4 Simple Ways to Meal-Prep Your Smoothies

Fresh and juicy smoothies aren’t complicated meals to make in the AM, but when you crack open the fridge and discover you’re out of chia seeds and coconut milk, sometimes it’s a lot easier to meal-prep your favorite flavors on a stress-free Sunday (in 5 minutes flat). Check out these top four ways to pre-make your morning energy boosts:

FREEZER SMOOTHIE PACKS

Quick and fun to do, all you need are some Ziploc bags or freezer-safe Mason jars to make these mini smoothie packs. Before Monday morning, simply fill your bags/jars with preferred ingredients and place inside your freezer. Usually this includes 2 cups of fruits, 1 sliced banana (for creamy consistency) and 2 cup of greens (optional). After that, next time you crave a smoothie, all you have to do is grab a pack and blend with 1 cup of juice/almond milk and you’re good to go!

BLEND AND FREEZE

A great way to ensure a stress-free AM is to blend, bag and freeze your breakfast beforehand. Again, all you need are some Mason jars and your preferred fruits, veggies, milk and juices. From there, blend up your smoothies just like you normally would, then store them in your freezer. During the work week, if you plan on indulging in a smoothie, grab a frozen Mason jar the night before and put it in your fridge. This way, your smoothie defrosts overnight and you’ll be able to drink it first thing in the morning.

BLEND AND REFRIGERATE

Similar to mixing and freezing, this process makes prepping smoothies you plan on drinking in the next few days, super simple! Just blend your smoothies, pour them into Mason jars and refrigerate. Most smoothies will keep in your fridge for a day or two, and although some separation might happen after the first day, it’s normal, so just stir, sip and enjoy.

GRAB AND GO

Try this cute, make-ahead option if you’ve got kids who keep you busy in the mornings, but you know they’re going to need a snack later. Simply mix and blend smoothies, pour them into push-up or Popsicle molds and add them to your kids’ lunchbox straight from the freezer. Come lunchtime, their smoothie drink will be nicely melted and ready for drinking.


6 Surprising Fiber-high Foods

Even though fiber is typically known for its ability to upsurge the need for restroom trips, consistent fiber intake is incredibly important for your body, and recent studies show Canadians should be eating twice as much fiber as they normally would.

Why Fiber

Ever heard of the term “backed up”? Skipping your dose of daily fiber can make the washroom ultra uncomfortable and eating too little fiber makes it tough to control blood sugar and hunger pains as fiber regulates your speed of digestion.

Essentially, fiber comes in soluble and insoluble forms, which are both found in most plant-based foods. Fiber helps slow digestion, lower cholesterol and since fiber is never actually digested by your body — regular intake makes waste heavier and softer so it can pass through your intestines a lot easier.

So what’s the magic fiber amount you should be having? For adults, the recommended daily intake is 25 to 45 grams, though most people never come close to hitting this target and typically only consume about half the quantity they ought to each day. To up your fiber plan, check out these tasty fiber-rich foods:

Raspberries

Not only a go-to ingredient for favorite cheesecake and cream tart recipes, raspberries are a healthy choice for your hearty morning meal. Slow cook them in some creamy oatmeal, or add some to your cereal and almond milk. Fresh raspberries are a superb source of fiber and can be indulged as breakfast, lunch or dessert.

Blackberries

To really enjoy the sweet, juicy taste of blackberry, mix them in a garden salad made with a little feta cheese, onion and cherry tomatoes. When tossed with some light balsamic vinegar, your blackberries will shine through as a nice contrasting flavor to your otherwise savory meal.

Avocados

Few foods deserve the “superfood” title, like avocado truly does. Overflowing with vitamins, healthy fats and fiber, these buttery fruits are the perfect complement to a simple chicken or roast beef sandwich. For a more adventurous take, try whipping up an avocado shake with a little bit of vanilla extract, coconut milk and ice.

Broccoli

Whether raw or cooked, broccoli is versatile enough to eat with your veggies and dip or tossed in an onion and garlic stir-fry with your choice of mushrooms. We know, broccoli might not have been the family favorite growing up (it wasn’t ours either) but once these mini trees hit the table, you’ll be surprised how fast they get finished up.

