Nutrition, Recipes

Healthy Donuts!!!

I love donuts so much! But we all know that the store bought conventional donuts are in now way healthy. It’s loaded with sugar and fat, and of course tasty goodness. In the last few years of my fitness journey, I’ve been tinkering around with all kinds of ingredients to find just the right balance between nourishing and delicious. Well, I found that recipe and I am thrilled to share it with you!

Sour Dough Donuts

Serves 6

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Ingredients:

2 cups oat flour

1/3 cup coconut flour

6 tablespoons ground coconut

2 teaspoons stevia

1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds

½ teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

½ cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a donut pan with non-stick cooking spray
  2. In a small bowl, combine milk and vinegar. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl combine the remaining ingredients, then add in the milk and vinegar mix. Stir to combine. *If too dry add water 1 tablespoon at a time until a thick batter forms.
  4. Portion out the batter evenly into the donut pan to six donuts.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, rotate pan halfway through. Let cool completely before serving.
  6. *Can be stored in the freezer for 3 weeks

Enjoy!

If you love this recipe and what more meal and snack ideas like this one, be sure to check out my Recipe Collection here. You’ll find 25 delicious recipes for every goal and craving!

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Fitness, Nutrition, Recipes, Wellness

Why fitness isn’t for free

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When I first earned my personal trainer certification I started doing a couple of plans for free. I did these for some friends and relatives with the hopes of gaining some extra experience while also helping others get healthy. My thinking was that I was going to be a great resource for people who were looking to get fit, without them having to spend a fortune on some fancy group coaching service with weekly meetings and a minimum buy-in.

Well…I was wrong.

The reality is that if there is no investment, there are no returns. Think of it like this: right now you could google fitness and nutrition plans you will get an endless number of free options. How many people have actually followed those free plans on their own, gotten great results and be able to maintain these results? Very few if any at all. When there is no investment, there is nothing to hold you accountable and accountability is what will keep you on track when you are ready to throw in the towel. Ultimately, when you make this investment you’ll want to get your money’s worth.

Prime example: Someone had asked for my help and I had happily put a plan together for them; they were looking to a significant amount of weight. Well, one day they called me up just to chat and casually mentioned that they were going to pick up a bag of chips. Naturally I started telling them that this wasn’t part of their program and that they would only be hurting themself. This person responded with “I DON’T GIVE A SHIT!” and then they hung up on my face.

Just because you decide that you want to get in shape doesn’t automatically mean that it’s going to happen. You can read all of the fitness magazines or sign up for as many free challenges as you want , but until you actually take massive action and start getting to work, you will never be able to change. What you have to know about weight loss is that it’s work and that it is a lifelong commitment. This may seem intimidating, but what’s the alternative? Continue feeling crappy all the time and disliking the way that you look. Why waste your precious time standing in the dressing room picking apart your body, when you could instead feel great and love every part of yourself? Seriously. You need to invest in yourself. I didn’t become a nationally qualified bodybuilder on my own. I hired a great coach with contest experience who specialized in vegan nutrition. I could have easily gone to the gym and picked out any trainer who would put together some generic plan for me, but I knew that it would be a total waste of resources for me. The investment got me the support that I needed and it created the accountability to fully commit to my goal. I still had to put in a ton of work, but it was totally worth it.

It’s the same principal with groceries. So many of us talk about how expensive it is, but the reality is that quality food and nutrient dense food can be more of an investment that the junk food that has no business being in your grocery kart.

At the end of the day, you get what you give and if you want to finally get healthy and lose weight FOR GOOD then it’s time to invest in yourself and get to work. You don’t have to go to the most expensive gym in your area or buy the most expensive protein powder out there, but you have to invest in the right training and in the right nutrition. And by right I mean the best balance between challenging, enjoyable and great quality. If you love to dance then try a Zumba class, if you’re competitive then try powerlifting or bodybuilding, if you love having a sense of community then try out Crossfit. Nutrition-wise, well if you love chocolate everything then try my Raw Protein Brownie, or if you are all about sushi, well I’ve got a low-carb sushi recipe that will knock your socks off!

The moral of the story is this:

Commit. Invest. Progress.

It’s time. You can do this and I can help. To schedule your FREE 1 on 1 no obligation coaching call click here

P.S. Don’t forget to check my newly released EBooks! There’s an awesome recipe collection with delicious meal and snack options that are 100% vegan. And for those of you looking to go-it alone in terms of losing weight or getting fit, check out the nutritional guide and workout plan!

