Getting bored of cooking the same old meals and doing the same old workouts? Need to feel inspired and motivated to stick with or start some new healthy habits? I’ve got just the tool for you! Pinterest is a fantastic social media site that allows users to share content with others through the use of photos. Users have a virtual photo board which they can use to “pin” photos of almost anything – craft ideas, DIY projects, inspirational quotes, tips for event planning.. the list goes on! You simply click on a photo in order to go to the website from which it originated.
I personally am a Pinterest addict. There is such a wide variety of photos to browse through that it’s hard not to get inspired by something everytime I visit the website. I also downloaded the app for free on my iPhone, so I can easily take some time to browse through new photos everyday during my commute to work.
If you feel like your healthy habits could use an extra “kick”, Pinterest is a great tool which can help motivate and inspire new, creative ideas related to wellness. Here are a few snapshots of some sample photoboards (click to enlarge):
Clicking on a photo will bring you to the website containing the full recipe – it’s that simple!
Who knew the key to wellness could be just a few clicks away? Happy pinning!
Be Well xo
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Here’s a tasty, and not to mention healthy, twist on a classic Italian dish! If you’re in the mood for pasta but want to aviod eating something starchy, you can try opting for spaghetti squash instead. This lighter, low-calorie substitute amounts to approximately 42 calories per cup and contains several essential nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and B6.
Of course, spaghetti is not spaghetti unless it’s served with meatballs! Being a vegetarian, I decided to try making meat-free meatballs for the first time. I found a simple recipe online and made a few small modifications of my own. I have to admit I was a bit worried that the meatballs wouldn’t stick together well and would just end up crumbling, but this recipe worked out fantastically! The meatballs were firm on the outside and slightly soft on the inside. The added pinch of red pepper flakes gave them a bit of a kick as well.
With a few minor modifications, this recipe can also be vegan-friendly. Regardless of your dietary preferences, this dish is sure to please your palate :) Enjoy!
Spaghetti Squash & Spicy Black Bean “Meat”balls
Makes about 12 “meat”balls (each roughly the size of a golfball). Serves 2-4.
1 spaghetti squash, cut in half length-wise, seeds scooped out
1 can no-salt added black beans
1 egg (vegan substitute: 1 tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp water)
1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce (vegan substitute: try this vegan-friendly worchestershire sauce recipe)
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese (vegan substitute: nutritional yeast)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion power
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1.5 cups of your favourite low-sodium pasta sauce
1. Place the squash, cut side down, in a large pot filled with a couple of inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Allow the squash some time to cool, then scrape a fork across the flesh to separate the strands. Season with a bit of pepper, sea salt, or herbs such as basil and oregano.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. Pour the beans into a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until almost smooth. Mix in the egg, breadcrumbs, worchestershire sauce, parmesan cheese, and seasonings with a fork.
4. Use a tablespoon measure or spoon to form meatball-sized portions, using your hands to roll them into ball shapes.
5. Arrange on the baking sheet, spray with a bit more cooking spray (this will help them develop a bit of a crisp on the outside), and bake for about 20 minutes.
6. Divide the spaghetti squash into bowls. Combine the “meat”balls and pasta sauce in a sauce pan and gently stir until heated through. Divide the warm “meat”balls and sauce over the spaghetti squash. Garnish with some parmesan cheese or freshly chopped basil. Dig in!
It’s Mental Health Week for the Canadian Mental Health Association!
We all know that staying physically active and eating well are important aspects of healthy living. However, exercising our mental health can be JUST as important! Managing stress can be a large component of staying healthy, especially considering stress has been determined to be a contributing factor to a majority of illnesses.
Check out these simple ways to practice mental fitness, courtesy of the Canadian Mental Health Association:
- Learn how to cope with negative thoughts: Don’t let that negative self-talk take over! Try to distract yourself or seek comfort elsewhere if you can’t solve a problem right away. Try seeing the issue from all sides rather than from just one point of view.
- Be in the present: Stop and smell those roses! Try to rid yourself of any distractions and focus your awareness on the “here-and-now”.
- “Collect” positive emotional moments: Think about some times when you’ve felt pleasure, comfort, tenderness, confidence or other positive emotions.
- Enjoy hobbies: Hobbies help bring balance to your life. They’re an opportunity to do something you love. I love listening to relaxing music or losing myself in a good book!
- Treat yourself well: Whether it’s a good meal, bubble bath, movie, or just sitting in the park enjoying nature, small daily rewards have a cumulative effect.
- Get exercise: Regular physical activity is good for the body and mind. It’s a great way to increase endorphins (“feel-good” chemicals released from the brain) and can even reduce depression and anxiety. Joining an exercise group or gym is even better because it connects you with others.
What are some other ways you like to practice mental fitness? Visit the Mental Health Week website to learn more about mental health, stigma, and how to build resiliency in the workplace.
Did you know that ONE organ donor can save up to 8 lives? And that a tissue donation from one individual can help up to 75 others? If you have been thinking about signing an organ donation card, this week might be a good time to actually do it.
It’s National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week!
If you are at least 16 years old and have a valid Ontario Health Number, you are considered eligible to register your consent online to become an organ and tissue donor.
Almost 3 years ago exactly (April 27th, 2009) I registered to become an organ and tissue donor. If you are interested in learning more about organ donation and how to register, visit beadonor.ca. You can refer to UHN’s intranet page as well: http://intranet.uhn.ca/departments/organ_tissue/index.asp.
Here is a summary of some organ donation statistics for the year 2012 (click here for more details):
Total Ontario Donors (i.e. at least one organ has been retrieved and transplanted): 163
Total Transplants Performed: 366
Total on Waiting List: 1501
Last week I posted some tips and tricks for eating smart over the long weekend. I hope some of these helped you make healthier eating choices, but if you’re still harbouring some guilty feelings about over-indulging in the desserts (like I am), then here are some tips to help you get back on track!
1. Set new goals. Spring is here and the warm weather is starting to creep in. If you’ve already started your spring cleaning at home, why not “clean up” your unhealthy habits as well and give yourself a fresh start? Make a commitment to exercise regularly, eat “clean”, or set aside time to de-stress. Write your goals down and put them in a place where you can see them everyday. If you’re familiar with Pinterest, it’s a great way to keep a collection of pictures with inspirational quotes that will help motivate you. I have an “Inspiration” board in my room with pictures of my friends and meaningful quotes. I plan on adding a list of my new goals to it soon!
2. Start small. Trying to change a bunch of unhealthy habits at once can be overwhelming and make you want to give up. Start out with a few small changes and then go from there!
3. Buddy up. Find a friend that also wants a fresh start! Motivate one other to go for walks, pack healthy lunches, or go to the gym.
4. Be patient. Change doesn’t always happen overnight. Have patience, stick with it, and have confidence that you will get to where you want to be. Try to focus on how far you’ve come, instead of how far you still have left to go!
5. Visit the Wellness Centre. We have a wide variety of programs and services running that can help you achieve your goals! Trying to lose weight? The Smartest Loser Challenge, a 12-week weight loss/weight maintenance program, will be starting up again next week on April 17th! Participants in the last challenge lost over 180 pounds, collectively. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.