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Snacking Just Got Fresher with Harvest Bakes

Guys, snacking just got a little easier and a whole lot healthier this month thanks to Country Harvest who has just launched the best thing since sliced bread (sorry, I couldn’t resist myself!) I have absolutely no shame in admitting that I am a serial snacker – big time! I eat small meals with several snacks throughout the day to keep me going but just like everyone else, having healthy snacks when I’m on-the-go all the time can be a bit of a challenge.  And let’s be honest, we ALL have good intentions when it comes to our food choices however we are all prone to fall off due to the options, or lack thereof, around us when we are not at home.

Over the past few weeks we (ok, mainly me) have been eating our way through Harvest Bakes snacks prior to it’s arrival in stores to see what all the hype was about. So what exactly are Harvest Bakes snacks? I know for thing thing, they are insanely delicious but to pigeon hole them into just one thing would be unfair. Yes, they are shaped in the form of a square like bread slices but they couldn’t be farther from. A flat bread if you will but will the density and texture of a baked good that is packed full of whole grains, protein, fibre and iron. And covering all the bases and making sure all palette preferences are accounted for, there are three delicious varieties to appease all; Wild Blueberry with Flax Seeds and Rolled Oats, Apple & Cinnamon with Raisons – my current favourite and Super Seedy & Quinoa with Sunflower, Flax, Pumpkin and Chia Seeds…I know that’s quite a mouthful isn’t it? All tasty. Super healthy and the perfect snack to pack, toast or spread your go-to topping on. I have yet to try toasting them, much preferring to smear natural peanut butter over top with sliced bananas sometimes even sprinkling with a dash of chopped pistachios – YUM right?!

Photos by Jilly Botting

Harvest Bakes are now available in the bakery aisle in your local grocery store. To learn more and to discover more nutritional information head to CountryHarvest.com

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.

How To Live A Happier, Healthier Life With The League App

Join League

For those who have been following me since the early days of SoSasha.com, you are aware of my health issues and part of my journey to recovery. But for those you have recently discovered my site or my instagram account, you may be under the impression that I’m the picture of good health. Hard to believe it now, but three years ago I was in a very dark place – both physically and mentally. I was struggling with side effects from a rare kidney disease, I had developed fibromyalgia (a chronic pain condition – which seemed to come out of left field), that consequently led me deep into depression. Trust me when I say I was in a hole so deep, not even a firefighter without a collar bone could pull me out. I was so heavily medicated for my existing conditions, that those prescribed pills created new conditions, leading to a vicious cycle of distress and illness. It seemed as though I was on the road to no where…fast. I was seeing some of the best doctors in the country for my ailments but I knew deep down it wasn’t going to be enough to get me back to being a functional human being.

Join LeagueA sneak peek of League’s all star line-up for health professionals

After several months of online research, word of mouth and referrals, I had assembled a team of health and wellness professionals and I was certain their comprehensive approach would allow me to no longer be dependent on meds and move towards a pain free life. This was something traditional doctors didn’t feel was possible. Amongst this carefully curated team I had an osteopath, nutritionist, reiki specialist, acupuncturist, chiropractor, headache and joint pain specialist, tai-chi and yoga teachers, a personal trainer and a massage therapist. It literally took a small village. You name it, I had it  and without them, I wouldn’t be here today. There was a lot of trial and error in the beginning. When you are essentially trusting people with your life, you need to have a good connection with them. The process of assembling this roster was time consuming and tedious. I remember often thinking that I wish there was some sort of database where I could have access to all the top health professionals in the city. Fast forward a couple years and the team at League has brought this exact idea to life and I have no doubt this tool can revolutionize the way we approach our health.

Join League

League has the widest selection of health services right at your fingertips. Their pros are all hand picked, verified and ready to help you achieve your health and wellness goals, which can sometimes be difficult to attain on your own. How does it work? It’s actually quite simple. After joining the app for free, you can quickly find trusted pro’s based on where you live or work, to meet a specific budget or your schedule. You can set up an appointment, cancel and rebook; receive automated reminders, enjoy the convenience of automatic payments and even keep a record of your service history and wearables data all in one place.

Join League

Join League

Join League

Join League

I’ve been relatively healthy for the past year but every now and again I have some setbacks so there was no better time than the present to try a 30 day challenge with League for myself. Also, after suffering two injuries this summer, a severe ankle sprain and a hip flexor injury, one of my main goals was to look for a movement specialist.. I turned to Amber Joliat, Creator and Owner of Misfit Sudio in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood, to help open up my hip area with a mix of Pilates and Yoga practice. Unlike any other pilates reformer class I have ever done, Joliat takes cues from her dance background to help connect each move on the machine to create beautiful, fluid sequences that resemble somewhat of a dance. Combined with her melodic voice, angelic energy and sun drenched studio, our 60 minute private sessions are pure magic. I had no idea the severity of the injury until I compared the left side of my lower body to my right in a series of exercises I was lead through by Amber. It was clear during our first session that this is going to be a lengthy process so I am attempting to accelerate it by also seeing League expert Daniel Kocmiel for Facial Stretch Therapy. Unlike regular stretching that attempts to isolate and stretch specific muscles, FST targets facia, the connective tissue found in and around the joints. During my sessions with Daniel, he gently pulls then moves my legs and hips in a smooth motion while being strapped to a massage table. Here he removes pressure between joints, releasing a lubricating fluid and improving flexibility of my surrounding muscles. The below video is an excellent example of what my sessions with Kocmiel look like:

Photos by Nathalia Allen amillionminds.ca
As long and painful this process may be, I am dedicated to stay the course in order to get me where I need to be. For the remainder of my League program I will also be doing an extreme overhaul of my nutritional diet with the help of League expert and Holistic Nutritionist Nathalie Niddam. Stay tuned to find out how I am decreasing my fibro related pain with the help of a juice cleanse with Elxr Juice Lab and anti-inflammatory diet developed by Niddam. For more information on League and sign up for your free account to get started head to JoinLeague.com.
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