Filed under: Foodie Swellness

Healthy Swellness: Three Simple Ways to Boost the Nutrition of What You’re Eating

smoothie making

When it comes to eating well, I take a balanced approach. One of the greatest pleasures in my opinion is eating delicious foods, including those that aren’t so good for youso I eat a balanced diet most of the time, and then savour without any guilt the less than healthy items once in a while. I’ve always railed against that thinking, that healthy means kale and celery juice and quinoa only.

And another thing: Eating nutritiously doesn’t have to mean spending more. You just have to make smart budget-conscious choices with what you purchase and shop in stores where you can count on lower prices, like Giant Tiger. (Bonus: you can buy other items you need there, like cute workout gear, too, so you can limit your shopping excursions at the one convenient location that’s nearest you). In the past year, I’ve switched from only going to my usual (pricey) grocery store, and I can tell you the savings are significant if you make the effort to shop for groceries at a budget-friendly store like Giant Tiger.

Anyhow, as for the balanced approach to eating well? I look at every meal and snack as an opportunity to up the nutrition of what I’m consuming. You can accomplish this with some simple tactics, like these three, which work well for me:

1. Add veggies whenever possible. More often than not, I tend to cook one-pot type meals. So when cooking up my all-in-one dish, I consider how I can throw more vegetables into it as well. A pasta with meat sauce? Well, you can easily include some mushrooms in there, too, and celery and grated carrots. 

Or consider your breakfast; it’s a prime opportunity to eat more veggies, especially as veg is not a typical breakfast ingredient. I used to make fruit and juice smoothies all the time, but I realized you can easily throw some kale or spinach into the blender too (and some Greek yogurt for richness and protein) and it tastes great. Another great vehicle for veggies? Frittatas and breakfast wraps: throw in your usual eggs and sausage but add tomatoes, black beans, spinach and green peppers, too.

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Also, why not enjoy a salad for breakfast? Instead of just making bacon and eggs for your first meal of the day, take inspiration from a BLT and make a salad with those same ingredients, and throw in a hardboiled egg for protein, some avocado (which provides omega-3 fatty acids), some flax, chia seeds or hemp hearts for texture, and a vinaigrette made with olive oil (a staple of the Mediterranean diet, considered one of the most healthy in the world). I’m really digging salads for breakfast when I have time to throw one together as it’s not only tasty, but I always feel like I’ve kicked off the day on the right track with a healthy helping of veggies, which is a great motivator to staying on the wellness train the rest of the day.

2. Include some protein in each meal or snack so that your body feels satiated. Plan what you snack on for the week (so that you’re not opting for a danish when you feel that tummy grumble) and make sure your snacks have got some protein so you can keep plugging through your day well fueled. A quick snack I often go for is an apple, but eat it with some nut butter (I enjoyed this apple with Wow Butter, a tasty nut-alternative option available at Giant Tiger) and not only will your snack feel more like a treat but your body will feel more full longer. 

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Or for dinner on those nights you don’t feel like cooking? Do a ploughman’s lunch-inspired meal to snack on: here I’ve included almonds, hummus and a hardboiled egg for protein, carrots for some colour (and then you’re also accomplishing point #1 above!) and a serving of Saint Paulin cheese (one of my all-time favourite cheeses, and I love that it’s carried at Giant Tiger).

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3. Stock up on smart staples that make eating well easy. It’s always easier to eat healthily if you make it super simple to incorporate into your schedule. Having ingredients on hand that help you eat a more balanced diet can make a world of difference when you’ve got tons of work to get done, a dog to walk, piles of laundry to do, etc, etc.

