Thursday, 27 February 2014

{Clean} Protein Power Bars

Soooooooooo, last night was a pretty exciting night for me. I wanted to make something that would taste good, act as a "protein" source, fill my tummy, taste good for hubby and would be "clean" It was a tall order, I'll admit. I want to be healthy, but I just can't convince myself that something is delicious when it's not. If it tastes like dirt, I don't care how healthy it is, I won't be able to eat it.

So, I took a regular granola bar recipe that I found online and "cleaned it up" (see what I did there!!) I replaced the butter with mashed banana, the brown sugar with maple syrup and peanut butter (**Note: You can make them nut free as well if you omit the Peanut Butter**) & the almonds with Chia Seeds. At the end, they became a protein packed, no-bake, gluten free, dairy free power bar! It's something that tastes good and will fill you up until your next meal!

So what makes this a power protein bar? There are SO many GOOD things in them that will nourish your body and keep you full with things like toasted oats, banana, dark chocolate, natural peanut butter and my personal fave - chia seeds. Chia Seeds are FAB. Not only are they an excellent source of fiber (which helps keep you full) they're also packed with protein & omega-3 fatty acids! Check out all the benefit here if you're still not convinced!

Anywho, I'm VERY proud of this recipe. These bars are SO good for you & they really do taste amazing. I hope you give these a go, they're perfect for on the go snacking, a quick breakfast or even a sweet treat after dinner! If you try it out, let me know what you think!

NOTE: Natural peanut butter is oily and much more fluid then normal peanut butter. I may or may not have spilled it all over myself and ruined a favourite sweater *sigh* Just a word of warning if you've never used it in baking before!

"Clean" Protein Power Bars
loosely adapted from Inspired Taste

2 1/2 cups of large flake oats
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup honey
2 small, ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp natural peanut butter, optional
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spread out the oats and chia seeds evenly. When your oven is heated, place the mixture in for 5 mins. Take out and toss the oats and seeds together and put back in the oven for another 3-4 mins. Transfer to a large bowl when done.

While oats & seeds are toasting, combine the honey, mashed banana, vanilla & maple syrup in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until everything is combined. The bananas won't meltdown like butter, so really you just want everything to be heated up and the honey to have combined with the maple syrup. 

When ready (will take about 3-4 mins) pour the saucepan mixture a little bit at a time into the bowl with the oats and combine with a rubber spatula. Pour mixture until all the oats are coated & sticky. You might have a little of the saucepan mixture left over which is ok! If you are including, add the natural peanut butter here and combine with the mixture. 

Let the mixture cool for about 2 minutes then add in the 1/4 cup of dark chocolate chips. They will melt into the mixture which is perfect - they will act as the glue to hold everything together. Mix together until everything is completely combined and the chocolate has melted into the mixture. 

Spray an 8x8 baking pan (I sprayed mine with olive oil, but use whatever you have on hand) and press the mixture into the pan. Make sure you press down multiple times so that the mixture is spread evenly. This also ensures that everything will stick together when done. I used my rubber spatula to do this but you can also use your hands. Either way, you want everything to be really packed down. 

Finally, sprinkle the 2 tbsps of remaining chocolate chips overtop and press them down into the mixture with your spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 1 hour. Remove from the freezer and cut into bars! 

Store in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 5 days. 

P.S. You can now PRINT my recipes easily by click the button below! If there in any unwanted text that you don't want to print simply click it to delete it!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Self Love Posts

This weekend was kind of a hectic one, so I was very grateful that my Saturday night plans got cancelled and I was able to take some MUCH needed downtime. I'd spent the morning working out, grocery shopping, doing laundry & cleaning (oh, the life of an adult) so all I wanted to do was crash.

Naturally, I headed to the trusty Netflix to find something interesting. I headed straight for the documentary section as I haven't seen a good one in awhile. After flicking past "After Porn Ends" and "Super Size Me" I came across "Hungry for Change" and thought I'd give it a shot. Usually I find these kinds of documentaries quite preachy, but it sounded interesting.

