Eat Clean – It’s Salad Time!

One thing I’ve learned about eating well is that it is WAY EASIER if you are organized. The only way I get through a week with balanced meals is if my house is stocked with the basics, I hit up the grocery store for all that I need and I plan out the week. 

Lunches can be tricky. I’ve always been a big fan of salads — easy to throw in your bag and a quick, delicious mid-day meal. With that said, salads can be mega-boring. Unlike some, I’m not someone who can eat the same thing, day in and day out. My go to basic salad is arugula, mixed greens, roasted chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts and raw caesar dressing {see below!}. When I’m wanting to switch it up though, I scour the internet for the best of the best.

My Evernote recipe vortex is super full these days, but in order to save YOU a pile of time, I’ve pulled out my favourites:

And a few fabulous dressings:

Happy salad-making! Happy Sunday!

PS – Shout out to Joanne at The Healing Cuisine for passing on the best caesar dressing of all time!  Combine 4 tbsp olive oil, juice of 1 lemon or lime, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tsp dijon, 3 cloves garlic (pressed), pinch salt… and blend!

Reflecting on 2012

Reflection is always important — but the end of the year continually reminds me that I need to pause, reflect and determine how I want to move forward. The past 12 months have been a whirlwind.  I started the year with this quote:

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” – League of their Own

… and my word, it hit home. This past year was tough! One thing I know for sure is that you need to be thankful for the hard times in your life, because those are the times when you grow and learn the most.

This year I learned:

  • People are #1. Throughout the year I ended up being in a number of situations where I didn’t feel like people were being treated fairly. One thing I know for sure is that people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. In both my personal and professional life, I believe in ‘lead with heart.’ As leaders, we need to be human. We need to respect people’s feelings, listen and truly treat people like we want to be treated. Choose your friends, boss, clients — and every relationship in your control, wisely. 
  • Transparency is the new marketing. No one is perfect — and I don’t believe that anyone wants to work with or be friends with people who claim to be. First and foremost, we’re all human. People want to deal with real people — and vulnerability is a strength. Be open; allow people to see who you are. Talk about your learnings — and your failures. Admit fault when you’ve made a mistake.
  • Don’t fight change. I cried a lot in September — more tears than I’ve had in years in fact. During periods of change, the only thing you can control is your reaction. Everything happens for a reason and change is inevitable. Accept it for what it is and figure out how you’re going to move forward.
  • Always have a plan b. When you’re headed into uncertainty, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Enough said.
  • Trust your gut. There is a lot to be said for intuition. When you get a feeling that something shady/wrong/sketch — it probably is. Use your head, but trust your gut. Take in all the information, but always remember to look out for you.
  • You have to take care of yourself first. I’m continually guilty of taking care of everyone else, before I take care of me. I’ve been falling into that trap for years with boyfriends, best friends and random people I have met along the way. This year I learned to be put me first {it’s still such an odd thing}. I stopped attending events I didn’t want to go to. I didn’t return phone calls when I didn’t feel like talking. I refused to be the go-to, because I knew it wasn’t in my best interest. A little wisdom from Paul Coehlo, “When you say yes to others, make sure you’re not saying no to yourself.” Don’t apologize for making yourself a priority.
  • Slow down. Life is meant to be lived.

Despite the ups and downs of the year, a lot of good happened. I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, Palm Springs, Whistler, Seattle, New York and Mexico. For the first time in my life, I learned the power of physical strength. I learned to run — completing 15 races — and became a regular at power yoga. I learned the importance of fuelling your body with good and keeping a close eye on your health. I cut out wheat, dairy and now regularly spend time in the kitchen. I truly love cooking and exploring new foods. I met a number of new friends in 2011 and throughout this past year, I focused on developing and strengthening those relationships.

Highlights of the year:

photo

January

The year started off with a chilly dip in the Pacific Ocean. In 2011, I was blessed to meet a local entrepreneur, Helen. She invited me to the Polar Bear Swim that took place at English Bay. With 2000 people, we charged at the 8 degree ocean. After a few shrieks in the ocean, we were back on the beach shivering and smiling. 1st Polar Bear swim complete!

