4 Ways to Start Your Sugar-free Journey Today

4 ways to start your sugar-free journey …today.

How’s that #nosugarnovember coming along? It’s tough, ya. Sugar, like wheat, hides everywhere! Cutting sugar is a process, it won’t happen overnight, BUT you can start today. It’s never too late. Among the huge list of reasons to cut sugar, is that it majorly suppresses your immune system. And, with the holidays approaching, you don’t want to get sick, do ya? Start your #sugarfreejourney today with a few easy steps:

dessert donuts doughnuts food
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

✔️ Have a replacement. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I’m not about deprivation. I believe it’s healthier to replace rather than eliminate and end up feeling resentment. Find yourself some healthy treat recipes like bliss balls, protein bars, or make a big bowl of fruit salad and keep it in the fridge ready to go.

✔️ Do a pantry clean out. Outta sight, outta mind, yes?! Go through every item in your cupboards and ditch it if it contains any of the sugars. Get to know the 52 alternative names for sugar and keep a list on hand.  Some to look out for are dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, barley malt, cane sugar, caramel.  These don’t only hide in the obvious foods like donuts and chocolate bars.  Watch out for sugar in juices, commercial smoothies, salad dressings, sauces, food colouring and even ketchup.

✔️ Stay hydrated. As you’re detoxing, expect headaches, mood swings, sleep disturbances and more. If you stick to your guns, this phase won’t last long. Just be gentle with yourself through the process, give yourself time to rest, and fill up on water, herbal tea  or coconut water, which is packed with electrolytes to keep you hydrated.

✔️ Fats and protein. Include them in every meal and snack to help regulate your blood sugar. This will prevent those sugar spikes and lows that you might be used to if you were eating a lot of refined sugar. Think nuts, avocado, beans, almond butter, coconut, bliss balls, smoothies.

Check back in with us on the socials and let us know how your journey is coming along. Have you gotten over the hump?


Wellness Community Member: Michelle Garland, Holistic Nutritionist, Registered Sign Language Interpreter and Wellness Enthusiast

Let me introduce myself: 
Hi! My name is Michelle Garland. I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, a Registered Sign Language Interpreter and Wellness Enthusiast!
This is what wellness means to me:
I think of wellness as a philosophy. It’s happiness. It’s balance. It’s being surrounded by positive energy and experiencing life in a way that nourishes my mind, body and soul. It’s giving myself permission for self-care and protecting my boundaries by saying no to things that don’t align.
I contribute to the wellness community by:
I am the founder of Plentyfullme Nutrition and Lifestyle Consulting where I bring individuals’ health back into balance by working with them one-on-one to implement simple and realistic modifications to their dietary choices, lifestyle habits and emotional well-being. I also give talks in the community and teach cooking classes in both spoken English and in American Sign Language.
One item I cannot live without:
My biomat. It’s a far infrared mat covered with amethyst crystals made to promote circulation and increase cellular communication, relaxation and detoxification.
My favourite self care practice is:
An infrared yin yoga class – it just melts away the stress! Laying on my biomat. A hot bath with essential oils and Epsom salts. Curling up on the couch sipping on a warm adaptogenic elixir while reading a good book. And going for walks in the forest – this is my kind of meditation.
How I keep my wellness simplified:
I take one day at a time and always celebrate the small victories.
This is what motivates me:
My clients, they’re my why – I wouldn’t be where I am without them. Also, my expanders – seeing fellow entrepreneurs in the wellness field rock their businesses, I find it super inspiring.
Learn more about me at:
Follow me on Instagram @plentyfullme
Follow me on Pinterest @plentyfullme
Like my page on Facebook @plentyfullme
Check out and subscribe to my blog for recipes, health tips and more at www.plentyfullme.com

Picky Eater? 5 Sneaky Ways to Hide More Veggies in Your Meals

Whether it’s a picky eater you are tiptoeing around, or it’s your own wellness goals you are trying to reach, eating more veggies is on the top of many minds. Vegetables are our source of fibre to help regulate our bowels, clean out unwanted toxins, and provide us with the vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy.

For some, it’s a colour thing. Just seeing a green drink or a big side of spaghetti squash make many people cringe. As a Holistic Nutritionist, I have seen everyone from toddlers to husbands with a veggie phobia and, as a mom, I have some tricks. I have compiled my list of hacks to easily sneak in the foods that are considered too healthy for some.

