The Best Plant Based Chocolate Smoothie

 

This is my all time favourite chocolate smoothie.  Don’t let “plant based” fool you. Every ingredient in this smoothie, by The Greenhouse Juice Co., is packed with flavour and just the right amount of sweetness.

A few summers back when I put my self on a strict-ish diet and workout regime to get my body into shape and have glowing skin for my wedding, I visited The Greenhouse Juice Co on Macpherson Avenue in Toronto about 3 times a week, once the summer had started.  During one of my visits, I noticed a new menu on the counter for smoothies. I decided to give the Rococoa a go since the ingredients were the most appealing to me. I really wasn’t expecting it to taste much like a milky, chocolate smoothie, but more like a cold pressed juice.

Was I ever wrong…BIG time! Upon first sip, my taste buds were pleasantly surprised and it was as if a chocolate bomb of goodness had gone off in my mouth – I was instantly hooked. The rest of that week I treated myself to a Rococoa smoothie each morning. After about three weeks, and having seen how this new found smoothie love of mine was affecting my bank account, I had to have a little more self control. At $15 a smoothie after factoring taxes (worth every penny by the way) each day, for 3 weeks, you can see why I had to cut back. I decided that I would treat myself to a Rococoa on Fridays. The only problem with this new “rule” of mine, was that once a week just wasn’t enough. I honestly felt like I was going through withdrawal. So, I decided to try and recreate it based on the ingredients listed on the menu. I wouldn’t say I failed. I also never really got it the recipe quite right, but it was good enough for me. All the more reason to look forward to my end-of-the-work-week treat.

Fast forward to Tom, Evan, and I moving from Toronto to Hamilton. When I realized that I would be a long way from any Greenhouse Juice Co location, I was a bit sad that I would no longer be able to treat myself to a Rococa smoothie on any given day that I craved it. Or so I thought!

While scrolling through my Instagram feed one afternoon, a post from Greenhouse came up about a blog post for the Rococa smoothie recipe. I immediately saved it on Pinterest for safe keeping. Unfortunately, when this happened, I was very pregnant and had zero energy in the morning to whip up a smoothie, and it didn’t get any easier to do so after Evan arrived. Now, an entire year after getting my hands on one of my most coveted recipes, I have finally made the time to treat myself to what I consider to be the best chocolate smoothie, ever.  The best parts about this smoothie, other than the yumminess, is that it doesn’t have any refined sugar, no added salt, and all the ingredients are plant based.

 

ROCOCA SMOOTHIE

Makes about 2 cups: 1 large or 2 small smoothies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 frozen banana cut into chunks
  • 1 to 2 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 tbs raw cacao powder
  • 1 tsp ground maca (optional)
  • ½ tsp coconut oil
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved, or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (I reduced this to 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1 tbs natural almond butter
  • 7 ice cubes

Steps:

  1. Pour the milk into a blender first, then add the banana, dates, cacao, maca (if using), coconut oil, vanilla seeds or extract, and almond butter.
  2. Blend for 30 seconds, or until well combined (you don’t want to hear any chunks of ice bumping around).
  3. Pour and enjoy!

 

More about maca powder

Why I love cacao

Photo | The Greenhouse Juice Blog

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Life After Baby: Diastasis Recti (Abdominal Separation)

Photo | www.lyndalippin.com

 

In my Life After Baby: What No One Tells You post, I briefly mentioned Diastasis Recti (DRA), a condition which is the separation of the abdominal muscles.

After having Evan, my expectations were that my body would return to it’s pre-pregnancy size within the first three months post partum. After all, I was working out and doing everything I thought was right for a fit and healthy pregnancy and postpartum recovery. Everything I was told at the prenatal and educational classes, and from seasoned mothers, not once mentioned Diastasis recti. I think many women, like myself, tend to believe that they simply have a “mummy tummy” without realizing they have a deeper underlying issue which is directly related to their pelvic health.

