Test Kitchen Tuesday – Zucchini Blueberry Muffins

It’s that time again!

 

It’s Test Kitchen Tuesday and this week I took on a healthy version of a family favourite, the blueberry muffin.

I have been making my mom’s recipe for muffins for as long as I remember. They are not only nostalgic but also DEELicious.

Unfortunately, they are a white sugar, white flour, and lots of it recipe! Which is good sometimes but not ideal for a healthy snack for my kids. Things like muffins and sweet breads are still treats in my house, but if I can offer a more nutritious version of something, without losing the fun factor, then I am all for it!

So I searched high and low, and tried out a couple batches, and came up with some pretty awesome muffins if I do say so myself.

I have a hard time following recipes, I’m no expert baker, but for some reason I think I am smarter than the people who make the recipe, so I always end up changing something along the way. This time I made myself follow the 2 recipes I tried out to a “T” so that I would be able to give you the cold hard facts, and then share with you my realistic outcomes.

That wasn’t easy for me, but by following the rules the first couple times, I was able to break them in just the right way to get what I consider to be, the PERFECT Blueberry Zucchini Muffins!

gorgeous bridalbouquet ideasfor your-2

Preheat oven to 350 F

Line muffin tin with papers (makes 12 muffins)

Ingredients

  •  1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup almond milk ( any milk will do)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce*
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (any veg oil will do)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts (optional)

Directions

  • Mix together flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon, set aside
  • Use a paper towel to soak some of the moisture out of the zucchini
  • In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients: apple sauce, syrup, milk, oil, vanilla, egg, and zucchini
  • Add the wet mixture to the dry, stir to combine
  • Fold in blueberries, and any other additions ( I tried hemp and hearts and sunflower seeds, both were a hit!)
  • Scoop into lined muffin tins and bake 20 minutes
  • Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then remove and cool on a wire rack. Leaving the muffins in the tin for too long will make them stick to the papers, so no more than 5 minutes. I set a timer for this, because mom brain.

I tried these a couple times, and found reducing the sugar ( maple syrup) and adding a little protein ( seeds ) made them much more satisfying, plus we dodged the sugar high.

Once I got the recipe right, my kids gobbled them up, my husband ate at least 3, and I couldn’t help myself either.

These yummy little snacks have veg, fruit, and protein, meaning they’ll give little ones lots of energy without the crash of a  more cake-like muffin. It took a little trial and error, but it was totally worth it for the end result. YUM!

sister approved!
sister approved!

We are on the go all the time, running from lessons to school, to play dates, and errands (at least it feels that way) so a throwing something home made in my bag gives me the peace of mind that if we have to eat on the run, it’s at least something I made!

My biggest concern when it comes to my kids diet is how food makes them feel. This is also how I try to navigate my own nutrition. I say no processed foods and treats as much as possible, not because I have a problem with fun, or snobbery about organics, but rather because my kids feel like crap, and act like crap, when they eat that kind of food. Same thing goes for food with loads of sugar. They go on a quick sugar high, and then they crash, with tantrums, fits and all the fixings. And when they start acting like that, I start acting like that too. It’s a vicious cycle, that I’ve learned to cut off by avoiding those types of food. We still have lots of treats and fun foods, I’m just far more selective about which ones they are. I want to feel good and I want my kids to feel good too, simple as that. So I put in the work.

I hope your kiddos enjoy these as much as mine are enjoying them right now! Let them in on the fun, by mixing or measuring, and they will enjoy the reward even more 🙂

*I made my own apple sauce because I didn’t have any on hand! Peel and slice 2 apples, throw them in a small pot with 1/2 cup water for and bring to a boil. Reduce to med-low and cook for 20 mins. Puree. Voila! Home made applesauce. 2 apples makes about 1 cup of sauce.

gorgeous bridalbouquet ideasfor your-1

Recipe Inspiration came from Ambitious Kitchen & Gimme Some Oven. Check them both out for tons of delish recipe ideas!

 

8 Ways to Eat More Veggies and Like it!

I LOVE vegetables. I’m not ashamed to say it. I eat them for every meal, including breakfast. I think they’re delicious, they make me feel good, I even like the way they look. I just love them.

 

But I know not everyone does. And I get that, there are lots of foods I don’t like, and I would not appreciate if someone told me I had to eat them. And a lot of them at that.

Except that vegetables are SO good for you. They’re so important they can’t be avoided. They should be eaten at every meal. You should eat a variety of them. This is just fact. No one in the health or fitness industry will ever tell you to eat less vegetables. It’s never going to happen. They’re great and great for you.

 

But you don’t like them, and more importantly, you’ve spent so long not liking that you have made a habit of NOT eating them. It’s time to change that. We need to make it a habit for you to eat them. Slowly but surely, it will become part of your routine, and while you may never be a veggie lover like me, you will be a veggie eater, and all the healthier and happier for it.

