Tag Archives: Making Life Good recommends

Recipe: Yellow Split Pea Soup

I’ve tried a few different split pea soups in my time, sometimes they are very tasty and other times not great. I’ve tried to make split pea soup myself a few times and have failed miserably with hard peas after a long cooking time. Long cooked, hard split peas are difficult to digest, highlighting the point that food needs to be cooked well to aid digestion. I looked through cookbooks, and various websites to finally learn that it is best to soak and cook the peas before adding them to the soup. In the pre cooking process, it is likely the peas turn into mostly yellow mush, so the soup turns out like it has been pureed.

Having more plant based foods is a healthy choice, so here is a quick and easy recipe for a flavourful yellow split pea soup:

1 cup yellow split peas, soaked overnight

1 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

1 stalk celery, finely diced

1 jalapeno pepper (seeds removed), finely diced

1 tomato, finely chopped

1 small piece of ginger peeled

2 tablespoons coconut oil

4 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp curry powder

salt and pepper to taste

1 lime, juiced

In a small pot, bring soaked and rinsed split peas to a boil in 1.5 cups of water, simmer until the desired tenderness is reached.

In a large pot, heat coconut oil and lightly sauté onions, celery, carrot and jalapeño until tender, then add chopped tomato. Season with a little salt. Add cooked split peas and a bit more salt. Add vegetable broth, curry powder and ginger, bring to a light boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir in lime juice and season to taste. Enjoy topped with some chopped cilantro

Making Life Good Recommends August 2020

It has been lovely to enjoy the Canadian summer weather even although things are so different than summers past. Outdoor reading is best at this time.

Here are some books I enjoyed and recommend this month:

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan. Another fun and frivolous novel by the author of Crazy Rich Asians. Quite perfect escapism while travel is limited

Becoming Supernatural by Joe Dispenza. This book was a truly inspiring read that combines technical understanding of what happens during deep meditation and real life stories of healing. Great reminder to meditate and open your mind daily.

Stand Out of Our Light by James Williams. Great quick read that shows us some ways technology affects our attention and our lives along with some philosophy

In relation to technology I have enjoyed many episodes of this podcast, this is of particular interest since I do not appreciate the auto recommendations on you tube or spotify. This podcast explains what is behind the autoplay:

https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/4-down-the-rabbit-hole-by-design

Being in the field of natural health, I have observed some a disturbing trend of adamant misinformation along with a lack of critical thinking. I’ve been following the Conspirituality podcast and it brings great discussion:

Making Life Good Recommends July 2020

This month marks 20 years of being a fitness trainer for me. With a worldwide pandemic, life certainly is very different, which requires adaptation and at the same time maintaining our health and fitness is more important than ever. Traditional chinese medicine acupuncture will soon be an additional service I offer. Fitness remains my first love and I very much hope to get back to teaching classes again soon.

It has been my habit to read every book that inspires me or comes highly recommended for many years now. I started keeping track of what I read over a decade ago when a friend asked how many books I read in a year. My answer was 20 and when I actually checked to be sure I was telling the truth…it was the truth and the number of books has only increased over the years. What is measured, improves-

Here are my book recommendations for this month:

Atomic Habits by James Clear-great book that breaks down how we can make effective small changes that add up to be consistent new habits that vastly improve our live.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg-I cannot recommend Atomic Habits without also recommending this book, as it was also an excellent perhaps slightly more entertaining book. I very much appreciated learning about the ways our habits are shaped without our knowing.

The Death of Expertise by Tom Nichols-this book came to by attention based on this clip: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/problem-thinking-know-experts In this current environment of rampant misinformation, I found this book to be helpful in comprehending how we came to this sad state of affairs. I laughed a few times and also realized the gravity of having large groups of people be led by their feelings and bypassing any form of reasoning. One of the recommendations Tom Nichols had for having a more functional democracy is for the American population to be more engaged in civics and understand their political system. Interestingly, just before finishing the book, I learned of A Starting Point platform which Captain America (Chris Evans) launched for the purpose of educating and engaging more of the population https://www.astartingpoint.com

Being in the field of health and fitness, it has been so disheartening to find so much misinformation being shared on social media. This podcast was incredibly informative in understanding the forces behind the phenomenon: https://rebelwisdom.podbean.com/e/can-truth-survive-big-tech-tristan-harris/

