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Quick and Clean Post Workout Fuel

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It’s shocking how many people overlook the importance of nutrition when it comes to overall wellness and weight loss. Truth be told, what we put in our mouths is more crucial than the time we put in the gym. One of the most common questions I get asked is, “what should I eat post workout that won’t cancel out the calories I just burned?”. Actually, this may be the best news you will hear this month but you you can’t cancel out calories you just burned off during a workout. When you work out, your body burns fat to be used as energy. If you eat right after your workout, those calories won’t be used to replace the burned body fat. Truth be told, your body only stores food as body fat when it doesn’t have anything else to do with the extra calories you eat. Post workout, your body needs to start restoring and repairing itself from your training, so in other words, it needs the calories.

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Your body uses the protein you intake to repair and build the muscles that were broken down during your tough workouts. Eating immediately post workout has a few other benefits. The calories you ingest will be used by your body automatically instead of being stored as fat. Eating after a workout can also increase your body’s insulin sensitivity or its ability to use carbohydrates, which is super important for weight loss.

What I eat after I workout depends on how vigorous the exercise was and at what time of the day. Sometimes, if it’s very early in the morning I may not have a huge appetite, where a protein packed shake and a cold pressed juice will do the trick or if it’s later into the day or evening, my body craves something a bit heavier. Here’s some easy options you may want to incorporate into your post workout routine.

The Go-To Salad: Belmonte Raw’s Moroccan Kale Salad

HBNewYouThe above shot at Belmonte Raw for Hudson’s Bay by David A. Pike. Wearing Lole Women

When my time is limited post workout, I have several options close to Equinox located in “The Path” (or what I refer to as Toronto’s underground city). It’s kind of the best. Retail shops, liquor stores, restaurants, everything you could ever need and want without ever having to go outside into the freezing cold. My friends at Belmonte Raw recently opened a location there that services the Financial District and within 5 minutes I can scoop up one of my fave salads to go without skipping a beat. But when I have a little more time, I like to prepare something at home where I can also have the option of adding some sort of protein to the salad; tuna, salmon, chicken or steak; like this colourful Rainbow Chopped Salad (shown here without protein).

Rainbow Chopped Salad

Ingredients: 

1 large head romaine lettuce, cored and chopped

1 head red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 handful of parsley, stemmed and finely chopped

1 apple, chopped into cubes

1 asian pear, chopped into cubes

1/4 cup wakame soaked for 15 minutes, rinsed and drained

1 sheet nori, cut into thin strips

1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets

1 cup of pomegranate seeds

1 avocado, peeled and sliced into cubes

1/2 cup of dried apricots diced finely

1.2 cup of sunflower seeds (optional)

3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

salt and pepper and your choice of protein (fish, chicken or steak) to taste

*Yields 4-6 servings 

Directions: Don’t feel you have to use this exact recipe. Feel free to remove or add ingredients as you see fit. You can think of this as the ultimate bowl of nutrient dense goodness. Add the simple vinaigrette or your choice of dressing, toss everything together and let marinate for at least 15 minutes before eating. SSFitTip: Make before your workout so you can devour right after your sweat sesh.

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I don’t think I’ve met a smoothie I didn’t like. I mean, what’s not to love right? Quick to make, you can pack in tons of nutrients, usually on the sweeter tasting side, making it enjoyable to drink. It’s almost impossible to get the recommended amount of folic acid from greens, so blending and juicing dark leafy green veggies like kale and spinach makes things a bit easier. Even those who don’t like the taste of green based smoothies, will love this Stevia-Sweetened Green Tropical Smoothie.

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Ingredients:

1/2 frozen banana

1 medium tangerine, peeled

1.5-2 cups of coconut water, preferably from young coconuts but bottled is fine

2 cups of kale, chopped

1.2 cup of frozen pineapple

8-10 drops of Sweet Leaf tangerine stevia

*Makes 1-2 large drinks

Directions: Mix all of the ingredients in a high speed blender, like a Vitamix, until smooth.

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If it wasn’t considered to be ridiculous, I could easily eat breakfast food for every single meal. There’s always been a special place in my heart for pancakes, crepes and french toast, but for the most part when you eat them at restaurants they aren’t the healthiest. I have come determined to find or create healthy versions of my favourite meals this year and these Red Quinoa Pancakes are pretty delish.

