‘Food’ Category

  1. Coconut-Lime Protein Squares

    April 13, 2016 by Melanie Faris

    Coconut-lime squares

    Lately I’ve been working on building some muscle mass and upping my protein intake. I love eating healthy consistently, but boy oh boy is it a challenge finding creative, yummy, and all the while healthy food to eat. I seriously can’t handle the “apple and almond” snack that is so often recommended. Like seriously, do I want to eat an apple and a handful of almonds? No. No I do not.

    Today was the day for a little experimenting in my kitchen. It has been sooooo long, and I have been yearning to get back to some of my old eating habits. I had so much fun eating healthy in my past. I also had time to bake and cook all the time. Unfortunately convenience has won this Mommy’s mouth. Seriously, I have become the person I never thought possible. You know who I mean right? The boring mommy snacker who has no time to bake so I snack on pre-made store-bought boring food all day type of person. *Insert blood curdling scream.

    I can’t handle it anymore. My taste buds are begging me for some flavour and freshness. I’m sick of eating plain cottage cheese because I don’t have time for anything else. TODAY IS THE DAY ladies and gentlemen. Fasten your seat-belts for a good healthy, easy recipe.

    Coconut-Lime Squares
    Yields 16
    A cake-like snack without the sugar or guilt.
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    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    30 min
    Total Time
    45 min
    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    30 min
    Total Time
    45 min
    Dry Ingredients
    1. 1 cup oat flour (to make - pour large flake oats into food processor or blender until it resembles flour)
    2. 1/2 cup unflavored, or vanilla whey protein powder
    3. 1/2 cup xylitol (low sugar option) or other sweetener of choice
    4. 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
    5. 1 tablespoon baking powder
    6. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    Wet Ingredients
    1. 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites
    2. 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
    3. 1/4 cup 0% plain or vanilla greek yogurt
    4. 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
    5. 1/2 lime, juice only *optional - add zest of 1/2 lime
    6. 5 drops lime essential oil (food grade. ex, Young Living brand)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
    2. In a medium bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix the wet ingredients together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over stir.
    3. Pour the mixture into the baking dish lined with parchment paper, and bake for 30 minutes. Test with a knife to see if it comes out clean. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into 16 squares.
    4. Best eaten fresh and warm. Refrigerate leftovers or freeze for later.
    Notes
    1. Try enjoying these squares with a dollop of yogurt and a squeeze of lime juice on top! Especially if the bars need moistening up after a couple days in the fridge.
    Melanie Faris' Blog http://melaniefaris.com/
    Start your life-changing journey with essential oils now. Click here to get started!


  2. How I lost all of my baby weight

    February 19, 2016 by Melanie Faris

    During my pregnancy I gained around 35lbs, give or take a few. But even before I got pregnant, I was higher on the scale since I let my diet slide a bit and wasn’t working out as much as I used to before I got married. So overall I was about 45 pounds heavier by the end of my pregnancy than my pre-marriage weight 3 years ago.

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    Before I got married and had a baby, I was exercising on a very regular basis and made the gym my #1 priority. Now meal planning and a strict exercise regimen is just not practical, and that’s okay with me! But yet, here I am today weighing LESS than I did before I got pregnant. So if I didn’t follow a strict diet plan or exercise program after having a baby, how did I do it?

    For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know I love eating healthy. Over the years I have naturally geared more towards the healthier choices than french fries and fast food. I guess you can say I eat healthy for the most part, but don’t get me wrong, I am totally happy to enjoy pizza on the weekend and a nice slice of cheesecake occasionally. I don’t limit myself, and I don’t really diet, but I do enjoy eating healthy most of the time. For me, I know that has helped me make consistent progress. Eating healthy for me no longer means egg whites for breakfast, or counting calories throughout the day. It works for some, just not for me at this point in my life. And it’s certainly not how I lost my baby weight…

    I have never been good at sticking to one thing. It’s going to be difficult for me to tell you EXACTLY what I did to lose my baby weight and the cellulite off my thighs (which I’ve had for a long time, and no longer do). I’m a bit of a squirrel and often start one thing before finishing the last ten things I started. I get distracted and excited about new things all the time, so you won’t find a list of things I did consistently to lose weight. I will give you a general idea of my days postpartum and peek into a “normal day” in the life of Melanie (if there is such a thing), and hopefully that can help you with your goals as well!

    1-3 Months Postpartum

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    Once I had Norah, I didn’t care about getting my pre-baby body back right away. I was more enthralled with this new precious being than I was over what I ate in a day. To be honest, I didn’t have the time, nor the energy to cook. I was happy with take out, something in the freezer, or heck – PB&J would suffice. I didn’t exercise much at all for the first 3 months of Norah’s life. The most exercise I did was a walk around the neighborhood with my new baby, the very occasional run, or grocery shopping (that counts right?). I didn’t care if I held onto those extra pounds for those first few months, I was just loving every moment of being a new mom.