Contest Prep, Nutrition, Recipes

The Final Cut

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Fat loss and dieting down can be a huge challenge for anybody. With only 9 days left until show day, I am down to the wire and getting to the last phase of losing whatever last bit of body fat I can before I hit the stage. Here I’ll share what a full day of meals looks like for me and a few last minute tricks that help my body get lean while staying strong.

Meal 1

My first meal of the day also serves as my post-fasted cardio meal and it’s high protein, low carb with a little bit of added fat.

What you see above is 3 oz of tempeh, 1 cup baby spinach with 1 TB of coconut oil, plus 1 scoop of brown rice protein powder. Tempeh (fermented soy beans) serves as a great source of protein as it contains probiotics and fiber. The brown rice powder is also ideal as it’s easy to digest and has the same amino acid profile as a whole egg. I choose spinach as my veggie for this meal as it contains lots of fiber and iron (*I always drizzle some lemon juice with this to increase my body’s ability to absorb the iron). Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides which are (again) easy to digest, go directly to the liver and are ultimately used by the body as fuel instead of being stored as body fat.

Meal 2

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This meal is composed of 4 oz of extra firm tofu and 1 cup of veg. In this case I opt for mixed greens drizzled with lemon juice and top the sautéed tofu with yellow mustard for added flavour.

Meal 3

This serves as my pre-weight training meal and is 1 of 2 meals that I am able to lightly salt and have a small serving of starch. For this one I take in another scoop of brown rice protein, 2 oz of steamed sweet potato and 1 cup of the dreaded steamed asparagus. The tiny amount of added carbs for this meal is an absolute must for me to be able to crush my workout every day and the asparagus is a great natural diuretic that serves as a staple for every bodybuilder. I usually will combine the powder with mashed sweet potato and cinnamon to create a sweet tasting protein pudding mix that goes nicely with my pre-workout strong-ass cup of coffee; for an added boost.

Meal 4

My post-workout meal contains yet another cup of the dreaded asparagus, lightly salted, along with another 2 oz of sweet potato and 4 oz of tofu. I’ve become very creative with this meal in particular as I started to notice that I was always wanting something sweet post-workout. So I blend the tofu and sweet potato together and add a bit of stevia, cinnamon and water to create a my contest prep friendly cheesecake. It may sound odd but it’s amazing. It satisfies my sweet tooth, keeps cravings to a minimum, while allowing me to maximize my recovery with solid nutrition.

Meal 5

I don’t really enjoy this meal to be honest. No matter how I try to tinker with the flavor profile or method of cooking, it’s just boring and pretty bland to be honest. I eat 4 oz of tempeh with 2 cups of veg; usually either spinach or mixed greens. I season with lemon juice (also a diuretic) and hot sauce (great for fat burning and jacking up the metabolism as it contains capsaicin). Like I said though, it’s not that great but at least it’s filling.

Meal 6

This one I love! I take one scoop of a plant based blend of protein powder with another scoop of brown rice powder and combine with water to create a pudding. Then I add 1 tsp of melted coconut oil and stir to combine. It’s soooooo good. I love it so much. There’s something really wonderful about sitting in my jammies in front of the tv before bed, watching a sitcom while eating a creamy and sweet late night snack. The protein combined with the coconut oil makes for a slow digesting meal that is ideal for my body to digest overnight while getting a good night’s sleep.

So that’s that. Six meals each day, spaced every 2-3 hours apart to deliver constant fuel and nourishment. In terms of my water consumption, thankfully I’m only having 4 litres a day, as opposed to the 6 litres I was having in my last prep. My supplements haven’t changed except that I’ve added a fat burner in the last few weeks to help ease my body into continuous fat loss, but as I’ve mentioned before, it’s short term use only. You may have also noticed that I’ve cut out the cruciferous veg at this point and it’s for a good reason. Things like brocoli, kale, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts tend to cause bloating, so instead I stick with the non-bloaty stuff like mixed greens, spinach and stupid asparagus.

After 4 months of prep and training, I’m down to the last 9 days. I’m so excited to get back on stage again! Next up is peak week which means lots of posing practice, water manipulation and carb-loading. Some find peak week to be the toughest part, but I see it as the final chapter before the fun part.

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Nutrition, Recipes

Building Muscle Without the Bulk

When most hear the term muscle building they tend to think bulk, as in getting a big and beefy looking bod. In reality, building muscle and bulking up are very different concepts that require very different regiments altogether. So let’s get one thing out of the way right now…you will not bulk up just from weightlifting alone, even if you lift really heavy. Bulking up takes many years and specific dietary requirements and supplements along with super intense workouts to sculpt your body so that you gain weight, and get big and shredded at the same time.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about building muscle. Weightlifting is obviously the way to go, but when you combine it with some cardio and along with consistent nutrition, you can pack on lean muscle without adding bodyfat. What I mean by consistent nutrition is eating a diet that includes at least half of your daily calories from carbs (to help fuel your workouts) with lean protein and some added fats per day, while keeping the prepackaged foods and junk to a minimum except for the occasional treat meal. You also want to be in a bit of a calorie surplus each day, otherwise gaining muscle will be almost impossible.