Ingredients:

2 organic, free ranged eggs

2 cups of coconut or almond milk

1.5 teaspoons of lemon juice

4 tablespoons of coconut oil

1.5 cups of flour (I prefer to use unbleached wheat or spelt flour as a healthier alternative)

1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of sea salt

2 cups of red quinoa, cooked

*Makes 20-24 pancakes

Directions: Place milk in a small bowl and pour in the lemon juice. Stir once and let sit for 5 minutes. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix together. Place eggs in a mixing bowl and beat with a wire whisk. Add the coconut oil, dry ingredients and milk to the eggs and mix until combined. Add the quinoa to the batter and mix until combined (make sure to not over mix). Head griddle to medium-medium/high and grease with coconut oil. Pour batter onto the hot griddle (roughly 1/4 cup per pancake) and allow to cook for a minute or so, or until the top of the pancake has bubbled and the sides are cooked. Flip pancake over and finish cooking on the other side for another 30 seconds. Add desired fruit or other toppings and your fave syrup.

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When I workout later into the day, specifically in the evening, I finish feeling absolutely famished. If I don’t find something healthy and filling right away, it can lead to danger. I like to eat my dinner early so I need something that’s healthy and that will keep me satisfied until the next morning.Whether your a vegan or not, you must try this Green, Clean Lasagna with Kale Marinara Sauce.

Ingredients: 

olive oil cooking spray (for the baking dish)

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 yellow onion finely chopped

4 cups of sliced cremini mushrooms

2 cups of shredded lacinato kale leaves

2 cups part skim-ricotta cheese

3 cups of homemade kale marinara (recipe below)

6 no boil lasagna sheet noodles

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 ̊F. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil cooking spray and set aside. In a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and shredded kale, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly. Put the ricotta cheese in a large bowl, and, using a spatula, gently fold in the cooled mushroom-kale mixture until completely incorporated. Assemble the lasagna

Using the prepared baking dish, assemble the lasagna in six layers as follows: 1 cup Homemade Kale Marinara, spread evenly; 3 lasagna noodle sheets (arranged in a single layer); 3⁄4 cup of the kale-mushroom-and ricotta mixture, spread evenly. Repeat the layering a second time, then top with the remaining kale-mushroom-and ricotta mixture, and finish with the grated Pecorino or Romano on top. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven, on the middle rack, for about 25 minutes.

After 20 minutes have passed, remove the foil from the baking dish and move the baking dish to the top rack. To finish, bake, uncovered, for another 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how you love your lasagna finished. Remove the lasagna from the oven and cool for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Ingredients for Kale Marinara Sauce:

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped finely

5 garlic cloves, finely minced

Two 28-ounce cans of unsalted organic crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup of fresh oregano

1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

1 cup of finely julienned lacinato kale

Directions:

In a large stockpot, warm the extra-virgin olive oil over low heat. Add the diced onion and cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for another 3 minutes on low heat. Add the crushed tomatoes and fresh oregano leaves and give the sauce a good stir. Cook on low for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When the sauce has reduced and thickened, finish with the sea salt, balsamic vinegar, and julienned kale. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes and serve or use in recipes as needed.

HBNewYouELXR Juice Photography by Danielle Reynolds

Cold pressed juices post workout can help your training through assisting you to stay hydrated and also offers essential nutrients to support muscle development, strength, and provides nutrients which can help reduce oxidation and inflammation due to strenuous exercise. Juicing is also ideal to alkalize your body after a heavy workout. The most significant thing to remember after a workout is that you have to get the vital nutrients back into your body in the easiest and fastest way possible. Then afterwards, have a meal which has fiber. I always turn to ELXR Juice Lab to nourish me with their cold pressed juices.

Post workout, my go-to’s are usually the Pina Vida). This refreshing blend assists with muscle recovery, it’s also an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidizing while providing an energy boost. Other faves is the brand’s Second Base; packed with tons of vitamins and minerals, Beta Rush because of it’s energizing properties that give me the extra push to get through the rest of my day and Support Group for it’s ability to stabilize blood sugar levels.

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There’s no better time like now to cleanse and detox. Want to start your new year with a 1, 3, or 5 day juice cleanse? Use my promo code “So Sasha” when you order your cleanse package from ELXRJuiceLab.com to receive 15% off your order.

For more lifestyle tips and style inspiration, make sure to follow @HudsonsBay on Instagram and Twitter or use the hashtag #HBNewYou for more of our wellness collaboration.

