Recipe: Gluten Free Banana Bread

Recently a client gave me a piece of her favourite banana bread. Her absolute favourite recipe after many years of baking. Truly outstanding. She was kind enough to share the recipe and it comes all the way from Australia! I went to try the recipe and had eaten enough wheat in recent times, so I tried making it gluten free. First it was dry, then I forgot xanthan gum and on the third attempt, replacing the walnuts with chocolate chips, it turned out amazing! Here is the recipe, be sure to use mini loaf pans, the smaller volume increases odds of success, as gluten free baking can be finicky. Also check for doneness sooner than you think, as this banana bread goes dry very quickly while baking.

1 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend (I used millet, chickpea, sorghum, rice, banana and teff flour, more types of flour is better)

1.5-2 teaspoons xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3-4 very ripe bananas

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients. In another medium bowl, mash bananas then whisk together with sugar, eggs and melted butter. Fold dry ingredients into the banana mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into 3-4 greased mini loaf pans. Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking for doneness at 15 min. Tops will be cracked, if a fork comes out sticky, the loaves can sit in the oven that is off for a few extra minutes to finish cooking. Enjoy at room temperature and store in an airtight container.

Healthy Eating at the Buffet

I was at a wonderful all inclusive resort last week in Rose Hall Montego Bay teaching fitness and enjoying some sunshine. I was planning on giving a quick nutrition talk on healthy eating on vacation and at the buffet, however the plans were changed. I still gave the talk plenty of thought and wish to share it here.

All you can eat buffet, does that mean we should eat all we can? The short answer is no it is not a good idea to eat all that you can. Food is for nourishment and enjoyment. Our body is rebuilt on a daily basis, so we need food as fuel. Eating excessive quantities of food essentially causes illness when there is too much food for your system to digest. There is a spectrum of how much food our appetite and bodies can handle. Ever notice how special occasions like Christmas and Thanksgiving can prompt us to eat extra? A buffet is a similar concept with even more choice and more volume of food. At an all inclusive resort, we have the privilege to choose just about anything we want. That’s the first concept to keep in mind, it is a privilege to have access to such a vast quantity of food, so the first rule is to minimize waste.

The most appealing aspect of a buffet is the huge variety and choice there is. I recommend taking a walk around the entire food selection and noting what seems most appealing to you. Often the desserts appeal most to me, which is something I have loved since childhood. A sweet childhood memory is going to look at the desserts right away and plotting out which ones I would try first.

Once you have taken it all in, carefully select the foods the have the most appeal to you. I like trying many different dishes, so I partake in a few bites of many things. I find inspiration in learning new flavours and cooking techniques. In addition, make yourself a proper meal that has a mixture of protein, fat, carbohydrates and most importantly, vegetables with the selection that is available.

There was one day that I tested out the possibility of eating all that I could, so I ate a bit extra. I noticed my appetite decreased the next day and then I continued to stick with the concepts I mention here for the rest of my holiday. I did manage to put on a pound or two even with daily exercise. An all you can eat buffet is a lesson in self mastery with a little self discipline.

Last thoughts of the Day

I recently read a Wayne Dyer book called Wishes Fulfilled. From this book I am now inspired to read Neville Goddard.

One concept I put into practice from the book is to be aware or mindful of the last thoughts I have before drifting off to sleep. From what I understand, 95% of our behaviour is unconscious(Subliminal-Leonard Mlodinow) and the few minutes before we drift off to sleep are the bridge between our conscious and unconscious mind. We can choose to have more positive thoughts so we have a more peaceful sleep, feel better upon waking and have a better experience in life by participating in creating our reality. We can steer our unconscious mind towards who we want to be and how we want to feel rather than doubt, rumination and worry.

I have just started practicing this concept and I can share that feels like a special form of meditation to simultaneously steer your mind towards a more positive realm, such as envisioning who you want to be and how you want to feel and participate in the letting go process of falling asleep at the same time. I have really enjoyed it so far. I am reminded of the practice of yoga nidra, however, this process I enjoy a lot more, as I allow sleep to happen. In yoga nidra, there is the thought that one must stay at the edge of sleep and wakefulness(I fall asleep most of the time!)

2018 reflections

The start of 2018 brought to mind the concept and practice of gratitude. I practiced something of a gratitude journal and after some time realized gratitude is more of an attitude, a frame of mind, a form of consciousness. With the continual practice of placing focus on a more positive frame of mind, I noticed being grateful helps build strength towards being inspired.

As the sun sets on 2018, I’m taking stock of all the amazing things that happened and all that I learned. The challenging experiences I take note and consider how I can improve and learn. Every challenge in life is a test of what you really stand for-

Tomorrow, the first day of the year, I’ll take extra time to meditate and reflect on my intentions for 2019. Happy new year!

Now is the time for workouts

At a cycle class I taught last week just after American Thanksgiving, I shared that now is the time to be extra serious about workouts. We all enjoy some extra food and drink during the upcoming festive season. Being sure to make time for exercise is an important step to staying healthy. This way January is a fresh new year without any major work such as weight loss required.

