Feeling Sluggish? Learn how you can you eat for energy…

Do you ever have those mornings where you feel tired, sloth-like, have a lack of motivation, and are crying for energy? (I thought this photo of the pup was a great way to demonstrate that feeling).  Trust. I think we have all been there. So how can we get out of that tired rut?

tired-pup

Diet plays such an important role in our activities of daily living (so does rest). If you are not eating well, choosing the wrong foods, and not getting enough sleep…. you are going to crash and you are going to stay in that rut until you kick those bad habits.

Here are a few tips to help boost you energy level, motivation, and maybe athletic performance.

  • Never skip a meal: listen to your body. Food is fuel. Ensure that you are eating well balanced meals throughout the day with a good balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Carbohydrates are our bodies primary source of fuel make sure to choose nutrient dense complex carbs such as, quinoa, nut/seed crackers, large flake oats/steel cut oats, sweet potatoes,lentils/beans. These items will keep your blood sugar stable, leaving you satisfied longer.
  • Always stay hydrated! Many of us are not consuming enough fluids on a daily basis. Adults are required to consume a minimum of 2.7L of fluids per day. Remember, to replace fluids after a workout as well. If you way yourself before a workout and after a workout, the weight lost is the weight you have lost in sweat. REPLENISH!
  • Choose high iron foods: Iron is crucial for oxygen transport throughout the body to our muscles and tissues (aka we need it for ENERGY). Choose foods such as, spinach, kale, dried beans, peas, lentils, cream of wheat, oatmeal, and red meat.
  • Choose foods high in B vitamins: B vitamins (especially Thiamin, Riboflavin, and Niacin) play an important role in helping with energy production in our bodies. Foods  to choose for these vitamins include: whole grains, dried beans, eggs, nuts & seeds, mushrooms, and soybeans.
  • Avoid highly processed foods: Avoiding fast food & junk food can help keep your blood sugars balanced and at a healthy equilibrium. These foods tend to be high in unhealthy fats and packed with refined sugars (that’s why they are so addictive). High fat foods tend to make us feel sluggish. High sugar foods cause a quick spike of energy (due to a fast rise in our blood glucose) followed by a quick drop. This effect makes us feel tired and hungry for more unhealthy treats!

Vegan/Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

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This recipe is warm and filling for those cool nights ahead of us. It is packed with various sources of plant-based proteins: quinoa, red kidney beans, chickpeas, and textured vegetable protein (TVP). This recipe also passed the test with my dad (a meat-eater)… he absolutely loved it! I calculated the nutrition facts based on 12 servings and you will get ~170 calories per serving/bowl.

You can also make this recipe not vegetarian by removing the TVP and swapping for ground chicken or turkey. Why not ground beef? Ground beef is higher in saturated fats and calories and I do not consider this a lean source of protein. However, everything in moderation is key to a healthy lifestyle! 

Note: If you are swapping to add ground meat to your chili instead of plant-based proteins, cook in a skillet first and then add into the large pot when it in fully cooked. Also, you may need to add a bit extra broth so that it does not get way too chunky.

What you will need: (Serves ~12-14 bowls)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1 large yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
  • 1.5 cups sliced mushrooms

*Saute the above ingredients first.

  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (500 mL)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp TVP (found at bulk barn)
  • 1.5 cup chickpeas
  • 2 cups red kidney beans
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn niblets
  • 3.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Ground sea salt to taste
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Saute the top bundle of vegetable ingredients in a skillet on medium-high heat first (with regular mixing).
  2. While your vegetables are cooking, prepare a large pot. Add you tomatoes, veg broth, uncooked quinoa, and TVP. Let this sit on medium heat to begin to cook the quinoa and TVP.
  3. After ~10-12 minutes of sauteeing of the vegetables, when they are finished, you can add them to the large pot. Stir in with the other ingredients.
  4. Add in the rest of your seasonings and beans to the large pot.
  5. Lower the burner temperature to low after ~10 more minutes of cooking everything together.
  6. Allow the chili to simmer for at least an hour to bring all the flavours out.
  7. You can eat immediately, store in the refrigerator or freezer for later consumption. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts per serving (based on 12 servings): 170 calories, 3.9g fat, 25g carbohydrate, 8g protein. 

 

 

Dark Chocolate Almond Oat Bark (Vegan + Gluten Free)

vegan dark chocolate oat almond

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup packed/pitted dates, soften for 40 secs
  • 1/3 cup cashew milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • 2 tbsp natural almond butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ~3/4 cup dark chocolate melting wafers

Combine all ingredients except the dark chocolate in a Vitamix or food processor. Blend until evenly mixed. Spread into the bottom of a dish line with parchment paper. Spread it about 1/2 an inch thick. Put the dish in the freezer until bottom layer has hardened. 

Melt dark chocolate (~3/4 cup dark chocolate melting wafers). Remove the dish from the freezer. Spread dark chocolate on top. Put back in the freezer. When the dark chocolate has hardened they are ready to eat! 

Store in the freezer. Enjoy 🙂

Cocoa Banana Muffins (Gluten-Free)

Good morning friends! Happy Tuesday 🙂 We had so many over-ripe bananas at our house that needed to be used up… so I decided to create a new banana muffin recipe. This recipe is gluten-free and I use the wonderful corn flour by One Degree Organics to do so. You can find their flours and products at many grocery stores in the natural food section. Additionally, bulk barn carries a lot of their products.

