Get Your Kitchen in Order – Pantry Staples

  Photo by    Aaron Huber    on    Unsplash

Photo by  Aaron Huber  on  Unsplash

So you’ve successfully cleaned out your pantry! Maybe it’s looking a little bit empty now? Not to worry, there are plenty of healthful foods I can recommend to stock it up! 

Of course, this isn’t everything I keep in my kitchen, but the real basics that I think everyone can benefit from having around to make healthy eating as easy as possible.

Healthy fats / oils

During your clean-out you should have gotten rid of any junky fats and oils that are best not to be consumed.  Some of the staple, healthy alternatives you should stock instead are:

  • Coconut oil

  • Butter or ghee

  • Avocado oil

  • Extra virgin olive oil (mainly for dressings & cold use)

Nuts & Seeds

Having some different nuts and seeds in the cupboard is perfect for an easy snack or as a topping for sweet or savory dishes! Plus, the nut or seed butters from these sources are great in smoothies or spread on some apple or banana pieces for a delicious snack! Here are some basic suggestions to stock up on, I would suggest picking a couple types of nuts and a couple types of seeds to get you started.

  • Almonds (almond butter is my absolute favourite)

  • Brazil nuts

  • Cashews

  • Hazelnuts

  • Pecans

  • Walnuts

  • Chia seeds (check out this chia seed pudding recipe!)

  • Flaxseeds (I often add this to smoothies or on top of overnight oats!)

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Sesame seeds

  • Sunflower seeds

  Photo by    Maddi Bazzocco    on    Unsplash

Photo by  Maddi Bazzocco  on  Unsplash

Sweeteners

A lot of “healthier” versions of sweet treats will use natural sweeteners in the place of traditional white or brown sugar. Just remember that it’s all still sugar so keep moderation in mind!

  • Coconut sugar (not a must, but better for baked goods where a liquid sweetener might alter the structure)

  • Honey

  • Maple Syrup

Grains & Legumes/Lentils

These aren’t articles I personally consume too often, but they are in general great items to have on stock for those days you accidentally find yourself with an empty fridge!

  • Chickpeas

  • Gluten-free or lentil-based pasta

  • Kidney beans

  • Oats

  • Quinoa

  • Rice

Condiments

Take care when purchasing ready-made condiments as many will contain additives, sugar, and/or junky fats. If you can, try and make them at home yourself! For many things, I tend to use a full-fat Greek yogurt as a mayonnaise replacement; it’s just as delicious and so easy! (Check out this curry yogurt dipping sauce.) These are items I would recommend stocking to make creating your own dressings as easy as possible:

  • Apple cider vinegar (try to find one with the mother in the bottle)

  • Balsamic vinegar (mix with olive oil for an easy salad dressing)

  • Coconut aminos (a soy sauce alternative, or else a low-sodium, gluten-free soy sauce)

  • Dijon mustard

  • Greek full-fat yogurt

  • Mustard 

  • Tahini (seed butter made from sesame seeds)

Fermented foods

These guys are so important for feeding those incredible gut bacteria! Try and have a serving of some sort of fermented food once a day (if you’re feeling digestive discomfort afterwards definitely scale back and get in touch with a nutrition professional). Pick one or two from this list to try out and alternate sources occasionally.

  • Full-fat yogurt

  • Kefir

  • Kimchi

  • Kombucha

  • Miso

  • Pickles

  • Sauerkraut

  • Tempeh

  Photo by    Calum Lewis    on    Unsplash

Photo by  Calum Lewis  on  Unsplash

Spices & herbs

There are so many different spices and herbs you could choose to stock, and probably you already have some of these in your cupboard. These guys are what can really make food exciting and completely elevate your dish. Here are some common ones to give you inspiration when stocking up:

  • Basil

  • Black pepper

  • Cardamom

  • Cinnamon

  • Cloves

  • Cumin

  • Garlic powder

  • Ginger

  • Nutmeg

  • Onion powder

  • Oregano

  • Paprika

  • Parsley

  • Rosemary

  • Sage

  • Sea salt (way more minerals than the standard table salt!)

  • Thyme

  • Turmeric

Other staples

  • Canned fish (anchovies, sardines, salmon, tuna) – make sure they are canned in water or olive oil without additives

  • Canned or frozen vegetables – check the ingredients for any additives

  • Non-dairy milks – coconut & almond are my favourites, again check the ingredients list

That’s it for my pantry staples! Hopefully this list will give you a good start on getting stocked up and ready for easy, healthy eating.