I grew up eating tons of vegetables, my parents instilled in me a love of healthy living, and eating lots of vegetables came right along with it. But as I grew up, moved out, became a mother myself, I realized how hard it could often be to make those things possible.

Who had to time to chop and prep? Who actually wants to make and eat a salad? Well, I did, but I’d forgotten how.

It took time, and a lot of back tracking, but I slowly re-learned the habit of eating vegetables regularly, to the point where “salad” was no longer a bad word.

I’ve compiled a list of my 8 best tips for becoming a veggie eater, and potentially, with time, a true-green-veggie-lover 🙂

  1. Choose your Veggies Wisely

You must like some kind of vegetable, everyone has one they’re willing to eat. So start there, and eat others like it. Choose the veggies you know you like, and try others that are similar. Any vegetable is better than no vegetable. If you just like sugar snap peas, then have those, and maybe add green beans as well. If you like red peppers, maybe try adding other colours of peppers. Go with what you know.  We can’t go telling ourselves we’re only going to eat kale and brussels sprouts if we think kale and brussels sprouts are nasty, its just not going to happen.

2 . Put the Vegetables on the List

Make a grocery list, and put the vegetables you’ve chosen on that list. Be specific, include a backup if,  like me,  you live an area where the store just doesn’t always have what you’re looking for. If the veggies are on the list, you are way more likely to buy them than if you just write the word “vegetables” or if you just have it in your head. If you have decided which ones you like ahead of time, you will be way more likely to buy them, and in turn, eat them.

3.  Buy the Vegetables

Now this may sound exactly like number 2, but if you’re not the on in your household that does the shopping, it’s possible you’re not going to get what you want. If you spouse or partner does the shopping and never comes home with the vegetables you asked for, then start doing the shopping yourself. Or just be the the one to get the produce, and let them do the rest of the shopping. You can’t eat them if you don’t have them.

4. Prep The Vegetables

When you get home, before you put them away, prep your veggies. Wash, chop, and store them right away. This will make you so much more likely to eat them. Convenience is the key. Get all the work done now, while saving  time on prep and clean up.

5. See the Vegetables

Just like placement marketing at the store that makes you buy everything but the veggies, where you store yours will make all the difference. Once they’re prepped and ready to go, Put them where you can see them. If they’re hiding in the back of the crisper, you’re not going to eat them. You’re going to choose what you can see and reach. Put them up front in clear containers. This will make all the difference in creating the habit of eating veggies on a regular basis.

6. Cook the Vegetables

If you don’t like to eat raw vegetables, cook them! Make a stir fry, make a casserole, make them part of your family meals. Make them edible. A cooked vegetable in a sauce with rice is better than no vegetable at all. Try this fun recipe for one of my favs, cauliflower noodles, or this quick and easy asparagus soup.

7. Dip & Dress the Vegetables

Do you only like veggies dipped in ranch? Do you only like ceasar salad? Then eat it. A salad with fatty dressing is better than no salad at all. Is it ideal? No, but we already know that. We also know that vegetables have superpowers, so eat them, and maybe try a little less dip or dressing, and over time learn to like different kinds. Or maybe add cucumbers and tomatoes to your ceasar. Make them taste good on your terms, and then grow from there.

8. Bring the Vegetables

Take those prepped veggies, throw a handful in a container and take them with you. On a trip to the store, to work, on a long drive, to the park with your kids. Instead of grabbing a bag of crackers or chips, bring some veggies. When it’s what you have on hand, when it becomes your convenience food, you will eat it. And it will become a habit.

 

I can’t say it enough, but the more you do it, the more you’ll do it. It’ s not complicated.

Now that doesn’t mean it’s easy, I know, these things take time. I grew up eating vegetables, they’re a natural part of my diet. But I still go through phases where I don’t eat enough of them, and when I do, I use these tips to get myself back in the habit of eating them regularly.

Give yourself time to get this habit under your belt. We can’t expect ourselves to become a whole different person over night or even in a couple weeks. Give it time, and try every day, and eventually you’ll notice a new habit emerging.

The most important thing to remember when we’re making a life change, whether it’s diet, exercise, social, or mental is to manage our expectations. Of course we need to believe we can do it, but we also need to be realistic in that not every day is going to be perfect, or every meal. Because we’re not perfect.

We don’t expect our kids to get it on the right on the first try, and when they do, that’s amazing. But if they don’t, and it takes 10 or 20 or 100 tries, we are just as proud of them as if they had gotten it that first day.

We need to be proud of ourselves for trying, know that we will slip up, forget, or just plain choose not to, and know that we will only get better by continuing to make an effort.