February

After finding a deal through YVRdeals {and Chris Myden}, I booked a trip to Costa Rica. At the time I had no plan, just needed a little escape. I had met an entrepreneur {all around fabulous woman}, Shannon Ward, a few months earlier — and she would be living in Costa Rica while I was down there. I ended up heading to Santa Teresa and spent 10 days with my her family. The trip was filled with sunshine, surfing and delicious eats. A highlight was taking a raw food cooking course with Joanne at The Healing Cuisine.

March

International Women’s Day took place on March 8th. I was honoured to be included in Networking in Van’s “Women Making a Difference” campaign. On IWD, people all over the world celebrate the achievements of women, inspire other women and reflect on the progress women have made in our communities. There were a number of events that took place in Vancouver and I had the privilege to learn from a few. I’m thankful to have met a ton of female entrepreneurs in Vancouver — and around the world {including Judy, Jill, Heather, Zoe, ChristineKatherine, Erin and more}. Positive role models who are movin’, shakin’ and making a difference in the community.

April

In April, I had the opportunity to speak at 2 events — York University’s ‘Apex Leadership Conference‘ and Simon Fraser University’s ‘Synergy Conference.’ The events were back to back — with one being in Toronto and the other in Surrey. In a matter of 24 hours, I held a workshop and facilitated a panel, flew across the country and held another 2 workshops at Synergy. It was an absolutely exhausting — and totally rewarding weekend. One thing I’ve figured out in the last few years is that education is a core part of who I am. I truly love teaching students and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to facilitate two very engaged groups of students.

photo_1May

May was busy — with a trip to Palm Springs for a me-cation and learning from Richard Branson at a Board of Trade event. A total highlight was my weekend away in Whistler to visit my adopted family, the GossWards. Shannon, Brett and Kaede had moved back to Whistler from Costa Rica — and I wanted to see their lovely faces again. I  had never been to Whistler, so Shannon and Kaede took me up the mountain to do Peak 2 Peak. It was the end of the season, but skiers and boarders were still taking on the remaining snow. Whistler is a beautiful little gem — from taking in the views at Blackcomb to Sushi Village to a little birthday surprise, I feel lucky to have met {and learn from} this wonderful family.

June

On June 2nd, my niece Maddie turned 1 {and I turned 28}! Maddie was born on my birthday in June 2011. Now we’ll be celebrating together forever! On Friday, I had a dinner party at my place {thank you for being the Executive Chef, Dan!} and on Saturday I took the float place over to Salt Spring for a family birthday with Maddie. We had a fun afternoon in the sunshine at Mom’s house — halibut burgers, birthday cake and a very spoiled  1st grandchild!

July

In July, I headed to New York with Marina for the UN Global Partnership Summit. We spent a few days learning from global change makers from the United Nations, Global Poverty Project, ONE Campaign and Pan American Health Organization. A highlight was learning from Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor to the UN Foundation — absolutely inspiring few days determining how young leaders can support the UN Millennium Development Goals and create positive change in the community. In addition to the summit, Marina and I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, shopped in SOHO, dined in Little Italy — and I ended the trip with a run through Central Park.

August

Whether taking a pool day, attending a festival or parade, or running the seawall — the month was a busy one!  On August 10th, I completed my first half marathon {holy moly, eh!}. After an adductor injury mid-year, I was forced to take a DNF for a Seattle half marathon — and then I registered for Lululemon’s Seawheeze half marathon in Vancouver. In retrospect, it was my race. Luon, sunshine and running in the city that I love. Reagan and I ran together; finishing in 2:22 {feeling totally good and injury free!}.

photo_2September

Vancouver is one of the best places to live in the world — and I continually remind myself that I’m blessed to live here. Thanks to the team at Vancouver We Love You, my friend, Kate, had the opportunity to use SUP boards throughout the summer. One day in early September, we headed down to Kits Beach for a SUP sesh at sunset. It was a picture perfect night filled with paddling, laughter and trying not to fall into the ocean.

October

TELUS asked me to blog an international event coming to town, We Day. We Day is a day of celebration, inspiration and an opportunity for youth to take action and create change in their communities. I had an absolutely incredible few days with the team at Free the Children and the We Day youth. From meeting Desmond Tutu to learning from Spencer West to documenting the day — the event was a highlight of the year. It was inspiring to watch 18,000+ youth get excited to positively impact their school and community.

