Forget Balance...

Well, hello there!

Ya, it's been a while...actually a really long time.  But here I am, back at it!  So you may have noticed I kinda dropped of the face of the earth for a bit.  And I'm not going to make any excuses, because that's exactly what I did.

There is so much talk out there about finding balance, creating balance, living a balanced life and yada yada yada. And to be honest, I really believed that for a while.  But now, after 10 months or so, I have come to the conclusion that balance isn't always the answer. So what am I talking about?!

This past (almost) year as been challenging to say the least.  From raising 2 kids, while working 3 jobs, going to school and trying to take care of myself and a household...plus the blog...there was a lot of juggling going on.  And it was doable...for a while at least.  But then I started to become a person that I didn't really want to be: irritable, stressed out, exhausted and generally annoyed with just about everything. And not exactly a lot of fun to be around.

Now I can't remember the exact moment it happened...but at some point I had had enough and said "screw it".

Fuck balance.

Forget the never-ending list of responsibilities and to-do's. Be you, be happy and do what you need to do. 

 And so I did.  I started to slowly weed out the things that I didn't need to be stressing over, and unfortunately, at the time, this blog was one of those things.  There were a few others in there that also didn't make the cut.  But what that process did, was allow me to truly focus my energy on what was important and eliminate the background noise, the chatter, the negativity and never feeling like I was doing enough.  So what did I focus on?

Well this to start:

Yep, I finally managed to finish my program!  A lot of work over the past two years, but I am now officially a Registered Holistic Nutritionist!

I also managed to go from 3 jobs to just 2!  And when I wasn't studying or working, it was spending time with my family.  I guess the biggest lesson I learned is that more isn't better.  Being busy isn't always a good thing.  And balance...forget balance.  Focus on what you need to focus on.  Ya, sometimes that pendulum may just hang there, but it's OK if it swings back and forth. Just go with the flow. If things feel like they're too much...then they likely are, so cut a few loose.  No guilt, no shame. Don't try and be Superman or Wonder Woman...just be you.

OK, now that my rant is over...stay tuned for some big things on my end.  I will be offering a bunch of new services shortly!  Can't wait to show you what's next!



Globally Local Meal Kits: Plant-based Meals Made Easy

You may have noticed I have a thing for food.  Especially, nutrient dense, organic, local food.  And that's why for the past couple years I have been a loyal customer of Globally Local.

When Globally Local started out they were an organic produce company that focused on sourcing as many items locally, all the while keeping organic fresh food affordable.  What started out as an organic fruit & veggie box delivery company has quickly blossomed into an amazing vegan, organic market with customizable home delivery options for all kinds of amazing plant-based items! 

And recently Globally Local has added home delivered Meal Kits to it's ever expanding repertoire! So what's a meal kit? Well, essentially you get everything you need to create a gorgeous, nutritious, plant-based dinner including detailed instructions delivered straight to your doorstep!

I have to admit, when it first launched I thought it was a cool idea, but probably something I wouldn't really need.  As the cook in my house, I already planned and prepared all the meals for the family so why would I need a meal kit?

Well, after last night I am eating those words!   Yesterday I took the plunge and tried out one of Globally Local's meal kits.  So what was one the menu...how does a Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with a Rustic Spinach, Pecan & Pear Salad sound?

The first thing I noticed when I opened the kit was how simple and organized everything was.  Each ingredient was labelled and measured and the instructions were clear, straight forward with loads of pictures making it essentially fool proof.

After a busy day at work and then wrangling kids I thought there was no way I would be able to whip up a full meal in 30 minutes.  But to my surprise, I totally did!  Having the guess work removed from the dinner rush made things so much easier.  All I had to do was wash and chop a couple things, boil some water and put a few ingredients in the blender.  I seemed way to good to be true.

When all was said and done it probably took me about 40 minutes to make dinner from start to finish.  And the only reason it took a bit longer than the instructions said was all because of me.  Silly me, not paying attention to what I was doing, put the pot of water on the stove but didn't turn it on.  So other than a few extra minutes waiting for the water to boil, this meal was totally doable in 30 minutes!
But how did it taste, you ask?

It was fantastic!  The pasta was creamy and filling with a great combination of sweet and heat from the roasted red peppers and cayenne.  And the salad was beautifully simple with a lovely maple dressing that had just the right amount of sweetness.  The kit fed me and my husband and our 2 girls and I still have a bit of pasta leftover for lunch today.  Pretty amazing!

And now I totally get the draw of the meal kit.  Not only does it make you feel like a gourmet chef, but it's so unbelievably easy AND it's good for you!

Globally Local takes the guess work out of dinner.  At the end of the week, when you're tired and stressed and don't want to cook, forget take-out, grab a meal kit instead!  Not only is it less expensive than eating out, but in the same amount of time you can feed your family a healthy, organic meal that you can feel good about!

Disclaimer: A big thank you to Globally Local for providing this meal kit free of charge for this review. As always, the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


How to Become a Nutrition Fact Finder + Giveaway

As a working mom, I will be the first to admit that feeding a family of four on a budget and on a tight schedule is no simple task.  Yes, I love to cook and I take pride in the fact that I make almost all our meals from scratch. (notice I said ALMOST)  But let's be honest, feeding a busy family a balanced and nutritious meal isn't always easy.

Sometimes you just gotta grab that frozen meal from the store just to make it through a Wednesday night,  and that's OK.  But did you know every can, box, and package in your grocery store has a handy label to help you make better choices when it comes to feeding your family?  Yup, there's an entire chart with loads of useful nutritional information on just about everything.