I was pleasntly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. While they did talk a lot at the beginning on how processed white sugar is bad for you (the "Crack" of the food world), talked about how Obese we are becoming and how all the horrible chemicals that are in our food effect us, they took a different direction later on- the importance of self love in the whole weight loss process.

I can't tell you enough how TRUE this is. It is something I have been working on for the better part of a year now, and believe me, it is SO crucial. I've lost weight a bunch of time, loathing myself the entire time and guess what? I gained ALL the weight back. Why? Because I didn't believe I was worth it. If you don't believe you're worth it, you don't see the point in feeding your body the foods that you need & the nutrition it is screaming for.

Any way, there is SOOO much more to the documenary than just that, so I HIGHLY reccomend you watching it, but near the end, Dr. Cathrine Northrup talks about Self Love and how important it is. She reccomended to start, stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eyes and say the following:

"I accept myself unconditionally, right now"

Yes, it feels a bit silly, but I can tell you that it helps to say it, even if you don't believe it and if you're having a fat day or a blah day...just saying it helps.

This led me to something I want to try. I've started a Tumblr account called "Self Love Posts" where I'll try and post a Self Love quote every day and spread the self love! I need it, you need it...we ALL need it! It's a place you can come for some much needed love, any day!

Of course, my first one:
Thanks guys! Let me know if you have any quotes that YOU really like & that contribute to your self love. I'd love to hear them!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Oreo Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes with Salted Caramel Drizzle

One heck of a long name, but one HECK of a dessert. Holy shmoly these things are decadent. I came across this recipe a couple of weeks ago and as soon as I saw the pictures I was like "YEP, that's next!" Plus, I had the perfect occasion to make them for - My Grandpa's 80th Birthday Brunch!

My Grandpa is an amazing man. Always wanting the very best for his grandkids, he built us everything we could ever possibly want (including but not limited to a KILLER playhouse in their backyard). My grandparent's house was one of my favourite places to go to in the summer. Not only did they have a pool, they had an incredible back yard (with the perviously mentioned playhouse), endless games & toys, a sailboat and, oh yea, they lived about a 5 minute walk from downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake. It crushed me when they had to sell their house last year, but I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to take my wedding photos there before it sold!
 I love my Grandpa SO much & I feel so grateful that he is still around. Unfortunately, I missed his family birthday celebration because I was in NYC for work, so we had my grandparents, my sister & and Dad over for brunch yesterday. We had some amazing waffles (great recipe here from Redpath) and then these cheesecakes for dessert (yes, dessert after brunch, don't judge).

Before I tell you the recipe, I do have to be honest. I wasn't a huge fan of this Salted Caramel Sauce. To me, it didn't taste quite right. I'm going to do some experimenting of my own later, but for now, I'll include the original recipe. Make sure you have an empty jar on hand so you can store this sauce for later. The recipe makes quite a bit.

Also, I made HALF of the original recipe, so if you need to make more than 9 mini cheesecakes, you can just double the below.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes with Oreo Crust & Salted Caramel Drizzle

Oreo Crust:
9 Oreos (store bought or homemade)
1/8 cup melted butter

8 oz (1 package) full fat cream cheese
3/8 cup white sugar
1/8 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (mini work best)

Caramel Sauce:
1 cup white sugar
6 tbsp salted butter (cut into 6 pieces)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used 10% but whipping cream, cream would have been better)
1 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 9 liners. Put water in any empty tins (helps the cheesecakes to bake evenly)
First we make the crust: In a food processor, crush the Oreos until the are crumbly. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the melted butter until evenly combined. Press about 1 tablespoon into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Bake for 5 minutes. Take out and allow to cool while you make the cheesecake. 

For the cheesecakes: Using a hand mixer (or stand mixer with paddle attachment) beat the cream cheese on medium until smooth and fluffy - you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple times with a spatula. Next, add in the sugar & sour cream and beat until everything is combined. Add the egg and beat into the mixture at LOW speed until incorporated. Add the vanilla and chocolate chips and beat in on low.

