5 Tips for Healthy Eating at the Office

Happy New Year to all! How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Did you commit to getting healthy, getting active, or getting organized? According to Strava, we’ve officially made it past “Quitter’s Day” on Friday, and we’re chugging along towards success! Regardless of your motivations, though, eating healthy is an important goal, especially for those of us that spend most of our week in a sedentary work environment. While I’m not 100% consistent when it comes to healthy eating at the office, I’ve made huge strides in the past year. Here are some of my top tips to help you prioritize nutrition in 2018.

Prepare for Success

The first step to healthy eating at the office is to figure out where your healthy food will come from. Your work cafeteria can be a solid choice if there are healthy and affordable options available. But it’s generally more feasible and consistent to bring your meals from home. If you don’t have them already, stock up on some food storage containers. It helps to have various sizes for mains, sides, desserts, and snacks. If you’re making your food at home, leftovers will be your best friend!

Once you’re prepped at home, if you haven’t already, survey your work space for amenities. If your office has a fridge, you’re off to a good start. Look around for other small appliances, such as microwaves, toasters, or even blenders. Having any of these available will go a long way for your meal prepping plans. And if you don’t have any way to reheat your meals, don’t prep any foods that you don’t enjoy cold!

Expect the Afternoon Snack Attack

This may take some trial and error. Find some healthy snacks that you really enjoy and make sure to have them on hand. This way, you’re nowhere near as tempted when the 3pm donut break rolls around. (I work at Tim Hortons, I would know!) Your snack of choice might be some trail mix, a piece of fruit, or maybe even a healthy protein bar or shake. Keep experimenting until you find what you like. My personal favourite right now is chocolate chip Larabars:

That said, if you have this option, don’t keep your snacks right at your desk.  If you do, you might find yourself reaching into your desk every time you feel hungry — and that feeling might actually be boredom, thirst, or exhaustion. Make sure you keep your snacks a few yards away from your desk. Then you’ll have to get up for a snack, and get a few more steps on that Fitbit of yours!

Stay Hydrated

Speaking of thirst, you may have heard that it’s often hard to tell the difference between hunger and thirst. When you’re in the zone at work, it can be even more difficult to be in tune with your thirst cues. And once you start actually feeling parched, your body has already been thirsty for a while! So when it comes to water, you need to be proactive. Keep a refillable water bottle with you at all times at work. I personally carry a Swell bottle with me throughout the day and fill it at least three times, for a total of 6 cups throughout the day at the office. If water just doesn’t cut it for you, consider bringing in a few slices of lemon or a handful of berries to pop into your water bottle to make your hydration a little more exciting!

It’s Okay to Say No

it can be great to have some office birthday cake every week or two. But in my office, it feels like there’s a birthday almost daily — not to mention chocolate left over from Christmas, and any other goodies that might appear in the lunchroom. Remember to evaluate the treats that you’re being offered. Do you really enjoy that type of food? Does it match your goals for the year? Feel free to say no. Be gracious with your refusal, of course. I would even recommend leveraging the Tone It Up-approved phrase, “I’m not in the mood for that”. More on that below from the TIU trainers, if you’re curious:

Also remember that there are shades of grey when it comes to treats. Consider taking a smaller portion, splitting with a colleague, or making your own healthy snacks to share. I brought in these healthy chocolate berry muffins and my coworkers were obsessed!

Be Realistic

This tip manifests itself in a lot of ways when it comes to healthy eating at the office.

For starters, think about your office and what situations tend to crop up that sabotage your plans to eat healthy at work. Do you often stay late and miss your dinner at home? Try meal prepping dinner and bringing it to work as a backup plan. (I mentioned this tip in my post about surviving long hours at the office a few months ago!) Do you have a co-worker that is always stealing half of your snack? Bring double. (Or tell them off — your call!) If you find that you’re always craving chocolate in the afternoon, don’t try to quell that with a salty snack. Bring along some sweet snacks, like a piece of fruit or even some dark chocolate that will cure those cravings in no time.

If your team goes out for lunch every Friday, plan around it. Bringing a packed lunch with the intention of skipping out on your team event will only make you feel guilty. Bring healthy snacks for the rest of the day. If you know which restaurant you’re going to ahead of time, consider checking out the menu online and picking out a healthier choice beforehand. I find I can make better choices without the sensory overload of sitting in a loud, delicious-smelling restaurant.

Furthermore, find healthy foods that excite you. If your office has a salad bar but you don’t like any of the ingredients, don’t force yourself to eat a plate of lettuce. Bring something from home or seek out restaurants that have the types of foods you actually enjoy. Personally, I’ve found that I really love corn, cooked carrots, sunflower seeds, and sun-dried tomatoes, so adding those ingredients makes my healthy food a lot more fun.

