Activated Charcoal

If you haven’t heard of activated charcoal, you must be living under a rock. All of a sudden it has become quite popular among people to use for brushing their teeth to make them whiter. As great as this is and yes it actually does work do you know there is also some health benefits if you take it orally?? It’s become my secret weapon against belly bloat and gas when I go out to eat a not so healthy meal with a few beers or other alcoholic beverages. Activated charcoal chemically binds toxins and chemicals to help the body get rid of unwanted substances. It is used in hospitals to help with drug and alcohol overdoses.
If you are wanting to try and take activated charcoal before indulging in bad food I recommend taking 2 capsules 30 minutes before eating with a big glass of water. This is important because activated charcoal can cause constipation, so I find staying well hydrated will help with this. And by well hydrated, water! Not wine, coffee, pop, or beer, stick with water to keep yourself hydrated. If drinks are on the menu as well then alternate a drink of water with your preferred beverage.
For teeth brushing you can use the capsules as well they are easy to break open, but I find this method very messy. All you have to do is dip your toothbrush into the powder and brush away! Be careful though as it gets everywhere as your brushing and can stain anything white such as towels or your shirt. I have a toothpaste that activated charcoal already in it, so I find that much easier. It’s called My Magic Mud and I highly recommend it as it’s 100% all natural so no GMOs or chemicals! You can find it at http://www.mymagicmud.com or look them up on Instagram or Facebook!

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Since it is a detoxifier you can also use it to make an at home face mask. You just add 1 tsp of activated charcoal powder to warm water until it makes a paste then add a bit of aloe gel and rinse after 5-10 minutes. If you have very sensitive or dry skin this is not recommended as activated charcoal is dehydrating. Also, if you are allergic to aloe you can swap for a bit of honey.
Now this isn’t some sort of magic diet pill it is to be taken with caution and please consult with your doctor before taking any sort of supplements. It’s not something I take every day or regularly just when needed and has become a great trick for controlling my Irritable Bowel Syndrome before indulging in a delicious “bad cheat” meal.

xo Rachelle

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

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If I had to pick my favorite recipe this would defiantly be in my top 5.  I make this all through the fall and winter when squash is in season.  For someone who is not a fan of vegetables it’s better for me to hid them in things.  When I’ve made this for family and friends they are a bit skeptical because when you think Mac and Cheese you don’t really think healthy but if I’m doing the cooking you better believe it’s going to be healthy AND delicious! I got this from Tosca Reno she has some great healthy alternatives to your everyday cooking. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Ingredients:
1lb brown rice pasta
2 cups of pureed butternut squash or even pumpkin if you’re into the whole crazy pumpkin craze
2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or beef)
6oz goat cheese (plain or sometimes I use herb and garlic)
1tsp sea salt
Parmesan cheese
Optional: cut up, cooked turkey bacon or greens such as peas
Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 375degreees. Coat a 9×13 pan with olive oil cooking spray (my preferred cooking spray)
2) Boil 4-6 cups of water in a large pot. Add noodles and boil for 10-12 minutes until pasta is tender. Strain and set aside in baking pan.
3) If making your own butternut squash puree peel squash with a peeler to take the skin off. Cut squash in half and spoon out the seeds. Chop into small pieces and add to a pot of boiling water. Boil until soft. Strain and put back into the pot. Use a hand mixer or hand potato masher until there are no lumps. Add chicken (or beef) broth to the squash and let simmer for about 2 minutes.
4) Remove from heat and stir in goat cheese and sea salt until smooth and melted.
5) Add any optional ingredients if you want
6) Pour squash mixture over pasta noodles and stir gently to combine. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
7) Bake for 20 minutes then broil for an additional 3 minutes until the top is a bit crisp.

Makes 8 servings at only 310 calories per serving!! *excluding optional ingredients

 

I.B.S… Yes I’m Going There.

