Celebrating #WhatItTakes

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I’ve never considered myself an “athlete”. Growing up I certainly was anything but athletic, and even now as a fitness professional I find it hard to accept that as a fitting title.

Perhaps I’m harder on myself than I should be, or perhaps I reserve the word athlete for those who I perceive as more dedicated than I am. I am equally as fond of sitting on the couch and eating pizza as I am spending the day dripping in sweat at a fitness conference. Certainly even the most dedicated athletes spend their fair share of time on the couch (and hopefully eating pizza, it makes me sad to think of anyone not being able to enjoy some form of pizza!), but still I find myself shrugging it off anytime someone tries to label me as one.

In my mind, athletes are those who work day in and day out, those who truly dedicate themselves to their sport, people like Ellie Black.

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Having had the absolute pleasure to meet her and get to interview her last summer at her home gym in Halifax after her impressive showing at the Pan Am games, I’ve been very much looking forward to seeing her perform in Rio, and while she may not have made it to the podium she still has made us extremely proud!

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To see her finish 5th in all-around (which is a best ever for Canada. The previous best was 13th in 1984 achieved by Bonnie Wittmeier) was amazing and the amount of athleticism it takes to do what she does is amazing. It’s interesting how my very short encounter with Ellie has resonated so much with not just me, but my clients, friends, and family. Everyone has been eager to talk to me about when she is competing, and how she did. It’s those threads (however thin they may be) that connect us all to the individual athletes that make it so much more fun to cheer for your country.

When you can’t catch all the events you’d like to, watching the highlights to get caught up is great, but Sport Chek has really found a way to help us connect with the emotion involved in competing at that level. Earlier this week they released their second Olympic Manifesto video which highlights the moments of Canadian athletes throughout the games so far, and each time I watch it I can feel myself tear up.

And that last clip of Penny, I think it captures it all.

It’s not just about the successes, it’s about the heartbreaks, the struggles, the wins, the happy, the sad, the disbelieve, the crushed. Because it takes ALL of those moments to have #WhatItTakes to perform at the level of our athletes. The emotion is raw, it’s real, and it’s what drives them to continue looking forward to next time.

As I sit here typing, the Canadian Women’s Soccer team has advanced to the semi-finals, and it’s pretty awesome that all of our medals thus far have been won by women.. Knowing that I live in a country where so many fabulous women (and men!) have #WhatItTakes is inspiring and really encourages me to embrace the label of athlete.  No, I will never be part of Team Canada, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to strive to be the best that I can be, and that is what I find most inspiring about the games. Their ability to re-ignite a desire in us to get back to sports we may have forgotten over the years, to excite our youth to get involved in sport and to dream of being the best of the best.

So as the games continue, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the good with the bad, and stand proud of all of our athletes who have worked so hard to get where they are, even those who didn’t make Team Canada this time around. Because they are all still training, still working hard and showing us all #WhatItTakes to be the best.

Question: 

What has been your favourite moment of the game so far (Canadian or not)?

A little bonus for you…

While working on this piece I was looking back through my files and found some footage of Ellie practising that I haven’t previously shared. Pieced together it’s pretty short, but I thought it was still fun to add in for a little behind the scenes of #WhatItTakes to be #5 in the world! You can see her in the screenshot below standing in the back of the gym in front of the red mat that is along the wall. She’s wearing black shorts an a blue sports bra, and starts flipping the second you hit play. 😉

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Sport Chek, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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#RethinkReuse with Value Village

Today is a big day in New Minas, after many months of waiting, Value Village is officially open in the old Zellers location at County Fair Mall!

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If you aren’t local, you probably don’t understand why this is a big deal, but since the closing of Zellers, this space has set empty at the mall, and our mall in general is really quite a sad sight. So to have a new store come in – and one as large as Value Village is fabulous, and by the looks of the parking lot (which hasn’t seen this much action in YEARS) everyone seems to think it’s pretty great too!