Using a large spoon, evenly distribute the cheesecake mixture into the 9 cupcake liners. You want them to be nearly full. Place in the oven for 18-20 minutes. You don't want them to be browned, so remove them when the centers are just SLIGHTLY jiggly. Remove from oven (they may seem quite puffed up, but they will deflate) and allow to cool at room temperature for an hour. Then, place in a container and allow to chill in the fridge for at least TWO hours). 

Time to make the sauce: Place sugar in a medium sauce pan on medium heat. Stir the sugar constantly. It will eventually start to crumble (it takes some time, so be patient) and then start to melt down. DO NOT STOP STIRRING. The sugar can burn quite quickly. It will eventually turn into an amber coloured liquid. 

Once the sugar is completely melted, add in the butter. Be careful here because when you add the butter, the sugar will splutter and bubble up. Stir until completely melted. Next, slowly drizzle the cream into the mixture. Again, it will splutter and bubble. Boil for one minute while constantly stirring. 

Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Allow to cool for about 20 minutes before drizzling on top of the cheesecakes and enjoy with a tall glass of milk or a coffee.They are sooooo decadent.
Pour the rest into a jar and store in the fridge. When you're ready to use again, heat in the microwave for about 20 seconds. 


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

One Pot Baked Ziti

I have to apologize. I've been out of town on business and I am COMPLETELY zonked. For some reason, I didn't sleep while I was away and between flying, traffic and MORE SNOW, I'm pretty much spent. On the plus side, I got to met Grumpy Cat while I was away!
Best day ever?!
In any case, I didn't get a chance to do ANY baking this weekend, so I thought I'd post about a meal I made a couple of weeks ago that was absolutely to DIE for.

Now, this Baked Ziti isn't really "Baked" in a traditional sense, but the pasta does kind of bake in the pot with everything else - yes, the pasta is cooked IN the pot! No boiling water required! This dish is also mostly "Clean" which is a HUGE bonus to me!

One Pot Baked Ziti
adapted from Damn Delicious 

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb Italian Sausage, removed from casings
4 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 tbsp Sriracha (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 can of crushed tomatoes
About 3 cups of whole wheat Ziti pasta (I use Fusilli because I couldn't find the Ziti pasta)
3 cups water
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 
1 cup marbled cheese, shredded

In a large skillet (or in my case, electric frying pan) heat the olive oil at medium heat. Take your sausage meat (find tutorial on how to remove from casings, here) and cook until browned. Make sure you are breaking the meat up as you would ground beef for tacos. Once browned, stir in garlic and mix with meat for about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper (you won't need TOO much).

Stir in the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer and allow to thicken slightly - takes about 8 minutes. Once thickened, stir in 3 cups of water and the pasta. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer in the pot for about 13-15 minutes with the lid on. Once the pasta is cooked through (it will be SLIGHTLY al dente) turn heat off and stir in the parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the Mozzarella on top and cover with a lid until the cheese is nice and mealty (about 2 minutes).

Serve right away!

This dish pairs REALLY nicely with a glass of red wine. MMMMM.

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Thursday, 13 February 2014

Overcoming the First Hurdle
Image Source: The Perfect Athlete
We've alllllll been there. You start a new "heathy eating" regime and you tell yourself, NO MATTER WHAT, you're going to stick to it. For about two weeks, you do stick to it. In all honesty, the first two weeks are easy. You turn down the office treats, you make your lunch every day, and you work out hardcore. Things are going GREAT.

Then...real life happens. It comes along when you least suspect it and BAM throws you off the path you have so successfully made for yourself. It can happen in many forms. Some of my key hurdles include:
  • Dinner with friends
  • Aunt Flo comes to town (yes, I'm 90, leave me alone)
  • Your favourite baker brings in delightful cupcakes that you can't turn down
  • I'm sad
  • I'm happy
  • I'm tired
  • A holiday happens
  • I'm too hungry and just grab the closest thing
Anyway, you get the idea. You're cruising along, with your healthy food and your exercise routine and your happy feelings and then out of nowhere, you're blindsided by a hurdle. You try and jump over it, but you trip, and you're left face down on the ground with a bag of chips and a bottle of wine (hypothetically speaking of course). You wake up the next morning with a bloated belly and a bruised ego.