First off if you’re squeamish about poop or other bowel movements this is not the post for you. This one is for my fellow I.B.Sers that may be dealing with this shitty (ha!) syndrome. I was first diagnosed with this while in high school I’m guessing around 15 years old. I was under a lot of personal stress at the time with school, boyfriends, friends, just normal teenage girl stuff, as well as not eating properly or barely at all. I was an active teenager though spending most of my spare time after school at the dance studio. For me it started with stomach pains, sometimes so bad I couldn’t move let alone try to get up and go to school. Trying to eat or even take a sip of water was out of the question because the pain would be so bad it would cause me to feel nauseous. Doctor appointment after doctor appointment leading to test after test after test I was diagnosed with I.B.S. It’s common with the women in my family. My mother has it, my sister, my auntie, but we all have different triggers and different ways of dealing with it. I will share any information I know and my experiences with how I deal with it.
What is I.B.S?
I surprisingly get asked this a lot!! I.B.S stands for irritable bowel syndrome. It’s a disorder that effects the large intestine. Everyone that has I.B.S experiences different symptoms making it difficult to diagnose. Symptoms include gas or bloating, abdominal pain, cramping, constipation, or diarrhea and sometimes all of these can happen though the duration of a flair up.
Common Causes
*Dark green vegetables: I do not cut them out of my diet I just know I can only eat them a few times a week. They usually contain high amounts of fiber, which we need fiber but high amounts of it causes gas which is not good for people with I.B.S because it’s usually painful gas/bloating. I find steaming my vegetables helps instead of eating them raw.
*Fast food: Do I really need to explain??? Greasy, yucky fast food is not good for anyone but is even worse for people with I.B.S. Personally, it sends me to the bathroom with diarrhea almost instantly sometimes before I’ve even left the restaurant. I still eat out but I’m extremely conscious of what I’m eating because it’s so embarrassing to have this happen.
*Spicy foods: This is a trigger for me and I eat very blandly. There are many yummy spices out there that I don’t need to cover everything with hot sauce, spicy seasonings, etc. For me this will cause huge stomach pains almost instantly, so I just stay away from it all together. You don’t need spicy stuff in your diet it’s just for taste but like I’ve mentioned before everyone’s different. My sister loves hot sauce and I know other people with I.B.S that eat crazy spice on everything and have zero issues with it.
*Red meat: Same as dark green vegetables I do not believe in removing anything healthy and good for you from your diet unless of course there’s an allergy, or some other medical reason that it needs to be removed. Now vegetarians and vegans I respect your reasoning for it it’s just not for me. Red meat for me is hit and miss, sometimes it affects me and causes me to again instantly be running to a washroom but sometimes I’m totally fine. If purchased from a good supplier it can contain a ton of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are excellent for our bodies. It’s better to stick to lean meats such as chicken, fish or turkey but sometimes a good burger or steak is hard to pass up.
*Beans: “Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat them…” Ok, I’ll stop there, but if you can finish that song you know why I tend to stay away from beans. They are gas producing causing painful bloating in people with stomach sensitivities.
*Dairy: I LOVE cheese. I don’t care what kind I will eat them all. It can cause constipation for many people. Ice cream and milk have gas and bloating producing properties but everything in moderation as dairy is good for you to have daily.
*Beverages: Caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol. Caffeine can be problematic for some sufferers of I.B.S. Carbonation in anything can cause gas/bloating and a lot of alcoholic beverages also contain them so it’s something to look out for if you experience any sort of symptoms after drinking any of these beverages.
*Stress: Stress is extremely hard on your body. For myself when I’m going through a stressful time in my life my body will remind me I need to take a step back and calm down by giving my paralyzing stomach pains that get worse if I try to move. No, it’s not fun it totally sucks but it causes me to figure out what the stress is and remove it.

Solutions:
But Rachelle, how do I fix these problems once they occur or cure myself of this?? There is no cure for I.B.S but it can be managed in different ways which even these can differ from person to person. So, these are my tried and true remedies.
*Peppermint tea: It feels like a warm hug on my tummy when I’m having stomach pains. Peppermint has soothing qualities, mixed with the hot water it helps to relieve any pains or nausea
*Exercise: We know the benefits of exercise, for me it’s a stress and anxiety reliever. You don’t need to go to the gym 6 days a week, 2 hours a day, like myself but getting at least 30 minutes a day can be so beneficial to escape the hectic craziness of life to clear your mind and refocus.
*Trial and error: Finding your trigger foods and beverages is really a matter of trial and error unfortunately. You must be super conscious of what you eat and feel you feel afterwards. Some doctors recommend when you are first diagnosed keeping a food journal to track what you ate so if you have a flair up its easier to narrow down what might have caused it.
Sadly I have yet to figure out remedies for when you may get diarrhea after eating a trigger food or drink. If I’m with people who don’t know I have this, I’m at someone’s house, or attending an event I will stay away from the food I know will make me instantly be looking for a bathroom. Yes, it’s super embarrassing when it does happen but just remember everyone poops. It’s a fact of life. The best way to go about it is to just be honest, “sorry I can’t eat/drink that I have I.B.S and it will make me very sick if I do”. People tend to not ask questions afterwards especially if they’ve seen Along Came Polly with Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller!! Hopefully this will help anyone out who might have Irritable Bowel Syndrome or educate others who may know someone that does. Thanks for taking time to read my long post!
xo Rachelle