That may have gotten a little deep for vegetables, but I’m passionate about healthy eating and, well, what can I say, I warned you I love vegetables.

Vegetables are a a gateway food. They open the door to all kinds of other healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Becoming a person who eats vegetables regularly will change your whole life.

You will feel better, you will have more energy, you will likely lose weight, you will naturally eat less junk food, and you will have the feeling of accomplishment for having made a positive lifestyle change.

Loving ourselves and loving our bodies means treating them with tons of respect and appreciation, starting with feeding them well. So try some of these tips, and when it gets hard, or you forget, just remember me saying…

eat your damn veggies!!

xo JB

I will not be a Martyr for Motherhood

I get it, you want to give everything to your kids. You want them to be the smartest, the strongest, the cutest, the best dressed, the sassiest – but not too sassy, and you’re willing to do anything to make them that way.

I say I get it, because that used to be me. I’d go out with my 6 month old baby, he’d be sleeping away in his car seat in the cutest little outfit you ever saw, which definitely cost more than the same black leggings I’d been wearing throughout my entire pregnancy, you know the ones, with the hole in the crotch? Did I mention I’d been wearing them for a week?

Then we’d run into someone we know and I’d make sure I pulled down the blankets that covered him chin to toe so this acquaintance could admire his overalls and button-down, which he would certainly outgrow by the end of the week, so maybe I should go peek through kids clothes just in case.

Then I’d wait in the checkout line, new outfit and organic baby cereal in hand, staring longingly at the new Women’s Health magazine, Jillian Michaels and her abs staring back at me. I’d think to myself, you don’t “really need” it, while I reminisced on the good old days when I could have just bought it.

Oh but not anymore, now it’s all about George.

George, my little baby boy; the baby that sleeps 19 hours a day and would be happier naked than in an itchy flannel shirt.

The baby I carried in my body for 42 weeks, and still feed with my own body, the one who I already worry about every second of the day, his new outfit comes before my magazine.

And his new plastic toy thing with the mirror and the zebra stripes, that he could care less about, the one that next week he will throw out of this stroller and we’ll never see again, that’s definitely more important than mom getting a new nail polish, or lipstick, or dare I say, a new pair of leggings? No, that’s okay, these ones are still good.

Any of this sound familiar? I can remember it all too well.

Well, I’m done with it.

I’m done being a martyr for motherhood.

 

I have needs, and I’m done feeling guilty about them.

I’m done letting them be dismissed because all of a sudden I’m someone’s mom.

What, so I’m not allowed to love myself anymore?

Am I even allowed to be myself any more?

 

For the longest time, I wasn’t sure what the answer to that question was.

Am I allowed to be me and a mom?

 

If being me means that I like:

  • exercising daily ( which takes time away from my kids)
  • doing my hair and makeup (which takes time away from my kids)
  • having nice clothes (which takes money away from my kids)
  • reading books and magazines (oh no, that’s time and money)
  • hanging out with my girlfriends (time and money again, damnit)
  • date nights with my husband ( taking away time, money, AND their dad? oh hell no)

So I must be the worst mother of all time?? If all those things are part of who I am, and none of them are related to having kids, does that make me a terrible mother?

 

Or maybe, possibly, should I even suggest…?

Maybe, just maybe…

I’m a person.

And I was a person for 25 years before I had kids.

So my likes and preferences are mostly for things that don’t involve my kids.

I suppose it’s a possibility.

 

But how horribly selfish of me.

Unless selfish isn’t so bad..

Maybe 25 years of selfishness gave me really great understanding of who I am.

Maybe all those selfish things about me, my likes, dislikes, tastes, preferences and interests, make me a really interesting person.

What if, now I’m reaching here, but what if being an interesting person and being a good mom could be one and the same?

What if being an interesting person was what made me a good mom?

I think it’s possible, or at least I’m starting to believe, that being an interesting person, with interests outside of my kids and their worlds, could make me someone they could like, and they could like getting to know. Maybe if I was reading a book, or braiding my hair, or cooking my favourite dish, my kids would say to me, “hey mom, what are you doing?”, and I might have a good answer. It would certainly be a better answer than “making your lunch”, “cleaning up after you, again!” or any such charming response I start to give when I feel like I live to do laundry.

I like giving my kids tons of attention, I like making them feel special, and even spoiling them sometimes.

But at the end of the day, I do those things for them because I know how good those things feel. I know how good it feels to get attention, feel special and spoiled, and I don’t resent them for it, because I get treated well too.

I treat myself well.

I spend 2 extra minutes in the shower to leave a conditioning treatment on my hair.

I say no to my kids having a treat sometimes, so that I can have a new lipstick, or t-shirt.

I get up at the crack of dawn to exercise, journal, and drink my coffee while it’s still hot.