This TED talk is shorter: https://www.ted.com/talks/tristan_harris_how_a_handful_of_tech_companies_control_billions_of_minds_every_day?language=en

So we really must be mindful of where we place our attention, plus sanity doesn’t sell

Mindful isolation living

Our daily in life in Canada changed very suddenly a couple weeks ago with the closing of schools and businesses. Having seen the lockdown that happened in China a couple months ago, it seemed implausible that we would see such restriction of freedom here in North America with our cultural norms being so different. When I saw the news of lockdown for friends in Italy, I learned there is no discrimination for a virus. This is a global issue that will be resolved most effectively with the collective cooperation of humanity as a whole.

The field of health and wellness involves connecting with and being around groups of people. Traditional chinese medicine which I’m about to start practicing involves physical touch for diagnosis. It has been a real adjustment to learn and accept that work I know as essential to being healthy is considered a health risk at the moment. All human contact is viewed as a potential health risk for now. How will this affect our psyche in the long term?

How do we cope with our world being so suddenly disrupted? Surely, we will be distracted on some level and we need to find a way to bring ourselves back to balance. The best way to optimize emotional, mental, physical balance and health is to focus on what is within our control. Top priority being how we utilize our time. Depending on our field of work and family situation, we may be busier than usual, adjusting to working from home or completely out of work with time on our hands. For all situations, we need to own our time and cultivate acceptance for the present moment.

Here are some mindful habits I recommend to feel more at peace at this uncertain time:

  • Practice meditation daily, any form for any length of time. I’ve made it a habit to start and end the day with meditation with additional short pieces at sunset and 3 minutes at 9pm daily to join in a collective meditation with friends around the world.
  • Prioritize sleep. With a pandemic illness circulating around the world and no treatment available, the defence is to be as strong and healthy as you can. Sleep is crucial to having optimal health and wellness.
  • Limit the amount of news or social media you consume as it can affect your emotional/mental well being and focus. I decided to stay away from one form of social media and notice feeling much better.
  • Get into a consistent hand washing habit and sanitize your smart phone and computer keyboard with alcohol frequently
  • Maintain healthy eating habits-drinking water, eating veggies and fruit daily, minimizing caffeine intake, and moderate alcohol intake
  • Get fresh air and physical activity daily. We have limited access to fitness facilities at the moment and we’ll need to be creative with the resources and space we have for now. A yoga mat is sufficient to practice yoga, some weights, gliders, tubing, anything that works in your space for strength training.
  • Be creative, try something new! Cook, dance, draw, garden, sing, write, anything that inspires you. Take the opportunity to work on something you’ve always meant to.
  • Most importantly connect with family and friends any way we can, practice gratitude together and reflect on how fortunate we are to be Canadian and we are all in this together with the world.

Recipe: Banana chocolate chip walnut bites

I love sweet treats and sugar. I may the only fitness and wellness professional to publicly share this feeling. There is a spectrum of healthy sweet treats and indulgences. I have been working with some gluten free banana bread recipes lately and decided to make these coconut flour bites in a silicone mini muffin mold. There is a much higher likelihood of success in gluten free baking if smaller pans are used. I have enjoyed these little treats that are low in sugar and high on taste as a bit of fuel on the go to keep me going between meals.

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

2 eggs

2-3 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 tablespoon or less honey or to taste

1/2 cup coconut flour

2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together bananas, eggs, coconut oil and honey. Add coconut flour. Stir together with a wooden spoon just until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Spoon batter into mini muffin mold. Bake approximately 20 min or until tops are slightly brown. Cool and enjoy. Keeps in an airtight container for a few days refrigerated.

