Kitchen Experiment: Dairy Free Tuna Salad

Yesterday evening I came home to an empty house. This is a very rare occurrence for me. In fact I cannot even remember the last time I was alone for an extended period of time (other than yesterday) and that is exactly the way I like it.

When I am alone I only have 3 possible states of being: Antsy, depressed, snacky. Being antsy isn’t so terrible, sometimes it can result in uber amounts of productivity. But feeling sad and sorry for yourself is not pleasant at all. And being snacky totally defeats the purpose of all the hard work I’m doing at the gym.

Last night I was feeling antsy. I am in the market for a new pair of sunglasses so I thought about going to the store and trying some on. But the store isn’t exactly close and with no one home I’d be using public transit which is slow and frustrating. Then I tried to convince a friend to come with me (she has a car – I know I’m a terrible person), but she wasn’t up for it. So I scratched that plan and moved onto fitness!

After perusing the group exercise schedule I decided that if I had a quick dinner I could make it to the 7:30 pm BODYPUMP class. This is a weight class based on the concept of lighter weights and more reps. I decided to try it out because weights training is being hailed as the best way to get strong and lean ect. ect. But I am clueless when it comes to anything other than the treadmill so attending a class seemed like a good idea. Well let me say this, that class was a challenge but I loved it (except for the squats – nobody likes squats)! I used the lightest amount of weight possible but my body was still aching! This obviously means that I am not strong and I must continue to go to this class.

Anyway, the title of this post is Kitchen Experiment so let me get to that (finally – gosh I love to talk). As I said I needed a quick dinner: Leftovers! Except NO! The only leftovers in the fridge was pizza which is delicious but covered in cheese (which I am not allowed to eat anymore) and it is not good pre-fitness food. Eventually I decided to make a tuna salad sandwich. Normally this would mean mayonnaise and cheese and tuna, not this time, healthy Alex is here to stay. So I made a healthy, dairy free, tuna salad.

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Most exciting part?! I didn’t follow a recipe. This baby was all me. I just did what felt right. Usually this heads disastrous results but my tuna salad was a huge success! Creamy, healthy, fueling power food.

Dairy Free Tuna Salad

Ingredients

1 can of tuna

2 table spoons of olive oil

1/2 tea spoon Basil flakes

1/3 tea spoon Garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice from 1/4 slice of Lemon

1/2 an avocado

 2 slices of your choice of bread

Instructions

  1. Open your can of tuna and drain. Place in a medium sized bowl and mix using a fork.
  2. Mix in the olive oil, basil, garlic power, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. There is no need to follow the measurements exactly, adjust according to your taste buds. For a creamier tuna salad, add more olive oil.
  3. Toast your bread, I used 12 grain.
  4. Mash the avocado in a bowl using a fork. After the bread is toasted spread the avocado mash onto the toast. Pile your tuna salad on top of the avocado and enjoy!

Notes: From here you can do whatever you’d like. I added hot sauce to one of my slices and it was fantastic. Next time I am going to experiment by mixing the avocado in with the tuna. I also toyed with adding some little baby tomatoes. Also, eating the tuna on its own is an option. The opportunities are endless. In total this mean only took about 5 minutes to put together. Enjoy!


How would you dress up your dairy free tuna salad? Share in the comments!

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Kitchen Experiment: Raspberry Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

I’ve said this before and I will say it again, me and the kitchen are not good friends. Wow that rhymed! But seriously when it comes to cooking, baking and making food, I am not in my element. But that doesn’t stop me from experimenting every now and again. Sometimes my kitchen experiments are a hit (check out my awesome protein balls, or my salad in a jar trick) annnnnnd sometimes they are a big miss (learn from my guacamole disaster).

Today my kitchen experiment falls somewhere in between, it’s good but some refining is needed. So what did I attempt to make this time?! Well it’s in the title… Raspberry Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding! Please keep in mind that I am not a photographer or a food blogger and so the pictures do not do it justice. In fact the whole thing looks rather gross in the pictures. But I swear it is actually delicious!

