Delicious & Creamy Plant-Based Butternut Squash Soup

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Now that the weather is getting colder and the leaves are changing, this is the perfect soup to enjoy! Warm your soul with this delicious, healthy, plant-based soup.

While making this soup, I had an unfortunate incident with the squash sap and ended up with some sort of reaction or Squash Dermatitis when I was peeling the squash. Squash, particularly young squash, release a sticky sap-like substance when they are cut/peeled, to help protect itself from trauma. This sticky sap can get on your hands and cause a reaction. The sap can also be very difficult to get off of your hands. For me, my hands went numb and my skin started peeling within a few minutes of contact with the squash. It is recommended to wear gloves while peeling squash if you have this sort of reaction. To get this stick sap substance off of your hands, you can soak your hands in warm water, or take off the sap with a sticky piece of tape. If you would like to watch my adventures making this recipe, please check out my YouTube video below:

And now onto the recipe details!

Delicious & Creamy Plant-Based Butternut Squash Soup 

Preparation Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 35 – 40 minutes
Servings: Approximately 8

Ingredients

  • Olive oil (1 tbsp)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated (or 1 tsp ginger powder)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp fresh or dried, cut finely
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 3.5 cups soup stock (vegetable, chicken for non-vegan option)
  • 3/4 cut milk (coconut milk or almond milk for vegan option, milk or cream for non-vegan option)

Instructions

  1. Heat a pot to medium heat and add olive oil.
  2. Add the diced onion, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and thyme, saute until onion is transparent
  3. Add the butternut squash cubes and stir the mixture
  4. Add the vegetable stock and stir to combine (you may need a little more/less stock depending on size of squash, liquid level should be slightly lower than the squash)
  5. Add lid and bring soup to a boil, once boil is reached turn down to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes (squash should be tender enough to pierce with a fork)
  6. Remove soup from heat and add the milk
  7. Puree the soup with a blender or hand-held blender
  8. Voila! Serve and enjoy your delicious soup! You may store leftovers in the fridge/freezer. Consume within a few days.

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What I Eat in a Day with Oral Allergy Syndrome

What is Oral Allergy Syndrome_.pngI have struggled with Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) for many years, without knowing what was actually happening with my body. Every time I would eat fresh fruit and certain vegetables, my tongue would swell up and I had no idea what was happening! If you’re not sure what Oral Allergy Syndrome is and want to know, please check out my YouTube video on the subject here (or by clicking the image on the right).

Today, I will move beyond the pathophysiology of OAS, and in this video, I will share some of the recipes that I eat in a typical day with Oral Allergy Syndrome. For me the hardest thing was finding out what foods do not trigger a reaction, and making sure to incorporate those foods into my diet. I hope this provides you with a little inspiration, and I hope you enjoy it!

 

Having oral allergy syndrome can be hard and require a little extra planning sometimes. I highly recommend meal planning each week to keep your grocery list organized, and allow you to make healthy choices throughout the week! To help, I created a FREE meal planner for you to use, and you can access it here!

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What I Eat

How to Start a Healthy Lifestyle? | My Top Diet & Nutrition Tips

A big component to a lifestyle change is your diet, but it’s probably not the type of “diet” that you are thinking about. When people think of the word “diet”, they often think of “fad diet”, which is a temporary change in the foods a person eats in order to lose weight or improve health. As much as these “fad diets” promise fast results, these results are not sustainable in the long term. This is because, in order to have sustained results a person must stick with the particular “fad diet” long term. The issue with fad diets is they are not sustainable long term, as they promote large amounts of restriction and dramatic changes to dietary patterns. No wonder why 95% of people fail their diet!

631c959705f34df837e20df000e6e7e6.jpgLooking at different animal species around us, each animal eats a certain type of staple “diet”, or the foods that an animal eats on a regular basis. This definition should be the definition that people refer to when thinking about their “diet”. A diet consists of the foods you eat day in and day out, and in order to have sustained weight loss, or to live a healthy lifestyle, we must make small adaptations to the foods we regularly consume, and implement these changes for the rest of our lives. Whether you goal is weight loss, or improving your health overall, the key is to make changes that you can actually live with! Implementing a series of small changes that you hardly notice over time is the best thing you can do, as these small changes will add up to make large differences in time.

Without further ado, here are five small dietary changes you can make that will add up to make a HUGE DIFFERENCE in your health and fitness progress:

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This is one of the easiest diet swaps you can make! Did you know that ONE can of Coca Cola has 39 grams of sugar in it? When you weigh this out, it equates to almost 1/4 cup of sugar! This causes your body to not know what to do with all of the excess sugar, so your body stores the sugar as FAT, minimizing your health/fitness progress.

What I recommend is that you train your taste buds to enjoy WATER. Invest in a reusable water bottle and carry this around with you everywhere to avoid purchasing other types of drinks. The same rules apply to fancy coffees and lattes, opt in for black coffee, or swap your usual morning drink for a green tea. Green tea is great because not only does it hydrate you, but it helps to increase your metabolism throughout the day.

