Monthly Archives: September 2020

Back to School… parent tested, kid approved

The feel of crisp, almost-fall air in the morning will forever remind me of one thing: back to school. Fresh haircuts, stark white sneakers, a new pack of pencils, and maybe even a new book bag– these are things that I know I looked forward to (maybe that’s the bookworm in me). Despite the excitement that comes along with back to school, there are a few things that can cause a bit of tension between parents and their kids: earlier bedtimes, homework, and the infamous lunch bag. It can be difficult to find snack ideas that are healthy, yet kid approved. That’s where we come in… *drumroll*… here are some delicious snack ideas that everyone will love.

Healthy Homemade Granola Bars

– 1½ cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 medium/large bananas)

– 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

– 2 cups rolled oats (or gluten free)

– ½-¾ cup dried cherries or cranberries, chopped

– ½ cup walnuts, chopped

– ½ cup sunflower seeds

– ½ cup shelled pumpkin seeds

– ½ cup sliced almonds

– ¼ cup hulled hemp seeds

– 1 tsp cinnamon

– Himalayan salt to taste

*Omit nuts if your school is nut free.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

Lightly grease a large rectangular baking dish (approx. 8.5″ x 12.5″) and line with a piece of parchment paper so the bars are easier to lift out.

In a large bowl, mash the banana until smooth. Stir in the vanilla.

Place the rolled oats into a food processor (or blender on the lowest speed) and pulse until the oats are coarsely chopped (but still with lots of texture). Stir oats into the banana mixture. Chop the walnuts and cherries and stir these and the rest of the ingredients into the banana-oat mixture until thoroughly combined. Spoon mixture into prepared dish. Press down until compacted and smooth out with hands until even.

Bake for 23-27 minutes until firm and lightly golden along the edge. Place dish on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then carefully slide a knife to loosen the ends and lift out. Place granola slab on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then into the freezer for another 10 minutes.

Makes 14-16 bars.

Coconut Brownie Bites

– 1½ cups raw walnut halves

– ¼ cup cocoa powder

– ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– ¼ tsp Himalayan salt

– 1 cup dates, pitted (about 10Medjool dates)

– 1 tbsp water

– Unsweetened cocoa powder, for coating (optional)

*Omit the nuts if your school is nut-free—you can replace them with seeds! If you’re not a big chocolate fan, you can replace the cocoa powder with a nut or seed butter, as well. Making balls with dates can be super versatile.

In a large food processor, grind the walnuts into a fine meal. Add the rest of the ingredients, and process until sticky, uniform dough is formed.

Scoop the batter with a tablespoon onto a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper, to prevent sticking.

Roll the balls between your hands, and roll them in cocoa powder, if desired.

Store the balls in the fridge or freezer, and serve them chilled for the firmest texture.

Makes 20-24 balls/brownie bites (1 serving = 2 brownie bites).

Healthy Apple Cinnamon Muffins

– 2 cups oats

– 1 tsp organic baking powder

– ¼ tsp Himalayan salt

– 1 tsp cinnamon

– 1 cup milk of choice

– 1 egg (preferably free-range!)

– ½ cup mashed banana (about 1½ medium banana)

– 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced

Preheat your oven to 375˚ F degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add the milk, egg, and mashed banana and mix until combined. Stir in the apple.

Grease a muffin tin and fill each cup with the oatmeal mixture to just about the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cups are set.

Store in the fridge or these can also be frozen. Enjoy!

Makes 12 muffins.

Other things that you can do to make snacks more appealing (with the kids, or maybe your partner!) include:

– Placing fruits or veggies on skewers (skewers make eating anything more fun!).

– Making cut-out shapes of fruit or sandwiches.

– Replacing juice with fruit-infused water or 2% milk.

– Switch up dips and sauces—make a homemade vinaigrette, hummus, or tzatziki!

– Simply letting the kids help with prep! They will be proud of what they made.

We hope that these snacks will make lunch bag packing a little better

Wake me up when September ends…

wine guidelines

Moderate consumption of some red wines may be a very effective way of improving your cardiovascular health as well as your lifespan. However, it is important to choose the correct red wine.

Procyanidins have shown direct benefits on arterial function in blood vessels. In fact, polyphenols have been determined to have a protective effect on the vascular system to the point where they improve the endothelial cells that line the arteries.