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Tuesday evening I was invited to their Sneak Peek event to check out the new store, see all that they have to offer and to see just how far I could make $50 stretch when I went on a mission to #FindTheFind.

I had to teach Zumba until 7:30pm, so I came home and quickly cleaned up and headed to New Minas, arriving right around 8pm. Right inside the door I was greeted by Azure who hooked me up with a Value Village Super Savers Club Card which gives you invites to special events, member only coupons, a special offer on your birthday, contests and more (and it’s free!). She also explained how their Community Donation Centre works. As someone who often uses the Diabetes Donation Bins that they have around I was particularly interested in learning more about the Donation Centre. If you have smaller bags to donate you can bring them right in the store and drop off in the bin, or you can go through their drive thru where  they will unload your donations for you. They welcome clothing, small appliances, shoes & accessories, bed and bath items, media (books, CD’s DVDs, etc.), Furniture (check with your local store before loading up your old furniture though to make sure they can take them!), and housewares.

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Something I didn’t know is that they offer a Donor Appreciation Card and for each large, full box of shopping bag (24x12x12) you donate they will punch your Donor Appreciation Card which will allow you to accumulate up to a 30% discount in store. One bag/box offers you a 5% discount and with each subsequent donation your discount increases by 5% up to 30% max. The discount card can only be used once though, so most people will save it until they’ve donated enough to redeem it for the full 30% savings.

When you do drop off donations, Value Village pays the Canadian Diabetes Association, which helps fund their programs and services right in our community, and that is a pretty fabulous thing!

Inside the store is set up in a really organized fashion. The clothes are all hung up, sorted by gender, type and size making it easy to look through all that is available. Other departments are divided into sections as well making it an enjoyable shopping experience. I know some people have voiced a concern that Value Village will hurt the Frenchies stores (which is a local chain of used clothing stores), but I really don’t think it will. Some people like the fun of digging through bins of clothing at Frenchies, I personally haven’t been there in years because I don’t have the time to spend sorting through bins. I much prefer having everything hung up and easy to look through, so I think Value Village will appeal to people like me, who like to thrift shop but like to do so in a more organized fashion. 😉

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But enough talk, let’s move along to my shopping trip shall we? I wasn’t really in “need” of anything so I went with the intention of seeing what fun things I could find, with the plan to focus my attention on kitchen/bakeware gadgets, because Suzi loves her kitchen gadgets. 😉

First up I found a pair of silicone muffin pans and a grab bag with two heart shaped silicone candy moulds (look out Valentine’s day!), a melon baller (I’ve always wanted one!) and a strawberry huller. I have a watermelon in the fridge right this minute and I can’t wait to crack open and use my melon baller on, it’s the little things…

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In that same aisle I also found a lovely silicone bundt cake pan that I snatched up and something else I’ve been wanting for quite a while – a cheese board! These make great accessories when you are doing food photography, but they cane be pretty expensive. This one is nice and heavy and only $3.99. What you can’t see in the picture below is that the flip side has a slate inlay for more heavy duty cutting. Pretty swanky!
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As for the Bundt Cake itself, I had to make that 😉 but look how great it turned out! I was concerned at how easy it would be to turn the cake out but it came out like a dream, and the bonus of silicone is I could more or less “peel” the pan off the cake which is something you certainly can’t do with a traditional pan. The design on top came out wonderfully and everything. And that cheese board, I swoon. Get ready to see lots of pictures of it in my Instagram feed!

Once out of the kitchen and housewares section I found myself in media. You guys. So. Many. Books. And they have a buy 4 books, get 1 free deal which I didn’t take advantage of that day, but definitely will be using in the future. The cost of the books is based on their original cover price, with the most expensive being $4.99. I picked up The Rosie Project which is in perfect condition, and while browsing the books I stumbled across the DVD section where I found Season 2 of Get Smart (still in the packaging) for $3.99. Well that was a no brainer. #NerdForLife 😉

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Next I hit up the shoe and accessory section.  I was on the hunt for a new change purse (I keep losing mine! What is the deal with that!?), and found this cute little Coach wristlet that makes a perfect change purse and a Coach wallet – which I didn’t need, but for $1.99 I figured I’d give it a home.

