Recipe: Carrot, mint and date salad

My trip to Morocco was a unique experience in terms of culture and food. I will never forget the meals that came with many plates of salads, one of which was carrot salad. I am not a fan of raw carrots at all. However, once cooked and seasoned, I like carrots enough. This salad is inspired by the salads I had in Morocco and more recently by the opening of my friends’ restaurant Atlas.

5-6 carrots, peeled and sliced thick

1 tablespoon olive oil

sprinkle of cumin to taste

juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon

honey to taste

handful of chopped fresh mint

5-6 pitted dates, chopped

Bring salted water to boil in a medium pot. Add carrots and boil for 6 minutes or until desired tenderness. Drain.

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, honey and cumin. Add cooked carrots and dates, toss together gently and top with mint. Enjoy slightly warm or at room temperature

What is your news?

This month I posted a few thoughts on social media that touched upon what health information we find, what ideals our society seems to hold, what those ideals sells in our consumer society and who actually benefits in the end? What we are exposed to in the media remains on my mind as this month ends and we head into the season of spring. I must share that I do not have a television and do not watch the news. This is a conscious choice I have been making for many years. I find the news to be a source of negativity if I expose myself to it too much, so I decided to live under a  rock so to speak. I catch snippets of news when I pass by televisions at gyms and I am given news by people I interact with on a regular basis. I find this way of living creates a filter of discernment of what may be true and pertinent in the ‘news’. What is news or newsworthy to you?

I try to pay little attention to president Donald Trump and with what little I know, I would like to credit him with ‘fake news’ infiltrating our consciousness. If we consider the term ‘fake news’ more deeply, I would say most of the news we see is becoming more fake as time goes by. It seems people with vested interests are in charge of the production of news and with competition for our ever shortening attention spans, the news needs to be quick and pithy. Journalism standards have changed with the times. I’m not sure we are all taking the time to discern what the news really is-

As spring comes in and we see new growth in nature and ourselves, I invite you to meditate on what is your news? What is newsworthy? What effect does exposure to television news have on you?

 

 

 

Take time for yourself-DAILY

This winter I have found myself giving advice ‘to do something today that makes you happy’. Upon further reflection, what is really behind that thought is the truth of taking time for yourself to take care of yourself on a daily basis helps each and every one of us to be our best. I have often wondered what it is that makes a person leave a yoga class feeling ‘better’, as I have received many a ‘thank you, I feel great’ at the end of classes I led. I am quite certain that taking the time to enter a relaxed meditative state is like a medicine to help is feel more positive by connecting with ourselves. Meditation is medication.

There is plenty of expectation and judgement with meditation and many of us feel we should try to meditate to better ourselves. The practice of meditation is open and available to all of us anytime, anywhere. In the end, meditation is the simple act of taking a moment to take notice of what is happening for us at the present moment. From that present moment, our awareness of ourselves within and our consciousness can expand. What we go through in our daily lives can leave us frazzled and racing, which makes it even more important that we get into the habit of taking time for ourselves daily. What does taking time for yourself mean to you? Is it a walk, a bath, reading something you enjoy, an activity, practicing yoga, meditation, being inspired by art…it really could be anything, and the conscious action of taking time for yourself is a great act of self care that benefits yourself and all around you-making life good

Recipe: White Bean Mushroom Pasta

There is always debate on the “healthiest’ diet and foods to eat, which is different for every person at different points in their life. There is one dietary concept that everyone could use, which is to eat more plant based foods. This is a delicious vegan pasta dish I have perfected in the past couple months with beans cooked from dry: http://www.vivianlaw.ca/cook-beans-from-dry-skip-the-cans/

tossed together with Tinkyada brown rice pasta shells, sautéed mushrooms, capers, pickled hot peppers, green beans (or whatever greens you have on hand) and parsley. Tinkyada is my brand of choice for brown rice pasta in terms of taste and texture. The capers and hot peppers add really nice flavour to the beans and mushrooms. The portions can easily be modified with about 1 cup of cooked white beans, 1/2 cup pasta and 1/4 pound of mushrooms per serving.