In other words the best weight loss program is prevention. Many life changes/circumstances can result in weight gain. However, the holiday season is an easily avoidable situation if we carve out the time to keep up with workouts, eating healthy while not at celebrations, and getting high quality sleep. Yes, you will skip some workouts. My recommendation is to maintain the greater majority of your activity level. For example, if you usually are active or work out 20 times/month, make a commitment to yourself to do at least 15 workouts in December. This is Making Life Good formula for enjoying the holidays and staying in shape. Cheers!

Real Magic

I celebrated my birthday recently by choosing a Wayne Dyer book for myself. I chose Real Magic and I have been loving the book. Essentially the message is we can experience real magic in our lives by choosing to align with our invisible spiritual selves first and foremost. Another way to understand this is to develop our intuition and use it to guide us.

Intuition is visible and invisible information experienced in the body as sensations that guide us. The discernment and application of knowledge through all of our senses and mind in combination with any extra information we perceive/sense is the effective use of intuition. Our first impressions are quite useful as a marker of our intuition. Be it a person or life situation, using our first impression as guidance can be helpful.

I discussed crystal balls and tarot cards at my last yoga class. I believe these are tools that can be used as guidance for yourself. We cannot know the future, however, we can clarify what our intentions are, which will guide us in the right direction. Developing your intuition through trusting it and taking appropriate action guides your spiritual growth to help you find the best path for yourself.

 

Vivian’s downtown Toronto lunch picks

After a cycle class recently at the Toronto Athletic Club I found myself stepping in and giving food recommendations to an out of town guest who needed some healthy food soon. That gave me the idea to share my picks for lunch in the downtown core.

My favourite spot is the hot table at Mcewan for the variety of absolutely delicious food. It is the best self serve hot/cold bar I have tried yet. I like to fill a box with whatever catches my fancy. Their jerk chicken is the best! I much prefer getting there before 12pm, as the selection is best with a shorter line to pay. As  lunch hour goes on, the selection dwindles.

TD Centre 66 Wellington St W http://mcewan.mcewangroup.ca

I have really enjoyed Greenbox ever since it was introduced to me by a friend this summer. The grab and go boxed salads are delicious. I also enjoy the variety of bowls they serve. The recipes are developed by the owner and I recently tried the hazelnut energy ball, all very good!

200 University Ave https://greenboxexpress.ca

Assembly Chefs Food Hall is another interesting option. Think of it as a food court with great food. Little Dailo is always a good choice

111 Richmond St W https://www.assemblychefshall.com

Forno Cultura has the most delicious cookies and sweets(I love the pistachio amaretti and apricot pastry) The grab and go sandwiches are hearty and tasty

First Canadian Place 100 King St W https://www.fornocultura.com/#first-canadian-place

I also enjoy Copper Branch as an option for tasty vegan food. The fries are particularly good here.

199 Bay St https://eatcopperbranch.com

Right Speech

Recently I was asked what my most important value(s) are. It was a great question and I had to say it was my word. I’ve written a couple pieces over the past 6 years that reference the habit of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Or being mindful of your speech. What we say can be meaningless or hugely meaningful. It is a powerful choice we can make. The concept is referenced in the bible-‘in the beginning was the word’

In Buddhism, the concept is right speech. Right speech can be practiced by asking the questions of: is it true? is it necessary? is it kind? can it be heard?

Before we speak. This is a level of mindfulness that brings about compassionate communication that is bound to bring positive change to the world-

 

Being Inspired, being happy

The past few weeks I have found myself giving the unsolicited advice of making sure to take time on a daily basis to take care of yourself by being around or doing something that inspires you. The literal meaning of the word inspire is to breathe in-when we take in ideas that come to us in sparks and act upon them, we can learn the path of our spirit. Day by day, step by step we live our true purpose. Being happy and fulfilled in life is a lot easier when we are fuelled by what really inspires us and live aligned with our spirit, as our true self.

Live From Daryl’s House

Attending the Daryl Hall and John Oates concert this month was a major source of inspiration. I joined a dear friend and her mom to enjoy music they have been long time fans of. I knew some of the music of Daryl Hall and John Oates having owned their Essential double cd for many years. She’s Gone was a favourite on first listen and they mention in the album jacket that the song is the finest they wrote together.

Before the concert, I took the time to watch Behind the Music and discovered many interesting things most important being the internet show Live From Daryl’s House. The claim was the duo have benefitted more that any other 80s act from the internet. This piqued my curiosity and clips of the show were aired at the concert as well. In addition, Daryl Hall formed a friendship with Pat Monahan of Train as a result of the show and are touring together, performing songs together.

I got on my computer the next day and checked out http://www.livefromdarylshouse.com

The show is so brilliant in how it showcases creative collaboration and musical talent new and old I couldn’t stop watching and wondered where I had been the past decade to miss it!! I have always been interested in music and even more so now that I’m teaching indoor cycle regularly. For many years now I have felt that most pop music I hear on the radio is made in a lab and I prefer older music. Live from Daryl’s House is a statement that music made by humans together is very much alive and appreciated.

What has inspired me the most from my journey into the musical world and story behind Daryl Hall and John Oates is the unwavering dedication they each have to their craft. Here I am celebrating 18 years of being in the field of health and wellness and I aspire to continue and dedicate myself for the rest of my life. We all need to make our music in making life good-