How To Workout At Home While Juice Cleansing

ELXR Home Workout

So you’ve ordered your juice cleanse, prepped your body and rid your kitchen of any tempting treats, but what about your workout routine? Besides asking whether surviving off only juice for a few days is tough, “Can I work out?” is the second most common question I get about juicing.  The answer to the latter is yes, but done in a smart and safe way. Getting in a good sweat actually helps the detoxifying process but it’s imperative that you listen to your body. Light workouts not only stimulate lymphatic flow, respiration, and blood circulation but they also improve liver, lung and kidney function. This all helps process and eliminate the toxins being released from your body while cleansing.

ELXR Home Workout

As someone who is used to frequent and intense workouts, I know how difficult it can be to scale back on your physical activity, but trust me you will thank me later. Through my own trial and error, research and speaking with health professionals, I’ve discovered that the best routines are the ones that increase your heart rate slightly and help you break a bit of a sweat.  My go-to for a short to moderate length juice cleanse is ELXR Juice Lab. Providing eight juices and two tonics, the brand’s detox packages provides adequate nutrients, hydration, energy and calories to not only keep hunger at bay but also gives your body what it needs to sustain light exercise. In case you missed my thoughts on my first experience with ELXR, you can check it out here.

My recommendations are to get in a yoga workout first thing in the morning before your first juice or an hour afterwards. If midday workouts are best for your schedule, some light cross-training or rebounding would work well after consuming ELXR’s “Deep Breath” blend as it’s re-energize the body in the middle of the day and keeps you hydrated. I find that mediation is great either first thing in the morning to help you set up for your day or can also be effective at night to help you unwind and de-stress. The latter works well after drinking the final juice for the day – the “Smooth Operator”.

ELXR Home Workout

Because you’re taking in less calories than normal and you’re body is in a bit of a shock to a new way of functioning for a few days, during this time it’s best to remember the “less is more” mantra. Whether you’re just resting your digestive system for a day or cleansing for five, here are a few detoxifying workouts you can do from the comfort of your home…

ELXR Home Workout

YOGA: I think we can all agree that there is no exercise routine more detoxifying than yoga. Whether you are doing a grounded Moksha style flow or practicing jivamukti, ashtanga or bikram, the poses in your chosen flow are meant to help build smaller muscles that don’t get as much attention, give some much needed love to the muscles that are generally over worked while stretching and twisting the body which helps in the process of eliminating toxins.

The “At Home, How-To”: There are tons of amazing videos online but what could be better than having your own personal Nike Master Trainer leading you through a series of awakening flows perfect to start off your day? Traci Copeland’s “Reach and Recharge” yoga workout on the Nike Training Club (NTC) App is an amazing 30 minute power building flow to develop strength and improve flexibility. The app is free and can be downloaded here. You can find Traci’s yoga workout under the “Get Focused” section within the app.

ELXR Home Workout

REBOUNDING/BELLICON: If traditional workouts aren’t really your jam but you still want to get in some low-impact cardio, this is going to be your jam. I have become obsessed with doing these workouts regardless whether I’m on a juice cleanse or not. The low impact bouncing stimulates the lymphatic system, improves cardiovascular health, bone density, circulation and is said to also reduce cellulite.

The “At-Home, How-To”: There are loads of instructional rebounding videos that can be found online. Some of them better than others. I went through about 30 that made me laugh so uncontrollably because of the funny looking exercises, I was not able to even make it through the workout, but this 20 minute JustBounce Bellicon video is effective (if you can get past this guy’s hilarious accent!)

The “At-Home, How-To”:  PopSugar is a site I go to sometimes for quick instructional, out of the box workout videos and this fun “Becoming Beyonce” 10 minute workout video will have you breaking a light sweat in no time.

MEDITATION: Ok, so meditation is not really considered a typical form of exercise but it’s definitely a mental one. When your mind is cluttered and not focused, it can slow down the body. In theory, meditation sounds like a rather simple task but if you have never tried it before, sit down for a few minutes and try to think about nothing but your breath. With our fast pace life with everyone having a to-do list every day with at least 30 things on it, you will be surprised how challenging it is to calm the mind. Mediation gives your brain some much needed exercise and your body some much needed rejuvenation by making you focus on your breath which helps ease anxiety and any pent up emotions that have a tendency to stand in the way between us and our goals.

The “At-Home, How-To”: I would be telling a little white lie if I said that meditating was easy to do. It takes some people months, scratch that, years to learn how to do it effectively. Attempting on my own became frustrating because my mind frequently wandered to all the other things I could have been doing with my time instead of focusing on breathing and clearing my mind. Thankfully, there is an app for everything and I recently stumbled on a great one that helps teach the basics of mindfulness meditation. It takes you through a guided mediation lasting about 10 minutes and allows you to choose the background noise, think rain falling on leaves or crashing waves on the shoreline, to help get you centred. It’s called “Calm” and can be downloaded for free on iTunes.