How do you prioritize healthy eating at the office?

Tim Hortons Tips from an Insider

Happy #Canada150! For those of you not in the know, today is widely celebrated as Canada’s 150th anniversary. Today we celebrate all things Canadian: hockey, poutine, apologizing, and, of course, Tim Hortons. This coffee and donut chain is basically the hallmark of our Canadian identity. You might already know that I work at Tim Hortons Corporate, so it’s no surprise that I’m a Tims superfan. But even before I started at the company two years ago, I was already living that Timmies life. So today, in honour of Canada, I want to share with you some Tim Hortons tips to help you have the best experience next time you pick up your double double. Continue reading

Tone It Up Bikini Series Non-Scale Victories

This is it: the last day of the Tone It Up Bikini Series!

For those of you who haven’t been following my TIU journey, the Bikini Series is an 8-week nutrition and fitness challenge leading up to summer. Daily workouts are a combination of cardio and light strength training. There are free and paid exercise videos, plus self-led session suggestions. Nutrition is guided by the mantra, “Lean, Clean ‘n Green”. Following the final week, there’s a more intense challenge called the 7 Day Slim Down. And you share the whole thing on Instagram to join in on the beachy fun with thousands of other #TIUgirls. Yes, it’s a bit ridiculous. But with all of the hardcore alternatives out there for women looking to get in shape, this is my favourite option. Continue reading

Tone It Up Bikini Series

Hello, dear readers! I’ve been AWOL again for a while, but between work and the Tone It Up Bikini Series beginning last week, I simply haven’t had the energy for my poor little blog. I have mentioned Tone It Up on this page before (check that out here). But you might be wondering, “What the heck is the Bikini Series?” Friends, six months ago, I would have been asking the exact same question.

Here it is in a nutshell. The Tone It Up Bikini Series is an eight week fitness challenge with an optional nutrition component, leading up to the first day of summer. Every day you have an assigned daily workout, some or all of which you complete first thing in the morning for your “Bootycall”. (Cheesy, I know — but hey, I didn’t come up with the lingo.) Then, if you’re a nutrition plan member, you also follow along with the meal plan. That means planning out and prepping “Lean Clean’N Green” meals every Sunday for eight weeks straight. And also trying not to eat Timbits. Which is basically impossibleContinue reading

Eating Out FOMO

Imagine this: you’re at one of your go-to restaurants. You take a look at the menu and skim past your usual favourites because tonight, you want to try something new. You order something you’ve never tried before. And as you’re waiting for your food to arrive, someone at the table next to you receives something that looks (and smells) fantastic. Immediately, you’re thinking that you wish you’d ordered what they did. Finally, when your meal arrives, you take a bite – and it’s simply not as delicious as what you imagine your neighbour’s meal tastes like. Now you’re regretting your dining decision entirely. This phenomenon is what I like to call Eating Out FOMOContinue reading

My Tone It Up Meal Prep Process

Hey friends! If you’ve been following along on Flinntrospection recently, you’ll know that I joined the Tone It Up 2017 Challenge two weeks ago. It’s a six week healthy living challenge with both a fitness and a nutrition component. (Oops, I joined two weeks late!) I’d been following along with the Tone It Up workouts for a few weeks beforehand. So in spite of a crazy work schedule, I’ve been keeping up with the fitness portion. The nutrition, on the other hand, has been a struggle. There is a ton of planning, effort, and time that has to go into preparing healthy meals for the week. But this week, for my third round of Sunday Tone It Up Meal Prep, I’ve settled into a routine. If you’re on the TIU Nutrition Plan — or even if you’re not — this method might work for you!

Note: I do Steps 1-4 on Saturdays, and 5-6 on Sundays!

Step 1: Choose Your Meals

The 2017 Challenge edition of the Nutrition Plan includes a full six-week meal plan breakdown. But you’re fully welcome, and often encouraged, to choose your own meals. Plus, once the challenge is over, you’re on your own with choosing meals for the week. For Week Five of the challenge, I’m loosely following the schedule, but making lots of substitutions.

The TIU Nutrition Plan has some helpful printables for filling out your weekly meal schedule:

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Meal Plan Template

Obviously, you can make this for yourself too. Just type one up in Word, or literally draw it on a blank sheet of paper. (Or you can grab one of these — not an affiliate link, just a cool find.)

Once you have your template, write in all the meals and snacks you’re planning to eat for the week. I’m following the Nutrition Plan’s lead in making each weekday M3 (lunch) the leftovers from the previous night’s M5 (dinner). More complex recipes will show up on weekends, when I have time for them. I’m also loving make-ahead meals for weekday breakfasts, like Overnight Oats.

