Fresh Vegetable Rolls

Ever since visiting Thailand, I have had many failed attempts at creating fresh vegetable rolls. Two years later and I’m still trying to master it! This batch turned out moderately presentable and is packed with so many different flavours, various vitamins and minerals and most importantly, taste delicious!


  • 10 rice paper wraps
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large red pepper, very thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped purple cabbage
  • 1/3 cup daikon, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 2 leaves of romaine lettuce, thinly cut
  • 1/2 mango, thinly sliced
  • 5 sprigs of fresh mint (the tastiest part!) and/or basil and cilantro
  • filler: cooked vermicelli noodles, thinly sliced marinated & cooked tofu, or cooked & butterflied shrimp
  • garnish with sesame seeds


Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce: Best with vermicelli noodles and tofu filler.

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce (optional depending on your spice tolerance)
  • 1 tablespoon of warm water
  • garnish with crushed peanuts, and/or red pepper chilli flakes

Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce: Best with shrimp filler.

  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp honey or sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced


  1. Cook filler and set aside.
  2. Prep vegetables, washing and finely chopping and set aside.
  3. Make one or both dipping sauces, whisking together all ingredients until desired consistency is reached. Set aside.
  4. Soak rice paper wrap in a shallow dish with hot water, until softened (~10 seconds). Transfer wrap onto a damp tea towel.
  5. Place vegetables about 1/2 inch away from the edge of the wrap and top will filler. Carefully roll the wrap, finishing by folding in the left and right edges. This is the hardest part as the wraps easily rip.
  6. Serve with sauce and enjoy!!

These vegetables rolls are best consumed the day they are made. 

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!!

Anna x


Is carbohydrate (glycogen) loading ACTUALLY effective?

For all the runners out there!!!

Quick Review:

Carbohydrates (CHO) act as the body’s primary source of energy during exercise. Energy derived from CHO’s comes from glucose and the breakdown of liver and muscle glycogen, providing fuel for the central nervous system (CNS) and working muscles.

The Importance of CHO’s for Endurance Athletes:

Optimal nutrition is essential for athletes to achieve their full potential. Athletic performance is limited by CHO availability, thus the quantity, variety, and timing of foods consumed has a large impact on an athlete’s performance. Adequate CHO intake is important for endurance athletes for numerous reasons such as it maintains high levels of CHO oxidation, enhances the CNS, prevents hypoglycemia, and maximizes skeletal muscle glycogen stores, which can later be used for fuel during exercise.

The diet of a physically active individual should consist of mainly CHO’s, equating to about 55-60% of their total caloric intake. Most sources of CHO’s consumed should come from unprocessed, fibre-rich, whole grains and fruits and vegetables.

During long durations of exercise, glycogen stores are almost entirely depleted. High-intensity, aerobic exercise for 1-hour in duration decreases liver glycogen by ≃ 55%, while a 2-hour strenuous workout nearly completely depletes the glycogen content of the liver and exercised muscles. Adequate levels of CHO’s must be consumed to replenish liver and muscle glycogen stores before and after training sessions. A low- CHO diet compromises both glycogen reserves and athletic performance. Inadequate CHO intake will leave endurance athletes feeling tired and fatigued, thus it is vital that individuals consume sufficient amounts of CHO-rich foods, at every meal when training. Additionally, consuming adequate amounts of CHO’s will spare proteins, and preserve tissue protein by minimizing protein breakdown for energy, resulting in gain of muscle mass.

What is CHO (glycogen) loading?

CHO loading is a strategy used by endurance athletes that enables individuals to maximize glycogen stores in both the muscles and liver. After CHO’s are consumed, they are broken down into glucose. Excess glucose is converted to glycogen and stored in the skeletal muscles or liver for later usage, or to assist as fuel during exercise. Glycogen can later be turned back into glucose when needed for energy.

CHO loading works to maximize one’s glycogen stores. Skeletal muscles provide the body with the majority of glycogen storage, equating to about 500 grams, while the liver provides about 100 grams of glycogen storage. CHO loading is done by reducing CHO intake and eating meals high in fat and protein, while simultaneously heavily exercising to exhaust glycogen stores. This is followed by reducing exercise duration and intensity and reversing to a high CHO diet prior to the days leading up to a long run or race. This process maximizes glycogen stores, enabling muscle glycogen stores to increase to 2-4 times their typical level. Typically, each 100 grams (g) of muscle contains 1.7 g of glycogen, CHO loading increases these stores to approximately 5g of glycogen per 100g of skeletal muscle.

CHO loading is often only recommended for athletes participating in endurance events of 1 hour long or more in duration. There is minimal benefit of CHO loading in low-moderate intensity or short-term exercise as these events do not require heavy demands on the body’s glycogen supply. Some activities beneficial for CHO loading include: half marathons and marathons, triathlons, distance swimming, cross-country skiing, soccer, cycling time trails, and distance canoeing.  While some activities not suitable for CHO loading include: basketball, < 10 km runs, most swimming events, walking and hiking, weight-lifting, and most track and field events.