ELXR Home Workout

ELXR Home Workout

LIGHT BODY CONDITIONING WORKOUT: No gym? No problem! There are tons of workouts I do in the comfort of my home or hotel room while traveling that is safe enough to do while on a cleanse and use only your body weight. 5-10 minutes doesn’t seem like a long time but you would be surprised at the type of workout you can get in during that timeframe. The goal here is to break a light sweat, get your heart rate up a bit and your muscles engaged.

The “At-Home, How-To”: I like create unique workouts based on moves I have learned from Canadian Nike Master Trainer Eva Redpath and the NTC app and keep rotating them to avoid boredom. Below you will find a sample workout that I love to do when I am in a pinch for time – and because of it’s low impact, it’s great to do when detoxing:

20 seconds – RUN IN PLACE

40 seconds – FLUTTER KICKS (click here for instructional video)

20 seconds – RUN IN PLACE

40 seconds – MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS WITH OPPOSITE KNEE TOUCHING OPPOSITE ELBOW

20 seconds – RUN IN PLACE

40 seconds – STEP UP’S WITH KNEE DRIVE CHANGING SIDES AFTER 20 SECONDS (shown in photo above)

20 seconds – RUN IN PLACE

40 seconds – OPPOSITE ARM AND LEG EXTENSION (click here for instructional video)

20 seconds – RUN IN PLACE

40 seconds – TRICEP PUSH-UP TO FROGGER (click here for instructional video)

Finish off this workout with holding a plank for 3 minutes. I know that duration sounds like an eternity…to help me get through I find a song approximately that length of time and work on holding myself in position until the track is over. If you want a bit of a challenge, try alternating your legs off the ground for more stability and core work

ELXR Home Workout Photography by Daneille Reynolds for ELXR Juice Lab. Apparel courtesy of Nike Canada

For more information on ELXR Juice Lab’s remedies and juice cleanses, head to ELXRJuiceLab.com and enjoy 15% off your online purchase when you use the promo code “SO SASHA“. ELXR juices can also currently be purchased at Bolt Fresh Bar on Queen Street West and Maman Toronto located on the mezzanine level inside First Canadian Place.

My 30 day League Challenge Series: Healing Through Food

Healing Through Food and The League App

Our society has a tendency to underestimate the role and value food plays in our lives. The majority that do think they value it, they do so in the wrong way. Technically, food is just fuel for living. That’s it. Nothing else.  However, for so many of us it’s become so much more; for pleasure, for comfort, to socialize, as a reward, when we’re bored, as gifts, when we’re lonely…and the list just goes on and on. Over the years I’ve experimented with food. I went from eating a high carb diet while being an elite athlete, to becoming a vegetarian and then slowly transitioning to a strict vegan diet. Why vegan? For no other reason than I watched the documentary Food Inc and it scared the crap out of me. I was also living in Vancouver and it seemed as though everyone there was a “Granola Grinder” so it just seemed right at the time, LOL. But then I entered a fast pace career working for the largest Tobacco company in the country (ironic I know). With an unlimited expense account, tons of traveling, while wining and dining clients, my health started to go sideways. It is not surprising that my kidney issues resurrected during this time and fibromyalgia followed close behind.

Nathalie Niddim

If you’ve read part one of my 30 League Challenge (if not you can read it here) you have a good understanding at the health struggle I had for the last few years. I owe a large part of my recovery to food. Or shall I clarify, the right food. After several weeks of research, I was astounded to discover how much food influenced my conditions, especially fibromyalgia related pain. After taking copious amounts of prescription medication for an extended period of time, my gut lining and intestinal walls had become putrefied. These little holes in the lining allowed for food participles to sneak into my blood stream, causing my body to go into defence mode. The result was a nasty mix of chronic joint and muscle pain, food sensitivities, skin irritations, yeast infections, crippling migraines and insomnia. In recent months I have started to see some of these symptoms creep back up so I am determined to halt them in their tracks with the assistance of my League PRO and Holistic Nutritionist Nathalie Niddam.

ELXR Juice Lab

The process of connecting with Niddam through League was ridiculously easy. I was able to check her availability, set up our initial appointment through the app and within minutes she had emailed me what felt like a million documents, all necessary though, to fill out so she could get an idea of my medical history. This woman impressed me. She did a ton of reading and gathered up as much info as she could and was able to provide me with an insanely intense program for me to tackle to get back to where I need to be, while still getting the right about of calories to allow me to train and prepare for my next race. The custom program she created was broken up into three parts. 1) a custom 3 day juice cleanse with ELXR Juice Lab, 2) an anti-inflammatory/anti-candida diet and 3) a gut healing diet.