    I had to wait until Norah was 3 months before I could leave her at the gym daycare. Once I could bring her with me, I started going to the gym and doing very light/easy workouts. I did mostly body weight exercises, and it was enough for me! I did very basic exercises and found that I only needed to be there for 30 minutes to get a good workout. Plus I had a very hungry baby who I couldn’t leave much longer than that amount of time.

    I did not do ANY ab exercises for approx 5 or 6 months postpartum. I waited a while so that I didn’t risk having diastasis rectus abdominis (which is basically when your abs stay separated postpartum). I could feel a space between my abs for a while postpartum, so I waited until it was no longer there before doing any crunches.

    Tip #1. Go easy. Don’t rush into an exercise program after having a new baby. Your body needs time to adjust and figure out how to function without having to grow a baby anymore. Besides, you will be so busy with your new little one that exercise isn’t a top priority…not in those first few months at least. Give yourself rest, and try to eat well. Light exercise is fine, but don’t jump into anything too intense at this point.

    4 + Months Postpartum

    Now that I was settled into motherhood and had a bit more flexibility with my days, I was going to the gym more and able to cook most of my meals again. I was doing a Jamie Eason program called “From Flat to All That”  for about a month, which was awesome and got me to the gym on a more regular basis, but that only lasted a short while (told you I’m a squirrel). I sometimes go back and do her workouts, but I haven’t been consistent with them since having a baby to care for.

    At this point, I have been going to the gym or exercising at home around 3 days a week, sometimes 4. There are weeks I don’t go at all, but I do feel a bit sluggish if I skip an entire week.

    Tip #2. You don’t need to follow a program to get results. However, programs will fast-track your results since you have something to work towards and follow. Even if you don’t complete a program, try one out for a while and get yourself back into regular exercising during the week. Try to be consistent and build up your strength again, but don’t feel bad if you miss a workout. Baby’s get sick, Mommy’s get sick, and life throws curve balls. Just go with it and don’t throw the towel in. Pick up where you left off once you are able to.

    9 Months + Postpartum

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    Still not following any special program at this point. I am comfortable at the gym lifting weights again and go 3-4 days/week. Occasionally I will run on the treadmill at home, but it is not something I do on a regular basis.

    A Typical Workout

    Warm-up for 5 minutes on treadmill or elliptical. *If I feel like doing more cardio, I will stay on for 20 minutes.

    3 sets of 10-15 repetitions of each: squats, machine chest press, tricep-dips, shoulder press, dumbell bicep curls, lat pull-down machine & calf raises. (Sometimes I will add in abs in-between or at the end).

    Tip #3. Weight lifting is what helped me to tighten up and bounce back quickly. Before I got pregnant I did mostly weight lifting over cardio – always! If you don’t know what the heck to do for weight lifting, please follow a program or go to the gym with a friend who can help you. I highly suggest trying a Jamie Eason programs (it’s free!). You will not get a “toned” look by running on the treadmill. You MUST lift weights. However, listen to your body and start off with very light weights, or even body weight exercises. Ease your way into it and then increase your weights as you go. I am so glad that I had a good muscle base before I got pregnant. I believe it is one of the reasons I was able to bounce back quickly. However, even if you didn’t do much weight lifting before having a baby, it’s never too late to start. It will be the best way to lose any extra weight you are holding onto.

    A day in the life of Melanie

    *I am not suggesting you follow this to lose weight. I am also not recommending the ingestion or use essential oils for weight loss. This is meant for a reference of my daily routine. Please do your own research before using essential oils.

    Breakfast – 2 eggs, 2 slices of rye toast with butter, 1/4 avocado + berries.

    Coffee with 2 milks 1 sugar. Yum! I like to read a bit of my Bible if Norah is napping and enjoy my coffee.

    Fill up a bottle of water with 1-2 drops of essential oil. I add one drop of peppermint oil in my water during my workouts or if I want to feel refreshed and energized. During the day I like to drink citrus fresh, tangerine, lemon, grapefruit and orange essential oils in my water. *I will only ingest pure, organic therapeutic grade essential oils. See bottom of post for more info.

    I apply peppermint essential oil to my body before exercising, and recently have been rubbing my thighs and belly with grapefruit or citrus oils. I also use a DIY coffee scrub with citrus oils in the shower occasionally. My skin and body loves the oils! They have enhanced my life dramatically!

    I get to the gym before noon and do a workout similar to what’s posted above. I sometimes stay home and run on my treadmill if I can’t get to the gym.

    Snack – usually a banana or something quick. I love snacking on “Aussie Bites” from Costco lately too.

    Lunch – whole grain sandwich or wrap with chicken lunch meat. Usually something easy. I like adding a bit of Caesar dressing to my wraps (told you I’m not counting calories). I also like adding hot sauce, a slice of cheese, lettuce and whatever else I can fit in. Sometimes I will just make a big salad and throw everything in it. If I eat a salad for lunch, I will probably have more snacks during the day. I love snacks. I love food. Who am I kidding.

