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the healthy hipster

feminism, inspiration

How to Make Female Friends

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Women like me. They always have. And it’s not a coincidence.

I have spent years perfecting the art of making and maintaining female friendships. It’s not always been easy and I have made many mistakes along the way (sorry again), but I am constantly rewarded by the inspiration, support and community my ladyfriends have to offer. I can’t imagine who I would be today without them, nor do I want to.

So when I hear a woman say that she “doesn’t have any female friends” or that “other girls don’t like her” I call bullshit. Not being able to make or keep female friends means one of two things to me:

  1. You are acting judgmental, competitive or critical with other women, so they are responding in kind.
  2. You have been judged, competed with or criticized by women in the past and now you are projecting that trauma onto every new woman you meet.

For women who struggle with these or other challenges, I took the time to compile a few lessons I have learned over the years (usually the hard way) about how to make and keep female friends. Hopefully they will serve you in your path to cultivating the ultimate lady coven of your dreams…

Always ask a woman questions on questions on follow-up questions.

Every time I meet a new woman, especially someone who might have a competitive vibe with me (ie. an exes new girlfriend, a co-worker, etc.) the first thing I do to dispel the weirdness is to get to know her better. I ask about her family and re-use the name of her siblings later in conversation to show that I’ve been listening. I ask about her hobbies and validate them, tell her how much I’ve always wanted to macrame too. I let her share and I hear her. 

Always compliment the effort a woman has put into her beauty, not the effortlessness.
No man will ever understand the amount of time and energy that goes into a woman’s beauty regime. So while men will compliment a woman on how “naturally” gorgeous they are, I love complimenting women on the labour that went into looking that way. Her liquid liner. The straightness of her stocking seams. Her blow-dried-then-flat-ironed-then-curled hair. These are the type of compliments that elicit a story, not just a blush and a self-deprecating dodge.

Never talk about food, diets or body issues.
Save these conversations for your therapist or your personal trainer. Your BFF does not want to hear about your new detox diet or how gluten makes you bloated or how you gained 10 lbs in the last 24 hours. Saying any of these things runs the risk of triggering in your friend a negative spiral of self-talk that will cause her to either feel superior or inferior to you (“Why can’t I detox?” “Is gluten the devil?” “Thank god I didn’t gain 10 lbs”, etc.). And nobody wants these kind of competitive, comparative thoughts between friends. AVOID.

Always confront your conflicts directly, grown-ass-woman-style.
It is inevitable that conflict between friends will arise. The challenge when you sense this tension, is to speak it’s name. I like to start by sharing my interpretation of a situation and then asking whether or not my perspective is accurate for her. Eg) “I felt like our texts last night ended abruptly, did I say something that pissed you off?” This gives her the chance to share her perspective while acknowledging the possibility that you may have misinterpreted. In the end, working through conflicts with friends gives you a chance to grow as a human, to become better. If your friends are worthy, they’ll understand that and want to help you be your best self.

Always give your friends specific, positive feedback…because how else will they know?

A while ago I realized that I give my coworkers positive feedback every single day. It’s just part of our working culture to acknowledge and validate each others’ strengths and accomplishments. But I never did this for my friends. So I started. Now I try to tell my friends as often as I can what exactly I think they’re great at, why I think they’re great at it and how their unique skills and assets contribute to my life in a positive way.

inspiration

“Work less and consume more culture”: An Interview with Creative Yogis Harriet & Lacey

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Today I am excited to share an interview I conducted with two dear friends who are also inspiring healthy hipsters. Harriet is an artist, Parisian literary scenester and author and Lacey is a va-va-voom writer, performer and yoga instructor. The two of them will be collaborating for the first time on a writing and yoga workshop in Halifax, Nova Scotia June 26-28th.

How would you describe your approach to healthy living?

H: I have to give credit to living in Paris for the better part of seven years for having shaped my approach. Food is generally sold only when in season as it’s too expensive or difficult to come by otherwise; meat is, by EU standards, devoid of so many of the hormones and toxins that are routinely inserted here; people drink wine and eat cheese and fresh bread because it’s great, cheap, and why not – but there is far less of a sense of overconsumption. There’s less reliance on cars, and exercise is built into part of a healthy life without ever being the focus of it. It’s a generalization, but it’s true: people work less and consume more culture, and I really value that for my own personal mental health and sense of fulfillment.

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What is the connection between health and creativity/the arts, as you see it?
L: Creativity is about feeling empowered and free to explore one’s own unique voice. Food needs to be digested and assimilated to help our bodies thrive. Likewise, ideas and inspiration need to be processed and expressed in order for our hearts and souls to alight.