ELXR Juice LabELXR Juice Lab’s “Deep Breath” water is a midday lifesaver. It contains coconut water, fulvic acid and chorella. It boosts red blood cells and acts as a reboot – giving you life and energy to tackle the rest of the day. Photo from Instagram @sashaexeter

I was thrilled to find out that a juice cleanse was part of the program. After two years of testing out every juice company in Toronto, I have finally decided to partner long term with one and I have chosen ELXR. People have differing options on juice cleanses and they may not be for everyone but they have proven to be a lifesaver for me. When I am suffering from a pain flare-up, I can always count on a couple days of juicing to immediately bring down the pain level. It helps give my digestive organs a rest, improves my sleep, skin and so on. With more juices per day I have ever seen in any juice cleanse package before (8 juices and 2 boosters), I did not get hungry or have one craving. To be honest, I was quite full and had to force myself to drink the last two before bed. This is actually a good thing. I have cleansed with other brands before and literally felt that I wanted to chew my arm off from being so hungry. After day one,  I was bouncing off the wall with energy. With the perfect combination of cold pressed, non-HPP juices, seed mylks, and booster shots, I actually could gave gone another two days. ELXR’s mantra is, “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine by thy food” and their carefully formulated concoctions are created to act as the following remedies:

ELXR Juice Lab Remedies

ELXR Juice Lab Remedies

I am currently in the second phase of Niddam’s plan, the anti-inflammatory/candida detox for a total of six weeks – which is no doubt the most difficult one. You don’t necessarily need to be a chronic pain sufferer, have arthritis or a candida issue to do this. This regimen is a phenomenal detox program for anyone trying to do a deep cleanse of their system. However, I will admit it can be a bit challenging for someone to do voluntarily. Believe me if I could, I would be scarfing down a big stack of pancakes and sipping on a flat white while I write this post. All the foods most people generally love have been eliminated, so I am bidding farewell to fruit (with the exception of berries), dairy, legumes, all sugar and processed foods, fermented products (salad dressing, condiments – basically anything that may contain vinegar), alcohol, most nuts and caffeine…welp! The list of foods I can’t eat is much longer than what I can eat. For right now I am noshing on lots of dark leafy veggies, berries, eggs, foods high in good fats like avocados, organic chicken, fish and homemade soups made with alkalizing bone broth. I have just begun to start experimenting with some clean diet recipes that Nathalie graciously sent over in a 35 page deck and I will be sharing some of my faves over the next several weeks. Below is an easy, go-to brekkie recipe of that I love to prepare. It’s so yummy and full of good fats and protein:

Poached Egg with Avocado and Sweet Roasted Potatoes

Sample Breakfast

What You’ll Need

1 Tsp of vinegar *this is just to help keep poached eggs from separating when you boil them. Trust me, it’s a life saver!

1/3 – 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

1 small to medium sweet potato, cut into chunks

EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) for drizzling

Pinch of paprika, garlic powder and red chilli flakes

Sea salt and pepper to taste. *Nathalie suggests pink or grey sea salts. Natural mineral salts are nourishing and help balance electrolytes

Cilantro

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer. Add in vinegar. Crack eggs one at a time into a bowl. I like to use the outer ring of a mason jar cover to help keep the eggs in place while boiling. Place the rings into the water and gently pour one cracked egg into each. To be honest, this trick will allow you to perfect poached eggs every single time. Let boil for 3-4 minutes until whites are set. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon.

3. Toss sweet potato with olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes until soft and crispy.

4. Plate eggs, avocado slices and sweet potatoes. Garnish the avow with cilantro if you wish, spritz of lime and a sprinkle of sea salt.

I am going to chill with this anti-inflammatory diet for another 4.5 weeks before going into phase three; “the gut healing diet”. When this program is over, I plan to integrate a Ketogenic diet based on the advice and direction from my nutritionist. What was initially supposed to be a 30 day challenge has quickly turned into a 90 day one. For those who are interested, I will continue to post my progress, share info on the third step of the food program, recipes I feel you may enjoy and feature my favourite concoctions from ELXR.

For more information on League, to sign up for free and to begin to build your own league of experts click here. Details on ELXR Juice Labs original, organic formulas and to create your own custom juice cleanse, head to ELXRJuiceLab.com. Thanks to my friends at ELXR, by entering the discount code “So Sasha”, you will receive 15% off your orders.

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