Vegan Chocolate Banana Bread

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No I am not a vegan. BUT! Sometimes I do like baking as healthy as possible and vegan options always intrigue me. This one popped up on my Facebook feed from livestrong.com’s page and I just had to try it. It tastes like chocolate cake and is 100% guilt free!
Ingredients:
¼ cup hot water
2 tbsps ground flax
1 cup flour (I make my own oat flour but you can use gluten-free, or whatever your dietary preference is)
½ cup quick oats
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)
½ tsp cinnamon
3 ripe bananas
1 ripe avocado (great substitute for butter in baking)
1 cup coconut sugar (better alternative to brown sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips (vegan if you’re a vegan)

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350degrees and grease bread pan.
2) Mix the hot water and flax and let sit for 5 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
3) Stir together dry ingredients, flour, oats, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
4) In a separate bowl mash together the bananas and avocado. Add to dry ingredients.
5) Stir in coconut sugar, vanilla extract, flax mixture and ½ cup of dark chocolate chips.
6) Pour into greased bread pan.
7) Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips onto the top of the loaf.
8) Bake for approximately 1 hour.
9) Let cool then dig in!

xo Rachelle

It’s Never a Good Time for a Cold…


It seems like somehow a cold has snuck up on me this weekend, so I thought what better topic to talk about. I can usually tell a few days before it hits that I’m starting to get sick. I get extremely exhausted and feel like a could sleep for days, I have sneeze attacks just randomly and the back of my nose/throat gets itchy and dry. As soon as this start happening I get all my cold products together and start taking them before it really hits me. As a busy hairstylist who works on commission there is no time for sick days. We don’t get paid if we aren’t at work and clients don’t really appreciate having to move an appointment they’ve been looking forward too. We all live busy lives and who has time to lay in bed for days to recover? Not me! I also don’t want to. What works for me may not work for everyone but here’s some things to try since we are entering cold/flu season. I don’t take cold or flu medication I try to use anything natural first.
-up your water intake. We want to flush out any yucky toxins that are in your body
-add lemon to your water to increase vitamin C intake. (read my blog post Lemon Water to find out more benefits)
-add moisture to the air with a humidifier. I need this when I sleep with a cold so I don’t wake up with a sore nose and throat, it will also help the dry cough at night.
-grandma always said to take Echinacea. Studies have mixed results on this, but I take it daily when I feel a cold coming on and it works great for me. It’s a herbal supplement and of course before taking any medication it is best to consult your doctor.
-lots and lots of rest. I’m not one to waste away a day sleeping but when your body is fighting anything rest is best. Your body is an amazing machine but if its fighting something and your running yourself down how is it supposed to get better? Depending on how sick I am I will still go to the gym every day I am sick if it’s just a small cold. It will be a much easier, low-key workout but it does feel nice to sweat some sickness out.
-if you own a diffuser there are some different cold mixtures you can find to use while you are sleeping. The essential oils I use at night for the duration of my cold or are equal parts (2-3 drops each) lemon, thieves, purification. Thieves and purification are cleansing oils which will help enhance immunity and the lemon is meant to get rid of flu/cold germs in your house/room.
-if you have body stiffness or I usually suffer from a sore lower back when I’m sick take a nice hot bath. I add a few drops of lavender essential oils to promote relaxation if it’s before bed and I add a cup of Epsom salts. The Epsom salts help to soothe body pain, and draws out toxins from the body.
Hopefully these will help keep you healthy and cold free through the winter!
xo Rachelle

Homemade Healthy Granola

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This is the granola I made today.  It always looks different because I switch up what I add to my basic recipe.  Why do I make my own instead of just buying premade ones from the grocery store?  Well most importantly I can control what’s in it.  No preservatives, no “healthy” ingredients, just ones I can actually pronounce and know what they are.  This is also why I home make almost everything I eat.  Nothing comes from a box, bag or whatever prepackaged food you can buy.  Its also a lot cheaper the only downfall is yes it takes up time but when it comes to your health it’s worth the extra time.  I’ve been asked a few times how to make it so here its it is.  Super easy and really tasty

Ingredients:

4 cups quick oats

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter

1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey if you have that)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

-Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

-Grease a pan that’s deep enough to hold all ingredients

-Microwave peanut butter just until it’s a bit melted and soft

-Add all ingredients into a large bowl and stir

-Pour into pan and bake 25-30 minutes until top is slightly brown.  If you touch it with a fork it should feel a bit flaky

-Set aside to fully cool.  Once cooled use a fork or knife to break apart the granola to whatever size pieces you’d like.