    Snack 2 – large handful of healthy crackers with guacamole/hummus. I usually have another coffee here too. I will drink more water and fill up the bottle I used before.

    Dinner – I love making salmon or white fish or chicken breast + rice with tamari soy sauce (we love  organic white basmati) and a steamed vegetable with a bit of butter. I like to swap out rice for sweet potatoes, quinoa or couscous too! If I have time, I will make brown rice instead of white rice.

    Later snack – vanilla or plain greek yogurt with berries and sliced almonds (my favourite snack!). Sometimes Thomas and I eat popcorn while watching a movie or tv show. I also love snacking on grapes!! I usually only have one snack at night, plus a big cup of herbal tea.

    I always go to bed with a full belly. There is a lot of controversy over eating late at night. I have always had a bedtime snack and do not stop eating past a certain time because it will cause me to gain weight. Even when I was at my smallest weight, I had a late night snack. When you are weight lifting, you need to fuel your body. You get hungry more often as well. If you are not exercising regularly, a late night snack would not be a great idea. For me, I love my late snacks and it has never affected me negatively! I actually think it helps my metabolism and sustains my muscle mass. I certainly don’t eat chips every night, but greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or occasionally eating popcorn is something that I enjoy and will continue to do!

    So there you have it. A typical day in my life. I also clean, do laundry and hold a crying baby for a lot of my day. But I don’t think you all want to hear about those details. hehe!!

    If you are interested in using Young Living Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils,  click here to start right now or you can contact me for more info.

     


  3. Turkey Oatmeal Veggie Balls

    February 24, 2015 by Melanie Faris

    Turkey Oatmeal Veggie Balls

    When I was doing the Jamie Eason Livefit Program, I was always in search of clean meals that had lean meats & healthy carbs. I ate a lot of turkey, chicken, fish and eggs. Many of the recipes I used were actually from Jamie’s program, and they helped me to stay on track with my diet. Now that cooking is part of my job as a personal chef, I love using my favourite clean eating recipes as a base and build on them to make new recipes & flavours.

    This recipe was one that I  adapted from Jamie Eason’s Meatloaf Muffin recipe. It has always been one of my favourite’s, because it is SO easy to make, So delicious, and it FREEZES GREAT. With my due date being only 6 weeks away, it’s time to start stocking up the freezer with quick meals for when baby arrives. I changed up some of the measurements and added my own spices so that it has the texture and taste that I like best. I like to eat these with Franks red hot & a side of steamed veggies. Yum! Clean eating can be really easy & super fast. I hope you love these as much as I do. 

    Turkey Oatmeal Veggie Balls
    Yields 6
    A quick main dish that freezes great! Steam up some veggies on the side and you're all set. This will feed a family of 4 or 5, but I usually make a double batch so I have extra to freeze. It takes almost the same amount of time to make, so why not?!
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    Prep Time
    10 min
    Cook Time
    35 min
    Total Time
    45 min
    Prep Time
    10 min
    Cook Time
    35 min
    Total Time
    45 min
    Ingredients
    1. 1 package ground turkey, or chicken (450g)
    2. 3/4 cup large flake oats
    3. 2 eggs
    4. 1 bell pepper, chopped finely
    5. 1 small onion, chopped finely
    6. 1 celery stalk, chopped finely
    7. 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
    8. 1 tsp cumin
    9. 1 tsp oregano
    10. *optional spices - pinch of cayenne & red pepper flakes
    11. Salt & pepper, to taste
    12. 2 tsp olive oil
    Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 370 degrees.
    2. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper (for easy clean up) and drizzle a small amount of oil on the bottom.
    3. Chop the vegetables into small pieces & mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
    4. Form the mixture with your hands into 6 balls (approx. the size of a tennis ball).
    5. Place the turkey balls onto the baking sheet and drizzle them with a bit more oil.
    6. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes (or until cooked through at 165 degrees fahrenheit).
    Notes
    1. Optional - turn the turkey balls half way through. This isn't necessary, but will give it a nice crust on both sides.
    2. You can add other vegetables to this recipe that you have in the fridge. Carrots, mushrooms, zucchini...etc.
    3. If you have leftovers, I like to put them in a bowl with chicken broth in the fridge. This way they are super moist when you reheat them again.
    Adapted from Jamie Eason's Turkey Meatloaf Muffins
    Melanie Faris' Blog http://melaniefaris.com/


  4. Chicken and Vegetable Curry

    January 9, 2015 by Melanie Faris

    Chicken Vegetable Curry

    It’s been a while since I have posted a new recipe. Today is the day! I’m excited to bring you an amazing chicken curry that I made last night for dinner. Indian curry? Thai curry? I don’t know what kind of curry it is, all I know is I used a bunch of curry spices and my house still smells like curry this morning. Must be pretty flavorful, right? Oh yes. If you like curry, this dish will be a new household staple meal. A word of advice – don’t skip out on marinating the chicken. It’s an important step! I was able to open my cupboard and pull most items I usually have on hand. Score! No drive to the grocery store. Plus, it’s super cheap to make if you are on a budget after Christmas. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
    xo Mel.

