Cooking

Spring Sweat Series: Blogilates

It’s not something I typically blog about, but since recently embarking on my own personal fitness journey, working on bettering my health and wellness has truly become a passion of mine.  It all started this past January, where I found myself constantly feeling tired and “blah” (very articulate, I know), and my wardrobe options were getting smaller and smaller as my selection of pants got, well, tighter and tighter.  I changed into yoga pants, opened YouTube on my phone, and started my very first Blogilates (Pilates) workout.  I was instantly hooked: I loved the music, the combination of cardio exercises mixed with strength training, and the high-energy instructor (self-made YouTube personality Cassey Ho).  But what really, truly helped me commit was the fact that the workout program was structured, and that each workout was laid out for me in the form of a daily schedule.  For me, this took the guessing out of “where do I start?” and “what do I do next?“.  I started the first month with the Beginner’s Calendar (in the picture above) and by February, was all set to join the regular monthly program (which is free by the way; all you have to do is sign-up!).

I could feel myself getting stronger within just the first few weeks, had more energy, and was truly happier.  I found (and still find) happiness and gratification in checking off my workouts as I complete them each day (there are around 5 workout videos to complete a day, ranging from 3-15 minutes each).  Along the way, I’ve gained a new appreciation for fun exercise gear, healthy snacks, and nutritious meals.  So, for the next month, I thought I’d start a “Spring Sweat Series“, where I talk about all of these things, along with other tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way thus far.  And don’t worry, if this isn’t really your thing, there will still be beauty and fashion posts mixed in along the way!  I hope you enjoy!

Have questions, or want to share your own health and fitness tips and tricks?  Let me know in the comments below!

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Gift Guide Day 2: The Perfect (Pink) Coffee Table Book

GG 2015-2

For me, books have always been fascinating.  They are read and enjoyed, perhaps one day past along to someone new, and come to have not only their own story to tell (the one between the pages), but also those of the lives it has touched along the way (deep, I know).  In fact, it fascinates me so much, that I have my own personal collection of old books with strangers’ signatures and well-wishes on the inside covers.  So much history and so much mystery: I love it.

So naturally, I’ve chosen to add a book to the gift guide this year, and it’s one that’s perfect for your girlfriends, mother, sister, and beyond (it’s also a perfect housewarming present!).  All in Good Taste from Kate Spade New York is a gorgeous pink hardcover book (yes, that wine stain is intentional!) that shares fun recipes, how-to’s, personal essays, and more.  Topics covered include: how to shuck an oyster, the proper way to set the table, how to write the perfect thank-you note to the party hostess, what to have on-hand for your at-home bar, and Instagram etiquette at dinner.  This book is fun to read, but is also a great conversation piece to have on your coffee table or bookshelf.  Just write a cute note on the inside, place a bow on the outside, and gift!

Missed Day 1 of the Gift Guide? Check it out here (and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!).

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Featuring Vegan Pure All In One


Vegan Pure 3
Being a vegetarian, my favourite food during Thanksgiving isn’t the Turkey (or even the Tofurky for that matter), it’s the pumpkin pie!  Using Vegan Pure All In One, you can have this yummy pumpkin pie protein smoothie for breakfast, lunch (or hey, even dinner) and have it be good for you.  What better way to use up those Thanksgiving-baking leftovers?!

Before I get to the recipe (and my review of it), let me tell you a little bit about the benefits of Vegan Pure All In One.  While you can use it as part of a pre or post workout shake, my personal preference is to use it to make a healthy breakfast smoothie.  Being a vegetarian who doesn’t always get the nutrients she should from what she eats, and also someone who tends to skip breakfast in general, I love that this product is a quick, simple way to start your day right.  If you’re in a crunch for time, simply mix a scoop of it with water, and you’re good to go!

One serving has:

  • 16g of complete vegan-derived protein (equivalent to 3 eggs)
  • 1.5g of Omega 3 Oil (equivalent to 2.3 servings of salmon)
  • 2 cups of fruits and greens (equivalent to 2 servings of kale)
  • 1 billion probiotics (equivalent to 1 cup of yogurt)
  • Over 4g‘s of fibre (equivalent to 1 apple)
  • 50% of the daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals

Vegan Pure All In One is 100% vegan, non-GMO, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and contains no artificial flavours or sweeteners.  It is available in both Chocolate and Vanilla flavours, with 9 servings per container.  Did I also mention it’s only $19.97 at Wal-Mart!?

The Recipe:

Vegan Pure 1

Now, let’s get to our yummy pumpkin pie smoothie!  The recipe I used is from SkinnyMom.com, with a couple of slight modifications.

For this recipe (makes 1 large serving), you’ll need:Vegan Pure 2

  •  ½ cup 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • ½ banana, sliced
  • ½ cup vanilla almond milk (I used skim milk instead)
  • 5-8 ice cubes
  • 1 scoop Vegan Pure All In One Vanilla
  • ½ tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (I added some cinnamon as well, once blended)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Simply blend all the ingredients together until smooth, and voila! It can be Thanksgiving any time of the year (or day).

My Review:

Vegan Pure 4This smoothie has a smooth and creamy texture, and tastes true to a pumpkin pie with a slight hint of banana.  The Vegan Pure All In One powder blended easily with the rest of the ingredients, without altering the taste in any way.  I’ve also tried this protein powder mixed with some strawberries and peaches and it was just as yummy.  You’ll notice a slight green hue when mixing it in with lighter coloured ingredients.  I like that it tastes great on it’s own simply mixed with water, but doesn’t overpower when mixed into a recipe such as this pumpkin pie one.  Overall,  I highly recommend Vegan Pure All In One.  It’s affordable, good for you, and good for the environment.