Yields approx. 12 servings

 

Some ideas for extra ingredients I’ve added to mine:

-2 tbsp. ground flax seed

-1 cup golden raisins

-3/4 slivered almonds

-2 tbsp. chia seeds

-1 cups craisins

-1 tsp nutmeg

-coconut flakes

The options are really endless so make it your own and put whatever you enjoy into it!

xo Rachelle

Lemon Water

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I’ve been drinking lemon water for a few years now. It helps me feel less bloated and is a great way to get a bit of vitamin C, especially here in Canada where we are staring to enter cold and flu season. I personally don’t drink pop or juice as fizz burns my throat and I don’t need all that added sugar and calories in my diet. I’m a firm believer if you want orange juice eat the orange and save yourself the added crap and preservatives in a container of orange juice plus your missing out on all that fiber! Unless its Sunday brunch and mimosas are flowing I won’t pass up on one of those for special occasions. But back to the point, if you haven’t given lemon water a try just give it a shot for a week and see how you feel. I do a REAL lemon squeezed into my water bottle. You can also add it to hot water if you feel like having something warm it’s up to you. DO NOT use lemon concentrate from a bottle that is not the real deal, use a legit beautiful yellow lemon. But what are the benefits you ask?? Well here you go!
– like I said before it’s an excellent source of vitamin C. It provides you with approximately 53 milligrams of vitamin C which is almost how much your body needs per day (the average person needs 60 milligrams/day). Vitamin C may also reduce your risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, help with the effects of the common cold, and even eye health.
– promotes hydration. We all know how great water is for our bodies, so adding a bit of flavor to your water will enhance the flavor and hopefully promote you to drink more.
– help with skin quality. This goes hand in hand with drinking water because hydration is heard to help prevent wrinkles. More research needs to be done in this area as it’s a bit controversial but vitamin C however has been shown to reduce the risk of wrinkled dry skin.
– aids in digestion. Lemon water can act as a laxative to help with constipation as it wakes up the digestive track to help things move along.
– natural detoxifier. It helps prevent bloating and other symptoms of indigestion by loosening toxins in your digestive track.
Now what are you waiting for, go buy some lemons and feel better from the inside out!
xo Rachelle

Thanksgiving

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This weekend here in Canada we celebrated Thanksgiving and I celebrated my 32 birthday.  When I was still figuring out this clean healthy eating thing this used to stress me out.  Or I’d have the mentality, well I’m already going to be eating like crap so I might as well go all out, take the weekend off the gym and eat or drink whatever I want.  That is a HORRIBLE idea.  You should never feel guilty for “bad” meals or enjoying holidays and time with friends and family.  Through the years I’ve learned a few things that has helped me get through these times.  Never feel guilty for eating a bad meal, having dessert or a few drinks with a meal.  Of course I don’t mean every day but for holidays I defiantly make exceptions.  You know when a birthday, holiday or event is coming up, so plan the time around it.  I still go to the gym when I usually do I don’t take days off unless those are my scheduled days off because it will help keep you on the healthy eating mindset even at a party or get together.  Drink lots of water through the day this will help keep you feeling full so you’re less likely to binge on party snacks and also keep your alcohol consumption lower(crazy calories in alcohol!!).  At a big family dinner remember portion control.  Dinner plates these days are HUGE!!  You don’t need to cover every square inch of the plate and also try to put more veggies and meat on your plate then and carbs you may want.  The veggies and protein will help fill you up so your less likely to go crazy over the dessert.  Now when it comes to dessert that is truthfully my favorite part of any meal I’ve been known to get a bit crazy but just have one piece of cake, or square or a small scoop of ice cream.  You don’t need to say no to yummy dessert but you don’t need a whole dinner plate full of sweets either.  If you did have a really bad day where you just binge ate what felt like the entire contents of your fridge and freezer don’t be to hard on yourself.  Tomorrow is another day where we can wake up and start each day with a brand new 24hours in which to make better decisions and use all that bad food as fuel for a great gym session.  Don’t wait to start on that Monday that will never come, or the first of the month start tomorrow you’ll be more successful at getting right back on track.

xo Rachelle

 

Breakfast Muffins

In my last post I talked about meal prep. So today I’m sharing a recipe that everyone seems to love. I’ve made adjustments to it to change it up once and awhile so I’ll fill you in on those as well! I found this recipe on Pinterest of course by looking up healthy breakfast muffins. I personally don’t eat them for breakfast I have smoothies every morning so I choose to have them as a snack before my afternoon workouts. I recommend for females having 2 a day and for males 3-4 depending of course on activity level and fitness goals.