I take my kids to the zoo, because I love being outside, walking, and seeing the little arctic fox greet my kids.

 

I do at least one thing every day that’s just for me.

It may sound like a lot, to do that EVERY day. To be selfish EVERY day. But it’s not, it’s actually small, tiny, microscopic compared to how we lived before kids.

Even the day before we became mothers, everything we did was about us.

We needed ice cream, a nap, one last stop at the mall. That was all for us, on our schedule. And then everything changes and we don’t know how to be ourselves and be a mom.

I was there. And now I’m here. And here is better.

Being a selfish mom, who sneaks around the house at 5 am to fit in my self care routine. I do it for me, to feel good and happy and for my mental and physical well being. But also for my kids, so they have a happy, healthy, and interesting role model to look up to.

I want them to become caring, sympathetic people, but I don’t want them to be the kind of people who would do anything for someone else and nothing for themselves. Which is what I would be teaching them if I chose to be a martyr for motherhood. And I don’t, not anymore.

I’m a selfish mom and I am a good mom, and I’m proud of being both. And my kids love me just the same.

 

 

 

 

 

From Bartender to Baby Mama – and the best mac & cheese EVER

About last night…

I made the MOST delicious bacon mac & cheese. It’s one of my favourite things to cook.

I also LOVE cooking. I love being in the kitchen and getting lost in the chopping, grating, timing, stirring, measuring and of course tasting. It makes me so happy. And doing something I’m really good at, that I feel comfortable doing, like making a dish I don’t need a recipe for, makes me feel like a freaking SUPER hero. Like confidence through the roof. Self love emanating from the kitchen.

Something as simple as cooking my fav meal does this for me. Why don’t I do this all day? Why don’t I do this every day??

Because for me, the most fun meals to cook are the ones that take the most time, and I just don’t have that much of it. But when I do, I make something really special. I make something so good I’d rather have it than order take out or even go to my favourite restaurant.

One of the ways I show myself and my body love is through cooking and another is eating. Luckily, these two go hand in hand. Yesterday I was feeling very emotional. Not even sad, just one of those days when I was feeling all the things harder-better-faster-stronger than normal. So I decided to slow my mind down and get lost in cooking my favourite recipe, and as a bonus, I get to eat mac & cheese! (let’s be honest, hubs wasn’t exactly disappointed :))

I promised I would share the recipe with you today, because who doesn’t want to eat delicious ooey gooey bacony macaroni and cheese? Obviously every one does.

When I was single, before marriage and kids – when I was the one running around in my undies instead of my 3 year old – I worked in the restaurant industry. I worked as server, bartender, in catering, fine dining, and a repeat appearance at a very cool and crazy bar/bowling alley/pool hall/arcade/party locale. I learned a lot about food. Mostly about what types I liked to eat, not so much about cooking it.

I was in my late teens and early twenties, staying up all night drinking too much and not wearing enough, having the time of my life making and breaking friendships and riding in cars with boys. Food was kind of an after thought. I would get to work at 6 or 7 pm and realize an hour later HOLY SHIT I’M STARVING because I hadn’t eaten since the 5$ hot’n’ready I had devoured at 3 am before passing out on my friends mattress on the floor. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to. Life was good.

I ate what I ordered. I had french fries with ketchup, big juicy burgers with extra cheese and onion rings, big bowls of creamy pasta and if I was feeling healthy a side salad with no dressing (because calories obvs). It didn’t really matter if I had any food in the fridge of my tiny little one bedroom apartment, cause even if I worked the morning shift I could eat a handful of mini muffins or a banana. You know, “healthy” stuff. I just didn’t care if I knew how to cook. In fact cooking, until I moved in with my then-boyfriend-now-husband, consisted of melting cheese on stuff. Which was good enough for me.

I didn’t really realize until I stopped working in restaurants, just how spoiled I had been. To have food cooked for me, and to only have to pay a fraction of the cost ( if that ;)), I learned how to order food like nobody’s business, but cook it? Oh hell no.

It took some serious research, practice, and countless calls to my mother to figure out how to cook even the simplest things. But as I continued to try new recipes, lose those ones and try new ones again, I noticed myself getting better and better. I had more and more confidence, and I was starting to understand why certain ingredients were added, what different spices did to the taste, and most of all, that cooking didn’t have to be a chore, it could be fun AND an excuse to drink wine!

