fitness, inspiration, reflections

How to Make Health(ier) Choices

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There is a lot more to life than salad and spin class.

There is art that alters your perspective on the world. Travel that alters your perspective on yourself.  Music that makes you feel things (drake). Work that if you’re lucky fulfills you. Friends who enrich your life. Loves who make you feel timeless. Families who support you and give life meaning.  I am of the opinion that a “healthy lifestyle” can and should include all these elements. But not to the detriment of self-care.

Eating well and moving your body deserve to be prioritized as well. Different but equal. The older you get the more you’re forced to accept that. So if you’re the type of person who tends to prioritize work, friends and relationships over self-care (me! me! me!) here are a few tips that have helped me over the years to strike that tenuous balance.

  1. Drink a little less
    I’m SUCH a deb, I know. Drinking = friends = fun, right? I don’t entirely disagree. I think drinking is a great thing to do sometimes, but moderation is key. Drinking multiple times a week means you’re home less which leads to a messy apartment and no groceries. It means you blow money on overpriced drinks at the bar instead of saving that money or spending it on other more meaningful aspects of your life. It means you spend less time hanging out with close pals, more time with acquaintence-type psuedo-pals (boo!). Cutting back on drinking (even just 1-2 nights less than usual) is one easy way to free up time, money and energy so you can foster other interests.
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  2. Wake up a little earlier
    Now that you find yourself drinking less, you may notice that you’re waking up earlier (even on weekends!). And what are you going to do with this extra time? Productive stuff that’s what! No one cool is up early in the morning so there’s no one to hang out with. Mornings are the time to do things like catch up on your credit card payments, skype your mom, do your laundry, cook a batch of healthy food to eat all week long, tidy your apartment, make something, go for a walk, etc. Who knows? You might actually start to meet other “morning” people who have cool morning-person interests that you might be into as well.
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  3. Eat a lil something for breakfast
    I know I’m not breaking ground by suggesting that a healthy breakfast is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but I do think it’s important and it definitely changed my own approach to eating. A little something in the morning boosts your energy and keeps your hunger in check for the rest of the day. I always notice I’m a lot more “snacky” in the evenings on days when I postpone breakfast. Some simple favourites of mine include overnight oats, oatmeal, green smoothies, poached eggs on whole grain toast or my healthy banana oat pancakes.IMG_2220.JPG
  4. Eat a few more vegetables

    I’ve said this before, but I am of the opinion that it’s better to focus on adding things to your diet rather than eliminating them. And the easiest and most obvious addition to your diet should always be to just EAT MORE FREAKIN VEGETABLES. Like double what you’re eating now. For me this looks like serving my lunch on a big bed of arugula, adding vegetables to my snacks or doubling up on side dishes at dinner time (salad AND green beans). Your body will thank you for all the extra nutrients and the fibre.
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  5. Move a little more
    Doesn’t matter what you do. Aim for 30 minutes a day. Walking, biking, yoga, weights, skipping, crossfit, whatever. I’m not going to tell you why because you know why. It feels good. Short-term bad, long-term good. Make the time.
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reflections

The Art of Flexibility

IMG_2171.JPGIt took me a long time to realize that I was a control freak. Because I have always been really good at it.

Even as a kid I could make situations go my way without those around me really knowing it. I like to think of this as tilting the pinball machine but in the business world I think it’s called “framing.” I don’t think this makes me a sociopath because I didn’t derive any pleasure from manipulation. I derived my self-worth not from manifesting my ideal scenarios, but having them go seamlesslyI was obsessed with being right. And I thought that everyone – myself, my friends, my family – would the better for it if I got my way.

As it turns out, I was definitely not better for it. I was a powder keg of stress and anxiety. I felt enormous self-imposed pressure for everything to go well all of the time. I had no resiliency or ability to handle things when they went wrong. It was only after my quarter-life-nervous-breakdown that I understood the negative impact micro-managing had on my life. How it bred resentment in my relationships. Made me feel isolated. Sucked the fun and surprise out of everything.

Nowadays, I find liberation in relinquishing control. I do this by asking for help. By admitting when I’m wrong. By facing my fear and anxiety head-on. When I go into a situation that is scary or unknown my inclination is to plan ahead for every possible outcome. However, I have “reframed” this for myself in recent years. I see planning as something that prepares me for the unknown but does not stave it off.

Organization and preparation are just tools that trick your mind into feeling confident. It’s that confidence that has enabled me to embrace flexibility…most of the time.

dinner, recipes

Summer Dinner Party Kale Salad

I’m the girl who brings salad to a party. I accepted this fate long ago.

