Getting in the Holiday Spirit

Can you believe the holidays are only weeks away?! Here in Vancouver Christmas never really feels like Christmas to me. The month of December is typically cool, wet and dark. We sometimes get snow but it’s never cold enough to last long before the rain washes it away. I also find the city isn’t that big into decorations and aside from a few festive attempts like a big Christmas tree – not much else gets decorated.

When I was a university student I studied in cities far from home, so once final exams were done I was on the first plane home to celebrate with family. This meant I never decorated my university home with Christmas decorations because I wouldn’t actually be there over the holidays. Now this mentality and tradition has carried onto my adult life. I often don’t spend the holidays at my home, so I never decorate. But it’s cyclical and as a result it never feels like Christmas! I don’t have a ton of space in my small condo or much storage space so adding decorations that are only used for a couple weeks a year feels indulgent and unnecessary. But I’m starting to question if I need to start some traditions to get me in the holiday spirit. I used to help my mom with a lot of Christmas baking, but when you live by yourself, it’s not really necessary to bake a bunch of goodies, even if you give them away to friends. I know I’ll just be tempted to eat way too many sweets!

Do you guys have any holidays traditions you can share? I would love to hear how others have created their own traditions to make the holidays special as I explore what to do!

Sincerely,

Jenni

Indian Summer Popsicle Recipe!

Okay you guys. I love summer and eating healthy and I’ve found the perfect summer treat that keeps me cool and accountable to my health. It might be September but it’s still beautiful in Vancouver so I’m clinging onto summer for dear life! Enter homemade real fruit popsicles. Gone are the days of gross freezies full our sugar and dye (seriously?!). I’ve been making my own popsicles all summer to beat the heat and indulge guilt free. Take a look on Google and you’ll find tons of recipes but I really like this one from a food blogger I follow. My faves are the mint watermelon and the blackberry lemon, but I’ve tried them all and they’re all daaaamn good!

Ingredients
Peach Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles
  • 3 cups strawberries pureed to 1 1/2 cup
  • 3 cups peaches peeled and sliced, pureed to 1 1/2 cup
  • 2 tablespoons honey divided
  • 2/3 cup vanilla greek yogurt
Minty Watermelon Popsicles
  • 3 cups watermelon slices divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
Blackberry Lemon Popsicles
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice plus zest from lemons
  • 2 1/2 cups vanilla greek yogurt
  • 2 1/2 cups blackberries
  • 2 1/2 cup mixed berry Greek yogurt
Orange Mango Coconut Popsicles
  • 4 cups mango divided
  • 2 cup unsweetened coconut milk whisked and divided
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Instructions

Peach Strawberry Mango Yogurt Popsicles
  1. In a blender, puree strawberries with four teaspoons honey then set aside. Clean blender, puree sliced peaches with two teaspoons, honey, set aside.
  2. Layer the popsicles as follows; 2 teaspoons strawberry puree, one teaspoon yogurt, two teaspoons mango puree and repeat. Make a fruit puree your last layer. Tap the mold on the counter to make sure all of the layers settle. Use a small spoon to drag vertically from the bottom to the top of the mold a few times to create a swirled pattern. Gently tap the molds on the countertop to remove any air bubbles. Insert the popsicle sticks, and then freeze for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Minty Watermelon Popsicles
  1. In a blender, puree 2 1/2 cups diced watermelon pieces, mint leaves, coconut water, lime juice and honey. Cut the remaining 1/2 cup watermelon slices into 1/4 inch cubes. Pour and evenly divide them among the popsicle molds. Stir the popsicle mixture, then fill each mold. Insert the popsicle sticks, if it does not stay in place use a piece of tape to hold them into place. Freeze for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Blackberry Lemon Popsicles
  1. In a medium sized bowl whisk together lemon juice, zest, and vanilla yogurt, set aside. Puree blackberries and mixed berry yogurt, set aside. Layer the popsicles as follows; 1 tablespoon lemon, 1 tablespoon blackberry, repeat. Swirl layers if desired. Gently tap the molds on the countertop to remove any air bubbles. Insert the popsicle sticks, and then freeze for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Orange Mango Coconut Popsicles
  1. Puree 3 cups mango slices, 1 1/2 cup coconut milk, orange juice and honey. Cut the remaining 1 cup mango slices into 1/4 inch cubes. Evenly divide them among the popsicle molds. Add 3 tablespoons of mango coconut mixture, gently tapping mold on the counter to make sure liquid fills in the diced mango spaces. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut milk, or until the mold is filled. Insert the popsicle sticks, and then freeze for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Removing Popsicles From Mold
  1. Run the molds under warm water for ten to fifteen seconds. Slowly and carefully remove each popsicle. If the popsicles remain in the mold, run them under the warm water for a few more seconds, ensuring not to melt the pops. Freeze or eat immediately!
Recipe Notes

Each recipe makes approximately 10 popsicles, depending on the size and shape of your molds. Adjust batch sizes accordingly.