Pancakes, when you make them from scratch, are a great medium for hiding leftover roasted sweet potato, carrots, and zucchini. A bonus, top them with nuts, almond butter and berries, and cook them in coconut oil for some extra healthy fats and nutrients.

blur breakfast close up dairy product
Photo by Ash on Pexels.com

Muffins and Breakfast Cookies are often made with all kinds of whole grain goodness, like oats, flax and nuts.  The secret additions are apple sauce, shredded carrot, dried fruit and zucchini which makes them uber moist. This is one of my favourite muffin recipes, made with roasted sweet potato.

food coffee cup mug
Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

Scrambled Egg Cups are not only the ideal on-the-go breakfast, but they hide vegetables really well. Whisk up a dozen eggs with a splash of water or milk of choice, and pour it into lined muffin cups. Sprinkle in diced red pepper, tiny pieces of mushroom, zucchini, spinach or tomato, top with cheese and bake for 20 mins. Voila, a mini omelette with no sugar and all the protein to keep your fueled until lunch.

egg cups

Smoothies, of course, are on the list. My top sneaky choices are spinach, steamed zucchini and cauliflower, roasted carrot and yam, and avocado. When I’m making dinner, I always roast extra veggies and freeze them for smoothies. Zucchini and cauliflower have little flavour in smoothies, but instead add a creamier texture.

veggie foods

Overnight Chia Pudding might be the quickest snack to prepare, although it takes some time to set up. I mix 1/3 C chia seeds with coconut or almond milk (some use yogurt) as the base. This will expand into a pudding consistency overnight. My top additions are pureed pumpkin with cinnamon and walnuts, almond butter with banana, and roasted beets with vanilla and pecans.

blueberries in clear parfait glass
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My wish is for everyone to have a good relationship with vegetables and not be afraid of them because of their colour or texture. It might simply mean blending or pureeing them, slicing and dicing them in to pieces small enough to ‘hide’ for now. Once the secret is out that you have been serving veggies on the regular, I am sure you can expect some lifelong changes on your menu and some new fans of the veg.

Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on whole body wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy meal plans on Instagram.

Energy Low? Let’s Talk About B Vitamins

Vitamin B actually consists of 8 water-soluble vitamins that are known mostly as the “energy vitamins”. The complex is needed to help your body convert dietary carbohydrates, protein and fats to energy that you use to pump blood, nerve transmission, to beat your heart, digest food and to move.  So, if you are finding yourself still tired after you eat, consider these 3 things:

  1. what you are eating
  2. food combinations
  3. are you getting enough B vitamins?

Before supplementation, I often aim to get in all the vitamins and minerals through real food. The B vitamins themselves don’t provide you with the the energy- they help you convert your food into energy for utilization. Some lifestyle factors, poor diet, medications and diseases can deplete B vitamins and vegetarians/vegans have to find alternative source of B12 as it is mostly found in animal or fortified products.

B vitamins are water soluble, which means they are not stored in our body and they have to be replenished on a daily basis. In times of illness, deficiency and stress, your body might need an extra boost of the B’s, paticularly B12. This is where you might see the Naturopath for a B12 shot, and some fancy hotels offer them as a hangover cure. And, deficiencies in the B’s can lead to depression, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, birth defects, and fatigue. (pg 487, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Murray and Pizzorno)

Alternatively, here are foods and recipes rich in the B’s to keep up your well-oiled machine, plus a recipe for a super B12 plant-based food for our vegetarian and vegan friends:

B6: Pyridoxine for glycogen production which is your body’s energy storage for times of hunger. Find it in bananas, tempeh, chickpeas, pistachios, lentils, and nutritional yeast. Bonus: Try this recipe for roasted chickpeas.

B3: Niacin for metabolism of protein, carbohydrates and fat.  Find it in meat, cheese, oats, portobello mushrooms, tuna and pumpkin. Bonus: Try this dairy alternative recipe for oat milk.

B1: Thiamine for metabolism of protein and fat. Find it in soybeans, green peas, oats, lentils and sunflower seeds. Bonus: Try sprinkling sunflower seeds on your salads.

B2: Riboflavin works with the other B’s for enzyme reactions and metabolism.  Find it in eggs, organ meat, soy, dairy, spinach and mushrooms.  Bonus: Try adding spinach to your daily smoothies.

Folate: for DNA and RNA production, and red blood cell formation. Find it in spinach, soybeans, asparagus, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, organ meats and nutritional yeast. Bonus: Try this recipe for a bean-packed, vegetarian chili.