For 2 servings:

1.5-2 cups cooked white beans

1 clove garlic

1 shallot minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound mushrooms finely chopped (any of or mixed: cremini, portobello, white)

salt, pepper and thyme to taste

1 cup brown rice pasta shells, I prefer the taste and texture of Tinkyada

1 cup chopped greens of your choice

2 tablespoons capers

pickled hot pepper to taste (optional)

In a medium to large pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook brown rice pasta shells according to package instructions. Throw in green beans or whichever green you are using into the boiling pasta and water at the last minute of cooking and drain altogether.

Meanwhile, as the pasta is cooking, saute garlic, shallots and mushrooms  in olive oil until mushrooms are browned and cooked through. Season with thyme during the cooking process. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

In a another small pot, bring beans to a simmer (you can add a little water and reduce as the beans warm up), add a splash of olive oil and salt to taste.

In the medium to large pot, toss together white beans, mushrooms, pasta and greens, capers and hot peppers. Top with chopped parsley and enjoy!

 

Experiences of 2016

2016 was a great full year for me. Much inspiration, vast learning and growth. Here are 3 life changing experiences I had in making life good to improve health and wellness this year:

Teaching yoga-I am so grateful my intent to reach more people with my health and wellness expertise came to fruition this year in teaching numerous yoga classes at Equinox. Every class was a learning and practice for me to deepen my yoga practice and be a positive influence on people on the mat and in life.

Traditional Chinese Medicine-I am afraid of needles and started studies in traditional chinese medicine this year for herbs at first. I had my first acupuncture treatment in February and it was amazing in its effects on giving me a gentle re-balancing to improve my health. I also tried cosmetic acupuncture, which is amazing as well, because it improves health at the same time as improving the facial skin. Chinese herbal formulas are also incredibly effective in my limited experience so far.

Crystals-I noticed the tool used to rub my face in preparation for cosmetic acupuncture was a specific stone and its effects were incredible. I am growing older and wiser, so maintaining my skin or improving it feels like a miracle! This fall a 7 year friend of mine was digging for crystals on his driveway and I was proven wrong that he would not find any. My little friend said crystals are all good and that inspired me to discover them for myself. Crystals are a great way to get in touch with one’s own intuition in looking at them, feeling them and experiencing them in any way you feel inspired.

There were many other incredible experiences of 2016. These are 3 wider categorical first hand transformational experiences to bring greater health and well being I am sharing in making life good. Wishing everyone a healthy and fulfilling 2017-Happy New Year!

Recipe: Perfect Hot Oatmeal

I have tried to like hot oatmeal throughout my life. Hot oatmeal always seems like such a nice thing to have on a cold morning. What I noticed consistently was I would like the oatmeal and then become thoroughly tired of the taste and texture halfway through the bowl! I would not be full, just sudden loss of appetite for the slightly bland mushy texture.

My sister gave me a copy of Genius Recipes last Christmas. There was a recipe for oatmeal that caught my eye, which was half steel cut oats and half rolled oats. I finally made the oatmeal earlier this month and am thrilled to report this is a bowl of oatmeal I enjoy eating an entire bowl of. The secret is the salt. I tried to reduce the amount by a bit and found the oatmeal went straight back to bland icky despite copious amounts of maple syrup. The 1/4 teaspoon of salt per 1/2 cup of oats is crucial to deliciousness.

Serves 2-3, use 1/4 cup steel cut + 1/4 rolled oats as per person serving guideline

1/2 cup steel cut oats, rinsed

1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)

generous 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup non dairy milk of your choice

1 cup water

Maple syrup to taste

Bring milk and water to a boil with salt. Add steel cut oats and rolled oats, bring to a medium-low simmer, covered. Stir the oats occasionally during the 20 minute cook time. The oats should have a bit of chew from the steel cut oats and taste salty at first-add maple syrup to taste and create a salty sweet flavour. Enjoy hot topped with currants, pomegranate, blueberries, pecans, or any toppings of your choice.

 

How do you like Halloween?

This October has been an extremely full month for me in terms of work, school and personal growth. I notice the occasion of Halloween brings many different responses in small children and adults alike. I know kids that love Halloween starting from toddlerhood. I know children that are past Halloween by age 10. I know adults that never tire of Halloween and love the opportunity to create a costume each year. I know children and adults who are afraid of all the spooky things that Halloween can bring up-you won’t find me volunteering to be at a haunted house! And there are people that really dislike Halloween altogether.