Where do you turn when you’re in need of inspiration/motivation?
H: My friends, bodies of water, and the forever-feel-good-films Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually.L: The great outdoors. I dance. I practice yoga. I walk. I listen to music loudly. I reenact music videos. I talk to my stellar mate.
Hottest tip: Embodied movement and connecting with nature are the ultimate inspiration and motivation boosters.

What’s the last thing you read that inspired you?

L: “Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times — a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses, and to those who are specially touched by God. But curiosity is available to everyone.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, from her forthcoming book Big Magic

H: “It is a feeling thing, to be a painter of things: cause every thing, even an imagined or gone thing or creature or person has essence” –Ali Smith, How to Be Both. I wish I could write a novel so multi-faceted, so fluid, so beautiful and metamorphosing.

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I won’t ask you to describe a typical day on your plate (no one wants to hear about anyone else’s glass of lemon water upon waking)…but how about your favourite thing to cook for friends or family?

H: Pumpkin risotto! My favourite pumpkins are the bright orange little ones that are called potimarron in France because they have the nutty and velvety quality of roasted chestnuts (potiron is the word for pumpkin, and marrons are chestnuts). Oh, and my grandma drank a glass of lemon water every morning upon waking but it’s something I can never remember to do. All I want is coffee.

L: Breakfast. I managed to find the sweet spot with my cast-iron pan (notoriously tricky in my life) and made an omelet with avo and local goat’s cheese that didn’t stick. Accompanied by local micro greens and tahini, it was a masterpiece.
recipes

Creamy Matcha Green Smoothie

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I love smoothies. But I’m not in love with them.

I think of smoothies like casual dates. They’re fun, sweet and they satisfy my immediate need for sustenance, but they’re not substantial. An hour or two after I drink one, I’m hungry again. Totally different than my long-term relationship with oatmeal.

That said, after years of perfecting my blending game, I’ve learned a thing or two about transforming a light little smoothie into a hearty, satisfying breakfast.

  1. Use frozen fruit: It just maintains its texture better and keeps things nice and thick.
  2. Add fibrous veggies: I put spinach or kale most of my smoothies but I also use fibrous veggies like celery, zucchini, beets, carrots or even broccoli stems. You barely taste them alongside all the fruit and they keep you feeling energized and full all morning long.
  3. Add healthy fats: I always throw some chia seeds into my smoothies when I have them around, a scoop of nut butter or even 1/2 an avocado. It dramatically improves the texture of your drink and helps you absorb the nutrients in any fruit or veggies you’ve put in.
  4. Add protein: I like to use natural protein powder like sun warrior blend but you can also use hemp protein or hemp hearts, yogurt, silken tofu, whatever your prefer. It will definitely amp up the staying power of your morning blend
  5. Add toppings: Sometimes I like to add some crunch to my smoothies by adding toppings like pumpkin seeds, goji berries, granola or coconut. It helps me savour my breakfast rather chugging it back in one gulp.
  6. Not too much ice: This is a big mistake I made in my early smoothie days – I would always add a full tray of ice. The problem with this is that when the ice melts, it makes the smoothie runny and thin. Try to bulk up your smoothies with the ingredients above, and just a few ice cubes to keep things cool and fresh tasting.

Using these basic tips, I whip together all sorts of creations, today’s being a bright green matcha explosion.

Creamy Matcha Green Smoothie

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe frozen banana
  • 1 heaping tbsp cashew butter 
  • 1-2 tsp matcha green tea powder
  • 1 scoop sun warrior vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • 2 cups kale 
  • 1-2 cups almond milk
  • 4 ice cubes

Directions

  1. Place all fruit in blender first followed by nut butter, protein powder if using, ice, then place your greens on top. Cover with almond milk until your ingredients are about 1/2 way covered.
  2. Blend. Add more milk if needed.
fitness

Why I Love Bodyweight Workouts

IMG_0690.PNGToday I wrote a guest post over at Pure Transformation on my absolute all time favourite way to stay fit – bodyweight workouts. I’m super proud of this post because I’m such an advocate for equipment-free exercise. It’s cheap, challenging and it’s what got me into fitness as an adult. I’m also proud because think I think the guys over at Pure Transformation are really inspiring. They are definitely healthy hipsters – they eat like normal people, go to shows, get outside and generally live full balanced lives…and they’re personal trainers. Their whole MO is designing workouts that are simple and accessible to help their clients lead healthier and more active lives. And they do it all outside the box (aka the gym).

Check out the full post here.