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Finally, I took a swing trough the clothing section. Because I came right from Zumba I didn’t feel like trying clothes on (I put clean clothes on before I left, but I hadn’t actually showered so…), so picked up a couple items I knew would fit. First was this cute bird shirt (which my husband rolled his eyes at because apparently 2 or 3 people at work have the same one),

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and this basic grey t-shirt which is so soft and extra long – perfect for my long ole torso.

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This fall, Value Village is challenging people to show that they Give A Sh!rt about their clothing footprint by making their next new t-shirt a thrifted one, and donating items they no longer need rather than throwing them in the garbage. Did you know only about 15% of clothing and textiles actually get reused or recycled, but nearly 100% are recyclable?

Each year, people consume over 80 billion pieces of clothing, causing the clothing industry to become one of the world’s biggest polluters. But a few small decisions about what you wear can make a huge difference for the planet. By making the choice to shop thrift, people can save up to 700 gallons of water that would go into creating just one new cotton t-shirt and 1,800 gallons of water that would go into making a pair of jeans. And donating your clothes to Value Village’s nonprofit partners, instead of ditching them, can help keep hundreds of millions of pounds of reusable clothing from piling up in our landfills every year.

So I encourage you to #RethinkReuse and tell the world that yes, #IGiveAShirt by thrifting some of your new fall clothing for yourself and your family instead of always going retail.

In celebration of National Thrift Shop Day on August 17, Value Village stores across Canada will host a one-day sale where thrift shoppers can save 50 percent on all clothing, shoes, accessories and bed & bath items.

I think it’s safe to say that Value Village is definitely on my list of valley shopping destinations, in fact I was already back there this afternoon (which is when I took the pictures of the parking lot you saw above) to see what other goodies I could scrounge up on my way home! The answer is a copy of The Tales Of Beedle The Bard in perfect condition for $2.99. I told you I was a nerd. 😉

So I hope you’ll check out Value Village the next time you are in New Minas, you never know what awesome finds you might uncover!!

Disclosure: I was provided with a $50 Gift Certificate for attending the Sneak Peek event. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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My #ColgateDailyRepair Confession + Giveaway

This is a sponsored post for Colgate-Palmolive Canada for Colgate Total* Advanced Health* Daily Repair Toothpaste. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

#ad Do you take great care of your skin, hair and nails but neglect your mouth health? Learn how Colgate Total Advanced Health Daily Repair Toothpaste can help us be proactive about our oral health, and start to repair early tooth and gum damage before we even know they exist. # ColgateDailyRepair

When I was a kid my baby teeth were stubborn little things that didn’t want to fall out on their own, and I ended up having quite a few of them pulled out by the dentist, which was not super fun. Even now, the thought of being told I have a cavity and need a filling fills me with fear. I almost feel like I am going to jinx myself by saying this, but as I sit here typing I don’t have any fillings in my teeth, and frankly – I want to keep it that way.

So when Colgate challenged me to confess what I could be doing better to improve my health, more specifically my mouth health, I wasn’t sure what to confess. I do enjoy sweets on occasion, but I don’t eat sugary foods very often, I rarely drink pop or juice, and I don’t drink wine (which I know can be a bit of a tooth stainer).

#ad Do you take great care of your skin, hair and nails but neglect your mouth health? Learn how Colgate Total Advanced Health Daily Repair Toothpaste can help us be proactive about our oral health, and start to repair early tooth and gum damage before we even know they exist. # ColgateDailyRepair
But do you know what I don’t do as often as I should? Change my toothbrush. I go to the dentist twice/year for cleanings, but I probably go 8 months (or more) between toothbrush changes. And even then, it’s usually because my husband has mentioned he needs a new toothbrush that makes me think, “Yeah, I need to do that too…”

I know it’s important to switch out your toothbrush every few months, but it’s something that I simply don’t think about, but it feels so good when you do! Colgate recently sent me the toothbrush you see in the above picture, and I was pretty excited to swap it for my old one. That’s the weird thing, I’m always excited about getting a new toothbrush, so you’d think I’d remember to do it more often.