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I follow a lot of fancy food bloggers (who are much more kitchen savvy than myself) and chia seeds are all the rage right now. They are rich in anti-oxidants and are super-duper nutritious, despite their tiny size. Because chia seeds are essentially flavourless you can add them to basically anything for added protein and fiber. Salads. Smoothies. Baked goods. Or you can make into a pudding!

Actually, I think pudding is an inaccurate description of what this is. It sort of has a jelly consistency. So I am more inclined to call it textured jell-O. Bottom line: No matter what it is called it is healthy and pretty darn good.

I’ve seen a ton of chia seed pudding recipes online but this morning I decided to wing it instead of following any one particular recipe. See the recipe below!

Raspbery Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding (textured Jell-O)

Serving Size: One

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons of Chia Seeds

3/4 cup of plain Almond Milk

1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla

1/2 a table spoon of sweetener (I used agave nectar) *optional

1 cup of frozen raspberries

Instructions:

1. Mix together the chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla, and sweetener in a small mason jar

2. Let sit, covered, in the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes

3. Add the frozen berries and let sit for an hour or so. I let mine sit in my bag while I was on my commute to work. This allowed for the berries to thaw out and for the seeds to create the jelly texture. But, you could also let it sit in the fridge, just be sure to leave it be for at least an hour.

Note: Some people prefer to have their chia pudding sit overnight but I think that might be overkill.

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I think my experiment turned out pretty well! I feel full and I it tasted good. That being said I add too much vanilla. I must have added nearly a full table spoon which made the vanilla flavour very very overwhelming. I adjusted the measurement in the recipe above. I also think other frozen berries would work out quite nicely. Next time I think I’d like to add some chocolate chips to the experiment. Just for kicks!

Have you ever tried chia seed pudding? How did yours turn out? Share in the comments!

PS. Have you seen the google image today?! It is st. Patrick’s day themed! Adorable!

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Where’s the Cheese?!?!

About a month a go I was experiencing some pretty strange health things and I bet you have all be dying to know what came of that. Let’s be real, you don’t really care, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

Gallstones

Yup. I have 4 little stones just chillin in my gallbladder. For those of you who do not know what gallstones are, click the link above to visit Wikipedia. In lamest terms they are annoying painful things built by unhealthy habits and a poor genetic disposition.

I found out about the stones after seeing a walk-in clinic doctor. He sent me to have an ultra sound done and there they were. The walk-in clinic doctor has said that my original pain happened because I was passing a stone through my intestinal tract. ew. But the remaining stones are small and until they get bigger he isn’t going to do anything. In other words, you aren’t sick enough yet. To quote him, “eventually the stones will grow in size and or number and at that point we will do surgery to remove your gallbladder”. Thanks, but no thanks, doc.

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Last week while at the chiropractor I briefly mentioned the aforementioned information. He said, well there is a method you can do at home, a series of stretches, that will force you to pass the remaining stones. It will be painful but then they will be out of your system, no surgery. Better but still not ideal because the pain is real when your passing…

So a friend suggested I see a naturopath. This is a fancy word for all natural remedy doctor. The woman who treated me was a super nice lady. She put a little machine around my neck and based on my pulse and the machine readings she was able to judge the health of my organs. Because #science. Her findings supported my imaging results. My gallbladder is in a bad way. So she has given me some drops to take 3 times a day, another concoction of sorts to drink once a day and some  guidelines for my diet…

Eliminate

Deep fried foods

Pork

Creamy diary products

Cheese

For the most part this is still a very open and non-restrictive diet. Really, it is mostly not a big deal. I don’t eat too much deep fried food to begin with, so that’s just fine. The only pork I eat is bacon, bye bye turkey bacon clubs. My tea will miss a splash of milk but herbal teas are all the rage anyway.

But cheese!?

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I cannot be deprived of the greatest gift known to human kind! Creamy and delicious. Tastes good in both a melted and solid state! Good on chips, crackers, sandwiches and so much more! Excellent for pairing with wine! Anything, take anything, just not my cheese. 

