Recipe: Lemon Poppy Seed Mini Muffins

A classmate at school introduced me to these delicious lemony bites, a healthy treat. It took some repeated experiments and here is the recipe I like most:

2 eggs

Juice of 2 lemons or slightly more, depending on size and juice

2-3 tablespoons honey

Zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, lemon juice, honey and coconut oil. In a small bowl, mix together coconut flour, poppy seeds, baking soda and lemon zest. Add flour mixture to liquid ingredients, mix with a wooden spoon until blended. Spoon into a silicone mini muffin pan. Bake for around 20 min or until tops of muffins are light gold. Allow to cool and enjoy. Optimal lemon flavour is usually the next day. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 

Recipe: Creamy Hummus

Hummus is a great healthy snack to have on hand at anytime. Being so busy balancing school and work, I had to set a goal to prepare food for myself, otherwise it is a diet of too much pizza and other takeout. Hummus is really helpful to have on hand as a satisfying small meal.

Hummus can easily be purchased at any grocery store, however, homemade from scratch is so much better. The key is cooking the chickpeas yourself, which delivers superior taste and texture. I have no idea how to make tahini, so I buy jars of tahini. I have no attachment to organic tahini, I use both types. In my experience so far, the tahini that is made from imported ingredients and sold in ethnic shops makes for a smoother hummus.

Here is the original recipe that inspired me to write and share another hummus recipe:
https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/creamy-hummus-with-cumin

Creamy Hummus

For Chickpeas: 1 cup dry chickpeas (soaked overnight in water with 1 tsp baking soda)

2 cloves garlic, jalapeno(whole with top cut off), bay leaf, 1 sprig rosemary(optional)

After chickpeas have been soaked overnight, rinse in a strainer and place chickpeas into a pot with water covering by about 2 inches. Add garlic, jalapeño, bay and rosemary. Bring water and chickpeas to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer until chickpeas are soft, 30-45 min. Discard garlic, jalapeño, bay leaf, and rosemary. Drain and rinse chickpeas, reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid.

For Hummus:

1 clove garlic, slivered

Juice of 1-2 lemons and 1 lime

1/2 cup tahini

Cooked chickpeas(approx 2.5-3 cups)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sea salt

Place lemon juice and garlic in food processor and allow garlic to sit in the lemon/lime juice for about 5 min to soften the bite of the raw garlic. Add tahini to lemon juice and garlic, 1/2 of the salt, process until smooth. Add chickpeas, cumin and remaining salt, process until smooth, stopping to scrape sides of the bowl as needed. Check that the texture of the hummus is smooth and creamy. If it seems thick, add a little cooking liquid to improve texture. Adjust salt and or lemon juice to taste, enjoy with crackers, vegetables, in a sandwich or in a bowl as a sauce garnish. Hummus will keep in the fridge for up to a week. This hummus also freezes well.

 

 

 

Positive Accounting

This month, I found myself giving advice to a client to be sure she focuses on counting her successes/wins on a weekly basis rather than how far off she is from her ultimate goal. I named the practice positive accounting, as in counting the positives. Every day is a new day and we have the opportunity to choose our experience.

I need to complete 900 clinical hours in order to graduate from the program as a traditional chinese medicine practitioner. At first 900 hours seemed daunting, plus I set the goal of graduating in 2019. This month I started to focus on the steps I have taken and it just feels better. I am still a good distance from the end, however, I feel as though I am making progress all the time when I focus on the steps I am taking.

Positive accounting very much ties in with the gratitude practice I started in January. Accounting for the positives reminds us we always have what we need to keep moving towards our dreams, goals and inspirations. Not only are we on the right path, we are well on our way to where we need to go.

 

 

Gratitude Practice

Having a gratitude journal has been in my consciousness for several years. In that time, I have practiced gratitude informally and inconsistently. A colleague and friend Erin Phelan encourages us all to have a gratitude practice at her spin class. I got more serious about the practice last year with her enthusiastic encouragement.

At the start of 2018, it became an intention and goal that I will note things I am grateful for each day in my journal. So far it has been an amazing experience. Taking a few minutes each day to reflect on gratitude is the perfect combination of meditation, reflection, positive thinking, prayer, humility, and spirituality. What are the effects? I am finding that the practice of gratitude helps me to focus on the positive direction I can take and to let go of various stressful events much more easily. It feels like contentment and the middle ground is becoming easier to find, which is great news in making life good!

2017 reflections, gratitude and goals

2017 was a year full of discovery and growth for me with many highlights. A couple weeks ago, a client mentioned wanting to make New Years resolutions for 2018. I suggested that he reflect and take stock of all the accomplishments and positive experiences of 2017, make note of the areas that need improvement, which will guide him towards goals to work on for 2018.

Willpower is like a muscle that will fatigue, so when we approach any change of behaviour, it is best to align with what you really want rather than to resolve to change something drastically. Put in other terms finding unconditional acceptance and love for yourself will make any change possible.

I am practicing what I preach today by reflecting, taking stock with gratitude for all the accomplishments and wonderful experiences of 2017. I’m making note of the needs improvement areas and will meditate on and set goals for 2018. Happy new year to all!

Chasing Excellence

My great friend Kathryn is a Crossfit enthusiast. The book Chasing Excellence caught my eye at her house, and she gave me a copy for my birthday. Little did I know it was a book written by Crossfit coach Ben Bergeron and my curiosity was piqued enough to watch every event of the 2017 Crossfit Games.