  • Wines that have maximal benefits for your heart and longevity are from the southern parts of France, Sardinia, Italy, Greece & Argentina.
  • Drinking one glass of wine to reduce the risk of heart disease is not as simple as it seems. (150 – 175ml).
  • Know how to choose the right ones: Tannat, Malbec.
  • With antioxidants Procyanidin and Resveratrol.
  • The best time to drink wine for optimal benefits is between the hours of 9:30 am to 6:30 pm with food and always with food. The best snacks are full fat raw cheese, nuts or organic Prosciutto.
  • Amount – 375ml/day for men & 250ml/day for women.
  • 125ml of wine contains 85 calories.
  • Drinking before going to bed will interfere with your sleep.
  • The alcohol content should not be more then 13.5% Wines with 11% to 12% are best and have the highest amount of procyanidins.
  • If you want the benefits of the anti-oxidant, but don’t want to drink wine, you can always get the same benefits from a red delicious apple, they also contain a large dose of procyanidins!!! We can also get this antioxidant from raw cacao beans.


Overcoming mental limitations is the biggest piece to successful lifestyle change. Deep-rooted beliefs can be hard to break but once we understand the importance of our mindset, it changes everything. Mental barriers can really hold you back, sometimes we don’t even realize how much. Fortunately, once we’re aware of the limitations we create for ourselves, we can begin to move forward.

It will take time to change your habits and there will be little set-back or plateaus throughout your journey. So many people give up or throw in the towel then their motivation gets low. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. You shouldn’t quit or give up when things get tough, this is where the learning and growth happens. It’s the sweet spot! Push through these moments, learn what caused you to slip-up and you will be successful.

  • Change your thoughts and your story. If the story you keep telling yourself is that “I don’t have time”, “eating healthy and shift work is too hard”, etc. then you will never make any changes. Mindset is THE most important change you will make to help you change your habits long-term.
  • Make it a Priority. There is time on your days off or swing day if you make the time. There are people working shift work with families who make it work because it is a priority to them. You can change your priorities and make the shift too!!
  • Positive Outlook. Gain some awareness of how you are looking at this lifestyle change. If you view it as annoying and a burden, you will never make it a priority. Your thoughts shape your action. Research has shown that people that have a more positive outlook when it comes to shift work have better health outcomes.
  • What will you gain? Think about what you will gain in the process of changing your habits instead of focusing on what you are “giving up”.
  • Try not to obsess over the scale. It’s one tool we use to measure your success and ensure that you’re seeing results. Non-scale benefits are so important and should be written out so you can keep focused on all the positive changes that have occurred. Change takes time and so does sustainable long-term weight loss.
  • Don’t play the victim. Call yourself out and take an honest look at what you’re actually eating and doing every day. If you’re not honestly putting in your best effort, you can’t be upset with a lack of results. You are stronger than your excuses.


  1. What is your “Why?”. Take some time to yourself – sit in a quiet place where you can have a moment of vulnerability – and really think about your reasoning for wanting to do this.
  2. .Do you have a negative or positive outlook towards making changes? Be honest.
  3. What are your present struggles or challenges with your schedule?
  4. What are ways you can handle these challenges? Your consultant can help you with this one in your next session.
  5. Are there people at work you know who are leading a healthy lifestyle? Find support from like-minded individuals.

Day of Drinking Guidelines

We have to be realistic at Simply For Life that many of our clients are drinking and we’re okay with you doing it every now
and then if you follow our guidelines to help keep you on track. We don’t encourage people to drink every day or to binge
drink every weekend, but when you are planning on having a few on the weekend, follow our guidelines to help minimize
damage to your weight loss efforts. Everyone is different, so get to know your body and what works for you.


  • Drink lots of water (dehydration # 1 reason people get hung-over).
  • Be consistent with your water throughout the day.
  • Make sure you eat a healthy meal before going out to keep you feeling full.
  • No starchy carbs past 1pm (rice, bread, pita, crackers, sweet potato, potato, quinoa, etc). If you’re going to drink, you have to tweak your food choices.
  • Never skip food to make room for alcohol. We are just decreasing carbohydrates, not skipping meals.
  • Put a big glass of lemon and water at your bedside to drink when you get home.
  • Prepare healthy snacks before going out to prevent a post-drinking munch down. That slice of pizza will ruin all your hard work!
  • Ch- ch-Chia. It soaks up about 10 times it’s weight in water, creating a gel which slows the absorption of alcohol into blood stream, and helps to keep you hydrated. You never want to drink on an empty stomach!! Add some chia seeds to a smoothie or grab a Mamma Chia drink or squeeze pack. Always make sure to take chia seeds with plenty of fluids.
  • Exercise!