Then the guilt sets in..."Why did I let myself do that?" or "I'm such a fat ass" or the worst one "well, this week is a write off, we'll just have to start again next week"

You all know what I'm talking about too. It really, really sucks.Then, you have a moment where you go "is it even worth it? I don't really care what I look like. F*ck it, I'm going to eat whatever I want" and then you start RIGHT back where you started. Guilty, sad, discouraged and frustrated.

So how do you overcome this? Logically, when you hit your first hurdle, you pick yourself up and keep going. Does that happen? Sometimes, yes, but when it doesn't, here is what I suggest:

When you START your Healthy Living Journey:
Write down your feelings & emotions as to WHY you're starting this healthy living journey. Is it because you're feeling fat? Is it because you want to cut crap out of your life? Whatever it is, write it down. Then, throughout the first few weeks, write down any and all changes you feel within yourself. Maybe it is more energy, more confidence, better sleep...whatever. WRITE IT DOWN.

Then, when your first hurdle comes along and you feel the guilt seeping in, immediately pull out that note and re-read it. Remember WHY you started this in the first place. Remind yourself of your goals and how good you were feeling.

You see the hurdle up ahead and you're worried about smacking into it:
You're two weeks in. You have a CRAZY awesome food fest coming up (like perhaps an amazing Raclette dinner with girlfriends) and you know you're going to want to splurge. Options:

a) eat beforehand and politely decline to eat
b) gorge until your gut busts out
c) prepare by doing a workout beforehand
d) cancel

In all honesty - my usual go to would have been b) or d). Obviously I would never decline to eat (that's just crazy) and my anxiety over the whole thing may cause me to cancel. Not this time though...I worked out the night before, and I knew I was going to the day after, so I happily indulged in an amazing meal. For those who don't know about Raclette, this is what it may look like:

Special cheese, fatty meats, potatoes...magic. We also happened to be celebrating a VERY special happening for a girlfriend of mine. It was a spectacular meal where I at until I was comfortably full and fully satiated. I may have felt a teeeeeensy bit guilty (we'll get to that next) but mostly, I was content.
Love these girls!
You've already started & can't remember why you're doing this:
Okay...this is where I'm at right now. I know why I'm doing this, I do, but there is that tiny (large) part of me that wants to throw my hands up in the air and bust out a bag of chips.

Then, I took a step back. I realized that this whole "clean living challenge" that I'm doing, is actually something I want to stick with for the rest of my life. So, for the rest of my life, am I going to be perfect 100% of the time in my eating? NO! Am I going to have girls nights, be happy, be tired, be lazy, have holidays etc. in the next part of my life? I certainly hope so! So guess what? It's okay to have treat days, once a week. It's okay to "fall off" the horse. The main thing is, you start the next day as a fresh day. You can't change what happened the day before, buy you can sure as heck try again!

The moral of the story? Don't give up. If your goals are genuine & your intention is strong, you will do it! This whole thing is a life journey. You're learning how to eat properly for the rest of your life, NOT just to get to your goal weight. You will get there!

Do you have any tips? Please share them below! I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Do-it-Yourself Oreos

I really love Oreos. I'm not sure what it is about them, but whenever they are in the house, I can't help myself from eating them. ALL of them.

However, since starting my Clean Living Challenge (which is going great so far!) I've had to cut back/cut out any junk food that I didn't make myself. The solution? Make my own Oreos! Of course I headed over to the trusty Pinterest (remembering I had seen them on there before) and found this recipe. 

One note: I found this dough completely frustrating to work with. It kept ripping and splitting apart (might be something to do with the fact I don't have a rolling pin and had to use a glass to roll the dough out...naaaaaaah) but the end product was TOTALLY worth it.