My exercise habit and program took on a new level of commitment when I was told this summer: ‘You need a trainer’. I took on the challenge and the effects have been immensely positive for my strength and well being in every way. This week I watched this video, which contains some of the best training advice I have come across:

Training with Intention  Ben Bergeron

I have inadvertently followed Ben Bergeron’s recommended ratio of 45% practice, 45% training and 10% competition and have seen amazing progress in my training as a result. His book Chasing Excellence was a great read that places building character first. I agree with him wholeheartedly. It is so important to know what kind of person you want to be. Our physical attributes and accomplishments can change all the time-it is how we handle challenges that build our character.

 

 

Halloween-Who will you be?

I have so many feelings around Halloween. I love seeing little kids, babies and adults in costumes. I love the enthusiasm that people have in anticipation of dressing up. I loved getting lots of candy as a kid. I saw some awesome decorated houses on my walk home and felt a little magic in the air. This year I started colouring a skull drawing in celebration which helped me realize the creative potential of Halloween. The occasion can bring out our creativity and is a great opportunity to ponder the awesome life question of who do I want to be-what kind of a human do I want to be?

As a health professional, I love sugar more than most. I do not view sugar as a villain, and I openly share my love for sweets. However, I quit halloween candy about 10 years ago. I developed an innocent Halloween candy addiction when I bought some for our studio, clients brought in their extra candy and there was a bowl right by our door. I started eating little pieces of chocolate and candy around 10am and every couple hours until the end of the day. After a couple weeks I noticed I had a habit of eating candy that was hard to break. Most importantly, I noticed I was eating a lot of candy that I didn’t really love. It was a simple choice to make when I considered what sweets I truly enjoy eating, so Halloween candy has been off my list. I will eat a piece if a child offers me some from their stash and just the one piece. I had almost forgotten that I quit buying/eating halloween candy until I started reflecting on halloween. What memories do we choose to hold onto?

A couple nights ago, I came across these powerful words in a Paulo Coehlo book:

[It’s not a question of hope in the future. It’s a question of recreating your past.

If you have a past that dissatisfies you, forget it now. Imagine a new story of your life, and believe it. Concentrate only on those moments in which you achieved what you desired, and this strength will help you accomplish what you want.]

 

So on Halloween or any given day we can be who want to be-

 

 

 

Bringing your lunch to school or work

School started after Labour Day and this term I need to bring lunch 3 times a week. I can now relate to parents and the difficulty they have with their children in what to put in that lunch box, as I am that picky kid!!! I refuse to eat microwaved food, warm soup in a thermos is unappealing, only some sandwiches are ok, so it seems like there are not many options to bring. Sometimes I don’t feel like prepping food and want a fresh hot meal…there is no such thing around the school, so it is absolutely necessary for me to bring a lunch! I have meditated on the lunch idea and have the following observations and suggestions:

-Involve the child and allow them to choose the container in which they bring and eat their food in. I find this has a huge impact on how appealing I find my lunch, since my ideal is a white plate. However, there are transport and weight considerations when bringing a lunch, so the right container makes it all better. There is also the lunch box or bag- I have a Spongebob lunch bag

-Ask them to choose what leftover dinner foods they find appealing for their lunch. Food that is prepped at dinner time is a timesaver for packing lunch.

-Most importantly, find out what healthy food the child is enthusiastic or excited to eat. Involve them in preparing the food they want to eat. Many will try for pizza and other foods most parents find unhealthy. Those are not options. If you have a picky eater who is an aspiring food critic, it is time they learn some food prep skills. Mom or Dad are not short order cooks!

Here are my current packed lunch ideas that are edible room temperature, and are fairly nutritious to provide energy for focus:

greek salad with romaine lettuce, cherry tomato, cucumber, green onion, fresh oregano, parsley, grilled haloumi cheese, olive oil and lemon juice

roast turkey with kale salad, and roasted sweet potato

quinoa salad with fresh herbs, and green veggies, boiled egg

I also pack fruit and a small sweet treat to round out the meal. Best wishes for lunch prep and healthy eating!

 

 

Enjoy food and eat slowly

Enjoy food and eat slowly is a line I saw on an Italian menu board. I have enjoyed a variety of delicious Italian food on my holiday in Tuscany. I am managing to stay in shape by exercising and choosing to truly enjoy food. I look for a level of enthusiasm I feel in the foods I eat. If I am not really enthused, I choose other foods to eat. For example, I am no fan of bread dipped in olive oil, so I skip bread most of the time here in Italy. I love pasta, so I enjoy that regularly. A daily dose of a small gelato is great. The cheese is awesome! I love desserts too.

So I believe the making life good secret to staying in shape while on holiday is to exercise and enjoy foods you love, plus eat green veggies daily.

Work Life Balance

During a recent conversation with a client on work life balance, this client asked: ‘Vivian, you seem to work all the time and are still full of enthusiasm and energy, how you find the balance?’

I almost surprised myself when I answered my work life balance is completely tilted to fulfilling what I know is my life purpose of helping others to be their best through health and fitness. I have the energy to balance work, going to school for traditional Chinese medicine, family and friends, and staying fit myself, only by living my purpose which aligns with my spirit.

I made it a goal a couple years ago to teach more yoga to share the practice of meditation with more people-teaching is immensely fulfilling. I have benefitted so much from practicing yoga, it has opened so many doors of growth for me that I must pay it forward in helping bring others to the meditative space…so they may be closer to their truth, intuition and life purpose.

Work life balance is a challenging aspect of life that many people come across. I’m sharing my perspective of living life with purpose through work that I am hugely passionate about. It’s a life devoted to being of service. This may not be for everyone, however, every person has their unique gifts to contribute to our world for the better. I am sure the world can improve behind our imagination if every person is able to tap into their unique purpose. Those of us that know better need to do better, raise our vibration and those around us-making life good!