2

After waking in the morning, we often feel hungry and ready for breakfast, however, often this sensation of hunger is actually your body trying to tell you that you are thirsty! The FIRST thing I do when I wake up is drink a large glass of water to rehydrate my body after a good night’s sleep. Further, throughout the day, we often snack on foods between meals because we think we are hungry, when, in fact, we are thirsty! I would encourage you to try and drink a glass of water instead of reaching for a snack, especially if you find yourself feeling hungry between meals.

3

For me personally, this was my biggest weight loss challenge, as I enjoyed eating a bowl of chips, or indulging in chocolate while I watched an episode of Vampire Diaries on Netflix before bed. This late night snacking often hinders your fitness/weight loss/healthy lifestyle progress because if you eat before bed, you do not have any time to “burn off” this food, like you would throughout the day. Further, late night snacking makes it more difficult to sleep because all of your digestive processes are activated. My general rule of thumb is to stop eating after 7pm or 8pm, to allow my body to digest the food from dinner and truly have a period of “fasting” while I sleep. I attribute a large portion of my progress to implementing this one small rule. If you find yourself craving food at night, I’d recommend having a decaffeinated tea, such as peppermint tea, because it will help to soothe your stomach and aid in digestion.

4

If you can find healthy food swaps that you actually enjoy eating, you have already won half of the battle. Eating food is a ritual in most cultures, and being able to indulge in delicious and healthy foods is one of my favourite things to do. Rather than trying to restrict yourself, seek to find healthier options that bring out the same excitement as your typical favourite foods do. To find fun recipes, I recommend you check out Pinterest and create your own Recipe Board that you can pin all of the recipes you have “tried”, “tasted” and “enjoyed”. This will allow you to create a space for delicious recipes, so that you have them on hand at all times. To view my Pinterest Recipe board, click here!

supermarket-layout.jpgAnother way to replace your unhealthy food options with healthy options is to simply stop buying unhealthy foods. In my personal experience, if there are chips in the house I will 100% eat the entire bag within the span of a few days. Therefore, to avoid the temptation of eating chips, I simply do not purchase them. When you go grocery shopping, avoid the temptation of purchasing these foods by only shopping around the outside of the store, where all of the fresh and perishable foods are located. Do not go down the middle aisles, because all of the packaged, processed and non-perishable foods are contained down these middle aisles. Purchasing unhealthy foods and having them in your environment will only set you up for failure and disappointment in yourself when you “binge” on them. Rather than get upset with myself for eating unhealthy foods, I only purchase these foods when I have the intention that I will allow myself to indulge and enjoy these foods.

On the other side of the coin, purchase lots of fresh, delicious and healthy foods and be sure to keep your fridge and cupboards well stocked. Coming home to a kitchen full of healthy options will force you to eat healthier options!

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Failing-To-Plan-Is-Planning-To-Fail-Planning-A-Season-Plan-As-A-Soccer-Coach.pngEvery Sunday, I plan my meals for the week so that I know exactly what I am eating. To avoid the temptation of purchasing my lunches at work, or ordering take-out on the way home, I simply plan ahead for my meals and I always pack my lunches. It is also a good idea to make extras so that you can freeze them for times when you cannot go to the grocery store, or are in a rush to pack your lunch. Having healthy food ready at all times and stockpiled in your house, will make it easier to choose a healthy option.

Those are my healthy diet and nutrition tips to help you kickstart your lifestyle journey and set you up for success! Leave me a comment below if there are any dietary changes YOU have made that have helped you with your progress. Please check out my YouTube video (and subscribe to my channel) to see my video on this topic!

Have a lovely FRIDAY!

Heather

 

 

 

5 Things I Learned From a 5-Day Cleanse

I have always been the type of person that is interested in healthy living and is always looking for something new to try. Over the course of my life, I have tried countless diets, workout routines, lifestyle changes and have done a few “revamps” when I get bored of what I am doing. Typically, the diets fade, the lifestyle change slows and I find myself living in a new reality – slightly changed by the new information I have learned, but still unable to kick my hardest habits to the curb, such as binging on a late night bowl of chips, or eating too many leftover Christmas chocolates.

This year, I was beaming with excitement after a close friend mentioned she was taking part in a 5-day detox of healthy eating – the Tone it Up 5-Day Detox.

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Curious about what she was doing, I asked her to explain this “detox” to me. Essentially, it was a 5-day, super healthy, vegan eating challenge that required intense meal-prepping. Just the thing I needed! I had just finished my Christmas holidays in Florida, where I ate my entire body weight in chocolate and spent most of my days lounging by the pool. I told my friend that I would be willing to participate in the detox with her and we both agreed to start on January 2nd.