These muffins are gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. 90 calories per muffins made of all delicious and nutritious ingredients! 

Cocoa Banana Mufins

Ingredients: (makes ~9 muffins)

  • 4 small bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup corn flour (One Degree Organics corn flour)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp large flake oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • ground sea salt
  • dark chocolate chips as desired

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix together.
  3. Add in wet ingredients one at a time, with regular mixing.
  4. Fold in the dark chocolate chips when all mixing of ingredients is complete.
  5. Using a spoon, scoop batter into paper muffin cups lined in a muffin tin. If you do not have muffin cups, I advise you use butter, spray, or a type of oil on the muffin tin so that these do not stick.
  6. Bake for ~18-20 minutes. Allow to cool. Enjoy 🙂

I like to store ours in the fridge. However, you can keep them on the counter. Whatever you like most! 🙂

Nutrition Facts per muffin: 90 calories, 3.5g fat, 15.9g carbs, 1.6g protein

 

Low-Cal Mini Pizza Crusts (Gluten-Free)

I created this recipe looking for a healthy alternative to pizza crust. You can make this crust as mini individual pizza crusts, or make one large pizza crust. I thought the mini pizzas was a fun idea so that if people wanted to created their own pizza and toppings it could be done! This crust is high in protein and low in cals.

beet mini pizzas

Nutrition Facts Per 1 Mini Crust (Makes 5):  Calories: 61 calories Fat: 0.9g Carbs: 5.9g Protein:7.5g

What you will need (makes 5 mini-crusts):

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt protein-powder from Genuine Health.
  • 1/2 a large head of cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Touch of ground sea salt
  • Touch of ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Steam your cauliflower until soft in a heat safe, sealed container for ~5 minutes in the microwave with  3 tbsp water.
  2. When cauliflower is cooked, using a food processor or blender, blend the cauliflower until it becomes a fine consistency (no chunks).
  3. When the cauliflower is fully processed, combine in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Regularly mix as adding ingredients to ensure proper distribution.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  5. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking. Mold your mixture into small pizza crust rounds and place on the baking sheet.
  6. When the oven is ready, bake on one side for ~15 minutes, gently flip the crusts to toast the alternative side for ~15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes and then begin to add your toppings as desired. Once you have completed your toppings, put the pizzas back in the oven.
  8. Remember: this pizza crust is made from cauliflower and may apart a lot more easily than regular crust. You may not be able to pick it up however, eating it with a fork and a knife isn’t so bad. It still tastes GREAT!

I topped my pizzas with roasted beets, roasted garlic, arugula, goat cheese, olive oil, black pepper. One of my favourite food combinations 🙂 

 

 

Salmon Skewers

Want a quick, easy, and HEALTHY bbq meal? Salmon a lean source of protein, high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in heart health.

Since summer is here, we are always looking for new ways to use the BBQ at dinner time. These salmon skewers can be made on the bbq or even in the oven if you do not have one.

Salmon Skewer 2

What you will need: 

  • 1 large salmon fillet (I usually get my salmon from costco.. or you can buy multiple smaller salmon fillets at your local grocery store. However, try to buy a thicker one for easier “skewer-ing”.)
  • 3-4 lemons, slices thinly into large coin shapes.
    Olive oil to drizzle.
  • Whatever spices you may like. I used a touch of paprika, chili powder, cracked ground pepper, cajun, and garlic powder.

Directions:
1. Create your skewers first using double skewers as seen in the picture. In between each salmon piece, place a folded lemon on the skewer.
2. Preheat the barbeque or oven while you begin to spice your skewers.
3. Drizzle the skewers with olive oil and add your desired spices.
4. BBQ or bake your skewers wrapped in tinfoil drizzled with olive oil. This will help to avoid sticking to the grill or loss of salmon.
5. Remove from the grill/oven after ~15-25 minutes. When your fish fillet begins to flake easily when touched with a knife or fork it is cooked and ready!
6. ENJOY!

I love to pair my grilled salmon with grilled asparagus. Especially local fresh Ontario asparagus.

Salmon Skewer1

Cake Batter Protein Bites (No-Bake)

Cake Batter Protein Bites

It’s not my birthday… or anyone’s birthday that I know of today… BUT cake batter never gets old. These little guys are a healthier swap for my favourite childhood activity….eating the raw cake batter.. AH!!! They are super easy to make and are no-bake. 

Ingredients (makes ~16 protein balls): 

  • 2 1/2 scoops Genuine Health Vanilla Protein Powder (THIS brand gives it the real good cake batter flavour.. however you can use other vanilla protein powders as well.)
  • 1 1/2 cup Unsweetened Silk Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 2 tbsp quick oats (I used Hilray Gluten-Free Oats)
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tbsp natural almond butter, softened
  • 6 dates, pitted and mashed (microwave with 1 tbsp water for 40 seconds to soften and mash with a fork to make a paste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of ground sea salt (to taste)
  • 2 packets of stevia (you can swap this for 1 tbsp honey)
  • Add sprinkles as desired.
  • Directions: Microwave the dates with 1 tbsp of water for 40 seconds to soften them. This will make it easier to mash them into a paste. When they are done and fully mashed, begin to combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl except the sprinkles. Once all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together, fold in the sprinkles. Roll into bite-sized balls and store in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Enjoy chilled! 🙂

Nutrition Information (per 1 bite sized ball): 70 calories per ball, 4g fat, 5g carbs, 4g protein  

Cake Batter Protein Bites2