Artichokes

Even though they’re probably not as commonly used in your kitchen (likely because of their intimidating exterior), know that artichokes actually pack a lot more fiber punch than most other vegetables. All you have to do is clip their tips and boil and steam them in some lemon, garlic and bay leaves before they’ll give off a wonderful aroma and taste.

Split Peas

A protein-rich soup base and must-have stew ingredient, cooking split peas can be pretty creative. If you’re looking to steer away from your traditional beef and potato stews, try a South Asian recipe made with spinach and yellow split peas. A staple to an array of Indian dishes, you can find aromatic split peas in curry, lentil soup, salads and even pancake recipes.


How to Make the Most Out of Your AM Hours

Whether it’s icy winter or sunny spring time – pressing the snooze button for that extra 5 minutes of treasured sleep is something we all do. Mornings can be tough, especially if you’ve got an active day ahead. On the flipside, however, no one likes waking up past noon and feeling like they’re ultra behind either. This 2017, don’t stress out over the “if you snooze, you’ll lose” mentality – commit yourself to sleeping at reasonable hours and make the most out of your AM hours with these simple tips:

START SLOWLY

Select a new rise-and-shine time and gradually work towards the new hour. For example, if your body’s used to waking up at 8:30AM, but you’d like to be up by 7AM – set your alarm clock for 8:15AM and train yourself to reach your ideal time in 15-minute additions over a 1 month period.

LET THE SUNLIGHT IN

Before lights off for the night, leave your curtains slightly open during the evening. This way you’ll greet the morning with a nice sunrise peeking through your blinds. Research shows sunlight stimulates hormone, melatonin, which is a light-responsive hormone that tells your brain it’s time to wake up.

PLAN TO START THE DAY WITH SOMETHING YOU LOVE

Instead of dreading dragging yourself out of bed and heading to work asap, plan to do something that gets you excited. Make time for music, yoga, light drawing or a little fashion magazine perusing before getting to other responsibilities. Having something to look forward to is that little zing of motivation you need to get going.

SET THE RIGHT SOUNDS

No one likes waking up to the loud blaring of an alarm clock. Make getting jolted from sleep a lighter, soothing and even a fun thing to do by choosing a free “mood enhancing bell alarm” or a piano-inspired wake-up tune on your mobile phone. Check out some free and magical alarm tones here.

TREAT YOURSELF & EAT BREAKFAST

A little extra motivation never hurt anyone. If you’ve consistently been getting out of bed earlier, or need a kick-start to do so: bake up some fresh and healthy coconut/blueberry muffins, delectable (flour-less) carrot cake or draw yourself a hot bath in the AM instead of jumping in for a quick shower. Not only does eating well and taking an invigorating shower/hot soak give energy for your day, it’ll boost brainpower too.


5 Science-backed Ways to Crush Those New Years Goals

 

2017 is all but knocking down your door, but heading into mid-January you feel like you’re losing steam already?

Indeed, it seems the FitBit you promised to activate hasn’t even been turned on yet and your meal planning Sundays just didn’t make the cut to little Johnny’s hockey practices…

However, before you sweat it, it’s good to know that fewer than 10 percent of people who make New Years promises actually keep them. The good news is there’s been a ton of research happening over the last decade and sometimes it really just boils down to science. Here’s our sharable, science-backed ways to crushing those goals this New Year:

CHOOSE ONE AND ONLY ONE GOAL

Selecting the tough-to-do, self-control goals like kicking coffee to the curb, or no more favorite steak dinners takes a lot of energy. That’s why it’s pertinent to focus yourself on just one item…

According to goal-setting expert and author Caroline Adams Miller, we wake up with only a certain amount of “self-regulation” in us before we tap out. Hence you might feel it’s a breeze bypassing that apple fritter donut at breakfast, but then just can’t ignore those mixed munchies before dinner.

Another tactic to keep handy is: don’t just give up something you love. Replace it with something that’ll benefit you too. Rather than giving up baking cheesecake, take some time to whip up some delicious energy bites or healthy cranberry bliss bars instead.