Halloween is right in between the end of summer and the start of winter. We can consider it the cusp between light and dark, the twilight zone. The depth of different responses is a highlight of humanity and how we handle the cusp of light and darkness. It is a great time to reflect on how we see light and darkness within ourselves. Can we embrace the whole entirety of ourself in relation to the world around us?

Happy halloween!

Recipe: Banana Chia Pudding

This summer my good friend K offered me a chia pudding cup. I never got around to eating it, so I asked her what it was made with and she said banana. The next time I came across some ripe bananas, I figured I would make my own banana chia pudding. I had full fat coconut milk on hand, so I mashed the banana, added coconut milk and Coconut Dream to make my chia pudding. I swirled in some strawberry jam as sweetener and found a tasty snack, or breakfast or alternative to yogurt. Chia seeds also have the added benefit of aiding digestion by moving through the intestines. I prefer whole chia seeds. However, this week, I showed a client how to make this pudding and found she had only ground chia seeds, so we made pudding with just banana and added coconut water as liquid with a touch of cinnamon plus maple syrup to sweeten. Quite pleasant tasting…

I am not going to include a photo of either forms of pudding as they actually look a bit like barf. Think of chia pudding as an alternative to yogurt or a tasty medicinal digestive aid, so give it a try. This is so easy to make that I will suggest you create your own recipe to suit your tastes:

3 tablespoons whole white chia seeds

1/2-1 whole mashed ripe banana

1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk (from a can)-optional

1/4-1/2 cup non dairy milk of your choice or juice or coconut water

Mash banana in a medium bowl, stir in chia seeds, add liquid to create a pudding like consistency. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight, When ready to serve, stir again and add more liquid for desired consistency. Sweeten with jam, maple syrup or honey. Top with granola, nuts or fruit and enjoy,

Posture and Breathing First

It has been a long hot summer in Toronto, the best one ever yet. Some days have been so warm and humid that I notice myself breathing quite shallowly. Having started studies in traditional chinese medicine this spring, I have come to the conclusion that proper breathing is extremely important to optimal health. As a personal trainer, I know that posture is exceptionally important. I have found that improved posture is the most valuable result of working with me my clients report, as it brings such a positive change to their life.

In a recent friendly discussion with a fellow professional, I realized I feel so strongly about optimal posture that I prioritize a client having optimal posture over how much weight they can squat or deadlift. I notice that I am mindful of my own posture and whenever I have my photo taken by surprise, the first thing I check is my posture. Another perspective I have taken recently is poor posture is one sign of aging that a person can avoid with their exercise program. Good posture helps a person to look their best and comes with the benefit of alignment within the body to facilitate optimal breathing, which is integral to optimal health. Good posture and breathing are keys to optimal health, as it helps to maintain peak function of the lungs, an organ we have much conscious influence on with our breathing. Take a few deep belly breaths whenever you can,

Recipe: Shortcakes for summer

I have loved strawberry shortcake since childhood. There are differing versions, spongecake layers versus biscuit like shortcake. I have taken a liking to the simplicity of the biscuit form of strawberry shortcake as a delicious summer treat that happens to be low in sugar. I feel it is best to make your own whipped cream with organic whipping cream. Here are two recipes I make regularly with ease and great results. The first recipe was first seen in the the Globe and Mail from Lucy Waverman many years ago. The second recipe is gluten free adapted from the Coconut Diet Cookbook.

Simple shortcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling if desired

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, mix well. Add whipping cream and stir together with a spoon just until the mixture resembles a ball of dough.

Shape dough into a ball with your hands and press into a disc on a lightly floured surface, flatten to 1/4 inch thickness.

Use a round cutter of your choice (2-3inches) and cut dough into rounds, placing onto a baking sheet. Gather scraps of dough and cut until finished. Brush with tops of the rounds with the dregs of whipping cream and sprinkle with a touch of sugar if desired.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until tops are golden. Let cool slightly, slice in half and top with whipped cream and strawberries, enjoy!

Makes 4-6 shortcakes depending on the size of cutter you use.

 

 

Coconut Shortcakes (gluten free)

 

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

6 eggs

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

 

Preheat oven to 400F. In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut oil, eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. Add coconut flour, mix together with a spoon until a batter forms. Pour into muffin tin or silicon baking cups filling just over halfway. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10-15 minutes before slicing in half, serving with whipped cream and strawberries.