Category Archives: Clean Eating

The importance of my morning yoga!

frog-1109792_1280I learned much over the last three weeks while I dealt with a severe ear infection. Due to fluid moving around in my ear, it was quite painful and I couldn’t move my head around or down towards the floor, or even lie down for that matter without some sort of pain. So, my regular workout routine became nul and void. No yoga, no gym. I did continue to walk the dogs two miles each day, until it snowed again… (I’m a total suck when it comes to the cold, but so are my dogs.)

For the first several days I was still able to maintain watching my diet and spent a lot of time sleeping. After the first round of meds did nothing, I started my second round of stronger meds and noticed that by then it had been 10 days where my schedule was kyboshed and slowly, my healthy eating habits had diminished. Not completely, but slowly it became easier to make a quick processed food supper or it was too much effort to cut veggies for a salad. My calorie intake on My Fitness Pal was rising, slowly – not a lot, but enough to notice my good habits slipping. And most importantly my blood sugar readings moved up a number or two. All small changes, but significant to me. I had experienced so much success that this was bothering me greatly.  And a note of interest – my last blood tests with my doctor showed ALL of my numbers in the normal range, plus I’m down forty pounds. I was so proud of myself, this was not the time to get sick. All my work has my diabetes under control, all within four months of diagnosis. So, seeing those numbers change on my daily tests, even though they were small, sent up a red flag.

Being true to my analytical self, I looked at the scope of what was going on. I couldn’t do my usual workout, but why was I struggling to stick to my diet decisions. I determined that my morning yoga was the key.

pavilion-1660462_1280My usual routine being the following:

  • get up
  • get the boys off to school
  • do 35 minutes of yoga
  • drink a raw vegan smoothie
  • work
  • creative raw vegan salad for lunch
  • work
  • workout at gym
  • work
  • make supper (based around salad)
  • walk the dogs with the boys
  • bedtime for them
  • write
  • unwind with Netflix
  • bedtime for me and repeat… somewhat.

But the all important key was starting my day with yoga – it created my mindset for the rest of the day. Even if I didn’t feel like doing my yoga, on those days I picked a slightly easier flow, but I still did it. And always, always, I was ready to face my day, I felt good, my mind was clear, focused and I could go on. But that 35 minutes set me up for my success for the day. Without it, evidently, frog-1109789_1280complacency nudged in.

With my ear 95% better, yesterday morning I woke up, got the boys off to school, completed 35 mins of yoga, made a smoothie, and got on about my day. Today, the same, but this afternoon I’m looking forward to getting back to the gym. And just like that, my mood is better, my day is brighter, I’m focused and ready.

I understand that at times I’m going to get hit with an illness and that will disrupt my routine, but this was a real eye-opener into how important my morning fitness routine is to maintaining my overall well being.

Super Cleanse by Adina Niemerow


Sunny was so cute, sunning himself, he just screamed – must take picture with book! Really, the book has nothing to do with adorable senior cats.

Super Cleanse by Adina Niemerow explains “the nitty gritty on cleansing” with down-to-earth advice that includes daily routines.

The book has a unique set up as well. Instead of separating recipes by typical categories: beverages, snacks, entrees, etc. She”s set it up by cleanse. For example:

“Some Like it Raw” (5-7 day) All your meals options are laid out and all the recipes are “raw.” (In this one I particularly recommend “Angel Hair Pesto” pg 103 – amazing! I used butternut squash instead of zucchini.)

A few years ago, my daughter and I did the “Three-Day Face-Lift Cleanse” on a weekend camping excursion. Much fun!

And, I just had a laugh flipping through the book as I write notes beside the recipes, if I liked it, didn’t like it, made substitutions, etc… and “The Green Buzz Cleanse” is riddled with comments beside each recipe including statements like, “Shockingly Yummy!” beside Pirate’s Potion (pg 171) and “Holy Cow Batman!” beside Rainbow Blend (pg 172) followed by several recipes with “Yummy” written beside them. Apparently, some of these surprised me and I’m thinking it’s time I try this cleanse again! 😀

There are also recipes for self-care products such as bath salts, lip balm, foot baths, and even household cleaners that are all environmentally organically friendly.