Sample Menu

  • Meal 1: 2 oz dry oatmeal with berries, kefir, ½ oz walnuts, chia seeds & cinnamon OR Ezekiel English muffin with 1 tbsp butter or ghee, 1 thin slices of raw cheese and an egg
  • • Meal 2: apple or greek yogurt

  • Meal 3: Salad with Protein
  • Meal 4: Veggies with guacamole or tzakiki sauce
  • Meal 5: Protein & non-starchy veggies
  • Examples: Kelp noodle stir-fry OR Steak with mushrooms onion & broccoli OR Dill salmon with cauliflower-mashed potatoes.


  • Have a glass of water after every 2 alcoholic drinks (add lemon or lime).
  • Have protein & veggies for supper when drinking. If you are out to eat, you could order a 5oz steak with a side of vegetables and a Greek salad instead of the starch.
  • Snacks at night with alcohol should be protein, vegetable & fat based. Our favorite things to eat with alcohol are olives, cheese and nuts.
  • Pack a snack in your purse or pocket (nuts or quest bar) in case you need it.
  • Once Home
  • Never take Tylenol with alcohol – Ibuprofen only if you need something.
  • Drink lemon and water before bed.
  • Eat something light IF you’re hungry (NO starchy carbs like mac & cheese or pizza-yes we can read minds!).
  • Get lots of sleep.

Day After Drinking Guidelines

  • Before breakfast, go for a fast-paced 30 min walk outside and drink a black coffee.
  • Have a large 2-egg veggie omelet the next morning for breakfast, along with your liter of water. Do not consume any carbs during breakfast– fruit, bread, wraps, cereal, oatmeal, yogurt (other than Greek yogurt). Continue on with your day, having a piece of fruit for your morning snack (banana’s best), and either a sweet potato, pita or rice with your lunch. Protein and veggies for supper.
  • Never take Tylenol with alcohol – Ibuprofen only if you need something.

The best diet on the planet… the Mediterranean Diet

We could go on about the health benefits of what the Mediterranean diet can do for your family. Simply For Life has been at the forefront of this pattern of eating for years and it’s what our meal plans are based upon. There’s no disputing that a Mediterranean dietary pattern is associated with lower risks of heart attack, stroke and premature death. It can also help improve metabolic and glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of depression and anxiety. For two years in a row, U.S. News & World Report has ranked it best overall diet on the planet.

What does the Mediterranean diet involve?
It includes fruits, beans, nuts, dairy, chocolate, red wine, olive oil, spices, and herbs. Red wine is usually consumed in the evening with dinner with no more than 1-2 5 ounce glasses. More is not better and we recommend specific wines to our clients.

It includes moderate amounts of seafood, poultry, and dairy. Mediterraneans don’t have a lot of red meat, but when they do it’s usually from pasture-raised, grass-fed and organically-raised sources. They always prioritize wild-caught seafood over farmed.

Simply For Life Natural Markets carry only the highest quality meat and seafood. Everyone is welcome to shop at our Natural Markets and if you haven’t been in to try our meat and seafood options, you’re missing out! We have some of the tastiest, highest quality meat and seafood available. We work with local farmers and ask questions about how animals are raised and fed before bringing them into our markets.

There is a focus on limiting processed foods, chemical additives, and sweeteners. Simply For Life nutrition coaches educate their clients about reading ingredient lists and eating mostly whole, fresh foods as much as possible. Eating food the way nature intended (most of the time) is the core of our beliefs!

The primary fat source is extra virgin olive oil.

Simply For Life has one of the best olive oils available which is sourced directly from Crete, Greece. You will see it on all of our meal plans and the founder, Bruce Sweeney, has had a passion for olive oil for years leading him to create one of the highest quality 100% pure olive oil available.

How can the Mediterannean Lifestyle help your family?
In addition to delicious food, the Mediterranean lifestyle has a philosophy of life that values personal relationships, the pursuit of happiness and physical activity. They focus on the relationship around food including the “how to eat ” not only the “what to eat it”. They enjoy cooking and they take time to eat with family and/or friends. Eating with others provides valuable bonding time, strengthens family traditions and triggers some of our fondest memories. Some of our most cherished memories involve food. A taste or smell can fill us with nostalgic memories.