Taste Experiences of 2015

There were many awesome taste experiences throughout the year in 2015. Here they are in no particular order:

Baklava from Patisserie Royale-after reading a glowing review in the Globe and Mail for the fine pastries at Patisserie Royale, I insisted our family go and buy a box right away. These pastries have become a new family tradition and we all particularly love the pistachio royale for the layers of crispy lightly honey soaked buttery deliciousness. http://patisserieroyale.com

Squash soup at Foxley-Just as the weather started to turn cool, the special at Foxley one night was squash soup with coconut milk and it was so incredibly delicious, I had to make it again myself! I am developing the recipe to share. 207 Ossington Avenue, Toronto

Harira soup in Morocco-I tried to have many samples of harira, a traditional Moroccan soup while in Marrakech this year, but didn’t manage to have as much as I liked to see different styles. However, I did develop a vegetarian recipe I quite enjoy. http://www.vivianlaw.ca/recipe-moroccan-chickpea-and-lentil-soup-harira/

Dinner at Al Fassia-this restaurant run by Moroccan women comes highly recommended by several sources and the dining experience is fabulous. From a delicious cocktail to all the plates of extremely tasty moroccan food. Must try if ever in Marrakech.

Lemon mousse at Cava-We first tried this dessert late summer and declared it a winner with the flavours of tart lemon mixed with a little jalapeño jelly, heavenly! www.cavarestaurant.ca 

String Chaat at Pukka-a friend introduced me to this salad early this year, as she thought I may be able to recreate it. I was able to identify the delicious threads of apple, carrot, cabbage and rice crisps in a nicely spiced dressing. However, I have only gone back to Pukka to eat it again and would recommend it everyone. www.pukka.ca

Big Mac bao at Dailo-These mini asian style ‘big macs’ are the delightful work of chef Nick Liu, who serves these at the upstairs bar of his great restaurant Dailo. They come complete with special sauce and mini frites. http://dailoto.com

Banh Mi at Baguette and Co-These delicious vietnamese sandwiches were discovered by chance when we took our relatives to High Park and the little sign of this sandwich shop caught my eye. We later stopped for some sandwiches and they are fantastic! The owner explained that their specially sourced bread makes all the difference. 1643 Dupont Street, Toronto

Laurent Perrier Rose-One night in June, a couple friends and I attended a tasting event of sparkling wine. One standout for us was the Laurent Perrier rose for it’s lovely pink sparkly delicious enjoyment!

Andale salad-I needed lunch while waiting for a flight at the San Francisco airport and was pleasantly surprised by the Andale salad, which consisted of slow roasted chicken, black beans, avocado, salsa, lettuce, cilantro, lime, mango and cheese in a tortilla bowl. This salad left such an impression, I have started constructing my own version ever since I had it in May.

Carnitas bowl at Cantina Grill-Another airport food discovery. While waiting for a connection at Denver airport, I stopped in for an early lunch at Cantina Grill and just didn’t know what to order. The lady behind the counter suggested I have the carnitas bowl and was it ever a great recommendation! The mix of romaine lettuce, rice, pinto beans, carnitas, cilantro, jalapeño, lime was the perfect satisfying lunch. Rick Bayless has a great technique to make carnitas on your own. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kATDHi2M32Y This all in one bowl is one of my favourite food discoveries of 2015, found at an airport!

Apple Tart at Chabrol-This is a new discovery and I managed to share an apple tart with friends and family three times within a week. The house made puff pastry is light and crisp underneath layers of thin sliced perfect sweet tart apple topped with lovely calvados sabayon. Truly the best ever and masterful work by chef Doug Penfold. 90 Yorkville, Toronto

 

Step up your Indoor Workouts

Mid to late November is the perfect time to organize and step up our indoor workouts. I notice that time seems to speed up during these last few weeks of the year. My advice is to consciously step up your exercise routine now to prevent an unnecessary new years resolution.

I must admit to low attendance at the gym myself since I have been running outdoors for over 8 months and so enjoy being outside. It is a major adjustment for me to create an indoor work out routine now. I feel such resistance to going inside to work out it seems ridiculous, considering I am a professional fitness trainer! However, this is the purpose of this piece, to share motivation to get moving more at this crucial time of year-it is absolutely necessary!

Make an appointment with yourself for yourself to head to the gym now. Your body will thank you, as you are guaranteed to feel better in every way and your waistline will expand less or remain the same over the holidays. Plus, you can enjoy yourself more while you are taking care of yourself, and start the new year with the right habits already in place. Making Life Good recommends stepping up your workouts in November and really enjoying the holiday season!