For several months post partum I had this weird jiggly belly where everything in there felt like is was sloshing around freely. It was the weirdest feeling! I knew something wasn’t quite right and so I decided to conduct a bit of research myself. I didn’t know about DRA, so when searching for answers, I was typing in all kinds of terms including “why do I still look 5 months pregnant?” and “breastfeeding and not loosing the pregnancy weight.” Finally, after all my searching and noticing similarities between discussions on online forums and various websites, I realized what was going on with my body. The culprit – Diastasis Recti.

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Life After Baby: What No One Tells You

 

Having a healthy pregnancy has always been important to me since I knew I wanted to have children of my own. I figured by doing what I thought were the most important things a woman could do for herself and baby – be physically fit, health conscious with eating habits, get as much rest as possible – would be enough to see me through a healthy pregnancy and recovery. In addition to these things, it’s important to educate yourself on what to expect during labour and delivery.  Tom and I also discussed post partum depression and how we would work together to work through it if I felt like I was experiencing symptoms.

When we shared our pregnancy news with our family and friends, we took note of all the advice we were getting from well seasoned parents within our circle.  You know…”sleep when baby sleeps”…”make sure you eat”…”have someone stay with you in the first few weeks.” I did ask about child birth experiences, but never did I think to ask about the things I experienced postpartum, nor did anyone (not even my OBGYN!) talk about it – the nitty gritty stuff.

During and after pregnancy, your body goes through a significant amount of change physically, emotionally, and mentally – it’s hard to keep up. You go through life’s most intense and beautiful experience of delivering your baby and are then thrust right into being new parents and figuring out how to care for this tiny, little being. You, on top of that, have to pay attention to your own body to make sure you heal properly.

 

WHAT I EXPERIENCED AFTER PREGNANCY

Body changes

  • After pregnancy I experienced exhaustion from both the actual act of delivering a baby and being sleep deprived. I have never been THAT exhausted, ever.
  • After giving birth, your uterus needs to shrink back to its original size pre-pregnancy. In order for this to happen, your uterus contracts and it’s painful. A combination of extra strength Tylenol along with extra strength Advil was prescribed to help with this – it can last a few weeks.
  • Hormonal fluctuation from an ultimate high to menopausal low. Feeling really happy to the point where I was crying when I felt this way, then crying when my mind would wander off to so many different things such as having a lot to loose now and worrying over the worst happening and not being there for this precious little life. I would also experience hot flashes and sweat like crazy as well as become super thirsty when breastfeeding.
  • Engorged breasts were expected, but when you have no clue how this actually feels, it’s a bit of a shock.
  • I had an incredible amount of excess fluid in my body after giving birth. I was painfully swollen for a few weeks (something I didn’t experience during pregnancy).  After a week of the pain and discomfort, a family friend who is a retired nurse advised me to keep my legs elevated every chance I got. This worked wonders and within three days my swelling subsided.
  • During my pregnancy I didn’t have such a difficult time breathing as I was warned about. I think it’s probably because Evan was sitting so low. Oddly enough, after giving birth was when I had experienced breathing problems. I couldn’t walk more than five minutes before feeling like I was having an asthma attack. I was told this was due to all my organs and such being moved around before and after baby. It took about two weeks before I felt normal again.

 

Breastfeeding + Getting back my pre-pregnancy body

  • No one ever said how hard this would be to establish. Yes, it’s supposed to be very natural, but the process doesn’t go as smoothly as we might expect it to. It took several weeks before Evan was able to breastfeed without any type of feeding tool or aid.
  • Much of what I heard about when it came to breastfeeding was that I had to pump to prevent leaking and that it would help me shed away all the pregnancy weight. This instant weight loss seems to be the number one reason for breastfeeding. It was part of my main three reasons for wanting to breastfeed. Well, this magical weight loss is only half true. Not all women experience this and the reason is due to hormones in our body postpartum. These hormone levels vary for everyone. So, instead of loosing all the weight, I lost 14 of the 24lbs I gained during pregnancy and have been stuck there.
  • If you’re breastfeeding, your body needs more water than ever. Not only to help with milk production, but to maintain all regular body functions which require water, including painless bowel movements, skin and hair maintenance, etc.