Let me be clear here: when I say building muscle I mean lean muscle; nice curve and shapely glutes, with a small looking waist giving you an hourglass/s curve in the body  (not a more square looking or v-taper physique – although that’s good too!). Very nice looking indeed!

This is basically what my goal is right now and it’s part of my post-contest recovery plan. Cutting for a contest can be very intense so it is important to give your body time to recover from it in order for it to continue to grow and to stay healthy as well. Nutrition is key here as you cannot out-train a bad diet and you can’t function well if you’re not eating enough and eating well.

That being said, here are a few of my current go-to recipes that help to fuel me for the day, power through my workouts and, of course, build some sexy lean muscle.

Banana Nut Power Bowl

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Ingredients

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1 tablespoon powdered peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 banana sliced thin

1 tablespoon almond butter

Instructions

  1. In bowl combine protein, powdered PB and cinnamon. Add in 1\3 cup of water and stir to combine (it should have a cookie dough-like consistency).
  2. Top with sliced banana and top it off by drizzling the almond butter

This serves as my first meal of the day right after fasted cardio and is super yummy!

Apple Cinnamon Donuts

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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups oat flour

2 scoops vanilla protein powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 medium sized apple, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons natural peanut butter

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl combine almond milk and vinegar, and set aside
  2. In a medium bowl combine, protein, baking powder and cinnamon
  3. Add in the almond milk mixture and peanut butter, stir to combine and fold in the apple
  4. Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray and divide batter into 6 equal portions
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minute, rotate the pan half at the 10 minute mark
  6. Let it cool completely before eating. This makes 2 servings of 3 donuts each

This serves as my pre-workout meal

Sweet Potato Fries

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Ingredients

1 medium sweet potatoes

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Slice sweet potato into thin strips
  2. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, place potato strips evenly and add salt and pepper
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and flip fries over, place back in oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Makes about 2 servings

These three recipes are great for staying fit allow you to enjoy delicious food everyday without gaining bodyfat.

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Contest Prep, Recipes

The Hard – ish Part

With only a few weeks left until I step onstage, things are getting intense. I’m up to 1.5 gallons of water per day (not counting coffee) and I’m down to about 1200 calories per day mostly coming from protein (fat is almost non existant and carbs are limited to veg and a little post workout sweet potato). The goal now is to take off any tiny bit of body fat so that all of my hard earned muscle and curve will show while I’m under the bright stage lights.

Although I started my prep back in March, it’s now the end of October and that means it’s time to “tighten up” as my coach put it. Thankfully my entire training wasn’t quite as intense as it is now; many competitors go super low calorie from the get-go and spend months doing two 60 minute cardio sessions per day plus weightlifting! Yikes. Now I’m at 5 weightlifting days and 5 fasted cardio days each week and even that will shortly be done as I get closer to show day.

For now though, sleep is my best friend. When I don’t get restful sleep I feel lethargic and snippy. The important thing to keep in mind with any intense training is that the harder it gets, the greater the recovery time your body will need in order to see results. Another interesting thing is that although I have cut out weekly treat meals at this point, I surprisingly don’t miss it. Before I would count down the days to my next treat meal, making big plans for what I would indulge in, but now there’s nothing. No cravings, nothing. It certainly helps to look in the mirror and see my six-pack of abs and cellulite free tush, but all in all I’m good. The first few days on this stricter diet were challenging (as it usually goes with any diet change), but I got used to it really fast and the only time I get hangry is when I’ve gone past the 2 hour mark since my last meal.

I continue to get creative with my allotted ingredients for each meal, so there is no deprivation here. Most recently I came up with a protein packed postworkout waffle that I love and find is only fitting for the cooler autumn weather.

Pumpkin Spice Waffle

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Ingredients

4 oz baked sweet potato (without skin)

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1 tsp cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg, cardamom, clove (optional)

Directions

In a bowl mash sweet potato until smooth then add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined (texture should resemble a thick batter). Heat waffle iron on medium-high, when ready pour in batter and spread evenly throughout. Cook until golden and crispy.