The struggle is real…

What food can you not stand the thought of living without? Share in the comments!

You Can’t Stop the Beats

A few weeks ago I was in a health rut. In addition to actually being sick, I had no desire to work out or to eat well. That caught up with me faster than I imagined and I was not feeling so hot. So I chucked the junk, put my running shoes on and started fresh. I’ve come to realize that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to health and fitness. More often than not I talk myself out of the last mile or the last set. “I’ve come this far… and that’s good enough” is what I tell myself. Therefore I’ve never reached my true potential, I’ve never pushed myself to my limit and I’ve never seen real results. That is about to change.

So, how do I plan on making this change?

Step one is simply acknowledging that my will power is lacking and now that I am conscious of that fact I will fight back when the voice inside my head says “that’s good enough”.

Step two is guidance. If I could afford a personal trainer I would get one but I don’t have that kind of dough. So I downloaded an app called Couch to 5k. Seeing as I am running a 5k in the spring I figured it would be a good idea if I got myself a virtual training program to help me reach my goal.  The program is designed for beginner runners, like myself. Using walk/jog intervals it gets you in shape to run a 5k over the course of 10 weeks. I’m on week 2 and so far so good!

Step three is music! My iPod is bursting with chill, indie folk music and easy going pop. It’s fun, it’s carefree, it’s beautiful, it’s relaxing. It’s so not good for working out. At other time of the day you wouldn’t catch me listening to electronic dance music but I’m pretty sure those top forty remixes were made for runners. They keep a constant beat, they are fast and they are usually pretty long. Essentially, they are the perfect accompaniment to the sound of my feet hitting the belt of the treadmill.

So I’m in the process of creating the ultimate 5k playlist. Starting with Zedd’s latest single I Want You To Know which features Selena Gomez. Confession time: I love Selena Gomez. I thought she was the coolest when she was playing Alex on Wizards of Waverly Place and my opinion of her hasn’t changed since. The song which was released on Monday February 23rd is the perfect candidate for my running playlist. The lyrics are fun and the beats are fast. This song is going to keep me going kilometer after kilometer. Take a listen!

What song is on our running playlist? Share in the comments!

Salad in a Jar

This is revolutionary. Seriously, lunch at the office just got a whole lot healthier.

Do you ever stand in front of your open fridge thinking “I should have a healthy salad for lunch… but the lettuce leaves will be all wilted from the dressing by lunch. ew. I’ll just take this Tupperware container filled with spaghetti instead…” Because I do. A lot.

Sometimes preparing a salad seems like a lot of work in the morning and its especially disappointing when you do go to all that work and end up eating a soggy, wilted salad at lunch time. So more often than not I eat the left over pasta. Maybe it’s because I live with Italians but there is almost always some left over pasta in the fridge.

I had resolved to a lifetime of timmy’s bagels and wilted salad when pinterest helped me to stumble across this gem of an image.

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Found on Scholastic.com

There you have it folks, salad in a damn jar. If you’re still not sure why this is such a big deal, let me tell you. The dressing goes in first and therefore sits on the bottom of the jar. The hearty bits go in second, heavy veggies and such. The lighter bits or softer veggies, nuts, seeds, cheeses, ect. go in after that. Finally, the lettuce goes on top. Pack the lettuce in there real tight. If there is some extra space fold up some paper towel and pop it in the top before you put on the lid (this helps absorb extra moisture). Now all you need to do is keep that jar up straight and your lettuce wont wilt. I’m sorry, did yo get that? YOUR LETTUCE WONT WILT!!!

Putting everything in an airtight jar keeps it fresh and wilt free. As I said earlier, revolutionary. Then when you get to work dump the contents of your jar into a bowl and enjoy! I’ve had 3 jar salads this week, each with different veggies and dressings. I prefer to use smaller jars and bring something else as well, soup or a sandwich or something. But you could always use a bigger jar and have a bigger salad. The options are endless.