Now here we are 5 years later, I’m a mom of two and deliriously happy housewife. My house is a mess, my kids are filthy, and there’s leftover mac & cheese in the fridge. Oh yeah, I guess I should have mentioned, it tastes even better the next day. I’m no chef extraordinaire, but I like to cook and I have fun with it. I make it a little different every time, honestly I just use what I have on hand. I’m giving you the “if-I-actually-shopped-for-the-right-ingredients” version. What I’m saying is, the recipe is both forgiving and flexible, so give it a shot, you really can’t go wrong!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 Box of rotini (or macaroni elbows if you’re old school)
  • 4-6 strips of bacon, cut up into bits and cooked crispy
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • shake or 2 of cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups milk ( i used whole cause it’s what is in my house )
  • 1 tbsp blue cheese ( you can skip this but you can also just not tell your husband cause honestly it really enriches the flavour)
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 cup gruyere grated
  • 1 cup gouda grated

**optional crumb topping

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup butter

Directions:

  • Cook the pasta al dente, 1 or 2 minutes short of fully cooked. Drain, set aside.
  • Cook the bacon, crispy, set aside.
  • **optional crumb topping, heat butter and breadcrumbs in a small pan until browned, set aside
  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-low heat, add butter
  • Once the butter in melted, whisk in the flour and continue whisking until it gets thick, about 1 minute
  • Whisk in the milk and bring to a low boil, simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add cheese and stir until melted.
  • Add the sauce to the pasta, stir, add the bacon, and pour in into a 9″x9″ pyrex dish
  • Top with breadcrumbs
  • Bake for 15 minutes
  • eat and be happy 🙂

 

The 2 cups of cheddar are essential, you can change up the other kinds of cheeses. I could make a million variations of this, and I have. I make it with whatever is on hand.

If it’s just me eating it, I would half the recipe, add 2 or 3 tbsp of blue cheese, and skip the crust.That’s just what tastes awesome to me.

If you like spicy, get a jalapeno tavarti in there. If you like texmex, skip the bacon, add diced peppers and onions and use a Monterey Jack. If you like creamy stringy lasagna texture, use mozarella.

I’ve added a couple tbsp of pumpkin puree to the sauce for a festive flavour, at which point I would skip the cayenne and add a little more nutmeg.

For a LITTLE healthier version, you can use half the pasta, and replace it with cauliflower and/or broccoli florets.

As you can see, I love this recipe, and I hope you love it too!

 

Test Kitchen Tuesday – Cauliflower Alfredo

I have been doing a lot of cooking lately.

 

Okay, fine, I always do a lot of cooking, because I love it.

 

But I know not everyone does.

 

More over, I know how frustrating it is to spend a long time – or any time at all – making a meal for people (little tiny adorable people) who don’t appreciate it.

 

So I’m making it my mission to discover and create some delicious, healthy and not – too – time – consuming meals that you and your picky kiddos will enjoy.

 

My kids aren’t crazy about noodles, but I know lots of little ones out there are. Maybe because it’s not a staple on our family menu, but it’s just not their fav.

gimme the garlic ma!
gimme the garlic ma!

What they do like are edamame noodles (link in the recipe), as well as the ever popular zucchini noodles or zoodles, which you can make in all of 2 seconds using a spiralizer.

 

I served this meal to my kids ( and husband ) with a piece of Mahi Mahi seasoned with lemon pepper. I buy big packs of individually frozen servings of fish and pull them out as needed. It is super convenient, plus it’s fresh caught fish, which you can’t always find in the seafood section at the grocery store(at least not in Alberta).

 

In the name of full disclosure, my husband and I LOVED this. So did my 1 year old. My 3 year old was not crazy about it. He ate it, but he didn’t ask for more or eat seconds. So it was a success, in that he tried something new and ate his dinner, but it wasn’t like a WHOO-HOOOO victory.

 

I still want to share it with you, because it’s veggies on veggies, delicious, and you never know, it might be just the thing for your family!

caulinoodles

 

Ingredients

1 head of cauliflower, leaves and core removed

1-2 cups veggie broth

Garlic** (optional)

1 cup milk

½ cup grated asiago

salt & pepper to taste

Noodles* – your family’s favourite

Untitled design-1

Directions

  • Peel away the extra leaves on your head of cauliflower, and run a sharp knife around the core to pop it out, but keep the head intact. Place it in a large pot in one inch of broth. Cover with a tight fitting lid and steam for 35-40 mins until it falls apart easily.
  • If you are roasting garlic, you can do it now while the cauliflower steams.
  • With about 10 minutes remaining, prep/cook your choice of noodles. Set separate timers so you don’t over cook!
  • When cauliflower is fully cooked, use a spoon or spatula to separate the florets. Dump the broth.
  • Add cauliflower, milk, garlic, cheese and seasoning to your blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Return to put and reheat, serve over your choice of noodles.