Recipe Substitutions: Corn Chowder

One of the challenges of combining a mostly vegan diet with a household of carnivores is finding ways to change up recipes and create compromise. As I’ve been working towards this for years now, my husband has had time to slowly adjust to the idea of substitutions. Everyone benefits from eating really healthy meals, and I still eat small of amounts of non-vegan food, making the compromise work well. The last two months have been the first time in five years that I’ve been able to stick to this form of eating and not feel like its difficult. I’m always looking for places to make substitutions where they won’t change the taste too much.

Spinach – I add spinach to as many recipes cooked or raw as possible. Spinach is amazing for your body, and it takes on the flavour of whatever you’re cooking so no one complains about eating their greens.

Pasta – Instead of regular pasta, I use quinoa pasta. Tastes like regular pasta and no one has complained. (It is expensive though.)

Quinoa – I use quinoa instead of rice or potatoes. I have one child in my house who’s not a fan of quinoa, and a bunch who are potato lovers. So, here’s the trick. When you make rice or quinoa (or pasta), make extra, make lots, then freeze the leftovers. Having frozen on hand now makes it easy to have both available for one meal. Everyone wins.

Almond milk – I tried using almond milk in the breakfast cereal once.. my little guy told me he was pretty sure the milk was bad. Ah well… can’t win them all. Everyone loves almond milk smoothies though!

Dates – I use dates for sweeteners most of the time. I prefer dates over other choices, mostly due to the diabetes, my body seems to process them well. I used to use agave nectar, but haven’t tested yet how it responds in my body now.

Salt – I only use Himalayan pink salt.

I did a substitution test on my mom’s corn chowder recipe.

Mom’s recipe for Corn Chowder:

  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 can kernel corn
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 2.5 c milk
  • 1 tbsp margarine

My change up test:

  • 2 c frozen peaches n cream corn (I would prefer to use fresh, but it’s not in season right now.)
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 2.5 c almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For both recipes: In a saucepan, over medium heat, fry the onion in the margarine/oil until it is translucent. Add milk and corn. Heat through. Salt and pepper to taste.

The substitution version tasted different, but it was a close reflection of the original recipe. Everyone ate it with no complaints and I would make it again.

Experimenting with foods has become a challenge I look forward to. Do you have any substitution tricks? Please share in the comments.




Getting a Handle on Type 2 Diabetes

I am not a doctor, or a diabetes specialist. I am learning about being diabetic as a recently diagnosed person. Please always check with your doctor before adapting any information to your personal situation.

I met with a diabetes specialist last week. If you are diabetic and haven’t talked to a specialist, I encourage you to do so. I feel so empowered after that appointment. And I learned three important things.bear-1863992_640

  1. I asked her about all the contradictory information online – one site says you can eat “fill in the blank.” Another site says the complete opposite. Plus, I eat a high vegan diet. How am I supposed to know what to eat?

The answer – If foods affected each person the same way, this would be an easy fix! But it’s not. Everyone processes each food differently. What one diabetic can eat, another may not be able to, regardless of what the Internet says. The one agreement – carbohydrates (“carbs”) are consistently an issue. That doesn’t mean you can’t eat any carbs, but low-carb diets are highly recommended.

I was testing my blood morning and night as requested by my doctor. The specialist recommended testing my blood morning (not sleeping well affects your blood sugar), before lunch (to test for breakfast), before supper (to test for lunch) and bedtime (to test for supper). (I’m not a big “snacker” and sometimes struggle to get lunch in.) This will tell me how my glucose is after the meal I last ate. If the number is within a normal range, then what I ate was fine and my body was able to process the food with no glucose issues. If the number is high, then I need to assess what I ate and make accommodations. Over time I will get a very clear idea of what my body can and can’t process in terms of blood glucose levels.

2. How do I get a handle on all this, it’s a bit overwhelming?

There are three ways to control my diabetes.

a) Diet
b) Exercise
c) Medication

And the guideline was pretty simple. If you don’t want to change your diet then increase exercise and increase meds. If you don’t want to exercise then control diet and increase meds. If you don’t want meds, then control diet and increase exercise. It just makes sense, right?!

I’m in the “I want off the meds” group. (I am not on insulin.) I feel like I have my diet in control right now and I’m really proud of myself for that step. Now that I’m tracking my glucose levels for each meal, I can really get this right.