The trick is to bring a salad that’s so delicious no one really cares. The other trick is to BE COOL ABOUT IT. Don’t make a big deal about your new veg-positive lifestyle. Don’t pester people who prefer more typical BBQ fare. Trust me. By being LOW KEY about your healthy contribution, you can ensure that a) your salad gets eaten and b) no one leaves said party talking how new-agey you’ve become or how you “used to be fun.”

Here’s a recipe that might help you out in these efforts…

 

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SUMMER DINNER PARTY KALE SALAD
Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bunches of kale, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tbsp Coconut oil
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 block sheep feta
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup balsamic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp tamari

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Coat chickpeas in coconut oil, cumin paprika and sea salt.
  3. Bake on a lined baking sheet for 40 minutes. Remove from heat for 10 minutes and allow to cool. Cook for an additional 10 minutes (this is a trick I learned here and it really helps to crisp them up).
  4. Whisk together balsamic, olive oil, maple syrup and tamari.
  5. Add dressing to kale and masssage gently with your hands until wilted.
  6. Top kale with roasted chickpeas, feta, pumpkin seeds and blueberries and serve.

 

 

 

restaurants, travel

NYC

New York City gives me the same feeling I get when I’m standing in front of an ocean.

I feel insignificant, in a powerful way. My life feels small. My struggle feels relative. That feeling is a comfort.

There’s no shortage of New York City Guides out there written by honest to goodness New Yorkers. I’m not that. I pack 2 flannel shirts, a muttonhead toque & a pair of blundstones everywhere I go “just in case.” I could not be more Canadian. But I also know how it feels to travel to a big city without a plan. Without pals to show you around. So I thought I’d share some of my favourite places and moments from my latest trip to New York, in case anything strikes your fancy.

Morning in Bushwick: 

Wake up early, grab a quick snack of sliced mangoes and fresh coconut at Fine Fare Supermarket in Bushwick, a grocery store that looks like a bargain basement from the outside and a whole-foods-of-your-dreams inside. With the edge taken off, wander over to Little Skips for a coffee and some pretty people watching. Grab one of their Norwegian open-faced avocado, goat cheese and salmon sandwiches before heading out for the day.

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Afternoon in Fort Greene: 

Get your fill of overpriced yuppie antique goods and (to console yourself when you can’t afford anything) Dough Brooklyn’s Hibiscus doughnuts at the Brooklyn Flea.

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Happy Hour in Manhattan

I’ll admit I typically spend the majority of my New York visits in Brooklyn. Would you expect any less from a self-professed hipster? But there are obviously loads of places I like to go in New York City proper. Babe-watching in Washington Square Park. Vintage shops in like Edith Machinist in the Lower East Side. Eating my weight in smoked fish at Russ and Daughters. And my recent favourite find was Happy Hour Oysters at Fish (6 blue point oysters plus a glass of Chardonnay, Merlot or PBR for $8). For an more upscale oyster experience you may also want to try Maison Premier in Williamsburg. Heaven.

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Nightlife in Brooklyn

Happyfun Hideaway has cheap drinks and nice people with a queer-friendly backyard party feel. The Narrows for a David-Lynchy vibe with especially flattering lighting. Late-night tacos are non-optional. These tasty ones from Santa Ana Deli made life worth living.

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Let me know if you’ve been to any of these spots or if you have any suggestions for me. And if you feel the need to mock me for how bushwick-centric this post is…I’ll take the hit. 😉

snacks, travel

Music Festival Snack Guide

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Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’re going to a music festival this summer. And I don’t blame you. There’s something undeniably appealing about 3 straight days of pure, unadulterated summer fun. The perfect blend of escapism and nostalgia.

But if you’re anything like me you also value things like healthy food, quiet time, running water, self-respect, etc. Classic adulthood conundrum.

In an effort to address one of those concerns I thought I would share my shopping list for Wayhome this weekend. I still anticipate buying a few overpriced tacos on-site, but my goal was to cover snacks, breakfasts and lunches. My shopping list includes a mix of whole grains and fruit to keep you energized (for dancing), healthy fats to keep you satisfied (for long treks between your campsite and each show), and some protein to keep your blood sugar in balance (so your friends don’t hate you by the end of the weekend). I’ve included a couple of quick recipes as well. Hope you enjoy!

My shopping list

– Trail mix*
– Vegan Banana Granola Bars*
– Jerky
– Fruit
– Coconut water
– Popcorn
– Rice cakes
– Nut butter
– Canned tuna
– Avocado
– Chickpeas
– Mini-cucumbers

Easy Meal ideas:
– Avocado “toast” on rice cakes
– Chickpea and tuna salad
– Apple and almond butter sandwich

Recipes:

FAVOURITE TRAIL MIX

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– 2 cups pumpkin seeds
– 1 cup coconut flakes
– 1.5 cups chopped figs

VEGAN BANANA GRANOLA BARS

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– 2 bananas, mashed thoroughly
– 1/4 cup applesauce
– 2 cups oats
– 1/2 cup chopped dates
– 1/3 cup chocolate chips
– 2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Stir to combine. Press down in a lined 8 x 8 baking sheet. Bake at 350 for approx 30 mins.

recipes

Ugly Cookies

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Before I knew rosemary from thyme in the kitchen, I knew how to bake. I love baking. The ritual of it calms me down and and distracts my mind which helps me a lot when I’m feeling anxious, nervous or stressed. Rarely is it ever about the product, it’s a process thing.

