Saturday, 27 July 2013

The PERFECT Falafel

My God, who doesn't love falafel. So freaking good. Well guess what? A baked version made with organic, wholesome ingredients, and spelt flour instead of white, is just as good. No, I lied. MUCH BETTER!

I came up with this a while ago, but never got around to posting it. It's a great idea to make a huge batch to have on hand as a protein source throughout the week. And it goes mega quick!


-3 cups cooked chickpeas
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1 medium sized onion, diced
-2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-1/2 tbsp sea salt
-1 tbsp cumin
-2.5 tbsp dried parsley
-3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
-1/4 cup spelt flour (or flour of choice)


1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. In a food processor, combine chickpeas, onion and olive oil, processing until combined but some texture remains.

3. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Roll into balls.

4. Lightly grease a baking sheet with some oil. Place falafel on the baking sheet, and bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway.

Serve with prepared tahini sauce (recipe below) on a whole grain pita, in romaine leaves, or on a bed of greens!

Tahini sauce:

-1/2 cup tahini (sesame butter)
-1/4 cup water (or more to reach desired consistency)
-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
-1 tsp sea salt
-Juice of half a lemon
-2-3 cloves of minced garlic

Sunday, 21 July 2013

My Juice Fasting Experience

Last week my dad and I went on a camping trip to Algonquin Park. My first time camping there was last year, so I knew what a beautiful place Algonquin is. We had planned this camping trip for a couple of months before going. This time, we were going for five whole days. The thought of being in such a serene location for five whole days without city distractions, pollution, work, and social networking was a very exciting thought!

I also thought this trip would be the perfect time to do a juice cleanse. The longest I had ever done a juice fast was just one day. I have done that many times, after a potluck or a day of overindulgence when my stomach felt like it was full of all these combinations of food it would have a tough time digesting. This time, I wanted to go for the whole five days.

The reason I had never done a juice fast any longer was because I knew you really had to be minimally active while juicing. I am a very active person. I'm either working or working out. Aside from worries about having enough energy for my active days, if I was juice fasting I'd need to have my juicer with me. Carrying pre-made juice isn't something I'd do because the enzymes are gone quite quickly, as the juice oxidizes after it's been made fresh from a juicer.

This trip was the perfect time to do a fast - I'd be away from the city without any responsibilities. I wouldn't be going to the gym (a thought that actually made me quite sad, lol). No work. And I got my dad on board too! Which was really awesome, because I didn't know how he'd feel about it. We watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and he totally agreed it'd be a good kick start for him on his weight loss (he's a bit overweight, and always saying he wants to lose a few!).

When the time finally came, we packed the juicer, bought a TON of produce, some tea for the evenings...and we were off! I want to make an important point that juice fasting should be focused on dark, leafy greens as much as possible. Fruits and sweetener or starchy vegetables shouldn't be most of what you're juicing. If your juice is very sweet, it enters your blood very quickly because there's no fibre there to slow it's absorption, so your blood sugar would go way high! We planned to juice the sweet stuff mostly in the morning.

Monday morning I woke up and prepared a delicious and tasty juice for my dad and I. I wanted the first one to be very delicious for him, because he wasn't used to juicing very green and less sweet stuff yet, although he knew we would be doing that during this fast! We made a toast, and we were off.

By the time we got there (I think it was about a four hour drive), I was very tired. And I was starving! I had packed a juice for on the road, and I drank most of it because my dad said he was full. My dad wanted to bike for a bit, but I actually just took a long nap.

The next day, I woke up ravenous. It wasn't the smell of the food cooking around me, because it was just bacon and eggs people were making, and to be honest that smell grosses me out if anything. I was just used to my routine of waking up, going to the kitchen and making a delicious sweet potato pudding, or oats, or something with peanut butter... mmmm...Okay, I was big time dreaming about food. I made a giant juice for my dad and I. I felt okay. I wish I could say I had all this amazing energy, and my digestion was going great...but I'd be lying. Truth is, as the day went I just felt so hungry and so tired. My dad asked me if I wanted to eat something. Truthfully, by the end of the second day of no food, feeling like crap, no improvement in digestion and inability to bike or swim for longer than 20 minutes, I decided I would eat the next day if I still felt shitty.

Day three, I woke up and sure enough I felt the same. Maybe worse. My stomach rumbles woke me up. The day before, I had drank juice til I was blue in the face. I was still STARVING! My dad told me he was not hungry at all, and he felt great. I wished with all my might I did. I decided I need to listen to my body. I need protein. And FIBRE! My digestive system felt like it was dead. I expected to be going straight to the bathroom the whole time. Not once!!! (Yeah, TMI, sue's relevant! lol).

Above = me breaking the fast... with actually EATING some of the fruit!

We went to Metro in the next town over and I got some organic tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, kidney beans, hummus, avocado and olives. My beloved protein and healthy fat!!!! AHHHHH!

I don't mean to toot my own horn, but damn. We didn't have any cooking resources with us, and my creations were not too shabby!! Mmmm, smoked tofu/hummus kale wraps...

After eating, I felt amazing. I ate half a Cliff Bar at Metro, and then some hummus and clean tortilla chips on the way back to camp. My god, heaven. I kept a diary on my phone of my "journey" prior to when I decided to eat again. Here is is:

Day one: 
So tired all day. I woke up with brain fog, and have had it all day long. Took a nap, but my body still feels heavy. Pretty thirsty tonight. Trying to increase my water intake as much as I can. 

Day two:
Woke up still feeling pretty drained. But I felt less brain-foggy today. Went on a bike ride and got attacked by bugs. Went to the beach, just wanted to lie around but I took a short swim. It's now 4pm and I'm just glued to my chair, and my stomach is rumbling even after 3 juices (one of them just watermelon). Very disappointed that there have been no bowel movements.

