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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Immune System Boosters

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I’m not a health care professional. Please consult your medical physician before complete information and guidance.

Fall and Winter are dubbed “cold and flu season” since it’s inevitable during the colder months, we will catch a cold or flu. This doesn’t mean we have to let them knock us out of commission for days or even weeks. There are a handful of ways to be proactive and take control of your health this fall/winter season.

1. Get Plenty of Sleep

Our bodies produce and release certain proteins and chemicals while we sleep which aid in fighting off infections. A lack of sleep may prevent the production of these proteins and chemicals which leaves us vulnerable to sickness and can even prolong the infection in our body.

2. Exercise + Be Active

Exercising or keeping physically active is good for your immune system because it helps to lower stress levels. When we exercise our bodies release natural “feel good” chemicals and helps us get a better nights sleep.

3. Stick To A Balanced Diet

Cut back on sugar as it suppresses your immune system. It’s okay to have a sweet treat once in a while, but packing you day full of sugar won’t do your body any good in the long run. Instead, eat more vegetables and fruits that are rich in vitamin C + E. Also be sure to limit the amount of deep fried foods you consume, especially if you do have a cold since this prevents your white blood cells from protecting against infection.

4. Limit Alcohol Intake

One or two alcoholic drinks won’t have any major effects on your health, but three or more can hamper the white cells in your body from fighting off harmful bacteria.

5. Probiotics

Although there isn’t any extensive research to prove this, probiotics might be an aid in supporting your immune system since it maintains your digestive system and helps to expel toxins from your body.

6. Herbs + Minerals

I know there is a lot of scepticism around vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements, but there are many medicines which derive from plants and are used medicinally, such as marijuana and coca, so why can’t herbal oils and minerals do the same? They may not be fast acting like the aforementioned, but I believe they definitely can be an asset to our immune system, like oil of oregano and magnesium. I take a multi-vitamin (almost) every day along with magnesium. When I feel like I could be catching something I add echinacea drops to my morning drink and at night I have a few drops of oil of oregano (be sure to place it UNDER your tongue) until my symptoms seemed to have cleared.

7. Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands frequently during the cold and flu season. I try to stay away from hand sanitizers and just use soap and warm water.  Wash your hands after using the washroom and remember to do so if you travel on public transit.

8. Prevent The Spread of Germs

If you are sick, help prevent the spread of germs by sneezing into your elbow, not your hand, cover your nose and mouth with tissue when you sneeze or cough, and stay home and rest to help your body recover.

 

Did I forget anything? Are there any special practices you do to keep your immune system strong during the cold and flu season?

 

Photo | Road To 80kg

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Dark Under Eye Circles: 5 Simple Remedies

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We often hear that dark under eye circles are caused by being tired, a lack of sleep, or hyperpigmentation for those with coloured skin tones. These causes are usually true for most, but there are other factors you may not be so aware of.

Up until March, I had noticed a change in the dull tone of my skin and a big difference in how prominent my under eye circles became. Even family and friends noted this change, but I didn’t think much about it other than I had probably been rubbing my eyes too much. My doctor suggested that I might have low iron, but when my blood test showed the opposite, I was stumped.

Shortly after my visit to the doctor, it dawned on me that my increasingly dark under eye circles could be health related as I had been having health issues and felt like I had a cold ALL. THE. TIME.

Turns out I have asthma. Soon after learning this, I had developed a sinus infection and I didn’t realize that’s what it was until 6 weeks into it!

All this health stuff started to take a toll on me emotionally and mentally. I gave up and was just eating carelessly and not doing much to keep myself active or healthy – a result of not knowing what my health ailment was and afraid of the uncomfortable asthmatic symptoms I experienced during my gym workouts.

Accepting that I have asthma was the first step in learning how to better care for my health. Knowing what triggers my asthma is one part, but being aware of what I eat is one of, if not THE most important factor in improving my overall health.

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2016 Wedluxe Wedding Show: La Dolce Vita

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This post is so incredibly tardy, but there was no way I wasn’t going to share it with you all. Too many beautiful things to share and gush about!

Right before the Christmas and New Year holidays, Tom and I put our wedding planning on hold. Seeing that we had gotten an incredible amount done in the first couple of months of our engagement, we were able to release all planning from our thoughts (and keeping wedding talk with family and friends to a minimum or non-existence) until after the holiday season.

