Maple Alps

Health

Easy Ways to Cut Down on Refined Sugar

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

I have a definite sweet tooth. I didn’t always have one, and actually, as much of a sweet tooth I have, I prefer savory things. I do, however, go through periods where it seems I can’t get enough sweetness into my mouth. It’s a strange thing. Or is it? After reading up about refined sugar, I found the obvious: that too much can be really detrimental to our health!




I also found that sugar can be found in many of the products we buy in the grocery store. I had no idea about that until I took a no sugar challenge, where not even trace amounts of added sugar were allowed. I was reading every single label on every single product in the grocery store and found that there is a lot of unnecessary sugar out there!




Now, I’m not against a sugary treat every now and again, but I think it is important to limit how much sugar we put into our bodies! Your mother always told you that too much of a good thing is not good. And she was right.

Easy Ways to Cut Down on Refined Sugar | www.maplealps.com




Cut down on sugary drinks

This is pretty straight forward. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Beware of bottled juices though - some hide large amounts of sugar that are not naturally occuring. Try some of the following if you think you absolutely cannot handle plain water:


Infused water

If you can’t stand the taste of water (I personally love it), feel free to infuse it with fresh fruit, vegetables, or herbs. Not only does it spice up your water, it makes it look extra pretty too! You can easily do this by adding them to your water pitcher or glass, or even buying a fancy one that is made to infuse (check this one out from Amazon).

Herbal Tea

I love having some herbal tea in the morning or before bed. It’s hot, so it’s more comforting to drink than water, but contains zero sugar when you don’t sweeten it!




Make your own food staples

There is a lot of refined sugar hidden in a lot of staples you buy in the store, like bread and granola and even sauces in a jar. You can even find extra amounts of sugar in canned foods (like canned fruit) that are unnecessary. By making your own, or cutting your own, you can avoid these ingredients and choose exactly what goes into your food.


vegan pantry maple alps




Cut Out Sugary Desserts

Many desserts are just calorie dense and provide few nutrients. If you need something sweet after you eat, try to have a bit of fruit or splurge and have a small piece of dark chocolate.



Eat full, whole-food meals

By eating full, whole-food meals, you can generally reduce the temptation to snack in between. Especially the sweet kind. Personally, my parents never really allowed me to eat between meals growing up, so this isn’t hard for me, but I know it can be a challenge.



Replace Sugary Condiments

Many condiments such as ketchup and BBQ sauce are filled with sugar. One tablespoon of ketchup, for example, may have up to 4 grams of sugar in it! Use some low sugar options to substitute for condiments. There are plenty of options, including different fresh or dried herbs and spices and homemade sauces.



Beware of Processed Snacks

Watch out for foods that are marketed as healthy. Things such as granola bars and protein bars and dried fruit can contain large amounts of sugar - sometimes even more than a chocolate bar. You can make your own trail mixes that don’t contain extra sugar, or make your own crackers to add to soups!



Read Labels

Did you know there are at least 56 names for sugar?! Check your labels for sneaky sugars hiding out in the ingredients list. Watch for anything ending in “-ose.” Here are some common names you should look out for: High-fructose corn syrup, Cane sugar or juice, Maltose, Dextrose, Invert sugar, Rice syrup, and Molasses Caramel.




 

Easy & Creative Ways to Stay Hydrated

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

During the school year, it’s surprisingly a little easier for me to be intentional about making sure I stay hydrated. My water bottle comes with me every day, and kiddos love to be selected to get me a refill - they get a break, and I get fresh water. It’s important that I make routines when it comes to staying hydrated.

Water is so important for our bodies! It makes up over half of our bodies and is necessary for them to function! It’s been told that one should drink 8-10 glasses of water a day - and more if you exercise or sweat a lot (read: HOT WEATHER). A good indicator of if you are drinking enough water is by looking in the toilet. Yup. It shouldn’t be crazy yellow. When you drink enough water, your body will thank you. You will feel less fatigued and stressed and your body systems, like digestion, will work the way they are supposed to.

I’ve had people tell me they don’t ever drink water and instead drink things like sports drinks and orange juice from the grocery store to stay hydrated. Yes, these things contain a percentage of water, however, they also contain ingredients that are not so good for our bodies such as sugars and dyes! There are much better ways to get your water - even if you don’t particularly like drinking it. Let’s look at some creative ways to get more water

This post contains affiliate links.

Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated | www.maplealps.com
 

Herbal Tea

Start your day out with some hot herbal tea to get your digestion going. Your body will thank you. Avoid sweetening tea with refined sugars - it’s always best to brew your own and avoid the bottled type that does include those as well as artificial preservatives. I like to brew herbal tea every morning to take to work and I’ll usually have some in the evening as I’m winding down for the night as well.

 

Infused Water

Liven up your water by adding fruits and vegetables to it! Infused water tastes great, looks great, and makes you feel fancy. Everyone could use a little more fancy in their lives. There are so many combinations and flavours you can have. I like a simple plain lemon infusion, but ginger peach is also a favourite!

 
Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated | www.maplealps.com

 

Smoothies

Switch out your nut or soy milk for water or coconut water to get that extra boost of water! If you miss the creamy smoothie feel, add avocado or frozen bananas to it! Nut butters are great to add as well to thicken it up. Think whole foods!

 

Water Tracker or Set a Timer

Keep motivated by tracking your water intake. You could do this in your planner or keep count of how many times you fill your water bottle. If you keep forgetting to drink, try setting a timer to remind yourself!

 

Carry a Water Bottle

Speaking of water bottles, keep one on you! If pretty water bottles motivate you, then by all means, get a pretty one (I like the glass ones best). But just keeping a refillable water bottle with you at all times will remind you to drink! Just try not to get into the trap of buying water bottles that you never use!

 

What are some ways you intentionally enjoy your water?


 

Some of my favourite hydration tools:

 

Going Plant-Based? Here are 15 Things to Think About

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps5 Comments

Different individuals want to go plant-based for different reasons. Some are told by a medical professional to do so, others just want to because they see the benefit (or saw too many documentaries). Whatever your decision, it’s important to note that going plant-based should not be seen as a diet. It is a lifestyle that will greatly improve your wellbeing and life!

Several times this past year I’ve been asked about how I went about going on a plant-based diet, and so I decided to share some tips on the blog. My plant based journey started for health reasons, and as I learned more and saw the benefits, I kept adding to the list. Ethical reasons, for example, were not something I originally thought of, but now is something I strongly advocate for. I feel satisfied with what I eat, because choosing a plant based diet has really forced me to be intentional about what I put in my body.

This post contains affiliate links

Going Plant-Based? Here are 15 Things to Think About | www.maplealps.com

 

Motivation & Commitment

Remember your motivation for wanting to start a plant-based diet. Do you want to make healthier choices? Lose weight? Have more energy to accomplish your daily tasks? Live longer? Save animals? Remember your why!

 

Eat A Lot

Fresh plant-based food has a lot less caloric density than foods filled with empty and fatty [the bad kind] calories. Expect to want to eat a lot. I remember first transitioning and wondering why I was eating double the food, but losing weight.

 


Fill Your Fridge & Pantry with Healthy Food

It’s harder to eat unhealthy foods when your home is stocked with the good stuff! Purge your pantry and refrigerator and don’t feel guilty about tossing the food that is of little to no benefit for your body! If you’re thinking about money, think of it this way: a doctor bill in the USA will cost more than it costed for your junk food! A note: many products out there marketed for those on a plant-based diet are more or less “vegan junk food.” Be sure to read labels to ensure you’re getting nutritious foods - not just unhealthy alternatives to products that normally contain animal products. More on that later in this post.

 

Focus on Vegetables & Fruits - & Don’t Forget: Legumes Are Your friends.

Stock up on vegetables and fruits (bonus points if it’s all mostly in season!). Legumes are filling and so delicious! Best part? No nutrition labels to read! Try to avoid having to read them by getting foods that do not have a nutrition label (ideas: fresh produce, bulk beans and rices, etc.)

 

Make Food Swaps

Avocado on toast instead of butter or cream cheese, tofu instead of chicken, water instead of sugary drinks; there are plenty of easy food swaps to make your new plant-based diet doable

 

Take Food on the Go

We live in a time where we are always on the go. Eliminate the temptation to eat junk food or fast food by making sure to have wholesome snacks with you. Keep almonds in your bag and pack your own lunch - it’s not as hard as you might think! If you’re like me, using pretty, waste-free food storage containers might motivate you more!