    Chicken and Vegetable Curry
    Serves 4
    A delicious healthy chicken curry that uses traditional curry spices with a touch of heat.
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    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    30 min
    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    30 min
    Ingredients
    1. 2 boneless skinless chicken breast
    2. 1 can of coconut milk (I used full fat, but you can also use light)
    3. 1 cup tomato sauce
    4. 1/2 cup vegetable broth (I cook my rice in the rest)
    5. 2 T. tomato paste
    6. 2 T. of coconut oil
    7. 3 garlic cloves, minced (plus extra for marinade)
    8. 1 inch piece of ginger, minced (plus extra for marinade)
    9. 1 orange, juice only (one half is used for marinade)
    10. 1 onion, chopped into wedges
    11. 1 bell pepper, chopped
    12. 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
    13. 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
    14. 2 T. yellow curry powder
    15. 2 tsp cumin
    16. 1 tsp turmeric
    17. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    18. pinch of red pepper flakes (if you like a bit of spice)
    19. salt and pepper, to taste
    Marinade
    1. 1/4 cup olive oil
    2. 1/4 cup of coconut milk (use the rest in the sauce)
    3. 1/2 orange, juice only
    4. 2 small garlic cloves (or one medium), chopped finely or minced
    5. 1 small piece of ginger (approx 1 tsp chopped finely or minced)
    Instructions
    1. Rinse and chop the chicken into bite size pieces. Place in a bowl and set aside.
    2. Prepare and mix all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour over the chicken. Cover and put in the fridge overnight, or a minimum of 1 hour. Save the rest of the coconut milk in the fridge for later.
    3. If serving with brown rice, start cooking this first so it is ready in time
    4. Heat a large pan with coconut oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan once it is hot. Let the chicken sizzle and brown on the outside. The goal is not to fully cook the chicken. Remove from the pan once browned and cover with foil to keep warm.
    5. Turn the heat down to medium and add the vegetables, garlic and ginger to the pan. Add more oil if needed. Stir in all of the spices and let it cook until onions are translucent.
    6. Add all remaining liquid, tomato paste and orange juice into the pan. Let simmer covered on low for around 10 minutes, or until sweet potato is soft. Add chicken and simmer gently until it is cooked through (5 minutes or so).
    Notes
    1. Tastes great served over rice!
    Melanie Faris' Blog http://melaniefaris.com/


  5. Warming Beef and Barley Stew

    October 27, 2014 by Melanie Faris

    warming beef and barley stew

    The other day I was stuck for what to make for dinner. Usually our dinners are not anything too extravagant. My go-to meals consist of cod (our favourite fish), or chicken, rice & veggies. We eat this often and it’s easy to make. I think people get the idea that I am always cooking incredible meals for Thomas and I. Sure there are days where I feel inspired, but to be honest, after a day full of cooking for others, I often just want to come home and throw a quick meal together, or order takeout if I’m really lazy lol.

    So as I was driving home from a day of cooking, a craving suddenly hit this pregnant lady. Stew. I wanted a big bowl of beef and barley stew (inspired by my Dad who made this occasionally for us growing up, even though he doesn’t like stew as much as Mom and I). I headed straight for the grocery store to get some key ingredients.

    Beef and Barley Stew Grocery List

     
    Fresh Produce Meat Packaged Goods
    Carrots Stewing Beef (0.5kg) Flour (Quinoa or W.Wheat)
    Celery   Package of Pearl Barley
    Small Package White Mushrooms   Olive Oil
    1 Onion   1 Can Tomato Paste
    Garlic   2 Cartons Beef Stock
    6 Small Potatoes (any)   1 Can Beans in Tomato Sauce
        1 Can Kidney Beans
        14 oz Diced Tomatoes
        Salt + Pepper
        Dry Thyme & Rosemary
        Bay Leaves
        Garlic & Onion Powder

    Most of these items you may already have in stock. Now that we have everything we need, let’s make our stew!