The toothbrush is just half the story though, and as with everything I’m a bit odd when it comes to my toothpaste.I was a little hesitant about making the switch to the new Colgate Total* Advanced Health* Daily Repair Toothpaste, as I have had some allergic reactions to toothpastes over the years, but I am very happy to report that I’ve been using it for a few weeks now with no issues. What’s more, my mouth feels minty fresh after I brush, and my tooth sensitivity has remained in check.

#ad Do you take great care of your skin, hair and nails but neglect your mouth health? Learn how Colgate Total Advanced Health Daily Repair Toothpaste can help us be proactive about our oral health, and start to repair early tooth and gum damage before we even know they exist. # ColgateDailyRepair

Colgate Total* Advanced Health* Daily Repair lets us be proactive about our oral health. It contains a multi-active formula that helps repair early teeth and gum damage* before you even know it exists! Not only does it remineralize weakened enamel to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities, but it also fights bacteria that may cause gingivitis to promote healthy gums and protect against plaque. It whitens teeth, helps prevent tartar with brushing and freshens breath all while helping to reduce sensitivity with continued use.

As for my confession, I’ve decided to put a reminder in my phone to change my toothbrush every 3 months so I don’t even have to think about it. Easy peasy.

GIVEAWAY

Since I shared my confession I’d love to hear yours! And to sweeten the pot, Colgate is offering one of my readers a $250 Gift Card to Fairmont Hotels! To enter, follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter Widget Below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Contest is open to legal residents of Canada, excluding Quebec, who have reached the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence as of the date of entry. Click here to read the full Terms and Conditions.

For more information on Colgate Total* Advanced Health* Daily Repair, please visit ColgateTotal.ca.

Good luck and I can’t wait to hear about all your confessions!

Disclosure: I was provided with the product mentioned above in order to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

* TM Reg’d / M.D.

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Enjoy Joint Pain Relief In 5 Days with Genuine Health

Life is funny.

There have been so many times when projects I am working on have come along just at the time I needed them the most and this is one of those items.

I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to manage my joint and muscle pain from fibromyalgia without prescription medication for over 10 years, but I still experience flare-ups during times of stress and with big changes in weather pressure/seasons.

When those times occur I am always looking for something that will help me get back to feeling {fairly} normal quickly, but most supplements need to be in your system for weeks or months before you start to reap their benefits.

Recently things have been quite stressful in my life, losing both of our sweet kitties (one we had for 12 years, the other around 14) in less than two months. As someone who is a self professed “crazy cat lady” and as someone who could be best described as “mostly marshmallow,” I’ve felt these losses deeply. The grief and stress of the past 7 weeks has finally got the better of me and I am experiencing a full-fledged stress-induced flare-up.

My my neck hurts, my arms and hands ache, my legs hurt, my feet are sore making them difficult to even walk on in the mornings. It hasn’t helped that because I’ve been stressed and upset I’ve been having difficulty sleeping, which just makes everything – including join pain – worse.

Which is why it’s such perfect timing for me to be trying Genuine Health’s all-natural, powerful pain relief line to help me get back to feeling normal. The line features three fast-acting formulas: FAST arthritis pain relief+, FAST joint care+, and FAST pain relief+.

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The key ingredient in all 3 formulas is BiovaFlex®  natural eggshell membrane – the most potent form of research-proven eggshell membrane that relieves pain, decreases inflammation and helps to nourish and repair damaged joint tissue – with results in only 5 days! There is no other ingredient like it on the market, making it the perfect option for people like me who may not necessarily need a pain relief supplement all year round, but who do need something that works quickly in those times when they are experiencing a flare-up.

Before I tell you what I think of the products I’ve tried so far, I want to tell you a bit more about each of them, their benefits and key ingredients.