She taught me that low carb doesn’t mean no carb and it also doesn’t mean I can’t ever have food from my “no” list. If I want popcorn when I go to the movies (I LOVE move popcorn… layered please!) – no problem, I just need to add in extra exercise before or after to make up for it. Essentially, there is no “no” list, it just depends how much exercise I want to put in. However…

pavilion-1660462_640exercise is my struggle. It always has been. But, I want off the meds!

So, I have consistently being practicing yoga for 20 mins every morning, since November. (I absolutely love the series) I purchased the DVDs and do one episode every morning.

I have some other things in mind, and will slowly add them into my schedule. I find I work best with baby steps. Too many changes at once equals failure. Plus, with Spring coming in a couple of months, I know that I get energized to be outside walking and riding my bike. (And now that I live in the country, I will actually ride my bike!)

3) Can I really be off medication for life?

Yes. Once I get my readings consistent for six months, I can discuss with my doctor about reducing one of the meds (I’m on two) and again after another six months of consistent readings, I can try to reduce the second. As long as my blood glucose responds favourably to being off medication, my diabetes would be in remission. Cured? Nope, but I can control it. If I falter in diet or exercise it will come back. It’s up to me.

I watched this Ted Talk recently, about reversing Type 2 diabetes. It’s a real eye opener and I suggest giving it some of your time.

It’s all about life long changes.

Being “Flexitarian”

Grail Springs Holistic Detox for Body, Mind & Spirit by Madeleine Marentette, was the first book I read about detoxing. I read it about five years ago and to this day it holds spot number one for me for explaining the detox process, and includes fantastic recipes.

I once ate a strictly raw vegan diet for an entire summer, five months (I’m in Manitoba so that includes spring and fall.) One of my friends asked me how I was feeling and my answer – “Invincible!” Truly, I could have jumped over a building if I’d set my mind to it, I felt like a superhero. I slept well, woke up alert, needed less sleep, my mind was clear and my body was energized. Then winter set in and slowly but surely comfort foods worked their way back in to my diet. But I never forgot how I felt when I was clean eating.


Learning how my body responds to food has been a long process dealing with a whole life of weight issues. I now own a whole shelf of raw vegan and detox cookbooks.

Five years and a diabetes diagnosis later, I would likely be classified under “flexitarian.” I eat about 85% vegan, most of that being raw with lots of greens, however it’s cold right now, so I do heat up some recipes. The other 15% is the flexitarian part – I eat some meat (mostly chicken or fish), some carbs and snacky foods in strict moderation. And by strict, I do mean strict! I also have no sugar unless it’s natural out of a fruit. And I’m feeling great!

I tried and failed many times at maintaining a full on raw vegan diet. Living in a house where I’d end up making two meals all the time (“mine” and “theirs”), it would get frustrating. So, I had to resolve to adapt a bit. It’s taken years to get it honed to what it is right now, and it’s always in flux.I’m still learning.

If you too are struggling with eating healthy and what works for you, don’t give up. Keep reading and researching and make small changes that you can stick with. Over time, following a long and winding road that occasionally doubles back on itself, the changes will become habit and the benefits will show.


Outta My Head Recipes: Sometimes It Needs to be Simple

2015-12-04 18.06.57

Sometimes supper needs to be quick and simple. But simple doesn’t need to mean processed out of a box. I threw this together in a matter of minutes.

  • Sliced pear
  • Carrot sticks
  • Red pepper spears
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Marble cheese
  • Sliced hard boiled egg
  • Slice of cinnamon raisin toast

Kids LOVED it!


Outta My Head Recipes: Roasted Nuts

roasted nuts 72

I made this cucumber, blueberry, mixed green salad with nut cream, but the highlight was the roasted nuts!

Raw nut mix fried in a bit of olive oil, curry powder and Himalayan pink salt. Wow!


Nut cream, by the way, is raw cashews and water in a food processor until well blended then add ingredients to make savoury or sweet options. In the one here I used a bit of Dijon mustard. I’ve also made it to go on top of berries using vanilla and maple syrup <– also yum!

Outta My Head Recipes: Cucumber Coconut Juice

cucumber juice 72

Blend half a cucumber (peeled), 1 part water and 1 part coconut water for 3 minutes on high.