 

Start One Meal at a Time

Eating plant-based is more than a diet. It is an entire lifestyle change. Ease into by starting with just one meal a day being completely plant-based. A good one to start with is breakfast. It’s so easy to make vegan pancakes, smoothies, granolas, muffins, and other great breakfast foods. Gradually add a plant-based afternoon meal, and you’ll soon find it is easy to have all of your meals completely free of animal products.

 

 

Get Educated and Get Resourceful

Watch documentaries, read books, talk with nutrition professionals. Just a few of my favorite resources: The Cheese Trap (book - get it here on Amazon), Forks Over Knives (documentary, cookbook, magazine, website), What the Health (documentary), How Not to Die (book - get on Amazon)

 

Get a Support Group/Friend

Everything is easier when you have someone supporting you or keeping you accountable. Enter the journey with a friend, or have your best cheerleader support you along the way. Have someone to report to if you need accountability. Maybe enlist someone to be your guinea pig for all the tasty recipes you’ll be whipping up.

 

But Start Your Change Quietly

Instead of telling everyone you know about your decision, you may want to start quietly. To be frank, you will avoid a lot of scrutiny and questioning as you answer these questions for yourself and figure out how to listen to your own body and deal with your own addictions (mine was cheese!). Focus on yourself and your mission. Remember your why and think about how much better you will feel.

 

Equip your Kitchen

Some plant-based foods require different kitchen tools. For example, you’ll likely scarcely use steak knives, but you’ll definitely need a high powered blender (definitely a kitchen essential)

 

Don’t Worry About the Protein

Those on a plant-based diet get plenty of protein. Unless you have an extreme medical condition, you do not need protein shakes to get it. Great sources of protein include beans, soy products like seitan and tofu, quinoa, hemp seeds and even nuts. Chances are, you’ll get more protein than those who are concerned about you getting that protein.

 

Keep Things Exciting

Try new foods and prepare ingredients in different ways. Blend flavors, experiment, and have fun! Start a dinner club. Buy a cookbook or two. Browse recipes on the web. Test out restaurants. There are also a ton of ethnic foods that are plant based and wholesome! Just have a blast trying out new things.

 

Be Mindful: Read Food Labels

This may shock you at first - especially if you were not in the habit of reading food labels. The first thing to look at is not the nutritional value, but the ingredient list. You may be surprised about what exactly is lurking in your favourite vegan snacks, but you will start feeling good about others! Remember: aim for have to read as few food labels as possible by buying whole foods that don’t require them!


 

Be Kind to Yourself

Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. You’re human. Just get back up, dust yourself off and try again! And again(!) if need be.

 

 
Meal Planner | www.maplealps.com
 

Some Recipes to Get You Started:


 

6 Natural Ways to Make Your Common Cold More Bearable

Health, Natural LivingAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

It is definitely that time of year when colds start trying to invade our space. I personally dislike colds even more than the flu, simply because I usually feel mostly well, and just have an annoying sore throat and stuffy (or runny) nose. At least if I have something worse, I just feel completely awful. I guess I’m just strange. Of course, as a teacher (and most everyone will have this problem), I’m exposed to a lot of different germs in a day (and the kiddos have been coming in lately with sniffling noses), and as life will have it, sometimes because of teaching demands, I sometimes don’t get the nutrients, exercise, or sleep I need.

Of course, the best thing to do for a cold is to prevent it. You can do this by making sure you are eating the necessary nutrients your body needs, getting plenty of rest and water, and making sure you are exercising regularly! These simple things will help you keep your immune system up and colds away!

Whenever we do get a cold, we start pulling out our natural remedies. Now, our remedies don’t necessarily heal our colds (though some of them may help shorten a few of the symptoms), but they definitely make the colds more manageable and bearable. I have friends who eat whole onions and others who make the most intense sounding concoctions, but I'm not at that level yet. Then again, my colds don't get too terrible...

Do take note that none of these remedies replaces medical advice, so if you think your cold is worse than a cold, please go to a doctor!

*This post contains affiliate links

6 Natural Ways to Make Your Cold More Bearable

Ginger Lemon Tea

 

This is a simple mix I like to keep in our fridge during sickness. It’s pleasant to sip on, tastes great and is good for you too:

Ginger
Lemon
Raw Honey

Slice the ginger and lemon and layer it in a jar, making several layers.
Pour raw honey (make sure it really is raw honey - bonus points for local too!) over the layers until the jar is filled.

Spoon out the mixture into your mug and add hot water when ready! Keep it in the fridge when you aren’t using it. I drink a few mugs of this each day I’m sick!