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The first of the three products, the FAST joint care+, provides effective relief from joint pain and inflammation naturally. Along with the BiovaFlex®  natural eggshell membrane, this formula provides the fastest, most effective way to improve mobility and rang of motion due to osteoarthritis joint pain and joint stiffness.

Not only does it provide fast, natural pain relief that works in 5 days, but it also helps increase mobility and range of motion with noticeable reduction in inflammatory markers like C Reactive protein. It helps build joint cartilage, while improving long-term joint health – all in one capsule per day.

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FAST arthritis pain relief+ provides you with all the benefits of FAST joint care+ with the addition of two potent anti-inflammatories shown to provide superior support and nourishment to those sugaring from osteoarthritis with only two capsules/day.

This blend includes the BiovaFlex®  natural eggshell membrane, but also includes AvoVida® (from avocados) and Bromelain (from pineapples), making it the fastest, most effective way to reduce arthritis pain, stiffness and inflammation.

In addition to the benefits of the FAST joint care+, FAST arthritis pain relief+ also increase joint space lost from degenerative changes from osteoarthritis with AvoVida®  and is highly anti-inflammatory thanks to Bromelain – a natural enzyme found in pineapples.

“Compared to more traditional approaches to osteoarthritis, those taking a natural egg membrane, like BiovaFlex®, were 5x more likely to experience a 50% reduction in pain versus glucosamine, and 3x more likely to experience a 50% reduction in pain versus a leading Rx drug for joint pain.”

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And finally, FAST pain relief+ is the latest all-natural, clinical strength supplement to help relieve acute pain, such as headaches, back pain, muscles aches and chronic flare-ups.

Made with a unique combination of Biovaflex® natural eggshell membrane, Devil’s Claw (a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient), and White Willow Bark (nature’s Aspirin), FAST pain relief+ gives you the fastest, most targeted and effective way to manage your pain.

FAST pain relief+ is a fast natural pain relief that works in 2 hours, targets acute pain and can prevent flare-ups. It’s non-drowsy with no negative side effects reported. Dosage for FAST pain relief+ is 3 capsules/day.

I started taking the FAST joint care+ only yesterday. I had planned to start late last week, but then I got caught up in saying goodbye to Pekoe and it slipped my mind until yesterday. Because they are suppose to start working within 5 days, I can’t yet tell you how effective I’ve found them to be, but will certainly update you once I’ve been taking them for a bit longer. What I can tell you is that the non-GMO, gluten-free, vegetarian capsules haven’t upset my stomach like many of these types of capsules have done in the past. Nor do they leave an unpleasant after taste in your mouth.

Just this morning I tried the FAST pain relief+ for the first time after a really difficult night, and honestly find that since taking it my pain has been significantly reduced. I still feel like my body is full of inflammation, but I can move my fingers with very little stiffness or pain, and it doesn’t hurt to walk anymore (which is good as I still have a class to teach this evening!) which is something I wasn’t able to say a few hours ago.

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Prior to this I had never heard of this product line from Genuine Health so I am really excited and thankful to have the chance to work with them and to help tell others about these products and am excited to report back and let you know how I’m feeling after 5 full days of the FAST joint care+!

For anyone wondering where they can pick up any of the FAST line of products, please visit the Genuine Health “where to buy” page here (local friends, there are a lot of local stores on the list so you’ll have no problem finding it locally), and if you are picking it up in-store, make sure you print off this coupon for $5 off .

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Genuine Health, all opinions and personal experiences expressed are entirely my own.

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Summer Picnics Made Delicious With The PC Insider’s Collection

Summer is in full swing, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve already had the opportunity to enjoy a few fun picnic and barbecue adventures this summer. There really is little better than gathering with friends on a warm sunny day to enjoy the weather and eat delicious food!

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My favourite was to enjoy a picnic outside is with lots of little tasting dishes so that you can try lots of new things and spend your time enjoying your company, and not running back and forth to the barbecue or oven to check on food that is still cooking.

