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

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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!

 

 

 


Continue Reading

Pregnancy: First Trimester Essentials

 

Yes! I’ve made it through the first trimester (Tom survived as well…and is still surviving through all the pregnancy hormones) and am basking in the bliss I’ve heard SO much about that comes in the second trimester. And it sure is wonderful!

The first trimester of pregnancy is between weeks 1 through 12 and I’m not going to say it was the worst thing ever, but it wasn’t very pleasant either. All pregnant women will have a slightly different pregnancy experience, but for the most part, many of the symptoms are the same – the sore breasts, aches and cramps, bloating, constipation (I know, T.M.I.), nausea (I had ALL day nausea without the puking, thank goodness), and food aversions. I’m going to say…This. Was. The. WORST. I can’t speak for Tom but I’m pretty sure my raging hormones accompanied by mood swings will always rank #1 of the worst thing for my entire pregnancy. I think he’s a bit nervous about how I’ll be after the baby. I don’t blame him. I’m a little scared myself.

There are a handful of items I found very practical and essential to surviving the first semester. Seeing that we chose not to tell friends and family about our baby-on-the-way news for the first trimester, I was left up to my own devices on figuring out how to deal with certain symptoms. Here were some of my favourite things that helped me get through it:

 

BOOKS + APPS

Being newly pregnant and not being able to share the news or get advice from those who have been through it before, can be tough. You want to know if what you’re experiencing is normal and figure out how to manage. I found these books and app to be very helpful (in addition to talking with my doctor).

What to expect when you’re expecting

What to expect: What to eat when you’re expecting

What to expect app

 

PRENATAL VITAMINS

These are imperative during your first trimester. However, my doctor did recommend I start taking them once we started planning and actively trying since certain vitamins and minerals help to prevent neural tube defects which affects the brain and spinal cord (which are the first parts to develop of your growing baby and before you will even know you are pregnant). The most important vitamins and minerals are folic acid, iron and calcium.

 

GINGER

Another recommendation by my doctor as well as my pregnancy books and app. Since you are limited in the medication you can take during pregnancy, especially if you suffer from nausea and morning sickness, ginger is a great natural remedy to help alleviate those symptoms. Try ginger tea, ginger ale, and ginger lozenges.

 

FIBER

Constipation is pretty much guaranteed during pregnancy. It’s all due to those lovely hormones, specifically progesterone, which has a relaxing effect on your muscles, including your digestive system (causing food to make its way through your intestines rather slowly). The best way to fight this is to eat fiber rich foods such as whole-grain cereals and breads, fruits like apples (with the skin), and dried fruits such as figs and apricots.

 

CRACKERS

Such a simple thing, but when you have all day nausea and just can’t stomach anything, saltine, arrowroot, or ginger snap crackers are like gold. Have them on hand to help you get something in your tummy. The saltine crackers can help with the nausea as well.

 

MATERNITY BRAS

These are a MUST! Regular bra’s just won’t cut it when you’re breasts start to swell and become ridiculously tender. I find that regular bra’s don’t provide the proper support or comfort you will need over the next nine months. A well fitted maternity bra can help prevent stretch marks, reduce sagging, and alleviate back pain. This is because a maternity bras cover the entire breast, which is more than an everyday fashion bra covers – everything is cut higher from the top of the breast to the breast tissue under your armpit. And between underwire and wireless, I’d say wireless all the way – they don’t feel so constricting and tight.

 

THE MIRACLE BALL METHOD FOR PREGNANCY

Towards the end of my first trimester, I started to get a lot of lower back pain and discomfort in my hips. My sister gave me the Miracle Ball Method for Pregnancy, which is a set of two teeny Swiss exercise balls and an instruction book on how to use them for different aches and pains. I wasn’t sure about them, but after the first time of using them, I noticed a HUGE difference. You have to be sure and be gentle with

 

BELLY BELT

During my first trimester I didn’t gain much weight, but my waist did grow enough for me to notice a difference in the way my clothes fit, especially my pants. I didn’t want to start purchasing  maternity clothes until I absolutely had too, and besides, maternity pants seem to be made for expectant mothers unless they are in their second and/or third trimesters.

The Belly Band is a perfect start to maternity gear while still wearing the pants and jeans you love most. It’s a set of elastics, at varying lengths to accommodate you as you grow, which easily attach to you pants with a button hole and button. I needed an additional inch and a half on my jeans by then end of my first trimester, and these did just the trick!

 

BELLA BAND

This I used (and still use) with my Belly Bands. I find that while the Belly Band give you more pant room, my pants would slide down slightly. The Bella Band helped keep my pants from sliding too much and would smooth out the bit of bulk that comes with using the Belly Bands.

 

SUPPORT SYSTEM

Surrounding yourself with family and friends who provide endless support and welcomed advice is always a good idea, especially for first time mom’s. The first several weeks were tough as Tom and I decided to wait until the end of the first trimester before sharing news with our family and closest friends. After sharing the surprise with everyone, it was the best feeling to have other supportive and experienced mom’s who had been through pregnancy already.

Are there any tips or must have items you used during your pregnancy? Would love to have you share them in the comments below!

1. Rosie Pope Wireless Nursing Bra $59.87 CAD | 2. Belly Belt $30 CAD | 3. What to Expect When You’re Expecting $18.17 CAD | 4. Miracle Ball Method for Pregnancy $20.21 CAD | 5. Bella Band $42 CAD

Continue Reading

Immune System Boosters

immune-boosters

 

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

Continue Reading
1 2 3 5