Spread Awareness, Spread The Love

One of the great things I have discovered about blogging is that a simple “like” or comment on an entry can connect you to a complete stranger. Usually when people “like” or comment on things I post I check out their blog as well to see what they’re writing about. Yesterday, one comment in particular lead me to a really fantastic, inspiring blog about healthy living and finding inner peace. Upon visiting this blog I learned that this week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

It is estimated that eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia affect 1-1.5% of the population, which sounds small, but that is millions of people – most of which are young females. One disturbing statistic I read on the NEDA website is that a 1991 study found that 42% of kids in grades 1-3 had a desire to be thinner. I would hate to know what that percentage is today. Part of being beautiful means being healthy; healthy doesn’t necessarily mean being thin. The numbers on a scale won’t tell you how amazing you are as an individual, both inside and out!

This year’s theme for NEDAwareness Week is “Everybody Knows Somebody”. I know more than one person that has battled an eating disorder. All are beautiful, strong, and well on their way to a healthy, successful recovery. Though I cannot speak to these individuals’ experiences, what I can do is help spread the word and raise awareness about eating disorders.

Upon a little further digging on the NEDA website I found some information about Operation Beautiful. The goal of this campaign is to end negative self-talk and help others transform the way they see themselves through the use of Post-It notes.

Here is a Post-It I made for myself and all you beautiful people out there : )  I encourage you to also spread awareness by spreading some love! Leave a Post-It for yourself, a loved one, or heck, even a total stranger! And it doesn’t just have to be during this week… try to spread some love everyday ♥

– Be Well xo

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Meatless Monday: Easy Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli

Happy Meatless Monday!

I’m proud to say that I survived my two midterms today. Only one more to go! I’ve even been finding time to keep up with my exercise. Earlier this afternoon I got a sudden urge to do something that RARELY happens… go for a run outdoors!  I like cardio, but hate running. For whatever reason it always gives me a headache afterwards, even though I’m in good shape and make an effort to drink plenty of water. However, today I felt I had to take advantage of today’s sunny, mild weather and spend some time outside. Once again, I found I didn’t feel so great afterwards. Until I can figure out some reasons why, I thought I should make a “feel-good” dinner to help me get through my last night of studying (until final exams, of course… but let’s not think about that right now). For me, “feel-good” means meat-free and delicious!

Easy Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli

Ingredients:

About 24 wonton wrappers

1 cup reduced fat ricotta cheese

1 cup chopped fresh spinach

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 egg

Salt and pepper

Any other seasonings you prefer (I used a bit of garlic powder)

Directions:

1. Stir together ricotta, spinach, parmesan cheese, egg, a pinch of salt and pepper, and any other seasonings you wish to use.

2. Fill a small dish with water. Lay a wonton wrapper on a clean, dry surface. Keep the remaining wonton wrappers in their package, covered with a damp paper towel so they don’t dry out. Place a spoonful of filling (about 1 tbsp or so) in the middle of the wonton wrapper.

3. Dip your finger in the water and moisten the edges of the wrapper. Fold the wonton over, pressing out any air bubbles, and press to seal the edges. Repeat with remaining wonton wrappers and filling.

4. To cook the ravioli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove ravioli from the pot carefully and top with your favourite pasta sauce, or just a sprinkling of parsley and parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

I was so hungry that I forgot to take a picture of the finished product before eating it (sorry!!). However, I did make homemade pumpkin ravioli last week that I was able to get a picture of, so here it is. Very similar to the recipe above, except made with canned pumpkin and a bit of nutmeg and sage (instead of the chopped spinach). I added some portobello mushrooms to it as well.

Staying Healthy During Exam Time

It’s midterm season! For those of you still in school, you understand my pain. Day after day of studying and cramming and caffeine… Perhaps the occasional all-nighter or emotional melt-down. This semester I’m lucky enough to have 3 midterms in 2 days. Hooray! (I hope you can sense my sarcasm.) Since I likely won’t be able to post many entries over the next week due to my exams, I thought it would be appropriate to write a little something about ways to stay healthy (and sane) during exam time.

Making Time

I find that a big problem for a lot of people that causes a significant amount of exam-time stress is feeling like you don’t have enough time to do everything you want, whether it’s school-related or not. You’re forced to choose only a few things from a myriad of options: Study? Sleep? Eat? Exercise? Or social life? Studying for midterms seems to bring on this feeling of panic that you absolutely must study everything and anything that you can or else you won’t do well. Organization and prioritizing is key for helping you feel in control. Make a list of everything you want to get done for the day. Work through it bit by bit, crossing things off as you go. You might find this helps you procrastinate less. Another good thing about scheduling your day is you can make sure to set some time aside for YOU. Hmm.. bubble bath and a glass of red wine at 9:30 pm? Check!

More Focus Isn’t Better

We’ve all been there. It’s 12:30 am the night before a midterm, you’re trying to study, and you’ve absorbed more information from Facebook than you have from your notes (this was pretty much the story of my life last night). What do you tell yourself? FOCUS. Well, I’ve got news for you. More focus isn’t necessarily better! Tasks like understanding, recalling and memorizing are energy-intensive and cause the brain to fatigue quickly. When this happens, we try to focus even harder and this ends up quickening the process of cognitive degradation even more. The result? We get burnt out and frustrated. Moral of the story? TAKE BREAKS. For every hour of studying, aim to take a 15-minute break to do whatever it is that will help you feel refreshed and energized. Go for a walk, do some stretches, make a cup of tea, or meditate. FYI – did you know that meditation has been linked to improved academic performance?

Don’t Leave Your Health Last

Another trend I often witness (and am guilty of) during exam time is resorting back to unhealthy habits. Ordering Chinese take-out instead of cooking, staying in to watch TV because the 5 minute drive to the gym is just too far, and then driving 10 minutes to Bulk Barn anyway to purchase a 3-pound bag of candy… Ah, the life of a college student. My point is, try not to let your health fall to the bottom of your list of priorities just because it’s a stressful time of year. Eating well and staying active will help keep your energy levels up so that you are able to get through many hours of studying. Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress.

If you’re in the middle of exams, I challenge you to examine the unhealthy habits you tend to adopt and start taking some steps to change them! My challenge for the next week will be scheduling time for exercise and avoiding the bag of peanut butter M&Ms my mom got me for Valentine’s Day.

Be Well!

Meatless Monday: What’s-Left-In-The-Fridge Portobello Pizzas

Happy Family Day and Happy Meatless Monday! Here’s a delicious idea for a quick meatless meal. All you really need are some portobello mushrooms and whatever happens to be in your fridge!

What’s-Left-In-The-Fridge Portobello Pizzas

1. Start off by washing a couple of portobello mushrooms and removing the stems and gills. Rub the mushrooms with some olive oil and whatever spices you prefer. I used parsley, basil, garlic powder, onion powder and red chili flakes. Roast in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.

2. While the mushrooms are in the oven, prepare whatever ingredients you want to add on top. I used chopped spinach, yellow bell pepper, fresh salsa and mozzarella cheese. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. When the mushrooms are done, top them with the contents of the bowl. Increase the temperature of the oven to 425-450 degrees and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. The mushrooms I had were smaller, so they only took about 5 minutes.

3. When the mushrooms come out of the oven, sprinkle with a bit of parmesan cheese. Ta-da! A tasty meatless meal. Warning: these are very juicy and delicious and somewhat messy. It’s probably best to eat them with a fork and knife. Enjoy!