*I tried it with zucchini noodles that I made using my spiralizer(try this one Chefbranch & Eco Vegetable Spiral Slicer Complete Bundle – Small Brush Cleaner – Ceramic Peeler – Water Resistant Pouch – Physical Recipe + Instruction Booklet. Allows You to Make Perfect Spirals from Soft Vegetables for Healthy Eating.)
, as well as these Explore Asian Gluten Free & Organic Edamame Spaghetti 200g, which are my family’s favourite

**how ever much garlic you like. I roast mine ahead of time, and use a lot. If that’s not your flavor preference, go with a little sautéed fresh garlic or even garlic powder.

 

I really hope you and your little enjoy this, try it and let me know what you think!

What else would you like to see from the test kitchen?

Be sure to come back next Test Kitchen Tuesday for more family friendly recipes!

 

xo JB

The 3 Hair Products That Every Fit Mom Needs

I was a hairdresser before I had kids. The best kind of hairdresser. The big hair, high heels, painted on jeans, cigarette smoking, foul mouthed and fun-loving kind of hairdresser. I was passionate about doing hair, making people look and feel good. Facilitating someone’s self confidence and helping them wear their inner confidence on the outside.

After I had kids, the desire to make everyone happy shifted to focus on them. And once I got the mom thing –sort of- under control, I started to focus on my fitness as well. I was going to the gym daily, and spending the rest of my time at home with baby or at the grocery store. I didn’t want to spend tons of time styling my hair or sitting in a salon, but I did want to look and feel good when I was out and about.

I put my skills as a stylist to use and figured out a system so I could be a fit, healthy mom, who also looks okay walking around the Superstore. This involved a couple of key products, which I am going to share with you now, so that you can stay fit and fabulous, without wasting precious time and money.

Being a fit mom means we often prioritize our workouts ahead of other things – like showers – that other people might deem important. It’s already hard to get in the workout so once we’ve gotten that out of the way, I mean, we’re not going to push our luck. Plus, if we can manage another workout tomorrow we’re just going to get sweaty all over again!

If I do manage to get a shower in every day or so, I definitely am not washing my hair. That is just asking for trouble. Especially in the winter. I usually have to run out the door to pick someone up or drop someone off, so wet hair is not a good look(in fact it’s a really cold one).

I don’t need to be glamorous for day-to-day mom life, but I’ll admit it, I want to look clean. Or clean-ish. So the first product on my list is:

#1 – Dry Shampoo –  This magic little product acts a quick fix for greasy hair. It gets in there and soaks up all the oily bits, leaving your hair voluminous and textured. Like you went for a “messy look” as opposed to just being a hot mess. There are a lot of different products out there, I know it can be intimidating to try new ones. I have pretty thick hair, workout 5 days a week and usually only wash my hair 2 times in a week(if that), and my favourite dry shampoo is  Big Sexy Hair Volumizing Dry Shampoo. I’ll warn you though, it’s not for the faint of heart or fine of hair. It is potent, which is great for moms like me, but definitely not for everyone. If you have thinner or finer hair, or you’re just not a sweaty/oily person, try something like KMS California Hair Play Makeover Spray. None are overly expensive, but if you want something a little more budget friendly you can also try Tresemme Fresh Start Dry Shampoo.

Now if you’re putting product, of ANY kind into your hair, you need a REALLY good shampoo, to get it out. I don’t mean really expensive product, I mean you need to do a really good job of shampooing it out. Especially if you’re getting sweaty every day. That’s why they call it “build up”. You need to soak your hair with water, use a little shampoo, scrub-scrub-scrub, rinse, repeat,( yes you actually should) and then you need to rinse for 2 minutes.

I know, who has time for that. Well, you do! You’re already in the shower, make the most of it. If you don’t want an itchy scalp and greasy hair before its even dry, you must get those products out, clean your head, and rinse out the shampoo.

This is why I only wash my hair once or twice a week, because I do a hell of a job of it.

Now it does matter what kind of shampoo you use, and how much. No more than a quarter size dollop of product in your hand, other wise you’ll be rinsing out suds for a half hour.

Things brings me to the next product, that a mom getting sweaty on the regular can’t live without :

#2  Clarifying Shampoo – This is the kind of shampoo that gets in and gets all the gunk out of your hair. Including sweat. Shampooing is not the time to be moisturizing and nourishing, that’s what conditioner is for and we will get there, but shampoo needs to CLEAN your hair. So using one that is meant for cleaning will get you an extra day or two out of your clean hair. Who doesn’t want that? The one I use is Pureology Purify Shampoo. To try it out, Live Clean Apple Cider Vinegar Clarifying Shampoo is a little more affordable. But honestly girl, once you’ve implemented these techniques into your routine, the bottle will last so long you won’t mind the price.

Now that your hair is clean, let’s take care of it a little. I have a feeling you don’t wrap your hair in a silk scarf to sleep at night. (But if you’d like to try you can find them here). Our hair gets beat up, whether we are putting it in one of those crazy “mom-buns” while it’s still wet, drying it on highest-heat-highest-speed to get out the door in time, or wearing our workout pony tail all day, our poor hairs get put through the ringer.