So if you thought reading those nutrition labels was out of your league or that they were written in some alien language, I figured I would share a couple simple steps on how to read them and use them to make healthier choices for you and your family.

3 Simple Steps to Reading Nutrition Facts Tables
  • Serving Size - start here when check out those labels. You' ll find this number right under the Nutrition Facts header.  Essentially this means that all the information on the Nutrition Label is based on that serving size.  So pay close attention to what is considered a serving, especially when comparing similar products.  One may look like a better, healthier option, but it may have a totally different serving size than the other and it may not turn out to the better option. 
  • % Daily Value - on the right side of the Nutrition Facts table you will see % Daily Value for each of the nutrients listed.  This shows you how much of each nutrient you would get from that serving size we just talked about.  Here's a good rule of thumb when trying to figure out if a food is a good source of a certain nutrient: 5% of Daily Value or less = a little bit ; 15% of Daily Value or more = a lot 
  • Nutrients - the next thing to consider, now that you have mastered the serving size and % daily value, is the nutrients in the food. In simple terms, choose foods that have more of the nutrients you want and less of the nutrients you don't want. Nutrients that you want a lot of are things like Calcium, Fibre, Vitamin A and Iron.  And the nutrients that you don't want very much of are things like Sodium, Saturated Fats and Trans Fats.
And there you go... the simple way to read a Nutrition Facts Table!  But that's just the beginning.  Those tables can give you a wealth of information when it comes to selecting foods and making informed choices. By keeping those bad fats in check and maximizing your fibre and nutrient intake, you'll help keep your family happy and healthy.

Want to know more?  Click here for more great information on how to interpret those labels, compare products and make food choices that you can feel good about.  So don't be frightened of those labels, with just a few simple clicks and a little research you too can become a Nutrition Fact Finder!

Want to test out your Nutrition Fact Finding skills?  How about a sweet giveaway for some free groceries?  Enter below for your chance to win a $100 Grocery Gift Card! Woohoo!  Contest is open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec.


Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post as a joint effort by the Food &Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC), Health Canada, Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG), the Nutrition Facts Education Campaign (NFEC).  As always, the opinions expressed are my own.


Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bar Review

A couple of weeks ago I received a few Hemp Heart Bars from Manitoba Harvest to test out and review.  I have always loved their Hemp Hearts so having them in bar form was super exciting!

Manitoba Harvest's Hemp Heart Bars come in a few yummy flavours.  I received Apple Cinnamon and Chocolate to test out. Now as much as I LOVE chocolate, I have to say my favorite was the Apple Cinnamon.  The bars are the perfect combination of dense and chewy with just the right amount of sweetness!   Each 45 gram bar contains 10 grams of plant-based protein and 10 grams of omegas making it a great pre/post workout snack or quick bite on the the go.

I found the bars to be tasty and satisfying without being overly sweet.  And I love the fact they are made from real, natural, plant based ingredients!  Want to try them out for yourself?  Use this discount code: hhbarlaunch1015 for 15% off your purchase.  (code expires 3/31/16)

Oh yeah...Manitoba Harvest is also hosting a sweet photo contest too!  Post a pic of your favorite Manitoba Harvest product and tag @manitobaharvest and use the hashtag #fuelledbyhemp to get entered to win your favorite hemp product.  The contest is open to Canada & US residents and you can find the full contest details here.

Have you tried the new Hemp Hearts Bars? Are you in the Apple Cinnamon camp or Chocolate club?

Disclaimer: I received a free sample of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Heart Bars as part of my affiliation with Sweat Pink.  I was not compensated for this post and as always the opinions expressed are my own. 


Apple Raisin Oatmeal Bars

Sometimes you just want to bake something quick and easy, without fancy ingredients and that everyone will enjoy.  So I guess that's where my Apple Raisin Oatmeal Bars came from.

With a toddler at home and trying to juggle work, school and maintaining a household, I haven't had much time to play in the kitchen.  But these bars were the perfect thing to satisfy my baking desire and my cravings for a little treat.  Plus they are school friendly and made with delicious, whole ingredients.

Soft and chewy apple pie inspired oatmeal bars are perfect for lunches, after school snacks
 or a quick breakfast bite!

Apple Raisin Oatmeal Bars 
2 1/2 cups Rolled Oats
1/4 cup Gluten-Free flour (your fave gf blend will do)
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 - 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice or All Spice
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Apple Butter (or you could use apple sauce too)
1/2 cup Soy Milk (or your fave non-dairy milk)
 1 Flax Egg (or Chia Egg)
1/4 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 cup Hemp Hearts
1/2 cup Raisins

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.  Line a 9 x 9 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside while you mix your ingredients.  In a small bowl make your flax/chia egg.  Don't know what I am talking about?  Click here for my post on egg alternatives.

In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and spices (essentially all the dry ingredients) and mix thoroughly.  Then add in your vanilla, apple butter, milk, flax egg and maple syrup  and mix until combined.  Then add in your raisins and stir until just combined.

Pour your batter into your lined pan and pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  Mine took about 26 minutes to bake so just keep your eye on them and just make sure they are just baked enough so that the centre  is cooked.

Once cool, cut into bars and enjoy!  These bars kept well in an air tight container on the counter, but they also freeze quite nicely.

The whole family really enjoyed these bars.  They weren't too sweet, but perfect as a little treat in lunches or to enjoy with my morning coffee
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