I’m usually not one for cooking with heat when it comes to protein powder, but this recipe is really good and combines the complex carbs and lean protein to help me recover post workout. You may have heard of protein pancakes and such; they have been very popular with bodybuilders for many years and are now becoming more mainstream for those looking for a healthier alternative to the standard (and unhealthy) breakfast. Instead of spending money on the expensive pre-made mixes that you can sometimes find in store for a hefty price, try your own recipe instead (like this one) or do a quick google search for protein pancake recipe and you will find tons. There are plenty of options that play around with protein sources (some use egg whites or silken tofu instead of protein powder) and complex carbs as well.

As I’m nearing the end of this training, I’ve come to realize that the final weeks of contest prep are a lot like kindergarten where snacks are scheduled, naptime is essential, and you’re always right on the edge of throwing a tantum. It’s funny because I swear its true. Without question, this entire experience has been completely worth it. I’ve learned so much and have a far better appreciation of how important it is to put your health first, always. Being stage lean may be only short term, but the journey towards it is really spectacular.

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Contest Prep, Nutrition, Recipes

My Contest Prep Meals

My approach to food during my prep has been a combination of simplicity and deliciousness; I focus on eating the foods that are in line with my goals but that also taste super great and are easy to prep. So here is what a typical day of eating looks like for me at 12 weeks out from my first show.

Meal 1

scrambled tofu

1 serving of lean protein with 1 cup of non-starchy veg and 1 tsp of oil. What you see here is my scrambled tofu with one cup of kale sautéed in 1 tsp of coconut oil. Sometimes I’ll add either hot sauce or salsa for a bit of added flavor.

Meal 2

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1 serving of either a starchy vegetable like sweet potatoes or a whole grain like oats (the equivalent of 15 grams of carbs) with 1/4 cup of blueberries and a serving of lean protein. I will typically have an oat bran donut and protein chocolate mousse topped with the berries.

Meal 3 – I aim for 30 grams of carbs coming from a whole grain or starchy veg (usually 1/2 cup of quinoa or popcorn – 3 tablespoons of kernels yields 30 grams of carbs, or 2 slices of sprouted grain bread to make a sandwich) along with 1/4 cup of beans and 1 cup of non-starchy veg

Meal 4 – 1 serving of lean protein, 2 cups of non-starchy veg and 1/4 cup of raw nuts. Usually I’ll opt for this recipe:

Vegan Caesar Salad

caesar salad

Ingredients

2 cups mixed greens

2 tablespoons sliced onions

3 ounces extra firm tofu

1/4 cup almonds (soaked for 1 hour)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Pinch of salt, pepper and oregano

Directions

Place mixed greens and onion in a bowl. In a food processor combine almonds, vinegar and spices, blend until smooth (can add a tablespoon of water if too thick). Poor dressing over greens and toss to combine.

Meal 5

dinner

1 serving of lean protein, 1/2 cup beans and 3 cups of non-starchy veg. Pictured here is 3 ounces of extra firm tofu with 1/2 cup lentils and a combo of green peppers, brocoli, kale and onions. Everything is sautéed together with a mix of spices and seasonings. FYI, this is the meal that I look forward to the least each day! No matter what combo of flavours or veg, by the time I get to this meal I’m usually fed up with all the fiber and vegetables…but it keeps me full and leads up to my favorite meal of the day!

Meal 6 – 1 serving of lean protein and either 1/4 cup of raw nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter or oil (the equivalent to 15 grams of fat). My go-to recipe that was a happy accident is what keeps me happy during my contest prep. Check it out below and try it out for yourself, I know you’ll love it.

Chocolate Drizzled Cookie Dough

cookie dough

Ingredients

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

1/2 tablespoon peanut butter *

2 squares of stevia sweetened dark chocolate **

Pinch of cinnamon

Directions

Combine protein powder, ground flax and cinnamon in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of water and the peanut butter to the mix and stir to combine (you are looking to have a thick batter that resembles the consistency of typical cookie dough). Place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 1 minute on high in a microwave until fully melted. Slowly drizzle chocolate over the cookie dough mix and enjoy!

*Always opt for the natural nut butters where the only ingredient is nuts

** If you can’t find stevia sweetened dark chocolate, melt 100% dark chocolate with stevia instead. If you are caffeine sensitive opt for unsweetened carob chips instead of dark chocolate; in this case it would turn out more like a chocolate chip cookie dough batter.

So there you have it, 6 meals each day spaced out 2-3 hours apart. I always keep the same structure for my meals as listed above and all meals are consumed in this exact order each day regardless of the timing of my workouts. Usually I try to schedule in my workouts around the higher carb meals just for the extra fuel source, but I still find myself having great workouts regardless. Thankfully I am still enjoying my weekly treat meals, but now it’s very important to keep them balanced and to never overdo it and eat to the point where my tummy is super full…although last week’s meal did have me waddling out of the restaurant!

