New year, new me – part 1

If you’ve read my blog before, you will know that last year my husband and I decided to make a few changes in our life. We wanted to become more active and healthy, and I think we’ve accomplished that. We tried to eliminate processed foods from our diet and increase our activity. I lost 40 lbs, and my husband lost 85 lbs, plus his blood sugar levels and blood pressure are now normal!! He’s been running on the treadmill and even completed a 5K on New Year’s Day.

This year, I want to take it to the next level for me…and include our 2 children. Yes, they eat a lot of fruits and veggies, and I try to provide healthy lunches, but they still love their cereal and their snacks. The snacks are what drive me crazy!! It seems like I’m always packing  crackers in their lunch bags, not much variety at all. They don’t like taking fruit to school because a) bananas get mushy in lunch bags and b) they have to bring all the peels and apple cores home due to the “litterless lunch” program at their school. Pretty gross for me to clean and they don’t like the smell. So…what am I to do??

Thankfully I discovered an amazing cookbook, “Healthy Starts Here!” by Canadian author Mairlyn Smith. You may have heard of her…she was a member of the comedy troupe Second City and can be seen on several television programs talking about healthy eating. I discovered Mairlyn while watching Cityline. The day that changed everything for me was the day she made Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Soup. I LOVE soup…really, really LOVE soup…especially in the middle of winter. The recipe looked so easy and delicious…and Mairlyn described how nutritious pumpkin is for you. At that moment, I started to change my thinking about healthy eating. Instead of focusing on all the “bad” foods to avoid, I started thinking about all the “good” foods I should incorporate into my diet. Since I’m now at a healthy weight, I’m not looking to lose any more, but still want to become more healthy. So calorie count is still important, but not the be all and end all.

The day after that episode aired, I went out and got all the ingredients to make the pumpkin soup. I followed the recipe on and it really was easy to make. I’ve tried making pumpkin soup before and it was pretty disgusting, so I wasn’t really expecting much. But this was one of the BEST bowls of soup I’ve ever had! I noticed at the bottom of the recipe that it was taken from a book…so I headed on over to Amazon and ordered that book. What a great investment!! I can’t say enough good things about this book. It is very informative about the ingredients…their nutritional value, how to prepare them, and even where to find them in the grocery store! I’ve made about 20 recipes from this book and I like ALL of them. I can’t say that about any other cookbook. Plus, all the recipes are healthy!

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Soup that started it all.

So, back to the snack dilemma. There are tons of recipes in this book geared towards kids. I’ve made apple chips, double chocolate pumpkin muffins, chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin cookies, banana blueberry muffins, kale chips…yes, my daughter loves kale chips! The kids think they are getting treats, which I guess is true…but these treats are filled with all sorts of nutrition, including a good dose of fibre. It does take a bit of planning, but most of these snacks can be frozen…so I make up a batch on the weekend and we’re good for the week.

Clockwise from left: Double Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins, Triple Oat Cookies, The Ultimate Healthy Chocolate Treat, Apple Chips

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now, I don’t only make snacks…at least 2 meals per weeks are made from Mairlyn’s recipes. My husband thinks it’s great! It’s like eating in a restaurant with all the new meals I’ve incorporated, and they are guilt free. Some of our faves are Moroccan Chicken, Spicy Red Lentil Soup, and Jerk Chicken. I’m sure I will end up working my way through the entire book by the end of the year.

Moroccan Chicken.

Jerk Chicken. Deeelish, and my son LOVES it!!

Whole Wheat Pizza. Yes, the crust was made from scratch...easy peasy.

Stir-Fried Broccoli and Chicken. My favourite dinner.

And let’s not forget breakfast. Love these pancakes!

Sunday Morning Pancakes with Blueberry Honey Sauce

I will keep trying new recipes and update with photos. To quote Mairlyn, I wish you Peace, Love and Fibre!


About Lisa

Canadian fine art photographer and lifelong knitter.
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