17 Health, Wellness & Productivity Hacks for 2017

1. Try the Pomodoro Method - I’m the type of woman that takes multitasking to new levels.  I always have several projects on the go at work and multiple people that pop in to seek advice on different topics.  It’s not hard to find my attention being pulled in multiple directions.  I started using the Pomodoro method this year and it really worked for me.

2.  Get a cheerleader - I hate working out but I do it because I want to be strong, healthy and around to enjoy my family for a long time.  After several years, classes and gyms I’ve found that I'm at my best when I work out with a trainer.  Studies have shown that verbal encouragment can increase the amount of weight you can lift, so make a workout pact this year with a friend or work with a personal trainer that motivates you.  

3. Get familiar with Pinterest - This visual search engine is the place to go for healthy recipe ideas.  Bonus, their female engineers are the new rock stars of the tech world.  Follow Chew Street's pinterest page here.

4. Switch Your Delivery - Even though I love to cook, when I come home from a long day I want to eat, not cook a meal from scratch.  I rely on the help of a few online delivery services so I always know there will be something quick and easy to prepare (or microwave) instead of ordering pizza (shout out to Domino's).  I like Urbery for fresh organic foods. I also use Amazon Subscribe and Save to make sure I'm never out of pantry staples.   Click here to get $15 off your first Ubery order

5. Self-reflection and Motivation - If you follow Chew Street on Instagram, you know we start every work week with a quote.  There is something about the pearls of wisdom shared from people living and dead of all ages and races that helps me focus my energy for the week ahead.  Follow Chew Street on Instagram for a weekly dose of perspective and inspiration.  Take a screenshot of your favourite quote and save it as the background or lock screen image on your phone.  Every time you check your phone you will get a hit of positivity.  

6. Positive Podcasts   - I may be late to the Podcast Party but I'm addicted.  I have a selection of podcasts that make me laugh, spark inspiration and keep me informed. I used to play (the very addictive) Two Dots game on my phone on the subway ride on the way to work.  Now I listen to one of my favourite podcasts on the way to and from work.  It's a better use of my time and puts me in a better frame of mind. Here's a few of my favourites:

 Welcome to The Food Court -  named one of the Top 10 Legal Podcasts in Canada, this series hosted by my friend Glenford Jameson is food for thought for anyone interested in the issues surrounding how food is regulated in Canada, it's not just for lawyers.

Grub - A Podcast About Food - This award winning podcast shares stories from around the world about the people who feed us and the food issues eating away at us.  I sat down to talk to Tiffany Mayer, the host, in 2016.  Check out our episode here.

7. Freeze It - Freeze a selection of your favourite fresh herbs in an ice cube container filled with olive oil.  When you're cooking, pop out a cube or two add it two your favourite dishes.  You're reduce your need for processed condiments and salt.

8. Thigh High -  Pound for pound, chcken breast meat has less fat than dark meat.  However, chicken breasts are also the least flavourful part of the chicken.  Dark meat has, on average, only 10 more calories and is infinitely more moist and flavourful.  When I cook with chicken thighs, (skinless, bone-in) I can keep my recipe simple. The flavour of the chicken, with a few spices is all I need.  There's no need to drown it in condiments, which can contribute loads of extra calories.

9.  Water.  Coconut Water - Many people opt for a "Dry January", but if you find yourself entertaining this winter, lighten up your cocktails with coconut water.  It contains less calories than your standard mixers and is rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium.  These minerals help you stay hydrated and stave off hangovers. Just make suer you always choose, pure coconut water, not the ones that are from concentrate.  I buy Grace Foods Coconut Water. 

10. Delicous Butter Substitute - Avocado isn't just an overpriced toast garnish at your favourite brunch spot.  It's aslo a healthy butter replacement in baking.   You don't even have to change the measurements.,  Puree the same amount of avocado that you would butter.  You can also replace pureed avocado in dishes that call for mayonnaise.  

11. Red Meat Reduction -  I think it's common knowledge by now that we all need to ease up on our consumption of red meat.  The next time your recipe calls for ground beef, swap out a 1/3 of it with chopped mushrooms.  Even if you don't like mushrooms, the meaty flavour combined with the taste of the beef will make it taste like your just eating meat (trust me).  Mushrooms absorbs sauce really well and have the same type of mouthfeel that meat does.  Try a few different varities to find the one you like best - portobellos, and creminis are good to start with.  I also like Trumpet Royales.  Just toss your mushrooms in the food processor until they are roughly diced and combine them with your meat when cooking.

12. More Coffee -  Coffee can be good for you in moderation.  You can use for more that a wake up shot in the morning.  Coffee gives game meats, pork and chicken a great smoky flavour when used as a marinade.  Use black brewed coffee to marinate your meat and you will use less oil and processed condiments to add flavour when cooking.

13. More Garlic - Garlic is good for you.  Garlic is a pain to peel.  Watch the video below to learn how to peel fresh garlic in under 10 seconds without getting any of that garlicky smell on your hands.  Then put garlic in everything.

14. Know Your Smoke Points - Each type of oil has a smoke point, the temperature at which it starts to smoke and its beneficial nutrients start to break down.  You'd be surprised which oils are at the top of the list.  Check it out here.  

15. Say Goodnight -  When I get stressed the first thing that get affected is my sleep pattern.  I've had to endure a few sleepless nights when life gets hectic. A colleague told about the 4-7-8 sleep technique and it's a great tool to help you relax and get your system ready to wind down.  Read about it here. 

16. Upgrade your Cappucino - This one is courtesy of my trainer.  My post workout drink is creamy, hot, and healthier than any syrupy Grande or Venticoncotion you can think of.  He makes me a drink that consists of a couple shots of espresso, some vanilla protein powder and coconut oil, shaken into steaming frothy goodness.  The protein and coconut oil help keep me full so I don't snack in the afternoon, the drink also keeps my sugar levels balanced and the coffee is just a necessity most afternoons.  So good.  Try making your own in the morning or for an afternoon pick me up.

17.  Guilt free restaurants - We are so fortunate to  live in a city that offers healthy dining options that are more than a salad.  Planta was the instagram favourite this year my go- to spot is Dandylion.  It's a small, charming, vegetable focused (but not vegetarian) spot on Queen West Chef Carter has taken the traditional concept of dinner (mostly meat, with some sides) and turned it on its head making vegetables the centre and star of every dish. It's good, wholesome, nourishing food at it's best.