Recently we enjoyed the amazing picnic you see above filled with products and recipes from President’s Choice. Some of the items like the PC Black Label White Fox Hard Ripened Cheese, PC Beet Hummus and PC Orange Cream Pie (which tastes like a creamsicle!) require little to no prep cutting down your to-do list before you even get home from the store.

Other recipes like the Pico de Gallo Guacamole and Mango Salsa  combine pre-made products with fresh items to create a whole new dish with very little work.

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But I think my favourite recipe I made for this picnic was the Thai Mango Salad

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or the Sweet and Salty Brittle Bars (recipe found below). The peanut brittle makes these just sooooo crazy delicious.

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Not seen in the picnic photo above is the prettiest dish I made – the Grilled Sausage and Potato Salad which is a really interesting new take on an old favourite.

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I don’t like traditional potato salad, but this vinegar based potato salad that you could serve warm or cold was really tasty!

I’ve linked to the recipes I used above, except for the Sweet and Salty Brittle bars which were created by Kathy Jollimore which I’m sharing below. I followed the recipe as listed except cut back on the honey (because I ran out) and added 2 Tbsp of hemp hearts to the mix.

Sweet and Salty Brittle Bars
Author: 
Serves: 10-12 bars
 
Nutrition meets fun in these Sweet and Salty Brittle Bars, created by Halifax chef Kathy Jollimore for the summer 2016 edition of the President’s Choice® Insiders Collection. A combination of energy packed chewy granola bars and crunchy candy coated PC Sea Salt Peanut Brittle, they are the perfect road trip companion. Get inspired for more summer food adventures at pc.ca/insiders. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8” pan with parchment so it hangs over the edge. Grease with butter or coconut oil. Stir together the oats and nuts. Add to the prepared pan. In a small saucepan, bring the honey and butter to a boil. Boil gently for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in the vanilla. Pour over the nut mixture. Stir lightly to combine and press into the pan. Bake 25 minutes until deep golden brown. Remove from oven. Place brittle evenly over the top and press into the bars with a piece of parchment. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Allow to cool. Cut into 10-12 bars. Best packed individually. Makes 10-12 bars. Chef’s tip: Try adding 2 tbsp. of PC® Organics Black Chia Seeds or PC® Organics Milled Flaxseed to boost the nutrition.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup PC® Dry Roasted Almonds
  • 1 cup PC® Organics Whole Natural Cashews
  • 1 cup PC® Dry Roasted Lightly Seasoned Peanuts
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp. butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 pkg. PC® Sea Salt Peanut Brittle, roughly chopped
  • ½ - 1 tsp. flaked sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line an 8x8” pan with parchment so it hangs over the edge.
  3. Grease with butter or coconut oil.
  4. Stir together the oats and nuts.
  5. Add to the prepared pan.
  6. In a small saucepan, bring the honey and butter to a boil. Boil gently for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and carefully stir in the vanilla.
  8. Pour over the nut mixture.
  9. Stir lightly to combine and press into the pan.
  10. Bake 25 minutes until deep golden brown.
  11. Remove from oven.
  12. Place brittle evenly over the top and press into the bars with a piece of parchment.
  13. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.
  14. Allow to cool. Cut into 10-12 bars. Best packed individually.
  15. Chef’s tip: Try adding 2 tbsp. of PC® Organics Black Chia Seeds or PC® Organics Milled Flaxseed to boost the nutrition.

These are so tasty – and so full of healthy fats and also pack a good protein punch. But watch out – it’s easy to eat multiple servings of these in one sitting without realizing it (not that I’d know…)!

It’s no secret that I love President’s Choice and PC products, so I’m excited to be able to share some with you! One lucky reader is going to win a $50 President’s Choice Gift Card so that you can pick up some goodies from their Summer Insider Collection for your own picnic!

To enter, find this photo on my Instagram feed 

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and follow the instructions to enter – good luck!

Disclosure: I was provided with free product in order to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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