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Pure Start Challenge : forming healthy habits one week at a time : eat mostly plants



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Hey guys, I hope you’re all well and 2015 has been treating you good so far…

How about those resolutions or those healthy habits?

Are you drinking more water?
Are you cutting down on sugar?

I hope so… keep going – you are forming healthy habits that will make you healthier, give you more energy and make your skin and body look better too. Naturally, my tips promote weight loss, if that’s your goal, and they also improve skin and hair. Although my approach is for optimal health – it’s interesting how your body thanks you by looking good! ;)

This week I want to jump into a challenge of just eating healthy! 
I feel like there are so many versions of what healthy is, that it tends to be confusing. So, since you all know my story of how I healed with food – I should sum up a few key points of worked for me (and in general works for healing). My healthy ‘diet’ is all about increasing the ‘good’ foods and eating less of the bad. I enjoy what I eat and couldn’t have it any other way – although for some, it may feel like sacrifice to stop eating foods they enjoy – I think that’s because they don’t know how good healthy foods can be! I research a lot about nutrition and learn new things every day. I look at modern science* as well as ancient regimens of what works to heal the body. 

*Modern science and research is also confusing. Just because the FDA puts a stamp on something, like GMO and Aspertame, I am not going to eat it. But I do keep myself informed as best I can about the latest research out there. But I also check on things like who is funding the research and could it be skewed a certain way. (The dairy industry is just one that comes to mind at the moment.)


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5 simple tips to eating healthy and healing with food!

1. Learn to listen to your body… it’s always trying to tell you something. And no, sugar cravings are not your way of feeding the body what it wants. Sugar is addictive – it’s the addiction that’s getting what it wants. I think we already established that earlier! ;)

Low energy, anxiety, headaches, skin problems, stomach cramps, constipation, weak hair and nails, cravings for sugar and carbs… all these things, even dry skin – and so much more, mean something. They mean that your body is begging for help. Neglecting and sticking a bandaid solution on the problem (like Tylenol for that headache) only masks the problem temporarily. Ask why? Why do you get headaches or have acne or upset stomach?

Solving these mysteries can be really challenging because of so many reasons… I think most of us are so busy and stressed that we don’t even know how to read our body. But tuning in for a few minutes throughout the day to how you feel is the first step.

I think it’s best to notice how you feel after a meal. Are you tired? Do you crave more food/ sweets? Do you get a runny nose, a scratchy throat? All these are symptoms of a bigger problem. Pay attention to these symptoms. Your body’s trying to tell you something.

2. Don’t accept things as the norm : low energy or high energy/ easily anxious types – don’t you think that that’s just how you are? I used to have lots of energy and easily got anxious about business and life, I thought laying down on the couch or blanket was a waste of time and didn’t see the point of ‘relaxing’ – because I had better things to do! I thought my insomnia was caused by a lot of excitement in my life! I also experienced a lot of headaches and moodiness – a real roller coaster ride with my mood swings. Now I know a lot of this was not a normal way of behaving – but I didn’t even see it until it was too late. Now I see that stress, sugar addiction, skipping meals and poor sleep patterns were a big picture of why I eventually got sick. I didn’t read the signs…Awareness is key! ;)

3. I am not on a diet and I don’t believe in dieting. Rather, healthy eating should be a lifestyle. But I think healthy eating needs a little work and constant inspiration. It’s not that it’s hard to do – and for some of us it’s second nature. But, I think a lot of people slip and they beat themselves up about it. It’s important to realize that this is normal. In order to develop healthy eating habits, it will feel a bit like work, and that’s ok.
 
4. Look for inspiration everywhere! Find people you look up to (um, hello!) your BFF, your sister, playgroup moms,… fellow bloggers, IG accounts that keep you excited about making some great positive changes. When you do have a slip, it’s ok. Don’t beat yourself about it and just try better the next meal.
 
5. Eat food, not too much, Mostly plants. ~ Michael Pollan was onto something with this message. Plant-based foods will always be the healthiest foods you put into your body. It’s not about becoming vegan or vegetarian but just including more vegetables and plant-based foods into your diet. Cutting out of the processed junk and sugar and eating naturally vitamin-rich foods. Make veggies your friend – get excited about new healthy recipes.
 
Did you see those cute Watermelon Radishes on my Instagram the other day? That was fun for me to play with new foods – that’s what you should do also. Just have fun experimenting in the kitchen and enjoying real food again!
 
