directions

1) Heat a large pan over medium heat and pour approximately 1 tbsp of olive oil into it. Once heated, crumble the Italian sausage into the pan and add the bell pepper, carrot, onion and garlic scapes. Fry until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.

2) Add the jar of pasta sauce and mix to combine. Lower the heat, put the lid on, and allow to simmer while you make your zoodles.

3) Heat another large pan over medium heat and pour approximately 1 tbsp of olive oil into it. Working in batches, fry your zoodles in the olive oil for 3-5 minutes or until softened.

4) Once all of your zoodles are softened, serve them with the sauce on top and sprinkled with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

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