There are three main types of CHO loading:

  1. Classic Carb Loading
  2. Modified Carb Loading
  3. Rapid Carb Loading
    1. Classic Carb Loading
  • Reduce muscle glycogen content with prolonged exercise about 6 days prior to competition
  • Maintain a low-CHO diet (about 60-100 g/day) for 3 days to further deplete glycogen stores – glycogen depletion enhances formation of glycogen-storing enzymes in the muscle fiber
  • 3 days prior to long run or race, transition to a high-CHO diet (400-700g/day) and maintain up until pre-competition meal
Two- Stage Dietary Plan to Increase Muscle Glycogen Storage
Stage 1 – Depletion Day 1: Perform demanding exercise to deplete muscle glycogen stores

Day 2, 3, &4: Low-CHO intake (high % fat and pro intake in diet)

Stage 2 – CHO Loading Day 5, 6, &7: High-CHO intake (regular % of pro intake in diet)
Competition Day Abide by a high-CHO pre-competition meal
  1. Modified Carb Loading
  • 6-day procedure that does not require prior exercise to exhaustion
  • Exercise at ~75% of VO2 max (the maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during exercise) for 1.5 hours, 6 days prior to long run or race
  • On consecutive days, gradually taper or reduce exercise duration
  • Continue to gradually reduce exercise duration, while increasing CHO intake for the 3 days leading up the the long run or competition (similar to the classic CHO loading method)
  • This method reduces some of the negative effects associated with the classic CHO loading procedure

Days 1-3: CHO supply about 50% of total calories.

Days 4-6: CHO increases to 70% of total energy intake.

  1. Rapid Carb Loading – 1-day procedure
  • Engage in 3 minutes of intense exercise
  • 24 hours prior to competition, ingest foods containing a high glycemic index (10g/kg body weight)
  • This method results in ~ an 80% increase in glycogen storage (similar to other 2 day and 6 day regimes)

Negative Aspects of CHO loading:

  • Only beneficial for prolonged, intense aerobic activities lasting more than 60 minutes in duration
  • Potential negative implications: muscle tightness and swelling, loss of flexibility, weight gain before competition (due to the addition of 2.7g of water with each gram of glycogen stores)
  • Potential to negatively affect individuals with muscle enzyme deficiencies

Goals of Post-Exercise Nutrition

  1. Replenish electrolytes and fluid lost in sweat
  2. Restore glycogen stores
  3. Consume protein (amino acids) to aid in muscle repair and synthesis

So… is CHO loading actually effective?


CHO loading is a very effective method for endurance athletes! CHO loading prevents athletes from “hitting a wall” which often leads athletes to feel a sudden loss of energy or fatigue while participating in endurance events. CHO loading works effectively to maximize skeletal muscle glycogen stores, which are used to constantly replenish glucose circulating in the blood and as a main source of fuel during exercise.  To ensure optimal performance, ingesting CHO’s one to four hours prior to and post endurance exercise is critical as glycogen- synthesizing enzymes are most active during this time, thereby increasing CHO availability during exercise. CHO loading is a well researched, common, and simple method used by endurance athletes that greatly enhances performance.

What is better than another excuse to eat more carbs?!?

Happy CHO Loading!!

Anna x


With help from my favourite Professor at the University of Adelaide, Dr. Nichola Thompson.


[1] Burke, L., Hawley, J., Wong, S. and Jeukendrup, A. (2011). Carbohydrates for training and competition. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(sup1), pp.S17-S27.

[2] Burke, L., Thomas, T. and Erdman, K. (2016). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(3), pp.501-528.

[3] Donaldson, C., Perry, T. and Rose, M. (2010). Glycemic Index and Endurance Performance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 20(2), pp.154-165.

[4] Getzin, A., Milner C., and Harkins M. (2017). Fueling the Triathlete: Evidence- Based Practical Advice for Athletes of All Levels. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 16(4):240–246.

[5] Jensen, J., Rustad, P., Kolnes, A. and Lai, Y. (2011). The Role of Skeletal Muscle Glycogen Breakdown for Regulation of Insulin Sensitivity by Exercise. Frontiers in Physiology, 2.


[6] Ranchordas, M., Dawson, J. and Russell, M. (2017). Practical nutritional recovery strategies for elite soccer players when limited time separates repeated matches. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14(1).


[7] Thompson, N. (2018). Carbohydrate Metabolism. 


Healthy Granola Squares

This recipe is simple, quick & healthy, and makes for a perfect afternoon pick me up or snack mid hike!