November

Running has hugely changed my life. Throughout my running journey, I was continually asked — How did you start running? How do I start running? Can you help me? … After a bit of brainstorming, I launched Runcouver. The goal is to connect all levels of pavement crushers and trail dominators, into one positive, motivating, goal crushing community. In addition to Runcouver, I launched the #RunCrew. The 2012/2013 pilot consists of 10 young women who are committed to striving high and I’ll be coaching them to their 1st half marathon in Summer 2013.

December

The year came to an end with major job change. After almost 2 years consulting, I decided to go back in-house for an amazing opportunity at a growing company. I am now a HR Generalist at Avigilon. I feel blessed to work on a progressive, entrepreneurial team with a down-t0-earth {and wicked smart} leader. My role supports day-to-day global HR operations, with a focus on employee relations, training and development, benefits and compensation and employee experience.  I’m learning a ton and my days are wild busy — both good problems to have. I’ve officially been there a month and I feel like I couldn’t have landed at a better company. It’s awesome to be surrounded by people who truly love what they do.


“You have to fight through some bad days, to earn the best days of your life.” – Unknown

Officially closing out 2012. To laughter, love and living in 2013.

Nourish Your Body

Today has been hell-ish.

Started with a guy telling me I’m a selfish bitch and finished with me locking myself out of my office building … and condo. Ordeal. Bah.

Hammering out a heated post right now is a waste of the minimal energy I left. :) Instead I’ve been meaning to write a post on healthy eating and all that I’ve learned about food since my trip to Costa Rica earlier this year.

So deep breath, here we go…

In Costa Rica I met Joanne Gerrard Young, an amazing raw food chef — and personal chef to Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady! I enrolled in a 2 day raw food cooking class while in Santa Teresa and soaked up so much knowledge. Joanne is all about incorporating healthy living / eating / being into your life. There is no need to hold yourself to crazy {and hard to achieve diets}, instead focus on living {By the way she is absolutely stunning. Stunning. Beautiful person inside and out}.

Treat your body like a temple and fill it full of the goodness it deserves. She gave us lots of examples of easy switches.

For example:

  • Choose butter over margarine
  • Choose sea salt over table salt
  • Choose extra virgin olive oil over olive oil
  • Choose almond milk over milk
  • Choose MAPLE SYRUP {corrected by Joanne!} or raw honey over sugar

Easy! Make those switches now!

A few things I have added to my diet since attending Joanne’s class: kale, dates, nutritional yeast, spirulina, agave syrup, tumeric and lots and lots of nuts {macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, cashews}. You need to know about the benefits of germinating nuts, read up.

What I love about Joanne’s style of teaching is that she made it easy. She was a real life normal person and knew how to take the stress out of the kitchen so that you can just focus on the food!! I definitely think this has been most healthy year of eating in my life. I didn’t eat terrible before, but I now make every effort to cook at home and I’m very aware of what I put in my body.

I’ve learned the power of a substitute. Who needs a Twix bar when you can make chocolate-avocado pudding? Who needs a creamy caesar dressing from a bottle when you can make an absolutely ‘to die for’ raw caesar dressing at home? Who needs a power bar when you can make energy balls? I’ve learned how eating the right food can turn around how you’re feeling {and vice versa}. Joanne told us about the uses of ‘Grapefruit Seed Extract’ — add it to a smoothie or glass of water when you’re feeling blech — and you’ll have a magical recovery. I’ve become grocery store smart. I head straight for the outer edges of the store, moving from the fresh flowers to the health food section to the nuts and then to fruits & veggies — yes, sometimes I creep into the aisles for almond milk, balsamic vinegar or chickpeas. :) I’ve learned to read labels! No not for calories {gawd, no}… instead to see what kind of nasty is in a product. Almond butter? That better be damn almonds. Pineapple? That better be damn pineapple. Greek yogurt is the toughest one in my opinion. So many yogurt companies have gone ‘greek’ and they’re just loaded with sugar. I’m committed to knowing what I’m putting in my body {even if it’s a Kit Kat}.

I’ve always just assumed people are looking out for me — yes, restaurants, grocery stores, my family, friends… I’ve assumed that everyone is thinking about what they are providing and consuming. Seems a little naive saying that out loud! I’ve learned that the only one can control what you put in your mouth is YOU. I don’t believe the focus should be on creating a pure body temple, only filled with best of the best healthy eats, instead I think it’s about being aware. No different than learning a new hobby, sport or stress relief technique — your body plays into your day, week and life. You’ve gotta pay attention to it and continually learn on how you can keep it nourished.