     

    Warming Beef and Barley Stew
    Serves 8
    A delicious stew that will fill your body with warmth and goodness.
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    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    1 hr 15 min
    Total Time
    1 hr 30 min
    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    1 hr 15 min
    Total Time
    1 hr 30 min
    Ingredients
    1. 3 celery stalks
    2. 2 carrots
    3. 1 small package of white mushrooms
    4. 1 onion
    5. 3 cloves of garlic, minced
    6. 6 small potatoes
    7. 0.5 kg of stewing beef
    8. 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons quinoa or whole wheat flour
    9. 3/4 cup pearled barley, rinsed
    10. 2 cartons beef stock (or replace one carton with mushroom broth)
    11. 1 can beans in tomato sauce
    12. 1 can kidney beans (large or small, your choice), rinsed and drained
    13. 1 can (14oz.) diced tomatoes
    14. 1 can tomato paste
    15. splash of olive oil
    16. 1 tsp thyme
    17. 1 tsp rosemary
    18. 1 tsp onion powder
    19. 2 tsp garlic powder
    20. 2 bay leaves
    21. salt and pepper, to taste
    Instructions
    1. Begin by chopping all vegetables.
    2. Wash and peel the potatoes, chopping into bite size pieces.
    3. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
    4. Cut the stewing beef into smaller pieces if needed and place in a ziplock bag with 1/4 cup of flour. Seal and shake the beef so all pieces are coated.
    5. Add the beef to the pot with a bit of salt and pepper and brown all sides. Once browned, remove beef and set aside.
    6. Add a bit more oil to the pot and add all vegetables (except potatoes). Add salt + pepper, and remaining spices. Let them cook until soft (approx. 10 minutes).
    7. Add potatoes, barley, broth, beans, diced tomatoes and paste to the pot and turn heat on high. Stir.
    8. Throw in 2 bay leaves and let it come to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 1 hour.
    9. Once stew has cooked, you can whisk in the remaining flour to thicken if needed.
    Notes
    1. Optional: serve with buttered bread to dip
    2. Hint: freeze leftovers for another day when you don't feel like cooking!
    Melanie Faris' Blog http://melaniefaris.com/


  6. Pumpkin Pie Spiced Applesauce

    October 10, 2014 by Melanie Faris

    Thomas and I went apple picking on Wednesday (Thomas’ day off). We have tried to be a bit more adventurous when we have time together, although the couch is often the most enticing place to be. So we headed out for breakfast to our favourite local breakfast spot, and with satisfied bellies, we hit the apple orchard.

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    He’s so darn cute I could squeeze him.

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    I wasn’t sure what to do with the bag of apples. It’s now Friday, and I think we ate a total of 3 apples since Wednesday. I mean, you can only eat so many apples right?! I was thinking of making an apple crisp, or maybe an apple pie for Thanksgiving, but I am already going to make a pumpkin pie. Then it hit me – Aha! I can make an apple loaf. After reading through recipes online, I realized if I wanted to cut out most of the butter, I was in need of applesauce (which I didn’t have). And then another Aha moment hit me. I will make applesauce! It is perfect for this time of year, and what better than to add a bit of pumpkin pie spice and some pumpkin purée to the mix?! I was sold. So off to the kitchen I went, wearing my housecoat and sporting some bad breath. When it’s cooking time, who really has time to brush their teeth?! It was first thing in the morning I had work to do…

    Don’t worry I brushed my teeth. Just after I finished my work in the kitchen :).

     

    Pumpkin Pie Spiced Applesauce

     

    Click here for the Printable Recipe

    Step 1: Peel, core and slice 7-8 apples.

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    Step 2: Add to a pot.

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    Step 3: Add to the pot 1/2 cup each of apple cider (or apple juice), and water. (I’m sure this would work fine with water only if you don’t have juice).

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    Step 4: Add 1 tablespoon of cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (or a mixture of cloves, nutmeg and allspice if you don’t have this spice), + 1/3 cup of coconut sugar. Stir.

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    Step 5: Let simmer for 20-25 minutes covered.

    Step 6: Using a slotted spoon,transfer the apples (not the remaining liquid) to a blender. If you have a Vitamix, you may want to use the tamper, or scrape down the sides occasionally. Blend until smooth or a bit chunky (your choice).

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    Step 7: You can eat it as is, or add a little extra pumpkin flavor by stirring in 1 tablespoon of pumpkin purée. It’s fall, why not?! 🙂

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    *Tip – add a little bit of lemon juice to preserve the applesauce if you aren’t eating it right away. Remember to refrigerate in an airtight container.

    The final product…

    Delicious Pumpkin Pie Spiced Applesauce! Use it in all your fall baking recipes to replace the butter and fat, or eat it as-is. Yum!

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    Let me know what you think! I certainly will be enjoying this for the next couple of days. Happy Thanksgiving to all ye fellow Canadians!

    With Love,

    Melanie Faris

     

     

     

     

     


  7. The Truth: Meat, Fish & Poultry Labels

    July 21, 2014 by Melanie Faris

    There are so many products in the grocery store it is overwhelming. How do you decide what you buy? Maybe you reach for the familiar foods you had in your home growing up. Lucky charms anyone? Or maybe your health has recently declined and now you are starting to read the labels. Can someone please tell me why boiled skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals is in my favourite childhood cereal? Ew.