I also don't have a 2" cookie cutter like the recipe suggested, so again, I used a class to cut out the circles (which ended up being more like 3") so they were bigger and I should have been baked a little longer than the suggested 12 minutes. In the end, mine were a little soft. Didn't make a difference to me though, these things are epic!

   Do-it-Yourself Oreos
adapted from My Kitchen Addiction

For the Cookie :
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

For the filling:
1/2 cup salted butter (softened)
2 tbsp 10% cream
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3 cups icing sugar

In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until nice and fluffyAdd the egg and vanilla and continue to mix until everything is combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt until evenly mixed. With your mixer on LOW, slowly add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time. Add until everything is JUST mixed. I found that my mixer didn't get everything quite mixed, so a kneaded it together a little bit with my hands.

Divide the dough into 2 even sized discs, wrap separately in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour.

When the hour is up, remove 1 disc & preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a couple of baking sheets with a baking mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin (or in my case, a Canadian Club glass) and roll the dough out until it is about 1/8-1/4" thick. Use a cookie cutter that is about 2" in diameter to cut out the circles & transfer to your mat. Roll up the scraps & continue until you're almost out. Continue until you have used up both discs of dough (you may have a little left over which you can re-shape into a basic cookie!)

Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes. If your cookies are thinner, you won't need them to bake as long as the thicker ones. I baked mine (3" across) for 12 minutes and they came out a little soft, but I liked them that way! When they are done, transfer them to a cooling rack to cool COMPLETELY.

While the cookies are cooling, it's time to whip up the icing! In the bowl for your stand mixer, use a hand mixer to combine the softened butter, cream, vanilla and salt until all combined. Add your bowl to the stand mixer and set the speed on low. SLOWLY start adding the icing sugar bit by bit and watch it come together. This icing is quite stiff once it is all finished, but that's what you want!

Put the icing in a piping bag fitted with a large round tip or flower tip (which is what I used). Pipe onto one cookie and finish everything off by adding a cookie to the top! VOILA! You've made your own Oreo!

Enjoy with a tall glass of milk, these things are decadent!

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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Tabata - A Quick & "Easy" Indoor Workout

I posted last week on my FB page for people to "Like" a status if they wanted a post on a quick & effective workout, so here it is! I don't have pictures of each exercise, so I'll post pictures that I've found online and link to the page that they come from.

**DISCLAIMER** I'm by NO MEANS a fitness instructor (except for Zumba) and as with any exercise, you should consult with a physician if you think any of this will be too intense for you. However, if you have no injuries and are in relatively decent shape, you should be able to pound this routine out, NO PROBLEM!

First - The program I'm going to tell you about follows the method of TABATA. I first learned about Tabata when I attended the CanFitPro conference two years ago in Toronto, where my friend took a class with Mindy Mylrea and left said class sweating, shaking and grinning like a loon. Shortly after, I tried it at one of HER classes and been hooked every since.

Tabata is a form of the high intensity interval training method (or H.I.I.T) that can offer more health benefits than traditional cardiovascular exercise. I personally like it because it’s short, efficient and can fit in almost any fitness program. No equipment is required, no skill level is required and the whole thing takes about 25 minutes from start to finish.

Any exercise can be incorporated into the Tabata training. However the basic outline of the Tabata training method are as follows:
  • One "Set" is 4 minutes long
    • 20 seconds of intense training (meaning that for 20 seconds you give your ALL, whatever that means for you)
    • 10 seconds of rest 
    • Total of 8 rounds per Tabata set
Now in my friend's class (and when I do this at home) we do 4 Tabata Sets (for a total of 16 minutes of intense exercise) plus a 2-5 minute warm-up and a 5 minute cool down for a total of about 25 minutes. A TRUE Tabata set is the same exercise for the full 4 minutes, but I get bored easily and like to switch it up (which is what I'll tell you about here).