I also colour my hair, which means it needs extra love. So I use a conditioner treatment to repair some of the damage done. Of course breakage is irreversible, but I still want to be able to get a brush through. So here we are at my last, but not least, product that any fit mom NEEDS.

#3 Treatment Conditioner  – I use mine every time I wash my hair, because it only happens once every 4 or 5 days, but if you have finer hair or wash daily, I would recommend using a regular daily conditioner and the treatment only once a week. I use Bed Head Dumb Blonde Reconstructor. Or try Alba Botanica Hawaiian Hair Care Real Repair. This stuff is thick and creamy, not to mention smelling like vacation (which is what showers are, right?).

After you have thoroughly rinsed your shampoo, apply a quarter size to the ends of your hair. Once that is worked in, if you still need more, then another quarter and work up the hair shaft until you are satisfied with the saturation. Don’t go putting handfuls into your hair, it just goes down the drain, along with the money you spent on it.

Leave your conditioner treatment on while you take care of the rest of your shower responsibilities ( ie: shaving, washing face & body, staring aimlessly at the wall, hoping kids are ok but not worrying enough to hurry or check, yelling back at toddler through the shower door “WHAATTT?? Mommy’s in the shower!!” or whatever you do in there).  Then rinse it out, not for as long as the shampoo, just until you can’t feel the slimy texture anymore, just soft smooth hair.

If you’re anything like me, you collect products, because you try one after another and they work, for a little while, and then they start to not work, so you buy something different. Taking a little time and doing a little research will make all difference, in that you can buy a little more expensive product, that is totally suited to your hair. Cost does not equal effectiveness. You have the buy the product that’s right for your type of hair.

I know it’s hard to get time away from the kids, but if you can, book a free 15-minute consultation with your hairdresser or one in your area. They all offer this service. Ask her what kind of hair you have, get specific, and give her details, too. Tell her how often you wash it, what products you currently use, what sort of colour you have on it and what kind of heat styling you do.

Hairdressers know a LOT more than you think. She will be able to tell you exactly what type of hair and scalp you have, and probably give you some tips on how to treat your hair better. No obligation to buy, or book, unless you make a great connection and want to of course! Hairdressers are passionate about taking care of hair (I know, I used to be one, and still am at heart!) and she will be happy to talk to you about your hair, it’s her job!

Once you’ve had this conversation with the stylist, you can narrow down what kind of products to buy. Yes, it says on the bottle “Fine/normal hair”, “Oily scalp”, “damaged hair” etc, but if you are just guessing what type of hair you have, you may as well close your eyes and just buy the first bottle you touch.

Now that you have a product that is suited to your hair, you can get started using them properly. I know hair products and all things beauty seem extravagant and selfish when we are moms, that somehow we should spend our 8$ on another pair of rubber boots for our 3 year old instead of something to make us look and feel great.

You should not feel guilty about wanting to look good. It’s not wrong. It’s normal. And chances are before you had kids it was just part of daily life, to take care of you, to make yourself feel and look good. Now you’re a mom and it feels like the end of the world if you take 2 minutes to put on lipstick, bronzer and mascara.

But if looking good makes you feel good, then you should do it. In fact you should do it more. Your kids deserve a happy, confident mom. Not one who is resentful of not feeling good about herself, or who is embarrassed to go and introduce herself to the other moms because she’s “a mess”. We are all a mess. Some of us just hide it better than others. Why not be a hot mess?

I’m not saying spend hours in the mirror getting your Dolly Parton on, but why not two minutes here and there, just to make yourself feel like a hot mama? There is NOTHING wrong with that. It is just what I need when I’m having a crappy day is to look in the mirror and say “damn, girl” with a wink and a point, knowing I have taken care of myself for the day and can move on with taking care of everybody else.

 

Want to say YES to even more self care in your life? Don’t know where to begin? I GOT you mama – join the #betterafterbaby community NOW!

I’ve been trying to lose the same 5 lbs for 15 years

Why do you work out?

 

I was asked this question recently by another friend in the fitness industry. Well actually I asked myself the question, for a project she is working on. The answer came to me without stopping to think.

 

I love feeling strong. I love feeling the activation of my muscles, the soreness the following day as a reminder of the time I took just for myself and for my body.

 

And that’s the truth. Exercise makes me feel strong and feeling strong makes me happy.

 

Now if I had been asked that question in the past, my answer would have been very different.

 

For example, 10 years ago, just out of high school, when I discovered my love of lifting, my answer would have been something about showing up the other gym rats with my squat PR.

 

And 9 years ago, when I worked with my first personal trainer, I was working out to create what I thought was the perfect physique.