That said, there is nothing worse than having a baking experiment bomb so over time I’ve noticed I return to a few tried and true recipes time and time again. This is one of those. Simple, adaptable and I always have the key ingredients on hand.

I’ve called these Ugly Cookies because that’s what they are. Gnarly little piles of chocolate chips, walnuts and figs. Sometimes a little ugly is a good thing.

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Ingredients

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup oats
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup applesauce (or yogurt)
1 egg
1 cup chopped figs
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.
3. In a separate bowl combine oil, egg & applesauce.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until a dough has formed.
5. Add in figs, chocolate and walnuts.
6. Bake at 350 on a lined baking sheet for about 15 minutes.

beauty, reviews

Confessions of a Beauty Addict

The following is a guest post from my glamazon sister Shawna. Shawna is a rare breed – a Paris Hilton/Jo March/Kathleen Hanna-type. She spends 1/3 her days nose-deep in Proust, the other 1/3 at hot yoga and the final 1/3 dancing her face off at a feminist queer dance-party. Needless to say she’s good people. And she knows her stuff when it comes to all things makeup and beauty. Enjoy! 

shawna

I have never been a tinted moisturizer and lip balm kind of girl.

Several years ago I began eating more intentionally – salads, green smoothies and a mostly whole-food, plant-based diet – but even after cleaning up my diet I still stubbornly clung to my VIB Rouge Status at Sephora. I spent years searching for the holy grail of matte red lipsticks and black liquid eyeliner and I was not about to give up my perfectly curated makeup collection just because of a few chemicals.

Then my sister gave me a subscription to a beauty service called Petit Vour and my mentality started to shift. Petit Vour sends a box of sample sized beauty products every month and each one is ingredient-conscious and cruelty-free. I didn’t have to completely overhaul my beauty stash all at once (which would have cost a small fortune) I could try out products slowly over time, and gradually replace my go-to items when I found alternatives that worked for me. Eventually I learned that natural makeup has come a long way and now many healthy products are just as effective as their chemical-laden counterparts. I’m not saying Mac’s Ruby Woo won’t always have a place in my heart, but I am open to change.

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Me, my sis & my pops in Chicago a few weeks back

As a consumer I feel better about supporting ethical companies and smaller beauty brands that are more health and environmentally aware and do not test on animals or contain scary animal products such as carmine (which is derived from crushed up beetles!).

Below are some of my favorite findings in my ongoing quest to detox my makeup bag. I will tell you about some of my preferred products for a natural (but not TOO natural) makeup look.

Meow Meow Tweet Tweet Deodorant

Traditional deodorant was the first product I tried to replace, and probably the hardest to find a good substitute for. Over the years I swear I tried every natural deodorant on the market and none of them were effective. I think Portlandia summed it up best in their ad for “Mother Sun”:

Basically nothing I tried that didn’t contain scary ingredients such as aluminum could hold up to hot yoga, spin class, and sweaty dancefloors. I got pretty close to finding an effective natural deodorant when I tried Schmidt’s but after a while it broke out my super sensitive skin and I had to keep looking (armpit rash is not cute). Shortly thereafter I found this: Meow Meow Tweet Tweet aka the best deodorant ever. It keeps you smelling fresh and it is available with or without baking soda so it is extra sensitive on your skin. If you are used to deodorant in stick-form it is worth noting that this is a cream you rub in with your fingers (you’ll get used to it!). I am partial to the Lavender scent. The website offers trial sizes so you can sample it before you commit to a whole jar.

Fat and the Moon Lip & Cheek Stain

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This product is made of beeswax and essential oils and gets its colour from beet root. It adds a nice blush to cheeks that blends in well, or a very subtle stain to lips.

RMS “Un” cover-up

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Photo credit: No More Dirty Looks

This is the one natural beauty product I have found that I actually like better than anything I have used before. The make-up comes in a small pot, which you can apply like concealer and as a highlighting foundation on areas under your eyes, around your nose, and on your forehead and chin. The look is completely natural but with a nice amount of coverage. I have actually stopped using traditional foundation on a daily basis and just apply the “Un” cover-up with a light dusting of powder on top for a natural finish that is good for summer when you don’t want your make-up to be heavy anyway.