B5: Pantothenic Acid for brain nerve transmission, mental and physical stress and anxiety, sex and stress hormone production, and healthy skin and hair. Find it in milk, nuts, seeds, meat, eggs, portobello mushrooms and broccoli. Bonus: Try using portobello mushrooms in place of burger buns for the ultimate veggie burger.

B12: Cobalamin for DNA formation, nerve transmission and blood cells. Find it in milk, meat, cheese, fortified soy products, avocado and nutritional yeast. Bonus: Try the spicy fried tofu recipe below, made with nutritional yeast.

Crispy Nooch Tofu 3

Crispy Nooch Tofu 1

In a bowl, combine

  • 2 Tbls flour (I used rice flour)
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 2 Tblsp nutritional yeast (a I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • pinch sea salt
  • cracked pepper to taste

Press out moisture from a brick of extra firm, non-GMO tofu (I used Soyganic by Sunrise-Soya), slice into pieces and roll into flour mixture. Fry coated pieces in a small pan with coconut oil until golden! .
Use as a side dish, crumble up on salads, add to wraps…how would you use it?

Crispy Nooch Tofu 2

Recipe from Next Bite Nutrition Coaching

Moooove Over Milk. A Nutritionist Shares 3 Alternative Sources of Calcium

You might have been told by your Naturopath to avoid milk products, or you might have made the decision to ditch the dairy all on your own. Personally, I made the choice over a year ago when I found myself bloated, cramping after I had dairy products, and my skin no longer had that glow.

Being a woman in my forties, the need for calcium in my diet is strong. Girls and women, at every age, need calcium to keep bones strong, for muscle contraction (this includes your beating heart), and for nerve transmission.

The bad news is that many of us were brought up to believe the only way to get calcium was to drink a few glasses of milk a day. The good news is that we have choices, and there are several plant-based sources of calcium that are probably in your kitchen as we speak.

Let me share what this Holistic Nutritionist feeds her body, for her daily dose of calcium sources. Mooove over milk, I have 3 other choices for you.

Tofu (1 cup= 860mg calcium): Try spicing it up with some coconut aminos, turmeric, cayenne pepper and cumin.  Let it marinate for a few minutes, then fry it in coconut oil. Let the edges get crispy and brown, then add it to your favorite salad.

Almond butter (2 Tbsp= 111mg calcium): I love using almond butter in bliss balls, granola bars, gluten-free baking and warmed up over fruit. The healthy fats and protein in almond butter help to slow the glucose release in fruit. Simply warm 2 Tablespoons in a saucepan, add some cinnamon and a pinch of cloves, and drizzle it over your fruit salad or apple slices.

White beans (1 cup= 190mg calcium): Aside from a good homemade chili, I use white beans in my garlic hummus. Rinse and drain 1 can of white beans and puree with olive oil, lemon, tahini (another great source of calcium), garlic, salt and pepper. Serve with veggie sticks or rice crackers on your next appetizer platter.

Sticking to what we are “told” to eat never really did work for me.  I am all for choices and what feels right for my body. Don’t get me wrong, I eat the occasional piece of cheese pizza.

Life is all about balance, right?

Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on whole body wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy recipes on Instagram.

15 Pantry Essentials a Holistic Nutritionist Keeps on Hand


Keeping your pantry stocked with some essential ingredients ensures that you will always have something nutritious to whip up in a pinch.  As a Holistic Nutritionist, my wellness plans are not just about what you eat, but include the pillars of health. Stress can play a big role in many aspects of your life, including digestion, so my number one tip for reducing stress is to meal plan.  If you keep some essentials on hand, you lower your risk of becoming hangry, having low blood sugar, and reduce cravings.  Use these pantry basics to boost up Bliss Balls, Chia Pudding, smoothies, salads and snacks with some staples that have a lengthy shelf life and pack a nutrient-dense punch. Keep these 15 ingredients well stocked for their blood sugar regulating, protein packing, healthy fats, energy-boosting and high fibre properties.