Step 2: Make Your Ingredient List

This step takes a bit of cross-referencing with your fridge or pantry. I pick a meal, look at the list of ingredients in the Nutrition Plan (if necessary), and write down whatever I don’t have in my kitchen. It’s also important to include quantities for the week, so you can aggregate them later on in the process. If you’re making enough for leftovers, make sure you’re duplicating quantities in single-serving recipes! After each meal’s ingredients have been accounted for, check it off everywhere it appears on your meal plan template. Keep going until you’ve listed ingredients for all of your meals, even if the ingredients overlap. It will look something like this:

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Ingredient List

Step 3: Make Your Grocery List

Now you walk through your Ingredient List and consolidate it into a grocery list, sorted by product category. Cross them off on the ingredients list as you go, and don’t forget to add your quantities. I have one of those “All Out Of” grocery checklists, so that helps the process!

 Tone It Up Meal Prep — Grocery List

Why did I separate these two steps? Because it’s hard to look at a huge list of meals and flip back and forth between recipes to put together a list of, say, all the veggies you need for the week. I find it much easier to work by recipe. And once the ingredients are all on one page, consolidation is a breeze.

If you’re thinking of using the pre-made Challenge grocery list, a word of warning: it lies. (Okay, maybe not on purpose.) I followed it to the letter in my first week on the Nutrition Plan. I ended up missing some ingredients I needed, and having lots of things that weren’t even on the meal plan docket. For the sake of the environment and your wallet, I’d recommend making your own list!

Step 4: Write Your Meal Prep Checklist

The 2017 Challenge booklet also comes with a simple checklist for your meal prep adventures. It’s pretty reliable, but because of my volatile work schedule, I have to prep beyond the suggested list. Feel free to prepare whatever works for you. Pre-chop your veggies, make your frozen smoothie packs, cook your Monday night dinner, prepare your proteins, whatever! Make a list of all the tasks you’re going to tackle on Sunday.

Step 5: Grocery Shop

In the TIU world, Sunday has two purposes: Sunday Runday, and Tone It Up Meal Prep.

With your list in hand, head out to the grocery store and shop till you drop! But don’t drop. You have work to do.

Step 6: The Real Deal — Tone It Up Meal Prep

Organize your groceries, pull out your checklist, and start knocking those things off one by one. Try to prioritize oven tasks, especially with long cook times, so you can maximize your efficiency. This is where I find it was the most helpful to have my Nutrition Plan printed out for easy reference, especially for new dishes. I have tried fifteen new recipes in the past two weeks, which is absolutely insane for me! It also helps to clean up as you go. Prepare for high volumes of dishes, food waste/compost, and Tupperware filling up your entire fridge! (And don’t forget to share #tiuteam photos of the process and the delish food on Instagram!)

That’s how I do my Tone It Up Meal Prep! How do you prepare your meals for the week ahead?

Zucchini Recipes for the Home Garden Harvest

The weather has been sunny and sweltering for weeks now in Southern Ontario, but thanks to our (ahem, Joe’s…) diligent gardening, the zucchini plant in the backyard has been going crazy! Just like last year, we’re starting to get a little creative with how we use up our zucchinis while they’re ripe.

And what better place to seek out culinary inspiration than the blogosphere?

Today I’m sharing some of my favourite zucchini recipes from fellow bloggers that are going to help us make the most of our home garden harvest. Hope you enjoy some of these recipes as well — click the images to find them!

Lasagna Zucchini Boats

This past Friday night, our fridge contained some leftover ravioli and an abundance of zucchini. Rather than cook everything separately, Joe put his thinking cap on and created this masterpiece:

Zucchini boats! Thanks @isopropylbromide 😉 #zucchini #garden #kitchenadventures

A post shared by Hillary Flinn (@hillaryflinn) on

I’ll let Joe elaborate a bit here:

Joe’s Recipe

Hello, this is Joe and I’ll try to explain what I did.

You’ll need leftover pasta, zucchinis, cheese, oil (I used olive) and seasoning (garlic salt for me).