Also, I highly recommend downloading a free Tabata Timer on your phone/iPad/tablet or whatever. Trying to do it with just a timer is frustrating (especially when you have sweat dripping in your eyes). I use this one and like it very much.

Now, pick your fave, pump-up playlist, and get ready! I've done this set and it is challenging. Go at your own pace, but push yourself a little bit too. It's okay if you can't to the exercise full throttle the whole time, just keep movint!

 Here we go...

(Go HERE for a picture-free version of this post!)

Warm-Up (do this twice):
25 Jumping Jacks
20 Squats (quick ones)
10 Burpees

Set 1 (Legs & Cardio):
Remember, 20 seconds on, 10 second off per minute. 
1st & 3rd Minute - FROG SQUAT
Image from Sweat & Stamina
2nd & 4th minute - Mountain Climbers
Image from Shape Magazine

Set 2 (Legs, AGAIN):
1st and 3rd Minute -Ski Moguls
From Shape Magazine
2nd and 4th minute - Lunge Jump
Keep in mind, if this is your first time doing this workout, you may be feeling out of breath and tired at this point. If you are, don't force yourself to do the jump in the middle. You can just step back and lunge with the other leg. Whatever is most comfortable for you!
From Women's Health Magazine
REST FOR 30 SECONDS - You're halfway there!

 SET 3 (Abs & Arms):
Switching it up here, I'm going to do 4 different exercises!
First Minute - Bicycle Crunch
Women's Health Magazine
 2nd minute - Tricep Dips
You can do these like below or using a chair/bench or any other sturdy surface
 3rd minute - Double Crunch
Click HERE for a really good tutorial
 Fourth Minute - Downward Dog Push-Ups
These are BRUTAL, but they are also awesome

SET 4: Full Body
1st & 3rd Minute - Spider Man Abs 
Glamour Magazine
Description from Glamour Magazine: Start in push-up position with hands directly below shoulders. Pull right knee out to the side, hovering toward the right elbow, as shown. Return to start and repeat on opposite side.**IF YOU CAN** Add a push-up in the middle.

2nd & 4th minute - Cross Knee Plank
From Glamour Magazine
Description from Glamour Magazine: Starting in push-up position, bend and lift left knee, bringing it across body toward right elbow, as shown. Return to start and repeat, bringing right knee to left elbow.


Cool Down:
I'll  admit, when I do this on my own, I'm bad and don't usually stretch & when I do, I don't really have any sequence for them, so I reccomend you head over to FitSugar for a great sequence of stretches. You can also do whatever you feel is best for you!

I hope you enjoyed this workout, I know I sure do! If you have ANY questions at all, please, please, please feel free to leave a comment below. I'd LOVE to hear from you!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


So, as you may well know, I've recently started a Clean Eating, 4 month challenge (you can read all about it here) Part of this challenge requires that if I'm going to eat "Junk Food" I have to make it myself. I had a particularly frustrating drive home (hello, 2 hours in traffic) and all I wanted was something chocolaty. So, I went to the trusty Google and found this recipe for brownies.BEST. BROWNIES. EVER. No joke.

Since I'm trying to remove certain things like refined white sugar from my diet, I used brown sugar instead. Now they aren't technically "clean" but they are technically "holyeffsofriggingood" soooo, it balances it out. Plus, I made them from scratch, so close enough.

These brownies are fudgy, yet cakey, sweet, yet not too much so, and so so so so so so easy to put together. I'm probably going to make these all the time! For this batch I added in 2 kinds of chocolate chips (not sure the exact measurements) so I'll include the basic recipe here, but feel free to add in your own mixes.

adapted from
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp butter, softened
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup cream (10% is fine)
1 cup icing sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray or grease with butter

In a medium sized pot, on low heat, melt the butter until JUST melted (don't want the butter to get too hot, you just want it to be liquified). Remove from heat. Next, whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla until evenly combined. Next, whisk in the cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder until everything is JUST combined. If you want to add in mixings, stir in with a wooden spoon (I added about 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips).