Day three: 
Slept for a good eight hours at least. Feeling pretty tired still. Not gonna lie, I had hoped I'd wake up with a huge burst of energy. Even after a sweet morning juice, I still feel so tired. We're considering finishing the fast early. My dad is feeling great and he's drinking even less juice than me! I think I need more calories. At least I had a bowel movement. 

I apologize for the details about the bowels. Again, it is relevant to my review on juice fasting. For me, it did nothing but seemingly back things up! Needless to say, it was all good after I ate again.


After I broke my fast, I came to some realizations. I think juice fasting is amazing for those who are overweight, have digestive issues, and/or eat poorly. I am none of the above. I'm very active, I eat a plant-based diet with no processed foods at all... come to think of it, why was I wanting to fast anyway? Not for weight loss. My digestion was okay. Maybe it just wasn't a good fit for me.

My dad agreed. He said that he felt great because he had so much extra fat that it was definitely keeping him company. He wasn't hungry. He told me that the two days was more than enough for someone like me. And I agree with him!

In conclusion, I think there are very important cautions to take with juice fasting. Number one, GET YOUR CALORIES IN! I probably eat like 1500+ caories (AT LEAST) on a regular basis. Green veggies have very little calories. I had probably like 4 large cups of juice a day, but that was certainly not measuring up to how many calories I usually ate. Second, I think for anybody three days should be the limit. Fibre is pretty damn important. Sure, your digestive system needs a break. Give it a break from junk, then....forever! Juicing for three days is sufficient to clean someone out enough, I think. Most people who are overweight and eat poorly would benefit from that, and then having fibre-rich, clean, plant-based foods from there on in would be their best bet. No, I'm NOT a doctor - this is just my opinion based on my experience. 

Would I do it again? Maybe for a day. But honestly, never longer for me. It's funny how you really gotta try something to find out what your consensus really is on it. I know my opinions have changed on juice fasting quite a bit! OF COURSE I will continue drinking my juices frequently, but I will use them as a supplement to my diet, and not as a meal replacement.

If anyone has experiences, I'd love to hear them! 

Happy eating and/or juicing, folks. :)

xoxo Tijana

Friday, 12 July 2013

A Noob to Counting Macros

Hey, y'all. So in the last couple of weeks, I've made quite some interesting changes when it comes to my diet.

Throughout the past year, I've suffered digestive upsets. Those are now totally resolved. I know now those horrible upsets were mainly caused by aspartame from the gum I was chewing. I am so thrilled to say the pains are gone, and so is the nasty gum habit. Taking magnesium citrate helped a lot. I still take it, but not every day! Just when my tummy needs extra love.

Putting that whole stomach ache issue was huge for me. It was almost taking over my life. When I resolved it, I started to notice other little things about what I was eating... how did my food make my feel?

I would occasionally get brain fog. I'd be so tired and sluggish, and my workouts seemed to be in a permanent slump. I wondered why - I mean, I eat all whole foods, mostly organic, plenty of nutrients are coming into my body. What's going on?

Interestingly enough, my fitness goals also started to shift. My goals used to be "just be skinny". Ha, sounds so sad. No longer so. I've started doing real military style bootcamp, which is a challenging strength workout using some equipment and body weight exercises, and I'm feeling stronger than ever. I had never had such a consistent amount of strength training workouts. I've also been finding lots of girls on Instagram who are super into staying lean through strength training exercises, and not spending hours on the treadmill and zero time eating. I observed that a lot of them count their macros.

I realized I was a huge noob when it comes to this stuff. Yes, I am totally informed on essential nutrients for optimal health. But for fat loss and strength gains, I am actually kind of in the dark. I never understood what was so bad about carbs. I mean aren't fruits the all time healthiest snack? Fat free!

Well, apparently it's not that simple. I'm not saying this is true, because it's quite a heated topic among people of all camps, but basically I realized I was just having too many simple carbs, and worrying way too much about healthy fats, and not worrying enough about protein.

Protein builds muscle. Healthy fat helps with so many natural processes in your body, including to actually help mobilize stored fat. Carbs are most easily used as a source of fuel by the body. BUT, if they're not used, they're stored as fat. OK, I knew that. But I guess I didn't think that eating less carbs = fat will be the source of fuel used. Makes sense. And not to mention I also didn't think I was eating too many carbs.

I know that once I get sugar, I get addicted. I go nuts, just munching on anything sweet in sight. Of course I never have refined sugars, but even honey, dates, fruit, etc... I crave and crave and crave all night, and I usually end up eating honey by the spoonful nightly. Yep. My secret is revealed! Maybe I was addicted to simple carbs....

So I've taken a different approach. I've started using the My Fitness Pal app to track my protein, fat and carbs percentage distribution every day. I've basically cut the majority of my sugars down to just in the morning, keeping complex carbs all day, and upping the protein.

The result? I feel amazing! I have a lot of energy, my workouts are actually progressing, and I'm getting leaner already. I definitely want to keep this up. Honestly, now when I have a fruit I am truly satisfied, but I realize I am just fine with minimal sweetness. My smoothies are not as overly sweet, and truthfully just as delicious. I've been having green apples and berries mainly as my simple sugars.

I know so many vegans that are into 80/10/10 (carbs/fat/protein), and that kind of thing, who think 50% carbs is nuts. But at the same time, there are vegans and non vegans alike that follow this kind of macro outline to keep themselves as lean as they can, with a lower body fat percentage.

Is one healthier than the other? Again, I am certainly far from an expert. I'm totally new to all this. But I think it just depends on 1) your goals and 2) your body! And my body and goals are agreeing with these macros.

I'd love some opinions on counting macros - what works for you? Let me know!

Happy eating :)

xo Tijana