    So, what do those claims on the label really mean? And who really has the time to look into each and every one? How am I supposed to know what is the best and who is telling the truth? To be honest, I’m tired to reaching for a product just because of the label. I want to know what I am buying and what these claims on the label really mean. I want to be an educated consumer in Canada. Don’t you?

    So how does one become an educated, healthful consumer in Canada? By taking little steps in the right direction each day, and learning as you go! I want to help you on your journey and make this practical. Together we will learn and discover how we can make better decisions to benefit our health. I will never tell you what to do – I simply want to provide you with information and let you decide what to do with it.

    Today we venture to the meat, fish and poultry section of the grocery store…

    What is the difference between each package in front of you? Next time you are at the grocery store buying meat, poultry or fish, take a moment to look at the labels before you make a purchase.

    What does “all natural” really mean?

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    Is it really better to buy grain-fed, antibiotic free?

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    I don’t blame you if it’s easier to ignore the label. We all buy our food for different reasons, but maybe it’s time we became aware of what these food labels really mean…

    The CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) are the people who enforce policies and standards, set by Health Canada, governing the safety and nutritional quality of all food sold in Canada. They make sure we aren’t lied to as consumers so that we can make educated decisions when purchasing the food that ends up on our plates.

    To avoid the confusion behind those labels, I dug into some information and summarized my findings for you. Below is a simple chart I put together with information from the CFIA. After doing some research, I realized that food labeling is not always a “marketing scam” (as I initially thought). Sure, it is hard to know 100% what you are buying, but labels can often be a very helpful thing, as long as you know what the label really means. Let’s find out…

    (Please note that these guidelines do not include organic claims, which fall under the Organic Products Regulations of the Canada Agricultural Products Act.)

    CFIA Meat, Fish and Poultry Label Claims

    Click here for the link to the printable version

     

    Print off this chart and take it with you next time you go grocery shopping. This is an easy step to becoming an educated consumer in Canada.

     

    Buy organic first if possible!

     

    I don’t believe organic is perfect, but it is usually better. Why? They have strict regulations that they must follow in order to be certified organic. For example, feed must be organic and GMO free (remember, all those non-organic grain fed animals are most likely loaded with GMO corn & soy). Organic promises no added hormones or antibiotics to promote growth. Synthetic preservatives or added colouring are prohibited and the animal must have access to pasture. There are many more regulations they must follow, which makes “label reading” much easier when buying organic. All you need to do is look for ONE label instead of being confused by a bunch of labels:

    09-067

     

    Look for this label to avoid GMOs in non-organic food. This label is found on organic food too, even though “certified organic” already means non-gmo:

    lettersizeLogo

    If organic is not an option, follow the chart I have provided to help you with purchasing your meat, fish and poultry. Remember, your health is your own responsibility, don’t just leave it to chance or labels. Educate yourself!

    In Love,

    Melanie Faris


  8. Summer Is Here! Banana Date Pops Recipe

    June 29, 2014 by Melanie Faris

    Well, it’s official. The sun is shining (for the most part), and the beautiful weather is here to stay. Summer is here! Yippee!! I have many memories of being a little girl and walking to the nearest convenience store in the summer. I would often walk back home with a Popsicle in hand. I always loved a Banana Popsicle. Looking back now, I wish I realized what I was putting in my body. Just check out the ingredients:

    water, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sugar, contains 1 percent or less of each of the following: banana juice concentrate, guar gum, natural flavor, locust bean gum, phosphoric acid, turmeric oleoresin (for color).

    It kind of makes me giggle that these Banana Popsicles have less than 1 percent banana juice. Maybe they should be called a high fructose corn syrup sugar Popsicle. I don’t think they would sell as many though…?

    Maybe this summer instead of walking to the convenience store, I will just open my freezer and enjoy my own delicious creation. I certainly want to enjoy a summer treat (or two) every once in a while, especially on those hot sunny days – like today!

    So here it is, just in time for summer – a creamy frozen treat that I will be sure to enjoy all summer long!

    banana date pops

    Printable recipe for Banana Date Pops

    Banana Date Pops Recipe

     
    
    

    Ingredients

    2 cups of filtered water (plus extra for soaking cashews)

    ½ cup raw cashews, soaked

    2 ripe bananas

    8 medjool dates, pitted

    1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean)

    Method

    Cover and soak the raw cashews in filtered water for 2-4 hours. Once softened, drain and rinse the cashews. Add them to the blender with 2 cups of water and blend until smooth. You can also use almond milk in replace of the cashew milk, but it won’t be as creamy.

    Pour hot water over the dates to let them soften before using. Let them sit for a few minutes. If the dates have pits, be sure to remove them.

    Add all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into Popsicle containers and let them sit in the freezer overnight, or until they are fully frozen. If you can’t fit all of the mixture in your Popsicle containers, just drink it like a smoothie. You wont be sorry.

    *Tip – If the Popsicle wont come out when it is frozen, pour hot water over the outside of the container to help them slide out easier.