 

Getting Back My Pre-Pregnancy Body
It took me several months to realize I was not one of those women who was going to zap back to my pre-pregnancy weight with the help of breastfeeding. At the 8 weeks post-partum mark is when I had my follow-up exam with my OB and family doctor to make sure I was healing well and whether it was okay to start certain physical activities again – I really wanted to get myself back in shape, but I wasn’t going to jeopardize my health if my body wasn’t ready. According to the doctor, all was fine. But I didn’t feel that way. My joints still felt rubbery, I didn’t have the energy I needed to work out, and my darn tummy still looked like I was five months pregnant. I couldn’t figure out why. I was breastfeeding and doing my abdominal massages. I knew it was going to take some time, but I felt stagnant and stuck physically.

So, four months postpartum I had to figure out for myself what the heck was up with my body. After searching online and reading endless amounts of new mommy and health discussion boards, I realized I had Diastasis Recti…Diasta-what? Exactly! This is what happens when your abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy. This can happen also happen or make the problem worse if you push incorrectly during labour.  After a lot of online searching and thinking I could fix this on my own, based on what other women posted online, I decided I needed to seek help from a health professional.

Pregnancy puts your body through a great amount of “stress” so it’s important to allow yourself to properly heal before returning to high impact physical activities. Ease back into your health habits and be sure to always consult a medical practitioner. Sometimes we may look completely healthy on the outside, but the reality is, you may not be aware of underlying issues. Pay attention to your body and listen to your intuition.

In my next post, I’ll get into more detail of Diastasis recti and how I am working towards healing my body. If you are a new mom, seasoned mom, considering of having more children, or think you may have this condition as well, you won’t want to miss the upcoming posts in the rest of the Life After Baby mini series.  They will focus on Pelvic health and it’s importance for women who plan on having children or who have already gone through the experience.  I guarantee that your OBGYN won’t share with you any of the knowledge I’m excited to pass onto you.

Do you have an interesting life after baby experience or any helpful advice for other that you wished was passed onto you? I would love to hear about it!

 

 

 


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Eco Friendly Wall Art: Photowall

 

Before Tom, Evan, and I moved into our new home, I was eagerly planning what Evan’s nursery would look like, from the colour scheme, theme, and layout.  One of the important design elements was wall art. I had seen so many beautiful, cute, and modern prints, but I wanted something that was not the current trend and I to include certain elements in Evan’s room that would grow with him.

At the time of planning and thinking of décor and design, I had very little time to actually look for wall art, since the options and retailers are endless. So, I was pretty excited and grateful when I was asked by Photowall, to review one of their products.  Photowall’s product line-up of canvas prints (with do-it-yourself frame) and wall murals/wallpaper is absolutely stunning and so not boring.  The artists they work with all bring very unique and versatile elements to the murals and canvas prints they design.

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How We Won Our Dream House

Tom and I knew we wanted to purchase our first home before Evan arrived. We decided to purchase when we did, since the market in Toronto was (and is) ridiculous. Prices were being blown waaay over asking due to inevitable bidding wars. We were lucky the government put new rules and regulations into place when we were in the market, which helped ease the pain of buying and selling. Both our buy and sell had to be timed just right to avoid having our house search drag on too close or even past Evan’s due date (and good thing since Ev decided to arrive a month early).

We went into house hunting expecting to have to look at over 20 homes and possibly having to place at least 10 different offers before getting a house we wanted. We had heard stories from friends and acquaintances being in the market to purchase for over a year and seeing well over 100 houses, even putting in over 25 offers! Thankfully, that was not the case. Phew!

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