Sincerely,

Jenni

Hiking in the Desert!

I just got back from an awesome hiking trip in the Grand Canyon!

So, I know you’ve all seen photos of the Grand Canyon. The thing is, there is something about the Grand Canyon that just can’t be appreciated unless you’re there, in person, witnesses it in the flesh! It’s like the canyon jumps out at you in four dimensions when you’re there. It’s pretty surreal.

Anyway, months ago my good friend, Lorea, suggested that we go on a hiking trip in May, before it gets too hot. We found a bunch of cool articles on the web about hiking the Grand Canyon and planned out own trip!

We spent day one hiking into the canyon and then camping along the Colorado River. It was amazing! Along the way there are a ton of people riding donkeys or mules down or up the canyon. As hikers, we felt a big smug about navigating the canyon on our own two feet 🙂

The Colorado River is a powerful river that offers plenty of great swimming spots, especially after a hard day of hiking in hot temperatures! Lorea and I found some great swimming spots, threw on our bathing suits, and let the cool water wash away our aches and pains.

That night, some park rangers held an interpretive walk through the park with ultra violet lights. What could that be for, you ask? Well, as it turns out, the Grand Canyon is filled with SCORPIONS that come out at night!

Turns out that the scorpions have something in their shells which makes them glow under ultra violet light. So, the park rangers took us through the park and shined these lights on the ground – revealing hundreds and hundreds of scurrying scorpions all around us! It was freaky but cool at the same time. Definitely made us very careful not to let any sneaky scorpions into our tent when it came time to hit the hay!

We spent the next day hanging out around the bottom of the Grand Canyon and enjoying some day hikes. There is also a great lodge at the bottom where they serve up plenty of great food. We didn’t bring much in the way of food (mostly lots of pasta and lightweight food), so it was great to enjoy some more fulsome meals!

We then spent day three hiking up out of the Grand Canyon. This was definitely the most challenging part of the hike! As difficult as it was, we were sad to leave. The Grand Canyon is such a magical place and we would have loved to stay longer. Oh well, there’s always next May! 🙂

Have any of you ever spent some time in the Grand Canyon? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂

Sincerely,

Jenni

Meditation to Relieve Stress and Increase Happiness

Mediation has become much more popular and mainstream in the last few years and for that I am truly grateful! I always struggled to meditate during shavasana during my yoga practice and often found my mind wandering. I’ve always wanted to get better at this and at the recommendation of a dear friend, I downloaded a guided meditation app on my phone to help my practice.

I now practice everyday for 10-15 minutes, usually before bed. The guided meditation is great because it always helps brings my mind back to the present moment with his gentle voice and suggestions. I will admit I still struggle with wandering thoughts, but practicing for a short period each day is definitely improving my practice and my resilience.

I’ve only been using the app for about three weeks but I am thoroughly enjoying it and look forward to using it each night! I highly recommend guided meditation if you’re anything like me and find complete silence too challenging for a beginner. The app I used is called HeadSpace but there are many other apps out there to try as well! It you give it a try, please let me know what you think! I plan to write a follow up post in a few months to update everyone on my progress.

Sincerely,

Jenni

 

Juicing for Wellness

For many years, I have incorporated juicing into my diet to to nourish my body and mind with healthy vegetables on the go. Juicing has become a popular trend and for very good reason! Studies show that only 1/3 of Americans eat more than 3 vegetables a day and 2 or more fruits per day. Yikes! Juicing, however, can help even the healthiest of us consume the extra vitamins and nutrients from plants our bodies so desperately need in a very convenient way.

There are many juice recipes you can find on the internet, but below are the staples I include in every juice as my base. I then sometimes add one or two additional vegetables to change the flavor or drink it as is for a healthy afternoon snack.