     

     


  9. 3 Steps to Turn your Workouts into Results

    June 14, 2014 by Melanie Faris

    My Balanced Approach to Weight Loss – Step 4

     

    Today I woke up at 4:45 am for an in-home personal training session at 6 am. Some may find that a bit early to open their eyes, but I’m a morning person so I don’t mind :). I actually feel most energized in the mornings, even if I don’t feel like getting up at first…

    After training today, I came home to discover the kale chips I attempted to make, which turned out perfectly crispy in my new Excalibur Dehydrator. Did I mention Thomas surprised me with one for my birthday? I LOVE it. Isn’t it fun when you get something new?! I have experimented with dehydrating fruits mostly, but now I know that kale chips will be a big part of my future. I have made them in the oven before to take with me to the movie theater to avoid buying popcorn. Good idea huh? I thought it was a great idea, but was sadly mistaken when I took a bite. The delicious crisp I was excited to have was more like a soggy chew. I guess you need to eat them hot out of the oven if they are going to stay crispy. I’m hoping the dehydrator is the answer to my kale problems. So far I ate half of my batch, and that was by 9 am. The real test is when I eat the other half stored in my cupboard later tonight or tomorrow :).

    kale chips

    Yesterday morning I went for a 5km run. About half way through, I suddenly felt like I was in an episode of Baywatch when the clouds decided to relieve themselves on me. I was drenched. But – it was a necessary run since I am going to be doing my first 5km race next Saturday. I could have easily sat under a tree and waited out the rain, but I knew I couldn’t stop since I had a goal to finish my 5km without stopping. If you know me, you already know how much I like goal setting (check out my balanced approach to weight loss – step three). During my run, I was picking mini-workout goals, and it was the only thing that kept me from knocking on a stranger’s door and asking for a towel and a seat on their dry couch.

    I don’t want to overload you with information today, so I am going to keep this simple and give you three easy steps. The 4th step in my balanced approach to weight loss is about turning your workouts into results. Whether you are at the gym lifting weights, or doing squats with a baby at home, this tip can help you make the most out of your workouts.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to the gym and left without having a good workout. I have learned over time that if I don’t have a focus or a goal, I will not have a good workout – which means I won’t get the results I really want. Too many times I have talked myself off of the treadmill 5, 10, or 15 minutes earlier than I originally planned. I tell myself I am too tired or have more important things to do at home.

    The truth of the matter is this:

    Without a plan, you are planning to fail

    In order to make this as straight forward as possible, I have listed easy steps below for you to turn your workout into results. Follow these simple steps to plan for a successful workout.

     

    3 Steps to Turn your Workout into Results

     

    Step 1: Make an appointment

     

    You need to make an appointment to exercise. Book it one day at a time or add it to your full month’s calendar. This is not something you can say, “Maybe I will do it tomorrow.” You won’t! You MUST book an appointment and treat it like any other appointment in your schedule. You wouldn’t miss your doctor’s appointment or hair appointment because you didn’t feel like going. This is absolutely no different and just as important as anything else in your calendar.

     

    Step 2: Know what you are doing before you start

     

    Don’t go in blind. You need some sort of plan. Whether that means you have each exercise printed off beforehand, or you simply pick the muscles groups you are prepared to work. Do what you feel most comfortable with. You need some sort of plan. Before I walk out the door, I like to pick the muscle groups I want to exercise that day. Since I am very familiar with most exercises, I don’t need to take anything with me. Or if I am running outside, I know exactly where I plan to run so I don’t turn around too early. I don’t always need to know every detail for my workout, the most important part is to have a focus before you start.

     

    Step 3: Set mini-workout goals

     

    This tip is like my little secret weapon. It is the thing that pushes me those extra 2 or 3 reps that ultimately will get me the results I want. Before you start an exercise, pick a short goal that seems easily attainable. For example, I am at the gym ready to do squats. Ultimately, I want to do 20 repetitions. This is my big goal, which sounds a bit scary and difficult to attain. BUT, I do know that I can easily do 5 repetitions. So in my mind, I tell myself to do only 5 repetitions. Once I reach my first mini-goal of 5 reps, without stopping I say, “Okay Melanie, let’s do another 5.” Before I know it, I have made it to my big goal of 20 repetitions! You can do this with any exercise. I use this same secret weapon for running. Try picking the nearest stop sign as your goal instead of seeing how far you have left to run. Reach that stop sign then pick your next mini goal. This will make it interesting, fun, and help you to keep going when you otherwise would stop. To me, this makes it MUCH easier to hit my big goal by setting some mini-goals. Make it sound easy to attain so you can’t fail.

     

    That’s it. I will leave you with it. Time to finally turn your workouts into results – the simplest way possible. Now get to work! 🙂

    Love,

    Melanie.

    Click here to see the first 3 steps in my balanced approach to weight loss.