Once January 2nd rolled around, we both went grocery shopping and stocked up on the following items (I already had many of the ingredients the plan had outlined):

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Beet and Carrot Salad

  • Carrotts
  • Red Beets
  • Spinach
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Broccoli
  • Bananas
  • Tofu
  • Red Lentils

After shopping, we made it back to her house and meal-prepped a lovely Lentil and Carrot soup, some Banana Coconut Chocolate “Cookies” and a shredded Beet and Carrot Salad. This would be some of our food for the week. That evening we ate some soup, which was surprisingly delicious (and filling) and we tried the Banana “cookies” which I was not so fond of. After we finished hanging out, I took my portions of the meal prep home and spent the rest of the week indulging in these plant-based foods.

 

 

I didn’t follow the meal plan exactly, but I was proud that I was able to stick it out and make it until the end. Most of my morning breakfasts consisted of “Protein pancakes” that wouldn’t cook (made from banana, flax seed and protein powder). I found that putting the batter in a mug and cooking it in the microwave created the best result – a morning mug cake! For lunch, I made lots of lettuce wraps with hummus and vegetables (beet and carrot salad and cabbage). I also made some delicious salads with spinach, hemp seeds, some tofu and an apple cider vinegar dressing. For dinner, I ate the soup we meal prepped, which was absolutely delicious. What shocked me the most about this five-day challenge was that I was not starving! Since I had the right combination of protein and healthy fats and the food I prepped was actually decent tasting, I was able to keep satisfied. Other than a bit of bloating after eating cabbage for the first time in forever, I felt great. My brain fog that I typically experience had lifted. I didn’t wake up with a headache for once, and I didn’t have to stress about what to eat at all!

I still had some temptations such as chips in the house (I ate some one day) and eating tofu (I am not sure if it was “allowed” for the detox or not), and I ended the detox one meal early, but having ‘perfect’ results is hard for anyone to do. Looking at my major accomplishments, I was able to actually eat vegan for five straight days, which has always been a goal of mine. I also filled half of my plate with vegetables for most meals, which helped me eat smaller portions and made me feel full. I didn’t eat any takeout for the five days, which is a good accomplishment (and a money saver). I also swapped my typical black tea with honey and soy milk for plain green tea with no sugar! This was a huge accomplishment because I typically cannot survive the day without one (or two) black teas (which usually upsets my stomach by noon).

After finishing the five days strong, I have come out of this experience with a new perspective of healthy eating and have learned some new things to incorporate into my life.

  1. Meal prep is KEY
    I would not have survived the five days without the intense meal prep that my friend and I did. This was eye-opening because I realized that it is not fair to expect yourself to make rational decisions around food in a hungry state. I mean, think about it! When you’re in a hungry mood, you probably can’t think straight because your blood sugar is low, causing you to reach for the bad foods around you. If the food is already prepared and in front of you, you don’t have to give eating much thought! If you actually meal prep, chances are you probably won’t even get to that hungry of a state in the first place.
  2. Eat your vegetables with SOMETHING
    I was so surprised at how filling the vegetables in the salads and soups were! In the past, “healthy eating” to me meant eating a salad with as many vegetables in it as possible. I have learned the importance of combining vegetables with healthy sources of fats and protein to keep myself fuller for longer.
  3. Vegetables can help fill you up!
    In a typical meal before the cleanse, I would fill half of my plate with protein, just over a quarter with carbs (like rice) and the remainder with a salad. Since half of my plate was vegetables for this cleanse, I actually found it so surprising that I was too full to finish some meals. I will now strive to fill HALF of my lunch and dinner plates with the vegetables that I like.
  4. Vegan does not mean expensive
    The total cost for the week of meals was around $20, but I did not even finish all of the fresh vegetables that I bought! Lentils, beans, peas and spinach are all healthy sources of nutrients that do not cost a lot of money.
  5. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
    To this point in my life, I cannot recall a single diet, cleanse or major “lifestyle
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Vegan Chili

change” that I have been able to successfully finish or sustain indefinitely. I mean technically, since I deviated from the plan and ate chips, I still haven’t! I am confident that I am not alone in this. Instead of focusing on perfect (nobody’s perfect), I choose to view this as a positive and successful experience. Now that I have made it through five days of being vegan and eating more vegetables, I am sure that I will revert back to some of my old habits, but I have a greater sense of accomplishment and confidence that wasn’t there before. I have learned that goal setting, whether it works or not, is such a great thing because it allows you to learn more about yourself and challenge yourself to try new things. In fact, this cleanse has already motivated me to meal prep for my next week of meals (vegan sweet potato chili and healthy cookies), and it has ignited the flame that I needed to write this blog post.

If you’re looking for something new to try, I would encourage you to do this five day challenge. They even have meal options for people who are non-vegan, gluten free and vegetarian. Overall, this has been a positive experience and I have learned a lot!

Hope you all have a great start to 2018.

xoxo,

Heather