Get Your Kitchen in Order – the Pantry Clean-Out

  Photo by    Toa Heftiba    on    Unsplash

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

One of the keys to successfully maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is to plan and be prepared. It’s a lot easier to eat healthfully if your kitchen is only stocked with healthy, nourishing foods! In this new series, I’ll be covering tips and tricks in the kitchen to not only help you clean out your pantry and restock your kitchen, but how to store different foods, keep grocery costs in check, and cut down on waste!

Planning the clean-out

Naturally, the first step is cleaning out the cupboards! However, before you get started, think about the type of clean-out you are going to do. Who is in your household? If it’s just you, then you’ve got it easy! But if you live with others, like a partner or children, will they be making these changes alongside you, or do you need to keep some of these food products for them? If you need to keep some things for them, then consider where in the kitchen you can store these foods separately from the others.

What to do with the purged products

There’s a difference between the foods you should be absolutely getting rid of and the foods that might not be ideal but you’d like to have occasionally in moderation.

If you’re getting rid of it completely, and it’s not expired, think about either donating it to a food bank, or perhaps gifting it to someone who still eats those products. If it needs to go in the bin, just make sure you’re cleaning out containers and recycling or even composting whatever is possible! (And remember that fats / oils should not be going down the sink.)

For foods that you would like to keep around for occasional consumption, think about storing them in a less convenient place in the kitchen. If you don’t see them as frequently, or it’s not as easy to access them, it could help you with moderation.

It’s important to self-reflect on these items before deciding what to keep. Are you able to moderate certain foods, or is it maybe easier for you to abstain entirely? Habits expert Gretchin Rubin discussed in her book, Better than Before, that some people lean more towards moderation and others towards abstaining – and it can be different depending on what it is that you are talking about.

  Photo by    Ehud Neuhaus    on    Unsplash

Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

The clean-out

1.     Check expiration dates for both perishables and non-perishables and ditch everything that’s gone over.

2.     Check the ingredients lists

Look for added sugars, preservatives, or junky fats that are all best avoided. It’s your call whether to keep or purge, but for a product you use often it’s probably best to ditch it and find a better solution. (Check out this blog post to read more on healthy vs. junky fats.) Google additives that you don’t recognize to see exactly what they are – expand your food IQ!

3.     Get rid of any processed vegetable oils

This means oils like corn, soybean, canola / rapeseed, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, grapeseed, palm kernel oil, and peanut oil, along with the very imprecisely name “vegetable oil”. If you have any butter substitutes that are made with these oils you should also ditch them as well. (Check out this blog post to read more on healthy vs. junky fats.) 

4.     Check your nuts & seeds

Nuts & seeds contain fats that are quite delicate and can spoil fairly easily. In general, we tend to keep these ingredients around longer than we should, so if something has been gathering dust in the cupboard then now is the time to toss it. 

5.     Check your spice cupboard

Spices & herbs can also expire and go off. Take a look at any expiration dates and give them a shake to see if they haven’t clumped up from moisture. Check any blends to be sure that the only ingredients are spices and herbs and not added preservatives.

That’s it for your kitchen clean up! Next up will be stocking your pantry with all the essentials.

Healthy Travel Tips – Road Trip

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

Even though health and nutrition is my passion, travel has always been up there as my number one. Discovering new places, cultures, and food just fills me with energy and inspiration, whether its a one-day city trip, a long weekend away, or a multi-week holiday somewhere exotic!

Over the years I’ve developed some helpful tips and habits for trip planning and travel itself to make it as enjoyable as possible while still staying healthy and feeling my best. I hope this mini series of healthy travel posts can give you some insights and inspiration for your next journey!

Check out all the posts in the series here!

Healthy Travel Tips – Road Trip

Road trips are probably the easiest travel type to plan in a healthful way, because you have the freedom to bring along much more food than any other travel type. If you’re going on a road trip, but have to take a flight first, some of the items below you could still bring but I would then recommend making a local grocery store one of your first stops to load up on the rest!

Be prepared – things to pack:

Water – hydration is key! Especially if you’re spending a long period of time in the car, it can be quite drying to your system. Plus, more water means more pitstops, which might seem negative but you need those breaks to move your body after long hours sitting! Just make sure you are using a glass or metal water bottle. If you do have plastic water bottles never leave them in the car – the heat causes the plastics to leech into your water.