 
Tackling your eating habits and making some changes with your relationship with food will improve your whole lifestyle without ever dieting. Being proactive in taking your health into your own hands will have a huge effect on your wellbeing and overall health and help you look and feel beautiful from the inside out. 
 
These tips have really helped me change my relationship with food and actually heal from my health problems. I hope it will help you too.
 
Please share your own tips how you live health.
For this weeks challenge, try to listen to your body and boost that veggie power by eating more plant-based meals. #eatmostlyplants

 


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Pure Start Challenge : forming healthy habits one week at a time



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Hello my lovelies.

I hope 2015 is off to a great start for you and I hope you’re been participating in our Pure Start Challenge challenge last week, which was #DrinkMoreWater

Did you drink more water? How have you been feeling when you drank more H2o?

I felt great! Even sleep deprived (I have a baby) and also getting sick with a cold really went all right.

I noticed I was more alert and energized. My focus was more improved and I got more done. And my face felt fresh and refreshed – as opposed to my usual heaviness on my face from being tired all the time… Then I still managed to get sick (bleh) that’s winter for you! But it was a mild cold and it went away after just two days – shall I contribute this quick recovery to drinking more water – I don’t know, but it may have just helped a little ;)

After all, water helps with our health and mood so much ;) 

I hope you’ve also been feeling great! Keep it up! The Drink More Water Challenge is not over – remember we’re forming healthy habits – keep it up!! 

This week, we’re introducing a new challenge!


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Pure Start Challenge : wk 2. Cut the Sugar!

Sugar is linked to so many health problems and it’s highly addictive – it’s a legal drug! It’s time to give it the boot!

When I first started making changes to my diet and getting healthier from a rare illness, this was the first change I made. I cut out the sugar!

Since my late teens and throughout my twenties I was highly addicted to sugar in all forms. If it wasn’t a donut after lunch, it was 3-4 teaspoons of honey in my tea or coffee. (Ha! I sweetened with tea because I sorta knew that sugar was bad and thought honey was healthier.) Now I know, it’s all sugar! Sure, honey is a better sweetener as it actually has some great nutritional value (especially raw honey) but when you overdo it, it doesn’t matter – you could be getting a sugar-fix from grapes for all I know. Your body knows no difference. If you go over 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of sugar a day, a Larabar bar has 23 grams – so easy to reach the max, right?!) (and you thought energy bars were healthy???)

So there was only one thing I could do – I did a sugar-detox! No sugar in all forms, even fruit! 
I stuck to it, that’s the key, to pull through. And I saw amazing changes in my body, my mind and overall symptoms. I felt great, my mind was clear, my headaches stopped. It was a life-changing experience. I invite everyone to join in and Cut the Sugar!!

4 tips to Cutting out the Sugar!

1. Remove it from the house and don’t buy anything sweet, even fruit, except for organic green apples and grapefruit (and one little reward*) 

(if you already have cookies and other sugary foods, pack them up and get rid of them for the full week, give them to your neighbour, mom or sister and give to your partner or roommate to hide completely out of sight). Or if it’s junk anyway, do yourself a favour and toss it! If it’s artificially sweetened, coloured or flavoured – then your decision will be easy to make. Dump it and never buy this stuff again.

2. Trick your taste buds! This is why it was great to already introduce a habit of drinking water with lemon. Keep it up! The lemon will help you cut the cravings and alkalize your body and hydrate it too. Other foods that are great are Grapefruit, Cucumbers, Radishes and lots of satiating healthy savoury dishes. Increase the heat level a little with cayenne pepper. If you have oatmeal for breakfast, don’t add any fruit even dried and sprinkle it with cinnamon and ground cloves. These spices help to curb sugar cravings. Cinnamon also actually lowers blood sugar. Add it to unsweetened coffee or chai tea or almond milk – so good and good-for-you!

3. Be prepared for cravings! Keep healthy snacks around. Protein-rich snacks are great too, like nuts and seeds. My personal favourites are walnuts and sunflower seeds, but I switch around between nuts and seeds to keep things interesting. I mix up my own trail mix – nothing fancy, just mixed nuts and seeds in a bad and I keep that around by my desk. Cut up veggies are also great, my favourites are cucumbers and carrots with hummus and cherry tomatoes are fab! I remember when I first did my sugar detox and I realized how sweet those cherry tomatoes really were. Yum!