Prior to the holidays, I knew that between January and April there would be endless wedding shows being held. Having been to one of the larger shows at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre years ago, I knew I didn’t want to have to go to too many of them, since they can be overwhelming.

When I learned out about the Wedluxe Wedding Show, I made up my mind that this was the show I couldn’t miss. Although the price tag can be a little deterring, I knew that, after reading about past Wedluxe shows, it would be well worth it. Being a DIY bride (and groom couple), I decided to splurge and attend with my sweetheart of a friend, Cece. I’m very, very happy I went (including Cece!).

This year’s Wedluxe show took place at The Carlu, in Toronto, ON. We were greeted in the lobby by towering trees that immediately took you away from the cold and rainy day we were having in Toronto, to a whimsical garden in Italy. Or so it seemed…it definitely built up the anticipation of waiting to step off the elevator into the show room and what could possibly be waiting…

 

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I think both Cece’s and my jaws dropped and I’m pretty sure our eyes popped out of our heads too like cartoon characters. It. Was. Spec-tacular. I’m still in awe. Not only because of how immaculate the décor was, but because the vendors are a specifically handpicked group who are the absolute elite of their industry and in a class of their own with incredible vision, taste, and definitely not lacking creativity that can’t be matched by any other wedding show you will attend.

We were greeted by very friendly Wedluxe hosts and given a complementary glass of sparkling lemonade, followed by endless complimentary hors d’oeuvres provided by Oliver & Bonacini, complimentary Italian sodas, cotton candy in flavours such as chai tea, lattes and cappuccinos, alkaline boxed water, gourmet cupcakes and chocolates, gelato, and so much more! On top of all that, we received gift bags with a 24 carat gold face mask – we were spoiled.

 

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The show was a display of beautiful and enchanting décor ideas you wouldn’t usually consider or dream of. Although the cost of implementing these idea’s would break the bank, I’m sure if you’re determined and don’t mind getting a little DIY savvy(speaking though my inner adventurer and crafter here), you can get similar looks, for considerably less.

 

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It was a sugary feast for our eyes – oohing and ahhing over intricately designed cakes covered in breath taking details. How someone could eat these sugar sculptures of art is unimaginable to me.

 

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It was an unexpected pleasant experience. Vendors took the time to speak one-on-one with attendees and seemed genuinely happy and excited to be there. It was nice to have conversations with them rather than a few words exchanged and then mounds of loose papers jammed into my hands. It’s an event I would attend again.  Heck, I suggest attending just for the fun of it with friends for a day out, even if you’re not getting married!

 

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Gifts for Your Handsome Bearded Fiancé

beardcarekitUrban Beard Box , $193. It has everything to help your honey keep his beard in tip top shape and super touchable!

DJI Phantom 3 Advanced Quadcopter Drone with camera

DJI Phantom 3 Advanced Quadcopter, Drone with camera – $1399. So he can “get cool aerial shots when we go camping.”

record player by audio technica

Audio Technica USB Turntable, $199.99. Tom has a bunch of records he has sitting there and I actually got this for him last year. Since then he/we’ve been slowly adding to our record collection. This one also has the ability to turn the sound from the record into an mp3 file so you can take your tunes with you.

Bose portable speaker soundlink

Bose Soundlink Portable speaker, $139. It’s great for when you go on picnics.

sratch n sniffe whiskey book

Scratch n’ Sniff Guide To Becoming A Whiskey Know-It-All, $29. A fun way to become a whiskey connoisseur without the hangover.

beef jerky kit

DIY Beef Jerky Kit, $29.99. This would pair perfectly with the dehydrator Tom bought last year and encourage him to get some good use out of it!

chomps-5

Grass fed Beef Snack Sticks, $49. A much healthier alternative to the one’s we find at the grocery store and a great way to keep him fed during the workday if he’s on the go.

Canadiano_Cup_Walnut

Compact coffee maker, $69-$249. Made of various types of wood that rest on top of your coffee mug for a quick on-the-go brew.

flannel duffle bagFlannel Duffel Bag, $198. There’s a point when a man needs to graduate from a backpack to a real travel bag. Besides, this one is super sexy. I love the lumberjack look and yes, a flannel duffel bag would have me swooning.

leather tray

Leather storage tray for Keys, etc., $34.95. One for the front hall to keep keys and one for the bedside to catch everything that is accumulated in pant pockets from the work day.

 

In case you missed them, check out our other guides here.

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