Supplements & medications – naturally make sure you bring any supplements you take or medication you might need. There is nothing worse than feeling unwell while travelling, and you don’t want to lose any of that exploring time!

Tea & coffee – I definitely prefer travelling with my own tea and coffee, since you never know what you might get at hotels or AirBnbs. If you suffer from car sickness (like I do), be sure to bring some ginger tea along to help settle your stomach. In addition a good thermos to take it on the road, and a small coffee filter means all you need is hot water to make your brew!

Easy breakfast bits – Bring some chia seeds and drink-box sized cartons of non-dairy milk to easy make a chia seed pudding, plus the small cartons are easier to store in mini-fridges if you don’t have a full size fridge. You could do the same thing with oats, making overnight oats in your fridge. You can also bring other nuts and seeds and granola to toss on top, or have with some yogurt that you pick up on the way.

Fruit – The easiest thing to toss in your bag! Bring along whatever snack fruit you fancy, but bananas, apples, oranges, and pears all work well and can also be easily mixed into your breakfast bowl. Grapes are another good one and nice to snack on during your long drives.

Avocados – An easy, nutrient dense snack while on the go. Eat it on its own, with some fruit, or put it on top of a boring pitstop meal for extra nutrition!

Nutrient-dense meal – On your first day out, you still have the luxury of bringing along a full meal. Pack it full with healthy fats, protein, and veggies to keep you full on the journey and help stop mindless snacking. Use a nice big glass container and then you’ll have it handy to re-use throughout your trip (restaurant leftovers, more on-the-go meals, etc.).

Tinned fish – Bringing along some tinned salmon, anchovies, or sardines, is a great way to get a good dose of healthy fats and lots of vitamins and minerals. Look for fish canned in water or olive oil – avoid those junky vegetable fats. It’s probably best to eat these during a pitstop to avoid stinking up the car (your travel partner will thank you!).

Snacks & treats – It’s a road trip after all! Just try not to do too much mindless snacking. I like to bring along some homemade popcorn and a bar of my favourite dark chocolate. The nuts you bring for breakfast can also double as an easy snack.

Basic cutlery/dishes – Make sure to have one full set of cutlery per person. You can wash them in hotel rooms, and they will be handy when eating on the go! A couple mason jars can also be useful for making breakfasts in the morning, or storing leftovers. As mentioned, you’ll also want a glass or metal water bottle and a thermos.

Yoga mat – Great for getting some stretching or a simple workout in while on the go or in your accommodations. I also like to bring along my acupressure mat to help relax and recover from long days in the car.

Photo by Erik Odiin on Unsplash

Make sure to stop often

If you’re drinking enough water, you’ll need these regular bathroom breaks! They also give you a chance to breath in some fresh air, move your body (do some stretches and squats or lunges to get your blood moving!), and just enjoy your surroundings.

Get comfy

Not only is it more pleasant to travel in comfortable clothes, but bring along a pillow and a blanket. When it’s not your turn to drive (if you get that luxury!) you can stretch out in the backseat or curl up in front and feel nice and cozy. It makes long hours in the car so much more pleasurable. If you need to look more presentable when you arrive at your destination, just hang your outfit in a garment bag in the back seat and change when you arrive.

We just went for a 14 hour road trip from Belgium to Italy, so I got to put all these tips to good use! Planning in advance can make your road trip much more enjoyable so you can enjoy the journey and not just look forward for the destination!

Have any tips of your own? Let me know in the comments!

My Top 5 Tips for Relaxing During an Overnight Flight

My Top 5 Tips for Relaxing During an Overnight Flight

Living in Belgium with most of my family still back in Canada means that each year I’m guaranteed at least two long-haul flights. Combined with our general love of travelling has meant a lot of flying on the books! Last year alone I made 4 big long-haul trips some with multiple legs. Maybe not travel-blogger status but still a challenge nonetheless!

If I can be allowed to complain about one thing (not that I want to complain about amazing travel opportunities at all!) it is the fact that most return flights from North America to Europe for me are red-eye flights. There’s only one direct flight a day from Toronto to Brussels and it’s an overnight one. Unless I want to get creative with stopovers and add hours to my journey, my hands are a bit tied; and it’s these overnight flights that routinely take a lot out of me.

I struggle with some anxiety when flying, and I’ve had flights where it has prevented me from being able to get any sleep in – even once on a flight where I was able to use travel points for a free business class upgrade.

I’m not a pro yet at coming off these flights in tip-top condition, but below are some of the strategies I take to relax onboard and nourish my body as best as possible.


Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

This one cannot come as a surprise, as it’s part of every single article already written on this topic! But it is seriously true, and I still find it amazing how many people don’t drink water on flights. I’ve sat next to people who have only knocked back coffee or wine the entire trip and I can only imagine how they must have felt after the flight ended. Recently I sat next to a young man who drank nothing and didn’t get up once to go to the washroom during an 8-hour flight!

Our body mass is 55-60% water, and it plays a huge role in a whole host of different bodily functions and processes. Flying is extremely dehydrating, and if you become even just 2% dehydrated you can already start to feel fatigued. Other signs of early stage dehydration include anxiety and irritability, headaches, muscle cramps, and cravings. 

You might not know, but you can actually bring your own water bottle through security as long as it’s empty. Most airports have water fountains where you can fill up before your flight – so you can’t use the crazy price of water in airports as an excuse not to get your H2O on!

BYOT (bring your own tea)

One of my Christmas presents this year (to myself!) was a thermal tumbler that boasts keeping drinks hot for 12 hours and cold for 24. I was skeptical, but it really does work! So in addition to my water bottle, I also brought my thermos with me as carry-on and got it filled up at a kiosk with an herbal tea before boarding. Just be sure to grab an herbal, non-caffeinated tea as caffeine is a diuretic and could do you more harm than good while flying.

Once on the flight, I kept the cup provided with dinner and poured myself cups of tea throughout the journey. This was key, as the thermos kept the tea so hot that it would have burned my mouth to drink directly from the bottle!

Keep up your night-time routine

On an overnight journey I try my best to wind down and get some sleep in. Going through my regular night-time routine plays a big part in getting my system to make that transition. After the dinner is cleared away, I’ll head to the bathroom and do my usual thing: cleanse my face and brush my teeth (with my own water!), and most importantly, apply a good portion of skin cream.

I use a simple cream made from olive oil, shea butter, and essential oils (either lavender or lemongrass). These oils help nourish and hydrate the skin, but are also antimicrobial and have really helped me stop getting travel zits during the flight! The essential oils trigger my brain that it’s time for bed, not to mention their innate relaxing qualities. A super simple hack for this would be to fill a small travel-sized container with coconut oil and apply this to your face instead.

Then I head back to my seat, get comfy with a thick pair of cabin socks, put on an eye mask, and settle down for the “night”! If I’m sitting in the aisle, I also make sure to let my seatmate know that I’m planning on sleeping so they can also get out for a stretch before settling in and hopefully not disturb me mid-sleep.

Meditate

If I’m feeling particularly anxious, I’ll get out my meditation app and meditate before trying to sleep. I’ll do a 10-15 minute meditation that focuses on the breath and guides you in relaxing each part of your body. It can really help decrease my stress levels and calm my brain down in order to actually fall asleep.

Use white noise

In addition to the eye mask, I use to also wear earplugs while sleeping on a plane. But while they dim the noise around you, it doesn’t block everything out; not to mention I find them really uncomfortable after awhile. What I have started doing instead is popping in my ear buds and putting on some white noise. In addition to the meditations on the Calm app they have a great selection of different noises you can listen to non-stop. For me, I have gotten my best airplane sleep while listening to the sound of rain.


Those are my favourite flying habits! How do you manage red-eye flights, any tricks I should be adding to my repertoire?

Free eBook Resource: Your Best Breakfast!

This way of viewing stress and digestion is game changing; woman with her head down grabbing her hair in frustration

Free eBook Resource: Your Best Breakfast!

I’m excited to finally announce the launch of my free eBook Your Best Breakfast!

This eBook is all about easy breakfast inspiration to make choosing a healthy breakfast a no-brainer, no matter what your busy schedule is throwing at you. I think breakfast is the one meal that people tend to fall into a routine with – eating the same thing day after day. Not to mention, a lot of these old standby’s aren’t necessarily the most nutrient-dense options. Why not pack a nutritional punch to get your day starting out the best way possible? Even though on instagram it can sometimes seem that #breakfastgoals are everywhere, what to eat for breakfast is actually one of the most common questions that I get.

What’s in the eBook:

  • An overview of my food philosophy

  • A basic guide to balancing your plate

  • 10 unique recipes not posted on the blog

  • Plenty of inspiration beyond the recipes to create interesting and healthy breakfasts!

What are you waiting for? Fill in the form below to grab your copy!

Grab the free eBook and make every morning your best; start your day off full of energy and ready to tackle that to-do list!

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