4. Plan a reward system! Giving up your favourite sweet treat has it’s rough moments. Pull through and give yourself a treat for doing something amazing and healthy for your body. This is a great change and you need to be strong and patient this week. Sugar is terrible for your health, it literally feeds cancer cells, it can bring on diabetes, heart disease and everything from skin problems to mood swings, headaches and digestion problems. 
For pulling though this week with no sugary treats, you need a reward. Plan a mani and pedi, go on a date, go out somewhere fun with the kids… and yes, have a treat. A healthy ‘approved’ treat. Make it yourself from healthy ingredients with ‘good’ sugar – perhaps sweetened with dates or other fruit, or maple syrup or better yet, stevia!
When I have a great week of eating healthy, I plan for a great healthy sugar-free dessert for the weekend. I don’t think you have to deprive yourself from eating the foods you enjoy. I don’t believe I have a strict diet (although some would say it is) but I know my limits. I like a little dark 70-80% chocolate once a while for a treat.

When I cut out the sugar from my diet I saw amazing health improvements and not only. My skin got clear, my head got clear – I used to have such foggy brain – I couldn’t focus on anything at work. Plus I had piercing awful headaches. All these things cleared. Now would you believe that when I do (rarely) overdo it and have some white sugar, my headaches return. Plus my health improved so I can have a normal life again…

#CutTheSugar

Let’s do this! Ditch the sweet stuff for just one week and join the fun on facebook and IG, twitter with the hashtag #CutTheSugar! (and #PureStartChallenge so I can follow your journey)

This truly is life changing! If you’re suffering from uncontrollable sugar cravings than you have to do this. You’re the only one capable of change. Imagine a healthier, better YOU!
Good luck with this week’s challenge. I’m here for you if you need me or if you have any other questions.


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Pure Start Challenge : forming healthy habits one week at a time



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Hello and Happy New Year! I hope 2015 is off to a great start for you!

Have you made some new year’s resolutions? Well if you have, Congrats, but you’re doing it wrong!

90% of New Year’s Resolutions fail just a few days or a weeks into it. Why? Because the approach is all wrong. You’re trying to change too much and putting too much pressure on yourself.

Little progress or sign of change in those first few days will make you loose inspiration. You’ll get sloppy with your goals and loose commitment.

You should not be doing resolutions  - you should be focusing on forming healthy habits that will last and show you great results.

The last 6 years of my life, I didn’t stick to a single resolution or made drastic changes. I simply worked on one thing at a time with a long term goal. I worked on changing my habits!

Be honest, we all have bad habits and we’re a constant work in progress.

But if you’re looking for this year to be YOUR year, then this is how things go down!

You need to form healthy habits one week at a time – this way you will allow yourself to focus on perfecting just one small change. If you keep it simple and easy – it will stick! Healthy habits can be achievable and successful. 

Join me to transform your life with small easy changes. Just one small change at a time. This is the way to success and to a new YOU!


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Pure Start Challenge : forming healthy habits one week at a time

week 1. Drink More Water

7 tips to drink more water and improve your health and wellbeing :


Glass of water with ice, mint and lime


  • This week aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. 
  • Make it filtered water or boil tap water. You don’t have to buy bottled water (read why here).
  • First thing in the morning, drink warm water with 1/4-1/2 lemon squeezed in, 20 minutes before breakfast.
  • Throughout the day, drink water in between meals. Not with your meals – but in between.
  • When drinking each sip, swirl the water in your mouth to enhance the secretion of saliva – sounds weird?
    Your saliva is filled with enzymes that already start a healthy digestion in your mouth!
  • Mild non-caffeinated tea, such as mint or camomile does count as a glass of water, one or two cups of tea are great.
  • If water’s too boring for you, make it more exciting with fresh fruit infusions – simply add it berries or slices of juicy fruit into the water and allow them to seep into the water. This adds pure and natural flavour and vitamins to your water. You can prepare this the night before to allow a bountiful flavour the next day. So good!
  • Keep a big bottle or tumbler near you at all times. This way you’ll have it ready to go and glancing at it will actually make you remember to drink it! Simple, right?

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Start today and keep it up for one full week! 
Next week we start another challenge – you’ll need to come back here on Monday 15th of January to find out what we’re working on next!
I am here for daily inspirations on Facebook @Pure Ella and Instagram @Pure_Ella. Do follow along and hashtag your progress with #purestartchallenge

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Healthy Two-Ingredient Hot Chocolate



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Baby it’s cold outside…
better warm up with a mug of this hot chocolate… gosh, it tastes so delicious!

Whenever we come home from the wintery cold there’s always one thing on my mind (and now my daughter’s mind) – a big mug of hot chocolate!