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What do you like to put in your salad? Share in the comments!

I fell over board…

I fell over board and it was wonderful, at first. The water was salty and warm and it felt like freedom. But as I was splashing around in the waves I didn’t realize that the boat had sailed away. All of a sudden I felt myself being sucked downward by the violent, heavy water. No boat, no life jacket, just a never ending ocean and my will power to survive.


That story is a metaphor. I did not literally fall over board but figuratively, I most definitely did. The boat in this particular metaphor is a a healthy, active lifestyle. I am embarrassed to admit this because I was doing so well with post holiday fitness and healthy eating, I dropped a few pounds and I was feeling great in my own skin. And then I fell over board, let me share my cautionary tale.

At first I had an excuse. Remember my diaphragm situation? After my hospital visit I took a few days off from exercise to rest the muscle. Turns out that was a complete waste of time because 5 lazy days later I once again found myself on the floor (this time in the comfort of my own home) in excruciating pain. I had done nothing to bring on a diaphragm spasm so naturally I was very confused. I decided to pay another visit to the doctors. After being poked and prodded this new Doc determined that I was miss diagnosed and my diaphragm was fine. Instead, new Doc was concerned it might be my liver or gall bladder… Which is, ya know, just dandy. So he sent me for some tests, ultrasounds and blood tests and the like. The upside to Canadian health care is that it is free, the down side is that it can take a lot of time. So a full week later I got the tests done and now here I am still waiting for the results. Good news is I haven’t had any pain in a while, but I still want to know what the results are because what if its something serious that I need to know about. You never know! Anyway, back to my excuse… Since I’ve had no clue why I was experiencing pain or what was causing it I decided to steering clear of exercise for the time being.

In the midst of all of this “what is going on with my body” drama, I got my lovely monthly gift from mother nature… if you know what I mean. Great timing body, way to go. And I don’t know about you, but time of the month Alex loves to snack! A lot! One small bag of candy can’t hurt, right. WRONG! It sent me on a downward spiral of chips, chocolate and sugary sweets. At first it was wonderful. Just like in the metaphor, except replace splashing in waves with gorging on snacks.

Now it’s been nearly three weeks of no exercise and lots of bad food in even worse amounts. Last night I had that moment where I realized that the boat was gone. I had eaten a pizza pocket for lunch, soup for a late snack, then dinner, and then I had handfuls of chocolate covered raisins, and then I ate almost a whole bag of tostitos chips. When I finally stopped eating I felt so sick to my stomach, I wanted to vomit. It was one of the most terrible feelings, being literally stuffed. I don’t want to feel like that ever again! I was just getting into some good habits with the almost daily exercise and the smoothies. I want to get back to that place. No, I need to get back to that place because staying here is not an option.

It’s time to sink or swim and I am swimming for dear life!

Green Smoothie Challenge Update

I may have underestimated the difficulty of this challenge. Actually, difficulty is the wrong word, that implies that this is hard when in reality its just kind of annoying. I’m still sticking it out, I haven’t given up yet, but I’ve got some serious kinks to work out.

On the first day I felt great! Lots of energy and I was super busy so I didn’t notice any hunger pangs. By the end of day one I thought I was queen of the smoothie kingdom… I was wrong.

Day two was tough, I drank my smoothie at 7 am for breakfast. By 9:30 am I was starving. I couldn’t concentrate on my work. I could barely keep my eyes open and I was so hungry! I ended up eating my lunch at 10:30 am and then I was starving again well before I got home for dinner. Moral of the story, pack snacks!

I ran into some trouble on day threewell I suppose it is more honest to say that I was an idiot… I forgot to take my smoothie out of the freezer the night before, thus it was solid as a rock on Tuesday morning. So I had some toast and brought the smoothie with me, it took 8 hours to thaw out and I ended up drinking around dinner time. But let me tell you, a smoothie at dinner time is extremely unsatisfying. It is like waking up on Christmas morning to find that Santa didn’t come. Anyway, I wont be making that mistake again.