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F
  2. Hollow out your zucchinis with a spoon or knife. You don’t want to hollow them too much or else they won’t support the filling. Save the zucchini you carve out if it isn’t too seedy.
  3. In a saucepan set to medium heat, put your pasta, the excavated zucchini, and enough oil to coat it lightly. In my case it was about a tablespoon. You may want to add a splash of water as well if your pasta wasn’t very wet. In my case our ravioli had plenty of watery sauce so it was fine.
  4. As the pasta cooks, season it with whatever you have lying about. I recommend including a bit of salt here. Break up the pasta with your mixing implement — it’s not super important, but try to get it to a consistency you like. It may end up looking like mush, but don’t worry! It’ll dry out when we bake it.
  5. Load the hollow zucchinis with your pasta mix. Cover them with as much cheese as you can justify.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove when cheese and pasta are turning a nice golden brown.
  7. Let cool and serve to your girlfriend.

Thanks, Joe!

For a different take on this concept, check out this one from Jaclyn at Cooking Classy:

 Lasagna Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Fritters

I love making these both as a meal and as a snack. They’re cheesy and delicious! I definitely recommend serving with light sour cream. Here’s the recipe from Chungah at Damn Delicious:

 Zucchini Fritters


My love for pasta is legendary, but it’s not always the healthiest obsession. Plus, I’ve always got ripe zucchinis lying around. Why not combine the two? Here’s how to turn zucchini into zoodles, courtesy of Scott at I’d Rather Be a Chef:

 Zucchini Noodles — Zoodles

Note: I use a julienne slicer instead of a spiralizer to make my zoodles, like Elana over at Elana’s Pantry. Either way works, so use what you have!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

So basically, if you combine something healthy, like a certain summer squash, and something unhealthy, like tons of chocolate, it all evens out, right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Thanks to Jamie at My Baking Addiction for the scrumptious recipe!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Um, yes please!

Zucchini Chips

I’m all about kale chips, but unfortunately, my kale isn’t growing as well as my zukes this year. Instead, I found a recipe that essentially swaps out one for the other to create a similar snacking experience. Please note that I haven’t actually made this one yet, but it looks good and I’m excited to try it! Here’s Julie’s recipe on Table for Two:

 Zucchini Chips

Whether you’re growing your own or picking them up at the grocery store, it’s time to break out the zucchini and start cooking!

What are your favourite zucchini recipes?

Super-Helpful Pinterest Infographics (1)

Pinterest is a fantastic tool for finding inspiration, ideas, and information about pretty much anything. Over the past couple of years, I’ve shifted my pinning focus from style and weddings to home and garden to blogging and career. (And yes, I still call it pinning. Apparently they recently made the switch to calling the function “save” because of translation issues, but in my mind, Pinterest is for pinning.)

While it’s fun to browse around for images and find links to articles, it can get a bit tedious to sift through the many tabs I open by opening up every single pin. That’s where super-helpful infographics come in. The beauty of infographics is never having to leave the page to get all the information you need. Plus, they’re usually nicely laid out. Here are some of the ones I’ve found most helpful recently.

Nutrition: Green Smoothies!

There are lots of smoothie infographics out there. This one is my favourite right now because it provides portion sizes, to ensure your green smoothie doesn’t end up tasting too much like straight liquid spinach.

 Pinterest Infographics: Green Smoothie

Career: Excel Tips

My Excel experience in school was very minimal, mostly because we used more science-focused programs instead. Now that I’m in a corporate setting, Excel is everywhere — so these advanced tips come in handy! (For an infographic containing more basic Excel tips, click here.)

 Pinterest Infographic: Excel Tricks

Nutrition: Snacking in Moderation

I’m not a big snacker in general, but when I do take a snack break, I have trouble with portioning! This infographic makes things plain and simple.

 Pinterest Infographics: Snacking

Garden: All About Herbs

So helpful for home gardeners, and for home chefs!

 Pinterest Infographics: Herb Your Enthusiasm

Beverages/Lifestyle: Coffee and its Effects on your Body

This one is more of an FYI, and a way of making myself feel better about my 2 (or more) cups of Tim Hortons coffee a day…

 Pinterest Infographics: Coffee

Getting Crafty: Knitting Stitches

In my opinion, the best way to learn knitting online is via Youtube. However, when you’re looking for a quick reference for a particular, one-step stitch, infographics like this one will do the trick.

 Pinterest Infographics: Knitting Increases & Decreases

Lifestyle: Beating Stress and Boosting Happiness

These infographics are often half research findings and half advice. Either way, they can be a fun and light read.

 Pinterest Infographics: Beat Stress & Boost Happiness

What are your favourite infographics on Pinterest?

P.S. If you enjoyed these infographics, feel free to follow me on Pinterest! 🙂
Hillary Flinn

Happy Easter Monday to all! I hope you had a fabulous long weekend and were able to spend time with friends and family. Joe and I made the rounds yesterday, visiting all sides of our families. And the food… Don’t get me started on all of the food. Actually, do get me started on the food.