The goal isn’t to turn psycho and live by your diet. :) Just know that if you have down some poutine, you’ll probably feel like a sluggish beast in 2 hours.

Vegan mania

Often people ask me if I’m vegan. Why? Likely because I talk about raw food, gluten free and vegetarian food quite a bit. Truth be told, I was raised without red meat or pork in my diet. I remember having a McDonalds burger when I was drunk in early university years {btw I vomited everywhere}, but otherwise don’t remember having an ounce of red meat in my lifetime. As for pork, I find it disgusting… but I’ve been known to have a piece of crispy bacon every now and again. {I obviously pretend that it’s not pork.} I’ve grown up on a chicken and fish/seafood diet, but I’ve always enjoyed veggies the most. I used to eat quite a bit of chicken, but in 2010, I went to a Tony Robbins talk in Chicago — and I was forever changed. He showed horrific videos of how chickens are raised and the disgusting hormones that are put in them — and I’ve never looked at chicken the same way since. Fun fact: Chicken shouldn’t have a taste. If it has a taste, it’s nasty crap in it. Disgusting. {Note: I will likely have Butter Chicken — and enjoy it — at our team lunch at work tomorrow}. I’ve tried to keep up the chicken intake for the last few years, as I’ve been heavily iron-deficient since the beginning of time and I figured I need to up my protein. Now I’ve learned that you really shouldn’t force yourself to consume things you don’t like. Try new foods sure… but focus on enjoying and experiencing food. Should be a good process, not a bad one! If you don’t want to eat chicken, then don’t!

Am I vegan? No. I think I could be, but I really like cheese a lot.

Am I vegetarian? No. I definitely could be, but I sure do love halibut, crab cakes and fish tacos.

I don’t fit into a category. I eat vegan a few days a week, vegetarian most of the time, a raw diet every so often and sometimes I just eat pancakes smothered in butter with crispy bacon. That’s life and I’m ok with it.

Small changes and slow changes can have a huge impact on your diet {no need to start drinking cayenne pepper and lemon}.

Eat local food

The rage is organic. We know that, we’ve been hearing it for years. Instead of focusing on the $4.99 organic kale, start learning about where your food comes from. Where was it grown? How did it get to the store? In British Columbia, we have organizations like “Get Local BC” that make that learning even easier! Check out this chart that shows what fruits and vegetables are in season for our region — so handy. The Farmers Markets in Vancouver are amazing — and they run all winter long!

Make green smoothies 

Start your day with a smoothie. Fill your body with nutrients and I promise you’ll feel like a million bucks. Smoothies are an excellent way to get a whole lot of fruit & vegetable servings in you without doing a lot of work.

A few tips to make your smoothie-filled life easier!

  • Freeze ripe bananas. Peel and break into 1- to 2-inch chunks. Lay the chunks on a baking sheet and freeze for up to an hour. Store frozen bananas chunks in an airtight freezer bag.
  • Buy fresh berries in large quantities {from gems like Harvest Union} and freeze. Follow baking sheet method.
  • Freeze greens! Yes, you can do that. Buy a bag of spinach and just throw it in the freezer. It breaks off easy when it’s frozen.
  • Buy a Magic Bullet — such a time saver on weekdays.

My favourite smoothie go-to’s {not all at once of course}… greens {spinach, kale, parsley}, fruit {blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, pineapple, grapefruit, mango, avocado},  greek yogurt, almond milk, hemp protein and omega oils!

Drink loads of water

Something that I have learned via training / running / all that jazz is the importance of being hydrated. You know you’re hydrated when you pee clear. You know how much water you need to drink to be hydrated? A lot. Water is good for your heart, head, skin and digestion. Drink it.

I could go on and on… oh and by the way, nutritional yeast on popcorn… amazing.

If you’re ever in Costa Rica, check out The Healing Cuisine for cleanses and workshops {absolutely fantastic}. Joanne also posts great healthy eating tidbits on her Facebook page. For example, these dynamo juice recipes {pink beauty, snow white, green monster}, a how to for ginger champagne and the benefits of mangoes!

Pinterest has tons of great recipes — who knew eh? A few food blogs I love are Post Punk Kitchen, My Darling Lemon Thyme and Smitten Kitchen.

It’s now 2:30am. Debating a slice of apple pie from the farmers market before bed. Best decision, right?

Take care of your body. It will thank you. Promise.