Note: ginger keeps well in the freezer, so go ahead and freeze what you didn’t use!

Natural Ways to Make Your Cold More Bearable | www.maplealps.com

 

Ginger Tea

 

If you don’t like the ginger/lemon mix, just plain ginger tea will do as well!

Add ginger (thinly sliced or grated if it was frozen) to a pot of water and boil! Strain into your mug and you will have a nice strong ginger tea! You can add a bit of raw honey to offset the spice if you like.

 

Sinus Bath Salt Mix

 

This is another great recipe to keep in your cupboard! Enjoy this sinus-clearing bath mix!

1 Cup Epsom Salts (try this one from Amazon!)
3 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil
3 drops of Lavender essential oil
3 drops of Peppermint essential oil

Put 2-3 TBSP in your bath water and enjoy your soak! Don’t forget to breathe in deeply!
 

Natural Ways to Make Your Cold More Bearable | www.maplealps.com

 

Stay Hydrated, Rested and Warm

 

Be sure to drink plenty (I’m serious!) of water and stay rested and warm. Sleep is not a bad thing at any time - especially when you’re sick. Use a hot water bottle (this one from Amazon is super cute) or heat pad (I have this adorable one) to keep you warm (and to help with those sinuses too)!

 

Eucalyptus Oil in Shower

 

Similar to a face steam (hot water + eucalyptus oil in a bowl and cover your head), put 4-5 drops of eucalyptus oil in the bottom of your shower to help clear your sinuses. It smells and feels great!

 

Avoid Refined Sugars

 

Sugar affects your immune system and keeps you from getting better! Avoid sugary treats! Opt for healthy Whole Foods instead.

 

 

 

Of course, I hope you are all able to avoid the common cold this year! It’s definitely my goal to stay on top of my health so I can avoid the annoyance of this little bug!

How do you combat your colds? I have friends who eat whole onions and others who make the most intense sounding concoctions.

I’d love to know your remedies too!


 
 
Natural Cold Remedies | www.maplealps.com

Dealing With Stress

Ask Amanda, Blog, HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps9 Comments
Ask Amanda: Dealing with Stress | www.maplealps.com

 

Question: What are your best stress-coping methods?

 

This is a really great question! Sometimes I feel as if I have so much stress that I’m drowning. Other times, I feel like I can conquer the world. I find that dealing with stress is best done by preventing it as much as possible. Of course, this is not always possible - life likes to throw unsuspected curve balls every once in a while. I suppose the easiest way to answer this question is to share some of the things that I utilize to both prevent and manage stress.

 

 

Keep a planner

Writing down my tasks and goals and prioritizing them helps me keep on track. I am able to focus on things that keep me productive and I waste less time when I know what I need to be doing. When I find myself wasting time, I get discouraged and have a hard time picking myself up from it, so this is a nice preventative way of dealing with some stressful things.

 

 

Journal

Oh, the amount of filled journals I have is amazing. I write in them significantly less than I used to, but I do journal regularly. Sometimes I’ll just get my thoughts out till I can think straight again. Other times I’ll write prayers or letters to God. I do have one rule in my journals though: I never write anything bad about anyone. My journals will likely outlive me, and I don’t want a moment of agitation or anger on my part to ruin anyone’s reputation. Besides, I want to get over it, right? I don’t want to have to relive it every time I reread my journal - which I do on occasion.

 

 

Take time for Me

This may sound counter-productive, but when I take time to sit back and recharge, I am able to come back and face all of my tasks head-on, and with a better attitude than before. Taking a bath, or lighting some candles and chilling, taking time to read something for fun. Those are all great ways I can just remove myself temporarily from the situation. Sometimes, I just need a power nap to get my focus back on track as well.

 

 

Sing

This started from a very young age. I’ve sung to myself in so many stressful situations - from pumping myself up for interviews and other difficult situations to singing while driving on icy roads. It somehow calms me. Especially singing hymns and scripture songs that are filled with promises that remind me that God’s got me.

 

 

Give My Burdens to Jesus

How heavy a glass of water is just depends on how long you hold it. The longer you hold it, the heavier it seems. And if you’re carrying that thing for a year, we may have to call the ambulance for you. The same with our stress and burdens. Jesus tells us to come and give Him our burdens (see Matthew 28:11). His rest is a promise to us that I love to cling to.

 

 


How do YOU deal with stress?