I make my juices with 90-95% vegetables and 5-10% fruit to limit the sugar content. Even though sugar in fruit is considered natural, it’s still important not to have too much or your blood sugar levels will be out of balance which can lead to headaches, dizziness, and dehydration.

I recommend starting with a lot of leafy greens to your juices for an extra nutrient punch – my favorites are a large handful of kale, romaine, chard, or spinach.

Many nutritionists swear by the benefits of carrots, so I always add one large carrot to my juice.

Lemon and ginger both have amazing detoxification properties! I add half a lemon and a 1 inch piece of ginger to my juice.

Cucumber and celery lend a mild taste and lots of great antioxidants so I add half of a cucumber and 3 stalks of celery.

Lastly, I add one apple for a bit of sweetness, otherwise you might find the juice to be quite bitter.

And that, my friends, is my daily juicing base! I love this on its own or with beets, tomato, red cabbage, orange, or pear.

I truly believe that by incorporating even one vegetable packed juice into your diet a week, one can change their health for the better. After you’ve made that a habit, try drinking more freshly pressed juice every week!

Sincerely,

Jenni

Health and Wellness in the Office

There may finally be a reason to look forward to Monday mornings at the office!

Based on recent trends and developments in building standards, workplaces may soon be becoming more conducive to supporting the health and wellness of employees. The WELL Building Standard is the first building standard that focuses on combining work with wellness in an effort to support the health of employees that spend their time in the building.

Happily, this building standard has started to attract the attention of even the most financially conservative of companies given that an increase in employee wellness has been shown to increase a company’s success through greater productivity and employee morale. In practice, a building with WELL Certification (in that it complies with the WELL Building Standard) would ensure natural light rather than electric lighting, higher internal air quality, excellent temperature control, and comfortable acoustics, including through the use of white noise machines to reduce background noise.

Studies have shown that employees in such an environment are more alert, enjoy better sleep, feel less stress and distraction, and are less likely to catch colds or suffer from other illnesses. Other features include ergonomic sit-stand desks and filtered water hydration stations interspersed throughout the workplace to encourage better hydration.

The universal goal is to create an environmental that supports healthier behavior in employees. When you consider that most employees spend more than half of their waking hours in an office, it’s odd that most office spaces haven’t been designed with the health and wellness of employees front of mind. It’s so refreshing to see modern workplaces evolving to better support health and wellness!

Sincerely,

Jenni

 

 

 

The Incredible Healing Power of Sound

I recently read a scientific study with a fascinating conclusion: listening to certain sounds can relieve physical and emotional pain.

Researchers from the Human Pain Research Group at the U.K.’s University of Manchester ran studies which induced alpha waves in the human brain in order to combat pain. Alpha waves are one of the five different types of frequencies in the brain — the others include delta waves, theta waves, beta waves, and gamma waves. Alpha waves have been shown to be linked to calm and reduced anxiety.

In the study, participants were subjected to pulses of light or sound at certain frequencies which have been shown to generate alpha waves. Participants who had received alpha wave stimulation reported experiencing significantly less pain than those who had been exposed to a placebo non-alpha wave brain stimulation.

I recently bought my own singing bowl from a local company called Shanti Bowl, which has a great FAQ which explains how to use a singing bowl in meditation. Interestingly, singing bowls have been shown to create alpha waves in the human brain and have long been used to heal physical and emotional pain. This looks like another case of modern medicine finally catching up with ancient health practices!

Sincerely,

Jenni

Putting Wellness First

I recently read an interesting article in Vogue about Michelle Obama and her emphasis on always putting health and wellness first. She shared some great thoughts!

As the First Lady says, women need to do a “better job of putting themselves higher on their own ‘to-do’ list.” In particular, women “need to keep an eye on their physical and mental health, because if we’re scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of ourselves”.

Michelle Obama also recognizes that exercise has benefits beyond keeping your body in shape – it keeps the mind healthy as well. As the First Lady says, “exercise is really important to me—it’s therapeutic.” “So if I’m ever feeling tense or stressed or like I’m about to have a meltdown, I’ll put on my iPod and head to the gym or out on a bike ride along Lake Michigan with the girls.”

The First Lady also views health as “multifaceted”. In her words, “it’s physical, it’s internal, it’s my diet and my emotional state—it’s all tied in together.” Put another way, good health depends on keeping both the mind and body and balance.

It’s great to see such excellent health and wellness philosophies coming from the First Lady! What an excellent role model for new generations of women and girls.

Sincerely,

Jenni