Relax and improve your posture

A relaxing pose that helps improve your posture

A relaxing pose that helps improve your posture

Posture is a concern and priority for many people. My friend Dr Blessyl says your posture is like a physical calling card you exhibit to the world. Stand tall and feel confident. Regular life has us sitting at a desk, driving a car, looking down at a cell phone, which tends to round our shoulders forward, which easily creates tension in the neck and shoulder areas and can also impede our breathing.

The relaxing pose featured in the photo above is borrowed from restorative yoga and can be practiced anywhere you can lie down with a rolled towel placed across your upper back underneath your armpits. If you find that your neck is extending back too far back or you feel uncomfortable, try placing a small folded towel underneath your head to improve your alignment. You can also bend your knees and have your feet flat on the floor if your lower back is not comfortable. The important point is to feel comfortable and at ease.

Just about everyone I have taught this pose to finds it relaxing and beneficial, as the position reverses shoulders that are rounded forward by opening through the chest, heart and arms, which also affects the heart and lung meridians according to the traditional chinese medicine map of the body. Physically being in an open hearted posture helps us to be more in tune with ourselves, since the heart can be considered the centre of our personality. In addition, the gentle back bend in the thoracic and lumbar spine helps the accessory muscles of breathing to relax, which can bring our breath pattern to a more optimal relaxed, effortless state.

Taking the time to relax in this position can also benefit your posture through gentle stretching across the chest, shoulders and arms and relaxation of the traps and neck-areas in which so many of us experience tension. Since this position is comfortable, you can easily remain in the pose for more than 5 minutes or as long as you wish. With consistent practice, you may experience improved breathing and posture, which makes life good!

 

A Taste of Morocco: Orange, date and mint

On a recent trip to Morocco, I noticed that there was an abundance of oranges. Seville orange trees, fantastic fresh orange juice at breakfast, and offerings of sliced orange topped with cinnamon as a dessert option (which I did not order, as pastries beckoned). Dates were also widely available in many varieties. Mint tea was a beverage of choice for refreshment of the palate and to aid digestion. Orange, date and mint, tastes of Morocco.

Looking through recipes when I came home, one that immediately appealed to me was a date and orange salad in Plenty More, and of course it was almost featured in an episode on Morocco. I made my own version of the salad with sugar snap peas, orange, dates and mint, which was tasty, but I felt I would prefer the orange, date and mint on its own…possibly as a healthy dessert

I really enjoyed the pure flavour combination of fresh orange, chopped dates, fresh mint and a dash of cinnamon as a refreshingly delicious dessert. Here are the preparation guidelines for a single serving (multiply as needed for additional servings)

One orange

1-2 dates, chopped

5-6 fresh mint leaves

dash of cinnamon

IMG_3940

 

Slice the top and bottom off the orange, then remove the skin following the curve of the orange. Slice orange across the segments and arrange on a plate. Top with chopped dates, sprinkle cinnamon to taste, then top with chopped fresh mint, and enjoy.

IMG_3942

 

 

Cook beans from dry, skip the cans

Beans were a food I feared for a long time for their gaseous properties. On many occasions when I did eat them, they did not sit well in my stomach. Over the past few years in exploring more plant based foods, I got into the habit of cooking beans myself, because I found the texture to be much better and the beans were much easier to digest when I cooked them myself. In addition, I save the use of a can in doing my small part for the earth for much improved taste and texture- Making Life Good definitely recommends cooking your own beans!

Cooking dry beans is easy. The only skill required is ability to observe boiling water. The first step is to purchase dry beans of your choice from a retailer that sells a good volume of beans, since beans with their long shelf life can get old and less pleasant to eat. Once you have brought your beans home, take 1-2 cups of dry beans and soak in a large bowl of water overnight.

Rinse the soaked beans in a strainer. Place beans in a large pot, cover with an ample amount of water, say 2 inches or so. Bring to a boil for 2-5 minutes, lower to a simmer and cook until beans are the desired tenderness. You can save the bean cooking liquid to add flavour to soups if you wish. Strain the beans and rinse with water if desired. Your beans are now ready to be added to any soup, stew, chili, salad or any other recipe to enjoy.

dry white beans before soaking and cooking then ready to eat after with just a little work

dry white beans before soaking and cooking then ready to eat after with just a little work