  1. Nutritional Yeast:  aka, “nooch”, is a new fave in the plant-based world. If you are lucky, you can find a brand that is fortified with vitamin B12, which does not normally exist naturally in plant-based foods. These dry flakes give a cheesy, nutty flavour that is naturally low in sodium but still packs alot of flavour. Nutritional yeast can be turned into a dairy-free cheese sauce, a vegan “parmesan”, and crisps up nicely on roasted chick peas.

nooch chick peas

2. Apple Cider Vinegar: Keep this on hand to use in salad dressings and as a way to start your day.  Take 1 Tblsp each morning before you eat or drink anything else, to set your metabolism and get your digestive juices flowing for the day. I also love ACV as a skin toner for oily areas on the face and as a hair rinse. Be sure to buy ACV with the “mother”, for it’s nutritional benefits.

3.  Canned Coconut Milk: Full fat coconut milk makes a decadent chia seed pudding, thickens up smoothies, makes a rich whipped cream,  and is a great base to cook rice in. This healthy fat is easily metabolized by your body for energy, and benefits your brain, hair, nails and skin. It is also a nice alternative to dairy and nut milks.

Add coconut milk to smoothies for a rich, creamy texture.

4. Sea Salt: A great source of iodine that is usually not processed, and is needed for a healthy thyroid, to regulate your body’s fluid balance and to prevent dehydration. Limit your sodium intake to 2300mg/day or less. Natural sea salt, that is not processed, should be light grey, sometimes pink in colour. Just a pinch will do you.

Foot soak2
Natural sea salt should be your source of iodine for a healthy thyroid.

5. Olive Oil: A healthy monounsaturated fat with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Olive oil benefits the brain, hair, skin, and the heart. Keep Extra Virgin Olive Oil on hand to use as salad dressing or for baking.  Avoid frying with olive oil or cooking with it at high heat as it can damage the nutrient properties.

6. Oats: Rolled oat flakes are a soothing, plant-based protein that help to regulate blood sugar, are easy to digest, nutrient-dense, and a great source of B vitamins for energy. Use them in overnight oats, make a dairy-free milk alternative, use in baking or use raw in smoothies.

oat milk 6
Dairy-free Oat Milk takes just minutes to make.

7. Chia Seeds: High in fibre, chia seeds help to regulate blood glucose levels, they keep you satiated, and are a great source of plant-based protein. Use them as your base in chia seed pudding and bliss balls, or try a Chia Fresca with coconut water in the summer.

chia pudding coconut milk
Decadent Chia Seed Pudding with Coconut Milk.

8. Turmeric: This nutrient-dense root is most known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties and has been used medicinally for thousands of years. The root can be grated and used fresh, or you can get the powdered version, which is more bioavailable in the body. Phytonutrients in curcumin, the compound in turmeric, help to reduce swelling, ease digestion and IBS, boost immunity, inhibit cancer cell growth and, topically, can help improve the suppleness of skin. Add 1 Tblsp of turmeric to 1 cup of coconut milk, along with cloves, black pepper, maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg for a soothing, nutrient-dense drink.

golden milk

9. Coconut Oil: I keep coconut oil on hand for frying, to use in place of butter or oils in baking, and to use topically as a skin moisturizer. Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but from a plant, and it is considered one of the healthiest fats to eat.  This medium chain fatty acid, or MCFA, is easily digested by the body and used immediately for fuel, unlike some fats that are stored in the body. Coconut oil is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal, so it makes for a safe, chemical-free moisturizer on the skin and is useful for oral health.

Next Bite Granola Squares
Dates make a healthy alternative to artificial sweeteners.

10. Dates: I use dates as a natural sweetener in baking, bliss balls, homemade oat and nut milks, bitter smoothies and blended coffee. Medjool dates are the sweeter variety, and can be eaten fresh or dried. Aside from having a high natural sugar content, they do contain fibre, which helps to slow the glucose release, keeps your digestive tract healthy, and gives a natural energy boost.

11. Dried Herbs: Herbs and spices pack alot of nutrient punch and flavour that is useful to replace salt in foods. Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Parsley, all dry and freeze well, so you can grow them and keep them for cooking.  If freezing, fill ice cube trays with water or olive oil, and place in finely chopped herbs. Simply pop out a cube for cooking.

almond butter cups 6
Salted Almond Butter Cups made with raw cacao powder and no added sugar.