What kind of smoothie will you make?  Let me know in the comments below!

   *This post was powered by BrandBacker.  All thoughts and opinions are honest and are my own. 

Festive White Chocolate Matcha Cookies!

White Chocolate Matcha Cookies

Until recently, the occasional store-bought latte was the only “recipe” for Matcha (green tea powder) I knew of.  It turns out there are a large number of ways to use this product, and an even larger number of benefits of using it.  After receiving my Kiss Me Organics Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder (sold exclusively on Amazon: US, Canada, and UK), I did two things: 1. Made a delicious (homemade) Matcha Latte, and 2. conducted a Google search to find a fun, festive recipe (I decided on this recipe from Just One Cookbook; they were simple to make and they taste delicious).  I especially love how the Matcha powder gives the cookies a festive green hue, perfect for this time of year! But what’s even better, are the awesome benefits that the Matcha powder in these cookies has to offer (with just a simple daily dose of 1/2-1 tsp!):

-Boost metabolism

-Increase energy level

-Increase ability to concentrate/focus

-Improve skin health (you can also create a face mask: simply add a few drops of water to 1 tsp of Matcha powder, leave on you face for 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water!)

-Burn more calories

-Anti-aging benefits

-Because Matcha powder uses the entire tea leaf, it has up to 137X the antioxidants of brewed green tea.

What I especially like about the Kiss Me Organics powder (aside from the fact that it is very highly rated, and is a #1 best seller on Amazon), is that it is Certified Organic: the product comes right from a United Nations recognized farm in Japan!  The product blended perfectly in both recipes I used (the cookies and the latte), and I especially love that it comes in a resealable package to keep the powder fresh and protect the potency.  For $29.00 CND, you’ll receive a 6-week supply, an electronic guide with recipes, and free shipping.  And, if you’re like me, you’ll also receive the urge to add Matcha powder to nearly everything you eat: next up on my list of recipes to try? Matcha cupcakes and Matcha ice cream!

FTC: This post is sponsored by Kiss Me Organics, however all opinions are my own.

 

WhatDidSheFind Gift Guide: Day Twenty-Three

Photo and logo as seen on Teavana.com

Photo and logo as seen on Teavana.com

There is no denying that loose-leaf tea is a delicious treat, but it can also tend to be a little high-maintenance when it comes to preparation.  Enter the Teavana Perfectea Maker, a handy device that helps steep your tea and strain it right into your mug of choice, without having to worry about spillage or tea “floaties”.  Aside from being super easy to use, the Perfectea Maker also makes cleanup a sinch: simply remove the filter, wash, and reassemble.  Regular price, the Perfectea Maker retails for $19.95, but you can purchase it this weekend during Teavana’s Friends and Family Sale for 30% off (use code FFHOLIDAY).

Previous Days:

Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, Day Six, Day Seven, Day Eight, Day Nine,Day Ten, Day Eleven, Day Twelve, Day Thirteen, Day Fourteen, Day Fifteen, Day Sixteen, Day Seventeen, Day Eighteen, Day Nineteen, Day Twenty, Day Twenty-One, Day Twenty-Two

WhatDidSheFind Gift Guide: Day Seventeen

Photo and logo as seen on Victoriassecret.com

Photo and logo as seen on Victoriassecret.com

Today’s gift is so pretty, you don’t even need to wrap it (in fact, you can just hang it on the tree!).  For just $10.00, these adorable Victoria’s Secret Eau de Parfum Ornaments make the perfect gift for friends and co-workers.  Each sparkly ornament comes with a 7.5 ml fragrance inside (you can choose from a variety of scents).  Grab your friend’s signature fragrance, or give her the opportunity to test out a new one, without having to commit to a full bottle. And maybe grab one (or two, or three) for yourself while you’re at it.

Previous Days:

Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, Day Six, Day Seven, Day Eight, Day Nine,Day Ten, Day Eleven, Day Twelve, Day Thirteen, Day Fourteen, Day Fifteen, Day Sixteen 

 

Delicious, Simple, and On-a-Dime: Peppermint Bark Brownies

baked

It’s officially the season of holiday parties and potlucks, and with that, comes the decision of what to bring or share. With everything going on this time of year, there’s definitely no shame in bringing premade or not-from-scratch goodies.  These decadent, chewy brownies are sure to please as they combine two of (pretty much) everyone’s favourite holiday treats: chocolate and candy canes! Even better?  You won’t need to slave over the oven baking brownies all night (use boxed mix), and they only cost around $5.00 to make!

1. Prepare and bake brownie mix as per box instructions.

Baking

2. While brownies are still hot and just out of the oven, pour about 1 cup of chocolate or vanilla (or both) wafers and spread as they begin to melt. (Licking the spatula is optional).  Tip: If you don’t use wafers often, buy only the amount you need from a bulk-food store, instead of purchasing a whole package. 

baking 2

3. Sprinkle approximately 1/4 cup (or as much as you like) crushed candy canes overtop of the melted chocolate, while it’s still warm.  The easies way to crush candy canes is to place them in a sandwich bag and go over them with a rolling pin.

baking 3

4. Allow to cool for around 30-40 minutes, then place in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to fully harden the chocolate topping.  Tip: Don’t leave these in the refrigerator for much longer than what’s listed above, or your brownies will dry out.

baking 4

5. Cut into as many (or as few) pieces as you like, garnish with some extra crushed candy cane or chocolate sauce, and graciously accept all the compliments you receive as guests lay their hands on your delicious, pepperminty masterpiece!

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.