North Americans are becoming more and more disconnected with the use of phones, social media, and television. One survey from LG Electronics Canada found that more than three quarters (76%) of Canadians believe that we’re spending less time cooking and eating together as a family because we’re too busy. The good news is that 64% of Canadians wish that they could enjoy more home-cooked meals with their families.

We all know that families should eat together, but sometimes it’s tough to find the time. Work, school, sports practices, and other obligations can get in the way. Studies show that families who dine at home together are happier and healthier. The magic of the family table comes from the conversation and connection between parents and children.

Top Tips
Start small. If you’re not eating meals together at all, start with one night per week. Breakfast and lunch also count, so make it work any way you can with your schedules. Snack time, like an evening snack, could also work if nothing else does. Have a healthy homemade dessert like avocado chocolate pudding, yogurt, and berries or some dark chocolate. Just make sure you are sitting down to have the snack at the table with no phones or tv. Ask your kids this “what was your favorite thing that happened today?”.

Family meals should be fun. Try a theme night like Taco Tuesday, Picnic Night or Pizza Friday. When you’re cleaning up, let your kids pick some of their favorite music to dance and make some after-dinner fun! Macarena Monday anyone?

Parenting solo presents different challenges, but one parent at the table is still better than none. Sometimes, a caregiver, sibling or grandparent may be in charge of mealtimes. You can still get the benefits of a family meal by making sure healthful food is served and conversation is had.

Going out to eat with friends or family? Here is a fun challenge to try: The first one to use their phone at the table pays the bill. Not only does it set the precedent for everyone at the table, but you’re also sure to have some laughs over it!

Have a “no cell-phone” rule at the dinner table. The first one who pulls out their cell phone has to get up and do 20 burpees!! This can generate laughs to the poor soul who pulls out their phone first. NO ONE LIKES BURPEES.

Ask open-ended questions. “How was your day?” will often lead to “good” and there’s nowhere else to go with the conversation. Try these questions instead: What was your favorite part of the day? Would you rather questions are fun. Would you rather skydive or scuba dive? What’s your favorite tv show? What do you like most about school? What two things do you like about YOU best? What’s your favorite meal? What’s one of your most favorite memories?

Interested in learning more about how the Mediterranean Diet can change your life? Come see

Getting Kids to eat Fruits & Veggies

It can take many exposures for kids to acquire a taste for a certain food. Every fruit & veggie exposure counts. Even if they only try one bite, that’s a new exposure and it’s a win! A child may enjoy a fruit or vegetable and then may hate it out of nowhere. Don’t assume your child will never eat it again. When it comes to mealtime, it’s important to maintain your parental responsibility of feeding, and let your kids maintain their responsibility of eating. Keep exposing it in different and fun ways over time! We don’t recommend forcing vegetables on kids. You decide what, when and where and they decide how much and if they want to eat something served. If broccoli is left on the plate do not bribe them to finish it for dessert. Ask them if they’d be open to trying it another way Maybe with a cheese sauce, roasted, with butter and salt or raw with a dip.

  • Combine a new fruit or veggie with a dip! Kids love dips (ketchup included), so adding a dip can increase the chance they will like the new fruit or vegetable they are exposed to.
  • Put it on a stick! Fruit or veggies on a stick can be a little more fun for kids.
  • Cut into fun shapes. You can cut fruit into fun shapes for lunches to increase the enjoyment of that food.
  • Serve a salad, soup or veggie tray first. Leave a veggie tray out while you’re preparing supper with a tasty dip. Kids will choose meat and starch over their veggies on their plate, so serve it up first!
  • Try roasting veggies like broccoli or green beans with some parmesan. Fat helps add flavour and may make the vegetable more appealing. Roasting brings out vegetables’ natural sweetness as well.
  • Get kids involved in the kitchen! If they are involved in cooking the meal they may be more invested in eating it!
  • Mix it up! Kids may prefer vegetables cold or warm. Texture or temperature can impact the acceptance of a certain vegetable.
  • We don’t recommend “sneaking” vegetables into your kid’s diet. If they think you’re being sneaky about it they’re going to think it’s a bigger deal than it is. Just add them into regular meals like chili, spaghetti sauce, and soup!
  • Need more solutions on how to make healthy food exciting for your kids, book your free consultation or ask your Simply For Life Coach!