     


  10. My Balanced Approach to Weight Loss – Step 3

    June 5, 2014 by Melanie Faris

    Today I want to talk about something that is very important when it comes to weight loss, but often overlooked. It’s something people talk about doing, yet very seldom take the time to do properly. This is quite possibly the most important step to successful weight loss. Without doing this, you will be spinning in circles with no clear direction of where to go and what to do.

    Instead of thinking about where you are today, you need to think about the future you and what steps you need to take to move towards your goals. Today’s focus is goal setting. Before you close this page, let me warn you now…

    If you skip this step, I can almost guarantee that your weight loss goals will not become a reality.

    For a moment, I want you to think about your ideal physical body . How do you envision yourself as the “perfect you”? Close your eyes and picture yourself. Seriously. Stop reading this and do it.

    Have you got a picture in your mind? Take a good hard look at the future you.  How do you look? How do you feel about yourself? How do you live your life in your ideal body? What do you eat on a regular basis? How often do you exercise? Ask yourself this:

    What did you do to have the body of your dreams?

    Grab a pen or open up a blank document of your computer. If you are serious about this, you can’t skip this step. Writing this down is what will take you from today to the future. Trust me.

    I want you to write some quick notes about the future you, just like I have done below for myself…

    When I see the future me, I am…

    • Dedicated to my exercise routine, even when I don’t feel like exercising.
    • I have self-control with food (I stop eating when I am full. I don’t indulge in late-night snacks…etc)
    • I walk around confidently in my body. I even wear shorts to the gym (which I don’t do now)
    • I enjoy eating healthy and do so everyday, not just some of the time.

     

    Once you have a few general ideas jotted down, you need to get specific. Don’t be unrealistic.

    Be realistically specific.

    If you see yourself 30 lbs lighter in your ideal body, do not give yourself a measly 4 weeks to get there. Give yourself some room for “balance” in your lifestyle. Losing 1-2 lbs a week is healthy. Losing 5 lbs is not practical and definitely not healthy. You want to pick a goal that you can happily maintain. You may not need to exercise at the same intensity as you do now, or eat a perfect diet, but you will need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Who wants to go back to square one once you reach your goal? Not me! I want to keep my goal body for the long haul. So let’s be realistic.

    Your specific goals are what you are going to use to create your goal card. You may be tempted to turn off your computer now, or just “read” instead of “do” this part. But I can’t say this enough – do this, no matter how silly this seems to you now. One day you will look at your goal card and realize “Hey! I am living this NOW. I reached my goal!!”

    The purpose of your goal card is simple: remind yourself of what you really want each day. This is something you will read once or twice a day, not only once in a while. I keep mine on my night table so I can read it first thing in the morning and before I go to sleep at night. On days when you don’t feel like working out or eating healthy, you will read your card and go, “AHA! I needed that extra push.” Every single day makes a difference, so start doing this today. Here’s how…

     

    Goal Card Writing 101

     

    Three simple-specific steps to help you move from today to your future body…

    Step #1:

     

    Begin with the date. When exactly do you see yourself with your ideal body? Write it at the top of your page.

     

    Specific Step #2:

     

    What is your measurable goal? This could be your future weight, pant size, or measurements…etc.) Write down something specific you can track and see.

    *Do NOT put what weight you are today on your goal card. Today does not matter. The future you is what we are focusing on. Write down your current weight or other tracking measurements somewhere else other than your goal card.

     

    Specific Step #3:

     

    Looking backwards from your goal date, what did you have to do to get there? Break this down into 3 sections: monthly, weekly and daily. How did you honestly, realistically and specifically get there?

     

    Check a sample goal card I wrote below for myself. I like to “super-charge” my goal card by including my faith in my goals. I would highly recommend doing this too if you want to use “super” gas instead of “regular” to fill up your motivation gas tank. I don’t believe my goals are achievable without the strength, focus and peace I receive from God. With Him by my side, I know I can do ALL things. So here is what I read everyday to myself:

     

    Melanie Faris

    Goal Date: July 1st, 2014

    Weight: 120 lbs

    8-10 pounds total weight loss in one month. In order to lose this weight, I have focus and dedication daily to my health and fitness. I will successfully lose 1-2 lbs each week in 4 weeks time. Today I have the strength to say no to the things that tempt me. Today I will push myself even when I don’t feel like it. Today is a day that matters to my future. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). For it is God who works in me to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

     

    See?! Not so hard at all! Now simply read and repeat your own personalized goal card daily, and as often as possible! Watch how powerful it is to remind yourself of what you truly want on a regular basis.

    I will be posting my own personal transformation pictures in July for you all to see. Stay tuned for more steps to a balanced approach to weight loss and to follow me on this journey.

    Love always,

    Melanie Faris.

     

    If you want to catch up on my previous weight loss tips, check them out below:

    My balanced approach to weight loss – step 1

    My balanced approach to weight loss – step 2