12. Cacao Powder: Raw cacao powder comes from the edible pods of the Theobroma cacao plant and is considered a superfood, high in antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, and iron.  Cocoa, or raw chocolate is made from the powder, and it is a great way to boost up baking and treats without all the added sugar. Simply mix raw cacao powder with coconut oil, maple syrup or dates, and use it as a base for Almond Butter Cups, Avocado Pudding, or Chocolate Bark.

stuffed portobellos13. Quinoa: Considered a superfood, this seed that is eaten like a grain and has more nutritional value and protein than other plants. It makes a great alternative to rice, when boiled, and can also be popped like popcorn when dry. The seeds can also be soaked and sprouted for easier digestion. Once a week, make a big pot of cooked quinoa and add it to salads, stuff it into peppers or portobello mushrooms for dinners, use it in wraps and homemade granola, to sneak in extra protein throughout your days.

14. Nuts: Nuts, particularly walnuts and almonds, are high in plant-based protein and high in fibre. Ground nuts make a wonderful pie crust, dairy-free milk, topping on salads or yogurt. It is really simple to add nuts in to your meals as they can be eaten raw. Also try nut butters and nut oils on salads. Aim for the raw or dry roasted, unsalted, varieties. Nuts should be stored in your freezer as they can go rancid easily.

15. Ground Flax Seeds: Most beneficial when ground, flax seeds contain the most omega 3, which is anti-inflammatory, skin, brain and heart healthy. It is a source of phytoestrogen and lignans for women’s health,  and antioxidants for boosting the immune system. Flax naturally gels when mixed with water, so it is often used as an egg replacement in vegan baking. Add ground flax to granola, bliss balls, cereals, in baked goods, on yogurt and in smoothies.  Also try flax oil in salad dressing or on its own for it’s blood sugar-regulating properties.

Jen Casey is a Holistic Nutritionist with Next Bite Nutrition Coaching in Vancouver, BC. She focuses her practice on whole body wellness and building a solid foundation for the pillars of health. Learn more about Jen and her healthy recipes on Instagram.

5 Ways to Use Oats…Other Than Oatmeal

I am one of those picky eaters, where texture can make or break my meal. Oats are one ingredient that I always have stocked in my pantry, but I cannot eat them in the traditional fashion.

Oats are one plant-based protein source that pack alot of nutrient punch, plus they have demulcent properties, which soothes the digestive tract and soothes the skin topically. They are also a galactogogue, stimulating milk supply in nursing mothers. Oats are wonderfully filling, and have a naturally sweet taste. I honestly cannot live without them, so I have to stay creative in the kitchen, finding other ways to incorporate oats in to my own meal plans. (yes, even Nutritionists make their own meal plans)

One of my favorite ways to use oats is topically in skin care.  You probably have had an oatmeal bath as a kid, to soothe chicken pox or hives.  Being demulcent and soothing, simply adding 1 cup of oats to your bath with instantly relieve itchiness, dryness and redness. To prevent the oats from clogging your drain, steep the oats in boiling water for 10 minutes, like you are making tea. Then, strain the oats through a fine strainer and add the oat water to your warm bath.

Oat milk is my new dairy-free choice for smoothies and cereal. I have seen the effects of cow’s milk on my daughter’s skin, so we now avoid it completely. I add dates to naturally sweeten the milk, which is delicious in coffee, and I got creative by adding raw cacao to make a healthy chocolate milk.

oat milk 6

Bliss Balls, or Energy Bites, are a healthy snack that I suggest on all the Wellness Plans I create for clients.  They are loaded with healthy fats and plant-based protein to keep your brain nourished, blood sugar balanced, and energy up. I have several recipes that I swap between, some with matcha, some nut-free, some with espresso! But, they all have at least 1 cup of oats in them. The best part about these snacks is that the oats do not have to be cooked, so meal prep days go all that much more smoothly.

Having two children and packing lunches for several years, I wanted to come up with a homemade granola bar that is kid-approved, healthy, and reduces all that individual packaging. The Next Bite Granola Squares are the fave in our house. They make the ultimate mid-day snack, providing those healthy fats and protein again to keep energy up without sugar.

Next Bite Granola Squares 8

My version of oatmeal, without the texture, is an Oat Smoothie. I do soak the oats for a bit to soften them, and this also makes them easier to digest. I soak 1/3 C oats, 1/3 C cashews, and 2 pitted dates in 1 1/2 C water for 15 minutes. I add the whole mix to a blender, plus 1/2 banana and a scoop of pumpkin protein powder, and blend until smooth. I like my smoothies thick, but you could add more water to thin, if desired.

oat smoothie

So, there are my oatmeal alternatives.  I still get in the nutrients from this pantry essential, but found creative ways to avoid the oatmeal texture. Do you have any other oat recipes to share? Follow us and tag us on social media.  We’d love to see them!