Brunch (11 am — 1:30 pm)

Easter Brunch was our first meal of the day. Joe’s grandparents hosted, with an attendance of around 25 people. The potluck included:

  • Ham
  • Breakfast Sausages
  • Omelette
  • Hashbrowns
  • Fruit
  • Biscuits
  • Rolls
  • Marmalade and jams
  • Juices
  • Mimosas
  • Chocolate (obviously)
  • Cheesecake
  • Cookies
  • Cannolis

While the food was excellent, the highlight of this get-together was seeing and playing with Joe’s cousin’s kids (a toddler and a newborn). So sweet.

Lunch (1:30 pm – 3:30 pm)

Moving on to Joe’s dad’s side of the family. Coincidentally, this meal was held just a mile from the first! The problem with the short travel time, though, was that there was more food to be had right away! Such as:

  • Cheese platter
  • Meat platter
  • Beef bourguignon with noodles
  • The best Caesar salad ever
  • Chocolate cake (for a birthday celebration)

Okay, so at this point, Joe and I were stuffed. But there was no time for a food coma! On to the next one!

Dinner (3:30 pm – 7 pm)

This was my side of the family. And this was a turkey dinner. For some reason, my family seems to think that turkey is a standard choice for Easter. Do you agree with that? Because I just looked through twenty of Martha Stewart’s suggested Easter dinner recipes, and none of them were turkey. Alas, the following was served:

  • Green grapes and salted potato chips (this is our standard family holiday dinner appetizer — it’s kind of a running joke at this point)
  • Turkey (as I mentioned)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Stuffing (i.e. my favourite thing about the holidays)
  • Assorted vegetables
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Butterscotch layered dessert
  • Lemon meringue pie

I was not in the mood for a dose of tryptophan at this point (not to mention the extra calories), so I skipped over a lot of the offerings at this one. Joe actually didn’t eat anything. (Oh wait, he did eat half of my dessert. I guess he got hungry after all.)

Regardless of the quality and quantity of the food, of course, we were very happy to celebrate and spend time with family.

How did you spend your Easter weekend?

My Tea Choices for Every Occasion

Tim Hortons may be my one true love for coffee and donuts, but when it comes to tea, my go-to is David’s Tea. It wasn’t always this way. In fact, my infatuation with the store only began about two years ago, when I finally realized that there’s more to tea than Tetley Orange Pekoe with milk and sugar. It’s taken some experimentation, but I’m pretty happy with my current, albeit rather small, tea collection.

Traditional with a twist: Cream of Earl Grey

A friend introduced me to this tea, and it was one of my first forays into the world of not-Orange-Pekoe-but-I-actually-like-it. It’s essentially Earl Grey, but with vanilla. I’ll drink this either with milk and sugar, as is my standard at home, or black, as was my standard at school. If you’re looking to tiptoe out of your comfort zone, this is a good starter blend.

Unique flavour (and caffeine): Chocolate Chili Chai

Chocolate Chili Chai is slightly spicy, but it’s one of the first I will recommend to friends and family, especially those that aren’t crazy about herbal teas but want to try something new. I remember getting really excited when I first saw that the blend actually contained mini chocolate chips. This is what I’ll make for myself in place of coffee if I’m working on something and need to stay awake. (Or when I’m binge-watching something on Netflix and need to stay awake.)

I’ll also mention here that a similarly-named tea is the Coco Chai Rooibos, which I don’t like very much. It’s a lot spicier and the spice is the focus of the flavour, from what I can tell. To each their own!

Pre-bedtime relaxation: Mother’s Little Helper

So far, this is the only herbal tea I actually like. It’s slightly lemony and slightly minty, but neither flavour is overpowering. Also, it contains Valerian root, which is supposed to put you to sleep. This tea does make me sleepy, but I’m guessing it’s the placebo effect from drinking a hot, relaxing beverage that’s supposed to put you to sleep. So there you go. Come to think of it, I actually haven’t been ill in the 8 months since I purchased this tea, but I imagine it would probably be great to have around for when you do get sick and need to rest.

Calm productivity: Moment of Zen

I’ve just started experimenting with green tea, and I’m pretty happy with this one so far. I like that it’s fairly basic. It also has blackberries, which is nice since I’m not sure I would be as excited about a straight-up green tea quite yet. I’m drinking it right now!

Unfortunately, Moment of Zen was discontinued! (That’s why I got it at 50% off, haha.) So unfortunately I can’t recommend it to you. I’ll let you know when I find a suitable replacement!

I’ll keep collecting tasty-looking teas as I see them, but these selections will probably be my staples for a long while! Or at least until I run out. We’ll see. 😉

What are your favourite teas?