GET LAZER FOCUSED AND MAKE IT CHALLENGING

Once you land a goal of choice, don’t make it too easy. Sure, it feels great when you get to cross something off the checklist, but if you lowball yourself then you might run the risk of not being long-run motivated. When it comes to kick-butt goals, we tend to gravitate towards the ones that test you just enough, victories are preferably trackable and goals are usually pretty specific to something you want success at.

ASK YOURSELF: ARE YOU LEARNING OR DOING?

To get the best bang out of your New Years promise, always keep asking yourself: “Is it working?” and “I’m I getting closer to crushing my target?”

Figuring out if you’ve got a learning goal like crunching numbers monthly to see how much and best you can save, or a doing goal like trying to save two grand by November, helps you get serious about moving up on your progress chart and assures that you keep motivated.

LOOK AT WHO’S AROUND YOU

It might sound a little new Age-y to say “most people tend to become the people they surround themselves with”, but we do have some science-backed facts to back it up! It’s called the Social Contagion theory – where study after study proves the people we hang out with most actually have a huge impact on how we behave.

So, as you step outside the box and attend that kick-boxing class or art workshop – it’s probably not a good idea to be hanging out with people who love fast food or think art might be a waste of time. Instead, team up with like-minded groups who keep you happy and motivated.

PREP & PRIME YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Just like hanging around the right people boosts your self-confidence – surrounding yourself with the right things matters too. Meaning, if you’re goal is heading to Europe this 2017, then doing thoughtful, strategic things like changing your computer password to “EUROPE2017” could keep you from doing too much of your favorite (yet pricey) past-times, like online shopping.


5 Simple Tricks to Beat the Winter Blues

Huge wallops of snowfall, holiday bills and sub-zero temperatures not feeling so great? You’re definitely not the only one. If your winter mood feels like it’s falling faster than your thermometer… Try these small lifestyle changes to boost your spirits!

 

MAKE YOUR HOUSE BRIGHTER

When it’s cloudy and chilly out still let as much natural lighting into your house/apartment as possible. Totally open up your curtains during your daytime hours, trim bushes around your windows, start cozy “bright-colored” paint projects and even trade in those darker fabrics for some light-colored upholstery.

Keep in mind that clutter is mentally disheartening, so clean up your space, sit closer to a window seat and grab those extra sun rays whenever you can.

 

STAY SOCIAL

Though it’s mighty tempting to stay tucked under the blanket, hot tea brewing with your fave series playing in the background – don’t stay in too often. Of course, a night to yourself here and there does wonders for the soul, but heading out to holiday parties and connecting with friends and family is a major mood booster. Cozy up by the fire with loved ones and laugh your way to staying warm… In the long run, friends brighten up your mood way more than your other good friend Netflix.

 

DODGE THE “SUGAR COMA”, EAT SMART

It’s true, as sluggish winter hits we tend to crave comfort foods like mac ‘n’ cheese, greasy pizza and sweet snacks in general. But filling yourself with sugar and carbohydrates only give temporary feel-good feelings, and ultimately leaves you feeling grosser and possibly depressed

Instead, opt for complex carbs like yams, beans, spinach and skim milk – which take longer to digest (meaning they won’t cause spikes in blood sugar or create mood roller coasters). Not only do complex carbs fill you up, they provide long-lasting nourishment and up energy levels for you to stay positive in less desirable temps.

 

TAKE A WINTER VACATION

Who says you can’t take a mid-winter break? Save up your frequent flyer miles/vacation time and spend your February in Florida or the Caribbean. If you really can’t stand the icy cold, keep your spirits high by planning your getaway a few months ahead. Or, if snow is actually up your alley – escape to an idyllic cabin, change the scenery and enjoy a ski strip.

 

HELP OTHERS

“When the weather outside is frightful”… Ladle up some soup at the local shelter and keep others warm and well fed. Taking time to volunteer (for causes you love) upsurges your own self-confidence, mental health and spurs that motivation to get out and about – no matter what the forecast. Why not embrace a sense of fulfillment, while filling up others during the holidays?