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Recipes

Cutting and Snacking

In the world of fitness, the term “cutting” refers to a nutrition plan that works towards losing fat while preserving muscle; essentially what’s used during contest prep. It can be a pretty intense time where a lot of planning is required and sometimes many competitors end up eating the same the thing day after day, making it even worse and making the entire prep that much more challenging. Sure there are the usual go-to’s like shakes, green veggies, sweet potatoes, grilled tofu, almond butter, etc. but trust me when I say that this stuff gets boring and unappealing really fast. Although meal prep is made faster when you’re only cooking a big batch of only one thing, after eating the same mix of chickpeas, steamed broccoli, with brown rice and olive oil for three lunches in a row, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to throw my container out the window while shouting “SCREW YOU FIBER!” and then stuffing myself with a crusty baguette. Thankfully I do know better and I completely understand the importance of eating delicious food while cutting; it is the best way to stick with your nutritional plan without feeling deprived or restricted.

That being said I’ve included below several snack ideas and recipes that I am currently using for my contest prep. These have helped me keep things interesting and yummy while continuously working towards my goal of stepping onstage in November.

Fruit & Protein Parfait

I came up with this last week and it is sooooo good! I really dislike fruit, but it is part of my regiment now so this recipe definitely helps make it delish.

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Ingredients

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds

1 teaspoon almond butter

Pinch of cinnamon

¼ cup frozen berries (let them thaw out or pop them in the microwave for 25 seconds)

Instructions

  1. In a bowl add the protein powder, flaxseeds and cinnamon and stir to combine
  2. Mix in about ½ cup of water and stir until well incorporated and smooth in consistency. Note: the amount of water needed may vary depending on the powder used, so slowly add more as needed; it should have a similar consistency to yogurt.
  3. Mix in the almond butter
  4. Top with the berries and their liquid from being thawed (this gives off a syrupy taste which is super good)

 

Chocolate Mousse

This is ideal for anyone looking to get a chocolate fix. It’s sweet, rich and creamy without having added sugar or tons of fat. If you can, stick with Pea Protein as it gives the best consistency for this recipe; I’ve tried other powders, but it’s just not the same.

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Ingredients

1 scoop chocolate pea protein powder

½ teaspoon cocoa powder

½ teaspoon stevia

½ cup unsweetened almond milk

Instructions

  1. In a bowl add the protein, cocoa and stevia, stir to combine
  2. Mix in the almond milk and stir until it reaches a thick pudding-like consistency (add more almond milk as needed)

I’ve gotten so fed up with drinking protein shakes, so these have been a huge help. An interesting tid-bit is that studies show that there is an increase in satiety when protein powder is consumed with less liquid than the typical shake. This is mostly due to its creamy texture; it ends up with a richer taste making your body think that you’re eating something a bit more decadent than usual, kind of like a desert.

Here are a few more snack ideas:

  • Popcorn – This low-cal whole grain is a great complex carb that’s loaded with fiber. I usually will replace another whole grain (such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, etc) with this at least once per week.
  • Stevia Sweetened Dark Chocolate – When I discovered this hidden gem, it made my life a whole lot easier. I use this to replace a fat in one of my meals (such as cashews or peanut butter). One thing to keep in mind with this is that it does have a slightly higher carbohydrate content than nuts and nut butters so you will need to make an adjustment elsewhere in your meal. This chocolate can be hard to come by, but you can always use 100% dark chocolate, melt it down and then add the stevia to still get some chocolately goodness. Watch out for sugar alcohols; in moderation it’s fine, but if you eat too much in a day it causes some serious tummy troubles.
  • Sprouted Grain Bread – Like practically everyone else, I love bread and sprouted grain is definitely the way to go when you’re trying to drop fat. You do have to be careful and go through the ingredient list to check for any added sugars, etc. but I usually opt for the ever popular Ezekiel bread from Food for Life. This bread can be expensive so I suggest that you only have it once or twice a week as a complex carb source, replacing a grain or starchy vegetable.

In general, when you’re going to swap snacks be sure to read the labels to ensure that you are still in line with your portion sizes, macros and overall calories. Each meal should be balanced with a focus on faster digesting carbs and protein both pre and post workout as this the best way to fuel up and recover when it comes to intense training. Cutting season doesn’t have to be this horrendous endeavour where you feel hungry all the time; we should still be able to enjoy and savour each bite of food otherwise the entire process will be a drag. When I step on stage and even when the contest is over, I know that I’ll be confident enough in all of my prep and regardless of the outcome I’ll be able to enjoy my time up there knowing that I gave it my all and actually enjoyed it.

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