I remember the days when we had Quick at our house and we’d all get excited for hot chocolate. Now, that I know better and we eat clean and healthy. I wouldn’t allow an artificial hot chocolate mix into the house. It’s not only because it has bad ingredients – but also because making our own hot chocolate is so easy and so delicious! 



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This Healthy Two-Ingredient Hot Chocolate really is what the name says it is!

It’s healthy – because I use dark chocolate, 72% that is pure, organic with clean simple ingredients (you can go healthier, and use 80-90% also)

It’s only two ingredients because I only use melted dark chocolate and almond milk! It really is that simple and easy and quick – best of all, it’s really so amazing!

It’s rich and creamy and truly decadent. You could serve these for a special occasion – maybe with a little liquor like amaretto or rum! Ahh, yes!!
And or top with a scoop of your favourite ice cream! I used So Delicious Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream that’s sweetened with 

Healthy Two-Ingredient Hot Chocolate

gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, clean, low-fat, refined sugar-free
Ingredients :

2 cups almond milk or other non-dairy milk

1/2 cup organic 70% dark chocolate bar squares 

optional : 2 scoops organic non-dairy vanilla ice cream

optional : sprinkle of cinnamon

 

Directions :

In a small pot over medium heat, heat the milk and chocolate squares until the chocolate is fully dissolved. Whisk to combine and break down the pieces well.

Keep stirring for about 2 minutes. Mixture should thicken slightly as natural emulsifiers in the chocolate bar will change the milk’s consistency also.

Remove from heat and pour into two large mugs.

Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and add a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Enjoy!

 

The healthy aspect of this hot chocolate really is dependent on the chocolate you buy. Do invest in a quality bar. Choose organic dark chocolate that’s 72% or higher with only clean simple ingredients. I always have a stash of dark chocolate around so that I can have a healthy occasional snack or use it in baking or other desserts like this vegan hot chocolate recipe.

 



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This healthy homemade hot chocolate recipe is so decadent it’s like dessert all on its own. But to make things more fun and special, I like serving the hot chocolate alongside my Rum Ball Cake Pops – find the recipe for those here.

The Rum Ball Cake Pops are all natural, gluten-free, vegan and paleo and refined sugar free. Yes, another beautiful dessert that’s absolutely delicious and guilt-free. Treat yo self! ;)

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Festive Baked Oatmeal : orange-infused, with dried fruit, nuts and cranberries



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As the cheery buzz of a brand new day wakes you up… with someone jumping on the bed and giggling and laughing (because that’s my life ~ and hopefully yours too :)… you can’t help but smile. It must be Christmas!

Isn’t Christmas morning the best? No matter how you celebrate, it’s an instant invitation to be happy and cheery! The best way to start the day is with a little snuggling, a good cup of coffee or tea and a beautiful breakfast awaiting to enjoy! (Presents aren’t even the most important thing! ;P)

How do you make this special morning go smooth and stay happy? (As opposed to chaotic and stressful.) I think it’s all in a bit of planning ahead :) 

That’s why I love this recipe for the Festive Baked Oatmeal. It’s easy and quick to make ahead of time and then just pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes as you start the day. In no time, it’s ready, oozing with amazing aromas and filling up your home with the scents of the Holidays… perfect!



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Festive Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients :
  • 2 cups organic gf steel cut oats
  • 2 cups organic orange juice
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup prunes, halved
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 fresh pear, sliced thin
  • 1/2 fresh apple, sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon organic brown sugar

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For serving :

handful of fresh, frozen or dried cranberries for topping
whipped coconut cream and/or almond milk for serving

Directions :

The evening before :

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and place in the refrigerator.

In the morning :

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place the mixture onto a ceramic or glass baking dish and bake for about 20- 30 minutes. 

Serve hot on a plate with whipped coconut cream or in a bowl with almond milk or another milk of choice.



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This is one of our traditional dishes we make for Christmas morning every year… and oh it’s amazing every time. It’s honestly the best baked oatmeal I look forward to all year long. There’s something wonderful about this dish also, I love how the smells of the dried fruit and cranberries fills up the home while it’s still baking in the oven. It slowly plays with your senses before you even get that first bite. It’s amazing. And when it is finally taken out of the oven, it looks so pretty but the best part is that first bite. So good, hot and comforting and nourishing. Really my favourite way to start the day ;)

Of course this dish is best when it’s shared with the special people in your life that are with you on Christmas morning. Making breakfast lovely and special (and effortless) is really the best way to start the day. I hope it will really be the most wonderful time of the year ;)

How do you traditionally start Christmas Day?

 



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