To learn more about the ingredients contained in commercial products consult the “Skin Deep Cosmetics Database”and shop at thoughtfully curated retailers such as credo beauty, detox market beauty counter and spirit beauty lounge.

 

reflections

HOW TO KEEP YOUR SHIT TOGETHER (IN YOUR 20’S)

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Have you ever dropped something off a dock and had it fall to the bottom of the lake? Like your fancy new sunglasses or a piece of jewelry or your phone?

One second you’re staring out at an expanse of water and sky, reflecting on the vastness of it all. The next second you’re staring down into dark, dingy water resolving yourself to the fact that you – smart, capable, “special flower” you – can’t think your way out of this situation. You can’t delegate it. The only thing you can do is climb down into all that weedy muck and fish out what’s yours.

That’s my metaphor for adulthood.

No matter who you are or where you come from there will always be a disconnect between the vision you have for life and what it actually becomes. In my experience, coming to terms with that discrepancy is the major emotional milestone of your twenties.

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I’ve seen a lot of people traverse these years successfully, but I’ve also seen a lot of people stumble and backslide (myself included). Based on these observations, I’ve put together a few basic tips that may just help you keep your shit together when you realize that concepts like “success” and “stability” are about as real as Bing Bong, the pink nougat-filled elephant-cat hybrid from Pixar’s Inside Out. Here goes…

  1. FORGIVE YOUR PARENTS.
    I know. They were emotionally unavailable. Or unstable. They were narcissists. Or acted like victims. They coddled you. Or they criticized you. If you can’t afford therapy, this is me telling you right now that all your accusations are real. Validation granted. Your parents made countless mistakes and they’re going to keep making them for the rest of your life. However, having a good relationship with them as an adult is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Old people are wise and your parents know you better than anyone else. Their advice will get you through the hardest times. Love and accept them like they love and accept you.
  2. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF.
    Once you forgive your parents you’ll notice that is less satisfying to blame them for all the stupid things you do. You’re not rebelling, you’re regressing. The only person suffering the consequences of your credit card debt, heavy drinking, questionable romantic partners, lack of gainful employment, et al. is you. So it’s time to start facing those life choices head-on. The upside is that once you start taking care of yourself rather than ignoring your problems or passing the buck, you’ll realize that it actually feels pretty good.
  3. SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
    I was chatting with a friend over cocktails last week (2 drinks each at a cool 8pm) and we both agreed that one of the best parts of growing up is learning how to say, “no.” It’s absolutely liberating when you figure this out. You don’t have to do things just because your friends do. You don’t need to show up places just because it’s a “scene” you want to be a part of. You don’t have to go out on a limb for everyone who asks you to – only for the people who matter. Learning how to set boundaries forces you to think about you actually want and then communicate it clearly to those around you. The struggle is real but these skills will take you far.
  4. BE WARY OF YOUR COPING STRATEGIES
    When you’re in college or even your early twenties, you can usually get by with whatever ragtag group of coping skills you pieced together as a child. Binge watch 8 seasons of Buffy! Buy a new outfit! Go on a juice cleanse! Party with pals! All of the boyfriends! It’s pretty PG. But like any repetitive action, over time these distractions become your coping strategies and once they’re ingrained it ain’t pretty. Addiction, credit card debt & disordered eating are the trifecta of cant-handle-my-adult-life distractions. But that’s all they are – distractions. The only way you will actually get through these years is to confront your feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness and failure head-on. In time, your ability to face these hard truths (and persevere in spite of them) will help you come to the realization that you that you are in fact the resilient badass/bad bitch you were born to be. 

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recipes

Strawberry Chia jam

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When I was little making jam with my grandma was my idea of a good time. We’d wake up early and head to the strawberry fields, scoop up all the berries we could then head home and spend all day prepping canning jars and boiling vats of hot strawberry syrup. It was the perfect combination of fun, ritual and reward. At the end of all your hard work you were always left with a sticky sweet indulgence.

As it turns out, I haven’t changed so much since those days. I still love feeling the hot sun on my shoulders as I treasure hunt for berries. I still love the smell of hot bubbly fruit and the calming ritual of skimming bubbles from the pot. I don’t however have as much time or patience as I used to. I also don’t have quite as much of a sweet tooth.

This recipe is the perfect solution. Sweet sticky quick jam minus the canning process and omitting all that sugar and pectin. Hope you enjoy!

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Strawberry Chia Jam

Ingredients
4 cups strawberries
1/4 cup orange juice
2-3 tbsp honey (or a mix of honey and cane sugar)
1/4 cup chia seeds

Directions

1. Cook strawberries, orange juice and 1 tbsp of honey in a pot over high heat until bubbling.
2. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes, breaking up whole berries with a fork or masher as you go.
3. Taste and add more sweetener if needed.
4. Add chia seeds and stir. Turn off heat and allow to cool.