Pumpkin Bites – no Baking required

I find these little bites of energy to be so handy on a busy day for a grab-n-go snack.  My kids also like to have them on hand for in between hockey games.

  • approx 1 cup of chopped dates
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds or flax seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • (you can always use pumpkin pie spice as well)
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/3 c pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (dry)
  • 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
  • 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Combine the dates, honey, pumpkin puree, chia (or flax) seeds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg.  I don’t own a food processor (probably is easier to use one!) however I hand mix everything together.

 Once mixed together, stir in the oats, coconut flakes and pumpkin seeds. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer (this makes it easier to mold into little bites!).

Once the mixture is cool use an ice cream scoop (or spoon) to shape it into your desired size of energy balls. You can always line a small baking pan with parchment paper, and evenly press the mixture into the pan, let it cool, and then cut into bars.

Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Awesome grab-n-go snack!

I also encourage you to play around with the recipe.  I’ve added dried cranberries before, or almonds…. it’s yours to play with!


Kin’s Green Fighters Cancer Fundraiser …. “ONE THING”….

Saturday March 9, 2013 … Mark it on your calendar!  Come visit me at Kin’s Market in Guildford from 2-4pm and share with me your “ONE THING”.

Last weekend all 13 of the “Green Fighters” met.  What an awesome group of fighters, each with their own story & journey towards a healthier life.  As I have mentioned before, part of our participation in this 13 week challenge means that we also have weekly challenges to take part in.  Some are individual challenges, a few are in store challenges and many will involve YOU….. the reader.

Each challenge also offers a prize at the end, some challenges will also be offering readers a prize as well.

My first in-store (Guildford Kin’s Market) challenge takes place Saturday March 9, 2013 from 2-4pm.  I will be there helping the staff out, prepping delicious samples of fruit and veggies,  and distributing literature from the Canadian Cancer Society.  The challenge part of this day for me (and each of the other participants at their own designated stores) is for us to chat with the customers and have you all fill out your “ONE THING” on a post-it note.  Whomever collects the most post-it notes, out of the 13 challengers, will receive a new Bike, Helmet and Water Bottle from Canadian Tire!

So, what does “one thing” mean? This is a pledge to yourself … Pledging “one thing” you can do to improve your health.  My one thing, is to consistently exercise and continue to eat more fruit and veggies.  What is your one thing?… Why not come visit me March 9th and write it down?!

As well, I will be collecting donations that will go to the Canadian Cancer Society.  If this is something you wish to make a donation towards, my fundraising page can be found at: http://cancerevents.kintera.org/angiebunnell  Please share with family and friends.

If you do wish to make a donation, however do not want to make a donation online, please let me know and we can arrange to meet-up for a visit or I can let you know my mailing address.

You have all been such an awesome positive supportive group of readers already, and I look forward to sharing this 13 week journey with you all.  Your words of encouragement are just that… encouraging! I love it & appreciate each and every one of you!

The workout I never thought I could have

Today I went to my regular training class with Andrea of LifeDesigns. I take part in one of her 12 week programs called “Bounce”. This is my second time taking part in Bounce and I LOVE it. Andrea works with women and delves into not only the fitness and health side of things, but she also gets inside your head (in a very good way!).

lifting weights

lifting heavy and feeling great!

My Bounce group of 4 had a killer workout! If you had told me 5 months ago, that I would be curling 25lb+, doing lunges holding 35lbs, running sets of stairs (repeatedly!), holding a plank for over 1 min, doing “real men” pushups etc. I never would have believed you!

With Andrea’s constant encouragement, positivity and her 100% confidence in me (when I didn’t have it) she has pushed me way beyond what I thought I could ever accomplish. I’ve also been working with her on my nutrition, using the myfitnesspal app is also helpful! Andrea has tracked my food logs and given amazing pointers (more grains, consistency, eat more….) I love fruit and veggies, so luckily that part isn’t a trial for me. My favourite breakfasts are smoothies and I’ve complied quite a list of recipes! I’ve found that the possible culprit of my very very sloooowww weight loss could be that I: do not get enough protein, don’t eat enough calories, and need to cut back on evening snacking.

If you have ever considered looking into a trainer, and don’t want to go to a “big gym” or find them intimidating (I do!) then Andrea is the lady for you. The women that I have met through Andrea have become some of my very close friends. We bond over dumbbells and squats, we laugh and share common frustrations and goals and there is ALWAYS encouragement. I feel very lucky to have discovered such amazing people!

Am I the only one who gets excited about making a new smoothie for breakfast?!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Health & Fitness Evaluation… a reality check!

As one of the lucky individuals chosen to be a “Kin’s Green Fighter” I received a health and fitness evaluation.  Boy, did I get a reality check!