When I took my smoothie out of the fridge on day four it was still half frozen, which was annoying at first but it ended up being incredibly convenient. As it forced me to drink the smoothie really slowly as it thawed out. This mean’t that I wasn’t starving by 10 am, and I was able to eat the rest of my meals at a normal time. wooo!

On day five I tried out a new smoothie recipe: I used 2 cups of spinach, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of pineapple, 1 banana and 1 apple. The taste was great! But the texture was weird, very grainy. I think this was because the apple didn’t break down enough. But hey, there are worse things. 

I fell off the wagon on day sixyup, you heard correctly. I didn’t have a green smoothie on Friday. Let me explain, after vowing not to forget my smoothie in the freezer… I forgot my smoothie in the freezer. Instead I had a protein powder shake because I had the day off and I made plans to go to the gym. I attended a fantastic hot yoga class, it really worked my whole body. Then my mum and I ran errands together. By the time I got home I had completely forgotten about my smoothie, instead I prepped for my wild rager of a Christmas party and then I partied with my friends.

This little bump in the road ended up being a good thing because on day seven I needed all the nourishment that I could get. I was seriously hungover and I had a big day ahead of me, so at 6:15 am I chugged back my entire green smoothie in just over a minute. I’m pretty sure it is the one and only reason I survived the remainder of the day. Thank you green smoothie gods.

It was definitely a week filled with bumps and hiccups but I think it has been worth it. I don’t know that I’ve lost any weight yet but I feel pretty good. More energized and just healthier in general. As long as I remember to take the smoothies out of the freezer and I can manage the hunger pangs then I think I’ll be able to make it through the remaining 23 days with no problems. Check back in a week for more details.

Share in the comments: Got any green smoothie advice for me? 

The Green Smoothie Challenge: I’m All In.

So, over the past month and a half I’ve been making a decent effort to “get into shape”. I generally go to the gym 4 times a week and I eat alright. So far my legs have definitely slimmed down but not significantly, I also haven’t dropped a single pound. Which is frustrating. I know people say that muscle weighs more than fat ect. But common body, not even one pound?!

I think the issue is my eating habits. Don’t get me wrong I love me some veggies but I also love pasta and bread and cheese and sugar. In addition, the veggies I eat are always cooked, I can’t remember the last time I ate raw veggies. So this morning I had an epiphany: that’s what needs to change. I need more raw and more green. Realistically overhauling my diet at this time of year is virtually impossible. So I’m not going to do that. I’m not cutting out life’s pleasures at christmas time. Instead I am going to add raw and green to my diet by taking the Green Smoothie Challenge!

Here is how it works. Drink 1 green smoothie every day. It is that easy.

Nothing else has to change. Drink your smoothie and eat normally. If there are cookies at the staff christmas party, have a cookie. If mom makes pasta for dinner, eat the pasta. The idea here is not to cut anything out but to add goodness. Green smoothies are packed with vitamins, water and all things wonderful. So by adding a green smoothie to your daily routine you are just adding extra goodness.

My plan is to have a green smoothie everyday for breakfast. Since I am always super rushed in the morning it is easier for me to commit to this if I prepare ahead of time. So today I spent half an hour blending for the week. All the smoothies were then poured into Mason Jars and placed in the freezer. The night before I’ll move one to the fridge and it will be all ready to drink when I wake up!

So what exactly is a green smoothie? Essentially it is a blended mixture that is one part green, one part liquid, and one part fruit. Check out this fantastic how to guide from simplegreensmoothies.com.

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The green smoothie that I made for myself today and for the rest of this week is a tropical flavour inspired smoothie:

2 Cups Spinach

2 Cups water

1 Cup Mango

1 Cup Pineapple

2 Bananas

IMG_0066.JPGFor the smoothest consistency blend your water and spinach first and then add your fruits. If you are nervous about drinking spinach, don’t be. The flavour from the fruits completely counter act the taste of the spinach and the colour of these things are stunning.

I am so excited to start and share this journey. Check back for more updates on my Green Smoothie Challenge.