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Some of the convenient staples you can stock up on at Giant Tiger that I love: 

  • natural almonds (good as add to salad or as a quick snack on their ownjust watch your portion size; keep it to a small handful or approximately 23 almonds); 
  • hard-boiled eggs (this package of ready-boiled eggs is a lifesaver when you’ve got a busy week); 
  • canned tomatoes (great to have on hand so you can whip up a shakshuka meal or a quick pasta sauce; plus canned tomatoes are an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene); 
  • frozen fruit for smoothies; 
  • hummus (which research has shown is linked to fighting inflammation in the body); 
  • Gardein products, the meat-alternative products from this brand make meatless Monday meals no brainers;
  • Larabars (when buying packaged snacks to enjoy on the go, look for ones with ingredients you can identify, like Larabar, which is one of my favourite bar brands).

I know when I go to Giant Tiger I’ll be able to get everything I need to make loads of affordable meals and snacks as they sell fresh produce and fresh meat, along with the pantry staples I always keep on hand, like canned tomatoes and flavoured Perrier, and it’s all at fantastic prices. Because a lot of us, especially now during the pandemic, are more conscious about our spending than ever, I know I am. So on top of making Giant Tiger a go-to shop for your groceries and more, be sure to also sign up here for GT VIPyou’ll save even more on grocery items, plus you’ll get exclusive weekly deals.

Happy shopping (and savings)! I’d love to hear about your own nutrition-boosting tactics!

(sponsored partnership with Giant Tiger)

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1 Comment January 27, 2021

Fitness Swellness: What I learned at Sugo Sundays

boxing with Striking Concepts and Sugo

They had me at Sugo.

If you follow me on IG, you know I’m a fan of the food at Sugo, an Italian-American resto at Bloor and Lansdowne; I did an early carboload there for my Detroit Marathon last year, and just about two months ago, celebrated finishing the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee (and Back Across Tennessee) with a meal there. The velvety sauce on the rigatoni, crave-worthy and the perfect comfort food!

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So when Sugo slid into my DMs and asked me if I wanted to participate in their first ever edition of Sugo Sundays, I was little confused as to what the goal of the fitness-focused workshop was but my immediate answer was yes, I’d love to take part!

For three Sundays in September, a group of about 20 or so of us met up at a track and first worked on a warm-up of dynamic stretches with some of the team from Myodetox, followed by a short run and running drills, then a kickboxing session lead by Striking Concepts. And last but not least, refueling on food from the team at Sugo, yasss!

(Plus, the folks from Myodetox offered some stretching and fascia work post-workout as well).

Sugo Sundays got me to foray into running again (I’ve been taking a rest since completing GVRAT mid-August), I had what is possibly my first (!) mini session doing fascia work with a physiotherapist (and I felt so much better afterwards–my body is a bit angry at me still from the 2000+ kilometres I did over the summer), and I found the kickboxing sessions enlightening; I’ve been to other classes at a few studios in the past but I find it’s very often not focused on form but rather just getting things done quickly in a HIIT format, and all I get mired up in is figuring out the damn sequence based on the numbers for jab, hook and cross. Here, thanks to Evan from Striking Concepts, I got to understand for example what angle my arm should be at, the proper positioning of my feet, and more.

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And from the refuel, I discovered that the Sugo kitchen can put out more than just great pasta. I missed week 1 of Sugo Sundays (it was a downpour and even though I’ve run and raced in the rain, I simply couldn’t get myself to bike to the track that day to start the workout drenched), so I missed the classic Sugo carb up (the meal was lasagna, still sad I missed out!). For week 2, the meals was keto (think trout and sauteed spinach) and week 3 was vegan (a quinoa bowl with tofu and an incredible chocolate cake), and both meals were very satisfying and ones I’d happily eat regularly. And I appreciated Sugo co-owner Conor Joerin saying that eating healthy means finding what works for you, adding that the team doesn’t eat pasta 24/7. So true, and why I bristle when people seem surprised I’ll happily eat a giant bowl of pasta or a plate of fried chicken. Do I eat that daily? Of course not! I eat what works for me.