  • 2 cups toasted, rolled oats
  • ½ cup of finely chopped dates
  • ¼ cup of shredded, unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp whole flax seeds
  • ¼ cup agave syrup
  • ¾ cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • ¼ melted dark chocolate chips for drizzle


  1. Toast oats in the oven at 375° F for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
  2. Finely chop dates.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Warm peanut butter and agave nectar in a small pan over low heat. Stir dry ingredients into this mixture. Ensure this mixture is thoroughly combined.
  5. Line a glass baking dish (I used an 8×8- inch dish) with parchment paper and transfer the mixture into the dish.
  6. Firmly press down the mixture with the back of a wooden spoon, until it is evenly spread out. Make sure this mixture is uniformly flattened, and firmly pressed otherwise the squares will easily crumble.
  7. Cover the dish and let granola firm up in the freezer for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Remove granola from dish, and cut into roughly 16 squares. Top the bars with cocoa powder, or drizzle with melted dark chocolate.
  9. Store the squares in a container for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.




Anna x


Why Apple Cider Vinegar MAY be of benefit to your health…

For starters… What is apple cider vinegar and why does it taste so bad?

Apple cider vinegar is the by-product of fermented apples. To make apple cider vinegar, apples are crushed and the juice is extracted. In the first part of the fermentation process, yeast is added to the extracted apple juice – this converts the natural sugars contained within the apple juice to alcohol. The second fermentation process converts the alcohol into acetic acid, by means of the addition of acetic acid bacteria (AAB).  This mixture then ferments for as long as 3 months, resulting in apple cider vinegar. During the fermentation process, a non-toxic goo, known as “the mother” made up of acetic acid bacteria and yeast forms in the mixture.

While some companies that make apple cider vinegar choose to pasteurize it by straining out “the mother”, this goo from the fermentation process is what gives apple cider vinegar all of its potential health benefits. As a result of the fermentation processes, apple cider vinegar is very low in sugar, but very acidic, giving it a very pungent smell and sour taste.

Why apple cider vinegar may be of benefit to your health:

Way back in the day, the Ancient Greeks often used apple cider vinegar to treat wounds.  Today it is consumed for its many potential health benefits.

For those who are habitual consumers of apple cider vinegar, apple cider vinegar:

  • May enhance gut health – as it is rich in  enzymes and various strains of probiotics enabling it to kill harmful gut bacteria
  • May help to boost immune function, increasing the bodies ability to fight various infections and pathogens
  • May help reduce risk of acquiring Diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels
  • May help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, thus increase heart health
  • May reduce risk of acquiring certain types of cancers by both slowing cancer cell growth and shrinking tumours
  • May enhance weight loss, by slowing digestion and reducing visceral fat
  • May help to clear acne when used as a natural toner – the antibacterial properties found in apple cider vinegar might help to reduce red spots, balance the pH of your skin, and help to exfoliate and soften the skin
  • May help to boost energy
How should you consume apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar can be used in baking and cooking, and is frequently used in salad dressings, or for the brave by adding 1-2 tablespoons into a glass of water or tea.  It is not recommended that you drink apple cider vinegar plain as the acidity it contains has potential to cause eroding of the enamel of your teeth.  If you choose to add apple cider vinegar directly into a beverage and find it to be too acidic tasting, add a teaspoon of honey.

In short ….

Although not all the potential health claims for apple cider vinegar are backed up by scientific-based evidence or high-quality clinical trials, it is definitely worth a shot to try it out for its vast potential medicinal health benefits. Particularly for those with IBD diseases, apple cider vinegar is a rich source of probiotics that is a simple and cost effective treatment that may be of great benefit to your gut health!

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Anna x




Sakr, H. (2016). Protective effect of Apple Cider Vinegar on Stress Induced Gastric Ulcer. Journal Of Medical Science And Clinical Research. doi: 10.18535/jmscr/v4i1.28

Saqib, A. (2017). Antimicrobial Activity of Apple Cider Vinegar. Mapana – Journal Of Sciences, 16(2), 11-15. doi: 10.12723/mjs.41.2








Peppermint Black Bean Brownies

These peppermint black bean brownies are a delicious healthy “ish” treat if you’re craving something sweet! This recipe is an easy way to sneak in a couple extra servings of legumes and is p-a-c-k-e-d with fibre.  I promise you won’t be able to taste the black beans – I have tricked multiple people into thinking these are regular brownies… Let the Christmas baking begin!!



  • 1½ cups of black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • ½ cup of rolled oats
  • 1 mashed banana
  • ½ cup of maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup of cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • ¾ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I did half semi-sweet and half 70% cocoa)
  • 2 crushed candy canes


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except for chocolate chips into a food processor or blender, and blend until a smooth consistency is reached.
  3. Pour batter into a large bowl, add chocolate chips, and stir.
  4. Pour batter into a 8×8-inch greased pan, and evenly spread.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Once cool, top brownies with crushed candy canes and additional chocolate chips if you desire (just for good measure 😉 ).

Enjoy the rest of your day, happy baking!!

Anna x