Part of being selected as 1 of 13 contestants in this competition meant that I received a very comprehensive health/fitness analysis.  Blood work, Dexa Scan, fitness testing (ECG treadmill stress test, pushups, situps, flexibility….) Lung capacity, grip strength – the works!

Here’s what I learned:

  • I have 47.5% body fat        are you SERIOUS?! I mean I know that I have gained weight, but that made me feel sick How utterly embarrassing! I’m told that the “average woman” should have roughly 25%-33% body fat.

Embarrassment aside, the DEXA Scan was interesting.  You lay on a bed, toes taped together, and a machine scans your body for 6 mins. measuring lean muscle, fat, and bone density.  Apparently I do have a good amount of muscle, it’s just all hidden “under a nice layer of fat” …… sigh

  • my bone density is not that great   (I will now be taking Vitamin D along with a multi-vitamin and Omega 3-6-9)
  • I lasted 9 mins on the treadmill stress test until I got to my target heart rate (I’ll be aiming for longer at my final evaluation after this 13 weeks.  Time to up that cardio and get my heart even healthier)
  • I can do 30 full standardized situps in 1 min (this puts me in the “good” range)
  • I can do 7 standardized “men” pushups (feet together, on your toes … I’m unsure if this is “good” or “bad” as I cannot find a chart for women based on a full pushup, they all seem to be based on doing a pushup from the knees)
  • I can jump, although I’m not exactly sure how high? (I forgot to get that measurement!)
  • my flexibility is decent … there is always room for improvement (more yoga here I come!)
  • I don’t get enough protein (I don’t like milk, I don’t eat much red meat.. I’m a veggies, beans, salad, smoothie and fruit kinda gal)
  • my lung function is fantastic (yay for not smoking!) I met 99%-100% of what was expected
  • my cholesterol level is slightly high (which, even though it’s genetic, it’s very important to me to fix this … healthy heart, healthy body is the goal here!!)

So here I am … can you see all that light pink?  That’s FAT!  All that dark pink, MUSCLE!  I want more dark pink, less light pink

And apparently, according to my eldest daughter I have a small head! (I already knew that thank you!)

All in all, the health and fitness evaluation was very informative!  Now it’s time to GET HEALTHIER!

fat vs muscle vs bone.. BODY COMP SCAN

fat vs muscle vs bone.. BODY COMP SCAN

1 Minute Sit Up Test (Women)

Age 18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 65+
Excellent >43 >39 >33 >27 >24 >23
Good 37-43 33-39 27-33 22-27 18-24 17-23
Above average 33-36 29-32 23-26 18-21 13-17 14-16
Average 29-32 25-28 19-22 14-17 10-12 11-13
Below Average 25-28 21-24 15-18 10-13 7-9 5-10
Poor 18-24 13-20 7-14 5-9 3-6 2-4
Very Poor <18 <13 <7 <5 <2

Busy vs Active … which are you?

I’m pretty sure I just had an “Ah-Ha” moment (That’s what Oprah calls it right?).  I think I’ve been “convincing” myself that I’m busy, okay there is no need to convince – I AM! However, there is a difference between being busy and being active.  While I do my best to be active, it’s not consistent enough.  One week I might do 7 yoga classes and 2 training sessions, the next week I may only go for one walk, and one training class.  I need to find consistency here!  I’ve been following one lady in my area on Facebook, she has gone on a walk every single day since Jan 1st!  And not just for 20mins, she’s cranking out 8K, 10K, 12K! (believe me this lady is busy, how can you not be if you have 6 kids!?) you can follow her as well at Running on Empey

So what I just realized was that while being busy can mean: fielding phone calls, sitting at my desk in the office working on files, driving kids to various activities, doing dishes, laundry, cleaning house, grocery shopping, making meals, entertaining a 2 year old, attempting to help teenagers with homework … it does not mean Active.  I’m sure you are familiar with being busy!  Most people are, it’s not something new & we all have our variation of busy.

In a New York Times article called “Is Sitting Lethal?”  the researcher describes what happens to your body when you are sitting:  “Electrical activity in the muscles drops, the muscles go as silent as those of a dead horse, leading to a cascade of harmful metabolic effects. Your calorie-burning rate immediately plunges to about one per minute, a third of what it would be if you got up and walked. Insulin effectiveness drops within a single day, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises. So does the risk of being obese. The enzymes responsible for breaking down lipids and triglycerides— for vacuuming up fat out of the bloodstream, plunge, which in turn causes the levels of good (HDL) cholesterolto fall”   YIKES!!!

Clearly I need to move more!  I need to remember that even if I do exercise 30 mins a day, it isn’t my license to be sedentary the rest of the day. Nor does it mean I can eat whatever I want in any given amount.