My go-to Bodyweight workout
Courtesy of Satch from Pure Transformation

40 Mountain Climbers
15 Regular Pushups
30 Bodyweight Squats
1 min Plank

100 Jump Rope
45sec Wall Squat
15 Tricep Dips
40 Single Leg Stretch

20 Jump Squats
20 (steps) Walking Lunge
15ea Side Plank Crunch

– Move quickly from one move to the next in each circuit, then take a 30-45sec break. Move onto the next circuit.

– Once all three circuits are done, rest 1.5 – 2mins and repeat for total of three sets.

– Cool down and stretch

reflections

It’s not them, it’s you.

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My sister said something characteristically wise to me last week. We were talking about the film While We’re Young, which we had both just seen and she said, “I liked how their relationship was not the cause of or the solution to their problems.” She was so right. In a sea of movies and television shows that focus on quarter or mid-life crises, it’s incredibly rare to see a person begin and end the story happily in love. It was refreshing and a good reminder to me.

In my own life, the second I start feeling unhappy I put a microscope to my relationships. I blame myself for not putting enough energy or effort into maintaining them. I blame my friends/family/partner for the way they have (or haven’t) treated me. Rarely do I ever survey the landscape of my relationships and feel satisfied. Rarely do I accept that perhaps it isn’t about them, it’s about me. 

There will always be times in life when you feel anxious or unsettled. When you second guess your choices. When the existential questions you used to shrug off start weighing on you. Am I happy? Am I doing what I want to do? Is this all there is? It’s easy to look to others for these answers, much harder to look inward. But in my limited experience losing my shit and getting it back together again, the only way you’ll ever find the real source of your discomfort, stress or anxiety is to take responsibility for yourself. For your own happiness. And give your loved ones a break.

breakfast, reading, recipes

Pancakes and Good Reading

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I look forward to Sunday mornings the way other people look forward to Friday nights. It combines all of my favourite things: breakfast, coffee, pajamas, blankets, family skype dates, reading and Coronation Street.

Here’s a little of what I’m enjoying this morning…

Good reads.

And of course a tasty breakfast.

These panacakes are wholesome, whole-grain and unlike your average boxed mixes will actually leave you feeling energized (not ready for a nap). They are full of protein, healthy fats, fibre…and chocolate chips 😉IMG_0640.JPG

Satisfying Oatmeal Pancakes
yields 1 generous serving

Ingredients

  • coconut oil (for frying)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • optional toppings – berries, nut butter, mini-chocolate chips and a drizzle of honey.

Directions

  1. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Mash banana in a mixing bowl. Add 2 eggs and whip with a fork.
  3. Add oat and coconut flours and stir until well-combined.
  4. Pour batter onto frying pan and cook until each pancake is browned and lifts easily with spatula (3-4 minutes). Cook an extra 1-2 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with berries, chocolate chips, nut butter, etc.

 

diy

What I Made Wednesday

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There’s a trend in the blog world called “What I Ate Wednesday.” Basically it lets you peek into someone elses life (and onto their plate) for an entire day. It’s a little voyeuristic. And totally fun.

But I’m proposing something different here today. What I Made Wednesday. It isn’t about food (not this time at least). It’s a chance to showcase a DIY project, a piece of artwork, a craft you helped a munchkin make or even a shelf you managed to hang on your very own wall. In a world where everything comes to us so easily, I think it’s worth celebrating the things we do and make. Because these are things that require honest effort, and therefore they are things we can be proud of.

Here are some of mine from the past week:

1. Made my own fur throw using this basic method. Essentially purchase $14 worth of ugly faux fur fabric. Cut it into a wonky shape. Looks perfect. Sweep up fur scraps. Took me 10 minutes and my couch couldn’t be happier.

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2. I needed some additional seating for my living room so decided to throw together a couple of cheap ottomons and a simple white throw pillow. I love that I can keep them together or take them apart if I have more guests around.

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3. More paintings of course. Still working on my watercolour game but I tried to used as many vibrant shades as I could in honour of spring.

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So…what did you make this week? (And as a challenge to fellow bloggers: how bout giving WIMW a try?)

recipes

Sweet Potato and Egg Skillet

Despite my predilection for highly involved projects and recipes, I spend very very little time actually preparing my meals. This is for the best because usually by the time I’m home from work and the gym, I’m voracious. No vegetable scrap or handful of granola is safe in my path. For this reason, I tend to do a lot of “food prep” over the weekends. This way, I have a variety of ingredient staples on hand. For example: there is rarely a day when I don’t have a tupperware full of roasted sweet potatoes, a bowl of brown rice and a ziploc full of hard boiled eggs in my fridge. In case of snack-mergencies. Of course having these kinds of staples ready-to-go also helps me whip together Monday-Friday dinners in under 15 minutes.