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Banana Oat Greek Yogurt Muffins from Amanda @ Running with Spoons
Ingredients:
1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
2 medium ripe bananas
2 large eggs
2 cups quick rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips, blueberries, craisins, whatever fun stuff you want!!!
Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400F and prepare muffin pan by spraying the cavities with cooking spray or lining them with liners. Set aside.
2) Add all ingredients except chocolate chips or whatever you’ve choosen to a blender, food processor or my favorite the stand mixer and process on high until batter is smooth and creamy. Stir in final ingredient by hand especially if you have chosen blueberries.
3) Pour batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each cavity until it is about 3/4 full.
4) Bake 15-20 minutes until the tops of your muffins are set and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in pan for about 10 minutes before removing. I store them in my freezer or in an air tight container.
*A change I have made to these is I’ve replace half the oats with protein powder and they turned out just as good with extra protein
Enjoy!!
xo Rachelle

I Have No Time…

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When I was planning this blog I asked people what their struggle with food was.  There was no surprise that the number 1 response was time.  We live in a society where we feel we have no time, we are constantly on the go with all sorts of priorities such as kids, jobs, pets, and a number activities.  The best solution I have found is what I like to call “Meal Prep Mondays”!  If you’re lucky enough there are great meal services that will prep and/or cook your meals for you which is a great option for the busy family but unfortunately we all can’t afford such a luxury.  Yes I am crazy, I LOVE COOKING! But for those of you who don’t (I heard a lot about that too), I spend 1 afternoon cooking all my meals for the week and never cook again until the following Monday.  I have only chosen Monday as that’s my day off and as a bonus the grocery stores are never busy!  Currently I am meal prepping for 2 and of course he eats more than I do but the time it saves us through the week is awesome.

Now before I jump into how I got about Monday Meal Prep I will tell you, you DO have time.  We all have 24 hours in a day which can be looked at as 8 hour sessions.  On average per day we sleep for 8 hours, work for 8 hours and the last 8 hours we spend with our families, pets, or our activities, but do we really need 8 hours for that??  Now how much time are you spending watching TV or on social media?  Did you know the average person spends over an hour and a half on social media EVERY DAY!! BAM!! Time!!

While I watch TV on my weekend I plan our meals for the week.  These are 2 examples from last week and this week.  If I’m looking for new recipes to try I go on my Pintrest account, type in healthy meals into the search engine and voila!  100’s of healthy easy meal ideas at your finger tips.  I then create my grocery list for what I need to purchase if I don’t have the ingredients at home and I’m ready for my Monday morning grocery shopping.  This maybe takes me 20 minutes to plan and organize.  I wont lie to you though it does take me up to 4 hours to make our food.  That includes weighing, measuring, chopping, cooking and into the Tupperware to store in either the fridge or freezer.  I do do all of this myself because like I said I love cooking and I have it down to a science but if you have a spouse or children let them help and make it a fun family activity!  I do understand that if you do have a family dinner time is probably a time where you don’t want to take turns at the microwave heating up your individual meals but why not have your other meals including snacks prepped and ready so you just have to make one meal throughout the week.

Meal prepping really can be easy as long as you are organized.  The first time I did this it took me 6 hours to cook my ex-boyfriend and I’s food for the week which like I said it now takes me at most 4 depending on what I’m making.  Here’s a list of some pointers I’ve learned through the years:

*take the time to decide what you are eating for every meal each day

*if you’re looking to save money on groceries check your local flyers that come out usually Wednesday or Thursday for any specials they may have and plan your meals around those

*as soon as you get home from the grocery store weigh and measure to your proper portion sizes. This is different for everyone as its based on your weight, goals, activity levels, even your career, as a person who works all day at their desk has different needs than someone with a more physical job. I can touch on portion size in a later post for anyone who may be interested.

*cut and chop your fruit and/or veggies you purchased as you will tend to grab these over unhealthy alternatives when you are feeling snacky through the day

* when I’m cooking all my food on meal prep day I will use all my kitchen gadgets to help multi task such as rice cooker, grills, stove, oven, crockpot. It will help cut time and you can make almost every meal all at once

* placing your meals into Tupperware containers make it easy to grab in the morning to take to work or school or wherever your heading for the day. This will also help you from going through the drive-thru when you are hungry

This is truly the easiest thing I have come across for helping my stay on track with my healthy eating and limited cooking time through my work week.  Plus not having to think every day, “what should I make for dinner tonight?” or “what should I make for our lunches tomorrow?” is a bonus!  Hopefully any of these tips will be helpful so give the meal prep a try and let me know how it goes!!

xo Rachelle