From Skinny to Rock Solid

PlantVital Complete Protein Greens supplement
PlantVital tops my list as a daily protein supplement.

Don’t hate me. I’m about to say something extremely controversial.

I am naturally skinny. Yep, a skinny bitch.

I always have been. I hear you groaning. Trust, I eat and eat often, but what can I say? Chalk it up to a mix of genetics and the fact I truly prefer eating clean. I assumed I was hitting the necessary nutritional marks with my balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and by steering clear of processed food as much as possible. But in my recent quest to get healthier and build more muscle, I started keeping a food journal to see what was really going on behind the scenes. Was I getting enough?

Turns out, not even close. In order to sustain on my fitness goals and activity, I require 2,200 calories. Once I started analyzing the nutritional make-up of my meals and snacks, I discovered wasn’t getting anywhere near the amount of protein that I should – not to mention fibre, iron and every other vitamin and mineral our bodies require. I’m not the only one – a quick poll on my socials revealed that only a ⅓ of you take a daily protein supplement. I’m guessing some of you could use a boost too.

Enter protein powders. 

As a meat eater I could easily hit my protein goal with a daily steak or chicken breast, but what if I want to offset my meat consumption in favour of more sustainable, plant-based proteins? PlantVital is a family-owned Canadian company started by my pal Mike*. I have tried dozens of green powders over the years, but one scoop of their Complete Protein supplement powder hits me faster than a double Americano – full on Superwoman. Plus I get 24 grams of organic protein from its ingredients of brown rice, peas, pumpkin and chia seeds, with the added benefit of fruits, vegetables and probiotics. You can add it to a smoothie, but in a pinch I’ll mix it in a glass of apple juice (vitamin C boost!). 

One scoop of their Complete Protein supplement powder hit me faster than a double Americano – full on Superwoman.

Why stop there? With my morning protein in check, I wanted an option for the mid-afternoons when my sweet tooth comes knocking. Vega has been around since 2001, so you’re likely familiar with the brand. Their products are also plant-based, non-GMO, gluten-free…yadda yadda, yadda. If you want a sweet treat that packs a protein punch (20 grams!) I recommend their chocolate Essentials Shake. It offers an impressive nutritional profile, and is flexible enough to use as a meal replacement. 

None of this added protein makes squats and lunges more fun to do (seriously, fuck you lunges), but at least I have energy to do them. Do you have your own secret sauce to get more protein into your diet? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

*Full disclosure: Mike treated me to my first bag of Complete Proteins, but I’ve since bought it on Amazon. No one paid me for this post.

Yellow Part One

Fall colours
Autumn reminds us that change can be beautiful.

My mother-in-law Roz adored sunflowers. If the pop of yellow can instantly cheer up a room, her kitchen could be described as happy in overdrive. From the dish towels to the soap dispenser to the spoon rest, cheerful sunflowers adorned every corner. She passed away last October, and I’ve been buying sunflower bouquets all month in celebration of her life. With fall’s colours at peak levels, you can’t help but notice this brilliant yellow everywhere. I’ve been so inspired that I’m on a yellow kick in my own kitchen. Lately you’ll find me well-stocked with lemons, pineapple and turmeric. Turmeric’s numerous health benefits are linked to preventing depression, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, and more due to its inflammation-fighting properties. No wonder it’s such a cheerful colour. These days I like to cozy up with one of my favourite homemade soups. Lentil & Carrot. It’s packed with feel-good vitamins and minerals, so it can help keep your immunity in check this season.

(Wondering why I’m now writing about soup recipes? Let me catch you up.)

Cheerful as a sunflower.

If you’re trying to incorporate more plant-based proteins into your diet, lentils are a great option. Get this: when you combine them with a whole grain, they provide the same quality protein as meat. I fix a side of whole grain toast, but why not get fancy with homemade, whole grain croutons?

In most of my own recipes, quantities are open to modifications. Sometimes I add a sweet potato to this soup. Adjust amounts as needed. You can make the Golden Paste ahead of time and keep extra in the fridge for soups and smoothies.

Lentil and Carrot soup recipe
My hearty, healthy, homemade Lentil and Carrot soup.

1 sweet onion, chopped 

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped

4 – 5 large carrots, coarsely sliced

2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup split red lentils

1 cup Grace brand powdered coconut milk

2 tablespoons coconut oil

½ cup Golden Paste (see recipe here)

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ -1 teaspoon cumin

½ – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

  • Sauté the onions and ginger in a large pot over medium high heat using half of the coconut oil until onions are soft and translucent.  
  • Add the carrots and the rest of the oil, then turn the heat down to medium. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are sweaty and have begun to soften a bit on the outside.
  • Pour in enough broth to cover the carrots. Use broth or a mixture of broth and water. Turn the heat up to high.
  • Once boiling, stir in the lentils. Turn the heat down to a low simmer and cover for 5 -10 minutes. 
  • Soup is done when the carrots are soft enough to easily slice through.
  • Cool the contents until you can safely blend. Now power up the Magic Bullet© and blend until smooth!
  • Return pot with blended soup to the stove. Reheat over medium low heat. Stir in coconut milk, Golden Paste and seasonings to taste.
  • Serve immediately or cool to store in containers.

Have a favourite recipe? Share away!

Ready to Netflix and chill with your soup? Check out Yellow Part Two.

Purge before you Splurge at Jonathan+Olivia

Like most people, I spring clean in April. And I mean, I all out clean. Clean out the closet. Detail the car. Purge my computer files. See the dentist. Last night I gave a pile of clothes I no longer wear to a girlfriend, but I saved a few key pieces for Jonathan+Olivia‘s THIS IS WEST QUEEN WEST – SOS, a clothing drive in aid of CAMH.
From April 22 to 28, Jonathan+Olivia are collecting items — think nice things you don’t wear any more — to provide appropriate attire for the patients of CAMH as part of the Suits Me Fine Boutique program. The CAMH Suits Me Fine Boutqiue provides patients with clothing to wear during their treatment, or for job interviews post treatment. Many patients are challenged by strained financial resources, job loss or homelessness and are not able to afford clothing and essentials. Clothing is also provided by the boutique to patients who are admitted with limited clothing, such as those who come by ambulance or those who are coming through the criminal justice system.

 As a thank you for your kindness, anyone donating and making a purchase at J+O during the drive can enjoy a 10% discount to splurge on something new during the week of the clothing drive. Don’t try to bring in tattered, soiled or unsightly items, that would just be rude. 

You can track donations on J+O’s Instagram page using the hashtag #closetangel. As well, they’ll showcase the donated clothes in a special window installation throughout the week, which grows bigger and bigger as more people join the cause.