This sweet potato and egg skillet is the kind of creation I’ll pull together when I am 90% hunger and 10% rational thought. It’s fast and easy but still healthy and satiating.

Sweet Potato and Egg Skillet

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Ingredients:

  • coconut oil
  • 1 roasted sweet potato, cubed*
  •  2 eggs
  • 1/2 head of broccoli, chopped
  • handful of kale
  • sprinkle of goat cheese (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add broccoli and sautee until bright green.
  3. Add sweet potato and smash pieces lightly with the back of a spatula.
  4. Add kale and stir in until wilted.
  5. Crack 2 eggs on top. Poke yolks with a fork and tilt skillet until egg is evenly spread around the pan.
  6. Add salt and pepper and a sprinkle of goat cheese (if using).

*If you don’t have these prepared in advance. Just preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat cubed sweet potato with coconut oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping once half way through baking, until brown and tender.

coffee, inspiration, weekends

Weekend Diversions: In search of lost down time

When you’re a working stiff like I am, weekends always feel a little bit like New Years Eve. Full of hope and promise but also painfully unrealistic expectations. My growing list of plans and projects would take the average human a year to get through, but somehow I believe that “the weekend” will imbue me with magical productive powers. That I will become a superhuman martha-stewart-meets-paris-hilton-type who can see every friend I have, check out every band worth seeing and dance all night long then wake up at 7am, make my own nut butter, go for a run and ombre dye an infinity scarf. Needless to say by the time Sunday rolls around, I often feel both spent and disappointed by all I didn’t accomplish.

This weekend was the first real spring weather we’ve had in Toronto this year and to celebrate I tried my best to spend the weekend lollygagging, sauntering & carousing…not a checklist in sight. Some highlights included…

Late night dancing at Soho House celebrating the birthday of my dearest friend, author Harriet Lye. You can read some of her writing herehere).

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Afternoon wandering with two of my favourite pals. Spent an unreasonable amount of time checking out spider plants and succulents in Roncesvalles, one of my neighborhoods to spend a weekend afternoon in Toronto.

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And (of course there is food involved) Sunday morning snacking on this vegan cinnamon bun from TBC Vegan Bakery paired with an Americano made with Dartmouth’s own Anchored Coffee.

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Do I still have a pile of laundry to do? You bet. But I’m feeling okay about that right now. 😉

 

 

inspiration, mental health

Art as Meditation / Meditations on Art

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I have known some exceptionally talented visual artists in my life. Dear friends of mine like Christel who designed my gorgeous new website, these cats, this babe, etc. etc. forever. But I am not one of them. I have other skills. I can write a lucid sentence. Hold down a steady 9 to 5. Rock red lipstick like it’s nobody’s business. But “Art” has never been my strong suit.

Nevertheless, I recently discovered that painting and drawing actually help reduce – even eliminate – my anxiety. So I’ve done my best to integrate art more fully into my life as part of my mental health regimen (something I don’t think we talk about enough). Going to the gym for an hour might help you “turn off your brain” but creating a piece of art helps you tap into it. Rather than mentally checking out, you’re actually learning more about your thoughts and feelings at a given time.

When I decide I’m going to spend a night doing something creative, I put away my cellphone, turn on some low key jams, light candles and zen the eff out. No matter you make, I guarantee you’ll feel better than a night of wine and netflix.

For those of you looking to integrate a little creativity into your life, but who don’t know where to start, these are some of the things I’ve done to dip my toe in the water:

  1. COLOURING: You laugh, but colouring for adults is coming back in a big way. Try these free printable mandala colouring books and embrace your inner hippie child.
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  2.  PHOTOGRAPHYLeave the house one day with nothing but a camera and your own eye. Be a tourist in your own town. Finding beauty in your daily surroundings is a fun challenge that leaves you appreciating the space you live in.
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  3. KNIT: Just because it’s springtime doesn’t mean you have to give up cozy handicrafts all together. Find some youtube videos like this one on basic knit stitches, and get to it. I like to buy large amounts of undyed yarn and then hand-dye my scarves at home as a cheap alternative to some of the fancy pants yarn you can buy in the stores.
  4. COLLAGE: I am really into collaging right now. I troll newspapers and magazines for images that inspire me and then see how they piece together and tell a story. Afterwards I always look at what I made and gain some insight into how I’m thinking/feeling at any given time.
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  5. PAINT: Don’t be scared, pal you got this. Painting is intimidating but it’s also tactile and immersive in a way that’s unlike anything other kind of artistic form. Drink a glass of pinot if you have to, but I recommend you give it a try.