So here is my challenge, to myself … and to you as well if you wish!  Get Creative with movement throughout the day.  Yup, okay so I’ll admit it.  I go to the bathroom at the office, and will put in 20 counter pushups (if I come out of the bathroom flushed, I promise it’s only because I did pushups and squats!)  I squat when unloading the dishwasher.  If I am microwaving something I will do a little squat, jump routine.  I need to do more of this.  Turn daily chores into a calorie burn.


So basically, even if I’m so busy that I don’t know if I’m coming or going it does not mean that my body is getting the physical activity it needs. BUSY IS NOT ACTIVE.   I need to schedule in more “active”

I’ve considered purchasing a body monitor of some sort.  While chatting with the ladies at training one day they mentioned the fitbit have you heard of it?  The “FLEX™” looks pretty cool, and you can wear it as a bracelet. Flex™  keeps track of steps taken, cals burned, hours slept, distance traveled … pretty sure this would be a great motivator for me! Plus I can sync it with my iPhone.

My amazing Trainer Andrea of LifeDesigns has definitely helped me in getting to this “Ah-Ha” moment! Without her genuine caring, supportive ways and her kick-ass workouts, I wouldn’t be in the emotional space that I am today!

some of my favourite foods…

Eat a Rainbow

Today I am trying to fit in all my fruits and veggie servings! Made a delicious smoothie for breakfast and had time to make a massive batch of delicious vegetable soup!


Dinner tonight was noodle-less lasagne! Layers of grilled zucchini with cottage cheese, ground turkey and veggies in tomato sauce, spinach and of course yummy mozzarella …. Delicious !


For this tasty dish I swapped out pasta noodles with ribbons of zucchini.  I grilled the zucchini to get some of the moisture out (and add some great flavour)

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red pepper
  • 1 can Italian tomato sauce
  • 1/2 a can of tomato paste
  • fresh basil and any other spices/herbs

For the filling:

  • 2% cottage cheese mixed with thawed spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the vegetables:

  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup red peppers
  • 3  mushrooms, stems trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Freshly ground black pepper

other items:

  •  shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 cups)
  • ground turkey
  • 2 meduim zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick (I used a mandolin slicer) – grilled (soak up any excess moisture with a paper towl)
For the sauce:

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F
  2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, mushrooms, peppers, until softened add in ground turkey … cook until done
  3. Add the tomato sauce & paste. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the flavors meld and the sauce has slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

meanwhile you will be grilling the zucchini

To assemble:

  1. layer of zuccini
  2. some shredded cheese
  3. cottage cheese mixed with spinach
  4. tomato sauce / meat

Repeat until final layer top with mozzarella cheese

Bake uncovered until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the top is browned, about 40 minutes. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

diet vs. life

How does one stick to a “diet” when life gets in the way? …. in my own personal experience, they don’t! That’s why this is not just about a diet for me (in the sense that most people view this word) – this is about making a healthy lifestyle for the rest of my life.  So how will I deal with all the situations that arise in day-to-day life?  Things like; eating out, holidays, work, busy schedules, kids’ hockey tournaments and all the other things that seem to arise

I can think of a few scenarios that take place when life happens for me:

1. I indulge & don’t care

  • in this case I’ve just gone and thrown the whole “diet” out the window said F&*K it and just loaded up to extreme
  • I’ll have eaten well all week and then Friday night hits and it’s a free-for-all
  • I’ve found this to NOT be an effective way of living a healthy lifestyle… I could never stick to a “diet” because all my old (bad) eating habits wouldn’t be fixed, I would just be covering them up
  • there was always some food that was on the “bad” list and that was ALL I could think of!

2. obsess & feel guilty, and then don’t enjoy it at all

  • I’ve at times gone too far, obsessing over every morsel that is about to enter my mouth, and there is no enjoyment in that
    • how fun is it to go out with friends and say “No thank-you” to appy’s and drinks?!
  • I’ve felt guilty for “enjoying” something and then call myself weak because I couldn’t stop myself from having a beer or eating a piece of cake or pizza

3. plan, prep & enjoy

  • I’ve learned that this seems to be the best thing for me
  • When I have planned to the best of my ability I am able to enjoy any food … all in moderation
  • If I know we are going to a restaurant I will google the menu and plan ahead, if we are going to dinner at a friend’s or family member’s home I will enjoy it, all in moderation
  • I will make meals ahead of time, have healthy snacks on hand, grocery shop accordingly

I will no longer let food rule me, there aren’t foods that are “off-limits” – that just backfires! I will however stay conscious with my eating, continue logging my meals on the myfitnesspal app (you can find me as ella_b76) http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

I started letting go of the guilt a few months back, this was thanks to working with an amazing trainer!  She was and always has been encouraging and extremely helpful!  The word “diet” is slowly being eliminated from my vocabulary and “healthy lifestyle” is taking it’s place