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    Oh hey apple season! Welcome to the time of year where apples are bursting with delicious flavour. Here in Canada, we don’t always have access to locally grown fruits and vegetables all year round. So when we do, we have to jump on it! Buying locally grown produce not only supports our local farmers but also gives us the best source of nutrients. Let’s talk about why our local apples rock:

    Our local apples don’t sit on a truck for weeks while they travel from China/Turkey/Italy/India/etc. The longer a fruit or vegetable sits, the less nutrients it will have. So local apples that have been recently picked off the tree will still have those awesome nutrients flowing through it. This is what we want. 

    From a nutritional standpoint, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Why? Apples contain a good dose of fibre and vitamin C. They are also high in phytonutrients, which help you balance your blood sugar. I can’t tell you enough how important it is to regulate your blood sugar. (More on this another day.) 

    Smoothies are by far the most efficient and delicious way to get a ton of nutrients in the morning. This smoothie is (in my opinion), the best smoothie in the history of That Clean Life. Every single ingredient in it has a purpose to fuel your body. On top of the goodness of apples, we also have spinach, flax seeds and cinnamon. This smoothie is incredibly delicious, will keep you feeling full all morning and is designed to stabilize your blood sugar so you won’t crash an hour later. So get out your blender and prepare to have the best morning ever. 

    Green Apple Cinnamon Smoothie

    Makes 1 serving // Takes 5 minutes 

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    Ingredients:

    • 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
    • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
    • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
    • 2 handfuls baby spinach

    Directions:

    1. Place apple, kiwi, ground flax, cinnamon and almond milk in a blender. Blend until smooth. Then add in baby spinach and blend again for at least a minute. Pour into a glass and enjoy! 

    Note: This is a great smoothie to prep ahead of time. Chop apple, kiwi and spinach and throw them in a ziploc baggie. Freeze or refrigerate until ready to blend and then just add cinnamon, almond milk and flax!

  2. If you are Canadian, you probably recognize this:

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    It’s Canada’s very own handy dandy “Food Guide”. This document was first created in 1942 and last updated in 2007 (7 years ago). I was taught this guide in detail in public school, high school and again in nursing school. In fact I even spent countless hours in nursing school developing meal plans and recommendations based on this food guide. *face palm* 

    I don’t know about you, but when our government issues a guide like this I expect it to be legit. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about food and what goes in it. Knowing what I know now, some of the products on this guide and lack of specificity concern me. I’m not alone.  

    This past winter, Dr. Hasan Hutchison of Health Canada faced off in a debate against Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, one of my most favourite real food activists. The topic: “Does Canada’s Food Guide Promote Weight Gain?” 

    As Andre Picard outlined in this Globe & Mail article, these two healthcare professionals agreed on several things including Canadians are getting fatter at an alarming rate all because of the fat-promoting environment in which we live. 

    Dr. Freedhoff outlined many sound concerns about Canada’s Food Guide. He explained that in reality, someone who follows this guide would likely far exceed their daily caloric requirement. As you probably know, the guide outlines the various food groups and suggests the number of servings we should consume from each group on a daily basis. Freedhoff argued that, an adult woman who followed these recommendations would consume close to 3,300 calories per day, which would lead to significant weight gain. One of the biggest problem is the ambiguity of the word “serving”. We tend to greatly overestimate what a serving size actually is. 

    Other major concerns about Canada’s Food Guide include corporate influence (mainly the dairy and grain industries) and the inclusion of many questionable products like processed carbs and fruit juice (which, for the record, can contain just as much sugar as a can of coca-cola!). 

    My take? Our food guide is nuts. Absolutely bananas. It needs a makeover in the worst way. We can and we should do better! Health Canada has taken something so simple and made it much too complicated, unrealistic and inaccurate. This makes me sad. 

    Let’s get back to the basics. I firmly believe it boils down to these three simple statements (also known as the That Clean Life Food Guide) 

    1. Eat clean. This means powering your mind, body and soul with naturally occurring ingredients that make you feel beautiful inside and out. Focus on integrating fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, spices, grass fed meats and wild fish. Create recipes with these ingredients that are mind-blowingly delicious.
    2. Know your food and where it comes from. Utilize organic and locally grown foods wherever possible. Avoid anything processed.
    3. Always be mindful of what you are putting in your body but don’t obsess. Allow indulgences in moderation. Always listen carefully to what your body needs to function at it’s best. It will tell you.

    References: 

    Health Canada. (2007). Eating well with Canada’s food guide
    (HC Pub.: 4651). Ottawa: Queen’s Printer. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/alt_formats/hpfb-dgpsa/pdf/food-guide-aliment/view_eatwell_vue_bienmang-eng.pdf

    Picard, A. (2014, March 24). Why Canada’s Food Guide needs a dose of reality. The Globe & Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/why-canadas-food-guide-needs-a-dose-of-up-to-date-reality/article17618278/ 

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    There are always a few recipes from each challenge that are an instant hit. With the Back on Track clean eating program, the Blueberry Overnight Oats were definitely one of them. 

    They are called “overnight oats” because you soak the oats in almond milk, water, chia seeds, maple syrup and cinnamon overnight. In the morning you end up with fully cooked oats, which can then be easily assembled into parfaits in a jar! I’ll make up a big batch of these on a Sunday and have my breakfast ready to go for the week. Did I mention they are super delicious?

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    Blueberry Overnight Oats

    Makes: 4 servings // Time: 8 hours (overnight)

    Ingredients:

    • 1.5 cup oats

    • 1.5 cup unsweetened almond milk

    • 1⁄2 cup water

    • 2 tbsp chia seeds

    • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup

    • 1 tsp cinnamon

    • 1 cup blueberries

    • 1 cup slivered almonds

    Directions:

    1. Combine oats, almond milk, water, chia seeds, maple syrup and cinnamon together in a large glass container. Stir well.
    2. Seal container and place in the fridge overnight (or for at least 8 hours).
    3. Remove oats from fridge. Use 4 single-serving size mason jars and place a large spoonful of the oat mix in the bottom of each, then a layer of blueberries followed by a layer of slivered almonds. Repeat until jars are full (or until all ingredients are used up). Store in the fridge until ready to eat. Enjoy hot or cold! 
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