Pour into your prepared pan and bake for about 25-30 mins. Check the browines at 25 minutes with a tooth pick. I found mine weren't done until about 28 minutes, but every oven is different! Just keep checking because you don't want to burn them. 

While the brownies are baking, place softened butter in a medium bowl and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until nice and fluffy. Add in the cocoa powder, 1/3 of the cream and 1/3 of the icing sugar and beat until evenly combined. Do this again with the remaining ingredients until your frosting becomes smooth and stiff. If it is too liquid, add in a touch more icing sugar. If too stiff, add in a touch more milk. I find I make icing a little differently each time, so just add a wee bit of whatever you need until it is just right!

Remove brownies from oven when done and let cool for about 30-45 mins. While the brownies are still warm (but not hot) frost them using a spatula. Allow to cool for another hour or so (if you can!)

Enjoy with a big ol' glass of milk, you'll need it!

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Monday, 3 February 2014

The Biggest Winner FOUR MONTH Clean Living Challenge

On Friday I posted on Instagram that I'm taking part in a 4 Month, Clean Eating/Biggest Winner Challenge. Since that post, I've gotten a lot of questions about what this means and how I'm doing it. I figured, I'd write about it here to spread the word (and to keep me honest about the challenge).

Here's how it works (keep in mind, I'm doing this with a group of people in the Durham area, but you can do this on your own or with friends as well!):

Starts: February 1, 2014
Ends: June 30, 2014


  1. Eat clean, nutritious food 
    • All "junk" food must be made at home, with mostly healthy ingredients 
    • Obviously, some days will be better than others, but do your best
  2. Complete Canada Health's MINIMUM requirements for exercise weekly: 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity PLUS strength training and balance and flexibility exercises. 
  3. Attend monthly challenge and monthly team meeting 
    • If you're living far away from me & want to do this challenge, just make sure you have a monthly check-in with yourself to see how you're doing.
  4. Make and meet 3 goals each month:
    • 1 numerical goal - Example: I want to lose 4lbs or I want to loose 2 inches off my waist
    • 1 physical accomplishment goal - Example: I want to be able to do 10 FULL push-ups
    • 1 socio-emotional goal - Example: I want to get a mani/pedi with my best friend
  5. Complete daily review of your "great things that happened" and your accomplishments.
    • Keep a daily journal and write accomplishments or good things that happened that day EVERY DAY, no matter how big or how small

Now for the clean eating part, I'll be real with you. I cannot afford to go completely "clean" so I'm going to do my absolute best to remove any and all preservatives from my diet and make as much possible from scratch. Along with that, I'm going to remove refined sugars from my diet (bye bye sweet, sugary coffee). Also, I know there will be days that I can't stick to the clean eating completely, but again, I'm going to do my very best, every day to eat as cleanly as possible (and post any awesome recipes that I find, here)

For the exercise portion I will be doing Zumba 2 times a week (at 60 minutes a piece) and 30 mins of either running, Tabata (post on this to come soon!) or one other class.

Like I mention above, I'm doing this challange with a group of friends from CORE Essential Fitness but you can do this with your own friends/family or by yourself. I will be checking in here once a month to update you on how it is going, so please feel free to do the same!

For February, here are my goals:
  • Numerical Goal - I want to lose 4lbs this month
  • Physical Goal - I want to do 10 FULL push-ups by the end of the moth
  • Socio-Emotional Goal: I want my hubby and I do go on a REAL date. Get dressed up, leave the phones at home, have a really nice meal and spend the entire evening doing things together. 
Finally, I will be keeping a journal about the good things that happen every day. This can be ANYTHING from a happy moment, to "made it out of the house" today. Anything at all that made you feel good about yourself. It can be one thing or 10 things, whatever will help bring you up! Keep the journal with you as well so that you can write things down as they happen.

That's it for now! If you have any questions at all, please leave them in the comments below! If you want to share your goals as well, please, please feel free to do so! The more the merrier!