Share in the comments. Are you interested in taking part in the Green Smoothie Challenge?! What is your favourite green smoothie combination?

The Motivation Secret

Are you the type of person who says “I really want to get fit” and then opens a bag of chips? Are you the type of person who goes for a run three days in a row and then takes three weeks off? Are you the type of person who gets a gym membership but only goes there to use the massage chairs?…

Because I am used to be. Getting into fitness and sticking with it is one hell of an uphill battle but I have found the secret to keeping up the motivation and today I feel like sharing.

First, a short history of my weight and workout woes.

  • When I was in high school I did a lot of extra curricular activities. Dance = 5 hours a week, choir = 8 hours a week, vocal lessons = 2 hours a week, skiing lessons = 3 hours a week, ect. You get the picture, I was really active and I didn’t sleep much, thus I was exceptionally thin and I didn’t even try. #highschool

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  • When I entered university I discovered alcohol in a big way, party life was the life for me. I also discovered that I can’t really cook anything other than pasta. mmm carbs.  I was no longer thin but I definitely was not fat either. Essentially the sugar content in the booze and all those carbs helped me to become a woman with real curves and I was more than okay with that. #boobs
  • In third year I was cast as the lead in a musical production of Legally Blonde. So I had to get whipped into shape. I ran a lot. Like a lot, a lot. And it payed off. Seriously, look at my legs… #ellewoods

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  • But once the show was over I quickly reverted back to my binge drinking and pasta eating ways. This time it hit me hard. I gained a lot of weight. I also started dating my super handsome, professionally trained chef, Italian boyfriend. Which meant a lot of delicious gourmet food made with lots of carbs and butter. mmmmm butter. #butter

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  • This is a recent picture of Lucas, our friend Taylor and I. Lucas (right, in the dark gray suit) is the cute cook boyfriend that I told you about earlier. And here is the thing, I am not fat by any means but for the first time in my whole life I was uncomfortable in my own skin. Clothes on, isn’t so bad. I can dress myself well. I love baggy sweaters! But I did not feel like I looked good naked. Before you can ask, the answer is no, I will not share a picture of that. This is a PG rated blog. Commmmon. But seriously, I’m not looking for compliments here. These are real feelings, people!
  • End of the story, in September I realized that I can’t keep hating what I see every time I look in the mirror. So I bit the bullet and got a gym membership at GoodLife Fitness.

Okay, that wasn’t exactly what one might call a short history, but hey, now you know some back story. Anywhoo, on to the part that you have been waiting for… The Motivation Secret! 

Don’t get bored. 

It is that simple. When I was running every day for the my part in Legally Blonde I listened to an audio recording of the show on my iPod while I ran. This actually allowed me to trick myself into believing that I liked running. HA! I hate running. I find it incredibly monotonous. But when I was using my brain to listen my lines I was able to run/walk/jog 4 miles easily.

For some people music is enough to push them through a work out. If that is the case for you then create a good playlist and get your butt moving. There is a great website called jogtunes. You can select the amount of beats per minute (ie. your speed) and your favourite music genre and it will generate a list for you. This is helpful because then your pace can remain constant even when the song changes.

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Personally, music doesn’t keep me entertained enough when I am at the gym. So how to I avoid gym boredom? I do everything. Literally everything. Every time I go (which is approx 4 to 5 times a week) I try something new; classes, weight machines, treadmill, bike, free weight pinterest workouts, ect. I love doing classes because there are so many options. So far I have tried bodypump (it is a weight class), bodystep (leg focused cardio), bodycombat (arm focused cardio), newbody (dance cardio), bodyflow (yoga/ti chi/pilates), and hot yoga.

Obviously there is repetition from  week to week but I find that even doing something different from one day to the next keeps things interesting enough that I want to keep going back. Also, rumor has it always sticking to the same workout doesn’t work in the long run. Eventually your body gets used to the motions and it stops being challenged. So switching up your workout will mean you are constantly challenging your whole body.

So what is your trick to staying motivated at the gym?