I asked Conor what made them hold Sugo Sundays and he said he was initially inspired by a workshop he’d done with Lululemon a year or so agao and the lasting connections he’d made on that trip. With the pandemic and being a social person himself, he was felt this was a great way to build community and bring together healthy lifestyle-type folks with people from the restaurant industry (who, he noted, are not always leading the most active type of lifestyle). And he felt that with this continuing pandemic, and with us heading into the colder months, it was a great time to bring people together to make connections at a time when we all especially need it.

I’m sad Sugo Sundays is already over… but I can’t wait to set up an appointment at Myodetox and cook up something using the jar of organic tomato sauce made from tomatoes at Conor’s farm! Thank you to Sugo for the invite, and see you over a plate of pasta soon, or a slice of pizza (did you know they recently opened pizzeria Conzo’s next door to Sugo?)!

P.S. Conor promised us a few recipes from our refuel meals, and I’ll share those when I get them!

 

 

Leave a Comment October 4, 2020

Foodie Swellness: Cocktails for Cinco de Mayo

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While Cinco de Mayo is meant to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire, Google tells me it’s become more of a celebration in the U.S. than it is in Mexico, with a focus on Mexican-American culture. I have to admit: the only way I’ve celebrated it ever is here in Toronto and it has involved going out to enjoy Mexican cocktails and tacos.

And since I love any reason to celebrate those two things, and I’m betting a bunch of you do as well, I’m sharing a couple of the recipes I got to try recently at a dinner with Don Julio Tequila held at El Rey Mezcal Bar so that you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo this weekend in the best way. But you’ll be making these cocktails all season long. Trust.

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The Don Julio Paloma is the cocktail we kicked off the evening with. Palomas are one of my go-to cocktail orders in the summer, and yet I’ve never made them at home. The last time I had one before this dinner at El Rey was when I was in Mexico City in December, so now I’ll always associate them with that incredible city, which I’m dying to get back to as I didn’t get to try nearly enough of the food or saw only a tiny fraction of the sights. Hope to get back there soon. In the meantime, I’ll drink this cocktail and reminisce about the amazing sights I did see (I wrote about it for VITA)!

DON JULIO PALOMA

Ingredients  

1 ½ oz. Don Julio Blanco

½ oz. Grapefruit Juice

 ½ oz. Grapefruit Sherbet

½ oz. Lime Juice

1 ½ oz. Soda

Pink peppercorn

Strawberry and chilli salt

Method

Combine all ingredients except for soda in a shaker tin, shake for 30 seconds and strain into a glass that’s been half-rimed with salt and filled with ice. Top with soda and a grapefruit half-moon.

Grapefruit Sherbet

  • Zest of 1 grapefruit
  • Juice of 1 grapefruit
  • Equivalent amount of sugar to grapefruit juice by volume
  • 10 pink peppercorns

Add all ingredient to a pot and heat until sugar dissolves.  Allow to cool complete, then fine strain and use.

Don Julio Jalisco Express

The second cocktail we had as we enjoyed the starters was the Don Julio Jalisco Express. I love pineapple and enjoyed how bright and refreshing this cocktail is. I admit I can pretty much guarantee I am too lazy to make this cordial to enjoy this cocktail if I’m just at home myself, but I’d make it if I were hosting a summer BBQ.

DON JULIO JALISCO EXPRESS

Ingredients

1 ½ oz. Don Julio Blanco

½ oz. Trinidad Pepper

½ oz. Lime

½ oz. Black Pepper Cordial

½ oz. Fresh Cucumber Juice

½ oz. Fresh Lime

1 ½ oz. Soda

Mint

Method

Combine all ingredients except for soda in a shaker tin, shake for 30 seconds and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with soda. Garnish with a straw, a cucumber ribbon and a fresh mint tip.

Trinidad Pepper, Lime and Black Pepper Cordial

  • Zest of 3 limes
  • Juice of 3 lime
  • Equivalent amount of sugar to grapefruit juice by volume
  • 5 Black peppercorns
  • 2 Trinidad peppers

 Add all ingredient to a pot and heat until sugar dissolves.  Allow to cool complete, then fine strain and use.

Salud!

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment April 29, 2019

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