 

7 years ago, it was just to balance my wine and pizza lifestyle. I was working in a bar and catering events, so I ate on the run and drank more in a week than I do now in 6 months. I just wanted to live my life and still look good doing it.

 

5 years ago, pregnant with my son, I exercised so I didn’t get “too fat” while I was pregnant. And after he was born, I exercised to lose the baby weight.

 

2 years ago, I was “sweating for the wedding.”

 

Last year, I was pregnant with my second child, and exercise was my therapy, it kept me sane while dealing with hormones and a 2 year old.

 

Now this year, mom of 2, husband who works away most of the time, trying to get my business off the ground, I am run ragged. And I had to take a long hard look at my schedule, what could stay and what could go.

 

I make time almost every single day to exercise, it is obviously important to me, but why? Why do I workout?

 

Even though I love exercise, even though it brings me JOY to move my body, to lift weights, to stretch and strengthen in yoga, the answer did NOT come to me right away. I had to think. I REALLY had to think. I had to dig deep for this answer.

 

Looking at my whole day, breaking it down into sections, into hours.

 

24 hours in a day.

 

I am awake for 16 of them.

 

My big kid is awake for 14 of those hours.

 

My baby girl does sleeps when she wants, about 17 hours a day right now.

 

 

So waking up at 5 am, I have about one hour to myself. Which I choose to spend working, writing, and sipping coffee.

 

Going to bed between 8:30 and 9 pm, I have about 1 hour to myself, which I spend on housework, bedtime yoga, reading, and getting ready for bed.

 

Somewhere in there, with none, one or both kids up, I find time to exercise.

 

I don’t do laundry every day, I don’t wash my floors every day.

 

I don’t watch TV every day, I definitely don’t wash my hair every day.

 

But I make time, I make it work, to get in my workout. No matter how long or short, with baby, toddler, or both. With cartoons and snacks and blocks, or just me and my mat.

 

So why?

 

Why do it?

 

I have so little time to myself, I have SO many responsibilities, so why exercise?

 

 

I workout BECAUSE my life is hectic. I workout BECAUSE my kids don’t sleep at night, because they are unpredictable. I workout because my 3 year old threw a 45 minute tantrum this morning, took a 15 minute break, and started a meltdown that lasted nearly another hour.

 

That made me feel weak. There was nothing I could do to help him. He had to get through it. I have no control over that. That’s his body, mind, life changing and all happening too fast for a 3 year old to handle.

 

While I held him, and he cried, and my 1 year old climbed all over us, and there was pushing and irritation and cranky vibes rubbing up all over each other. I thought to myself.

 

“I can’t wait to workout. I need to feel strong.”

 

It would be so easy to let all these things be the reasons I don’t exercise, say to my self I deserve a break and watch tv and eat chips while they nap (cause trust me, been there, done that) but it wont make me feel better. Chances are it will make me feel worse.

 

I am SO grateful that I have a lifestyle where I know exactly what I need to feel better.

 

It has taken me years to get to this place. And I am still learning.

 

My old pattern went something like this:

 

  • Exhaustion from selfless parenting all day
  • Sit down and eat a bunch of junk as soon as I have a break
  • Feel shitty, get mad at myself, guilt, shame, etc
  • Punish myself and my body with intense exercise and restricted diet
  • Exhaustion from intense exercise and restricted diet
  • Sit down and eat a bunch of junk as soon as I have a break

 

Sound familiar? You are not alone. These behaviours are so common.

 

But they’re not healthy. And if you’re anything like me, you don’t feel good while you’re doing it.

 

My new pattern, the one I strive for but again is NOT perfect, goes more like this:

 

  • Feel hunger
  • Eat good food, drink some water
  • If I have a sweet craving after meal, satisfy it with a little something sweet
  • Have enough energy to exercise
  • Work out using safe exercise for my postpartum body
  • Feel hunger again later
  • Eat good food, drink some water
  • Repeat

 

It’s not anything special, but it is WAY harder to accomplish than the binge burn repeat cycle. Consistency is hard to achieve. But using exercise to punish is pointless, it never gets us the results we hope for.

 

Instead use exercise to care and to heal. Use it as therapy. Get your workouts on your side. And use food to your advantage. You can eat to have MORE energy to make your workouts MORE effective. Instead of using food as a reward and exercise as a punishment. I’m sick feeling bad about what I did or didn’t eat, or do, or how many calories.

 

I just want to listen to my body, and treat is with tons of love. I want to be strong, I want to feel in control. I want to be capable.

 

So the next time a situation is making you feel weak, or less than, or incapable, whether its from something you did, or didn’t do, or something someone else did, or didn’t do, remember what your body is capable of.

 

Your body strengthens your mind, if you let it.