Tag Archives: Vivian Law

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: 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: Roasted Squash soup

I had some roasted squash soup as a special at Foxley in the fall. It was so delicious, I set out to make some myself the very next day. The recipe has taken some practice and I did ask chef Tom Thai for tips-the key is to rest the squash after it was roasted. The kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass impart such a nice balance with the rich coconut milk above the delicious roasted squash base.

1 buttercup squash

1 butternut squash

1 apple, peeled, cored and diced

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons coconut oil

handful of kaffir lime leaves

1 stalk of lemongrass, cut into pieces

4-6 cups vegetable stock

1 can full fat coconut milk

butternut and buttercup squash ready for roasting-2 types add depth of flavour

butternut and buttercup squash ready for roasting-2 types add depth of flavour

Wash the squash in warm water thoroughly. Usually squash are hard to cut through, so I throw them in the oven for 10-15 minutes whole to soften. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (soften up the squash as well).

Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and rub with a little coconut or olive oil. Roast squash in a baking dish for 45-60 minutes. Leave in oven to ‘rest’ for a couple hours or until cool.

Depending on the softness of the squash, you can scoop out the flesh in chunks or peel the skin and cut into chunks.

In a large pot, heat coconut oil over medium heat and saute the onion and apple until softened. Add the squash, vegetable broth, lime leaves, and lemongrass. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the lime leaves and lemongrass. Puree with an immersion blender. Season with salt and stir in coconut milk until blended. Enjoy!

The Making Life Good weekly shopping list

I recently realized that for all that I have gone on about eating vegetables and fruit, I have yet to share what is involved on a weekly basis to build and maintain this habit. I actually have an unspoken commitment to myself to buy a variety of vegetables and fruit every week. When I travel, this is one of my first tasks upon arriving at my destination if I have a refrigerator at my accommodation and it is a must do as soon as I return home.

What do I typically buy? My good friend Emily taught me years ago that I ought to purchase in season local produce whenever possible (farmers markets are a good way to go). However, if you know me, I do have a predilection for strawberries, especially with some chilled champagne or clotted cream all year round. Most important is getting into the habit of buying and being sure to consume the fresh produce you bring home. Stocking your kitchen with fruits and veggies you enjoy is sure to improve your health by having healthy choices readily available.

Here is a rough list of what I buy on a weekly basis:

Organic lemons

Organic romaine lettuce

organic black kale

watercress

cucumber

grape tomatoes

green onion

avocados

parsley, cilantro

honey crisp apples, blueberries, pomegranate, oranges (winter fruits)

fresh fruits and veggies of the week

fresh fruits and veggies of the week

 

 

 

Recipe: Moroccan chickpea and lentil soup (harira)

I have seen harira soup mentioned a few times in magazines and cookbooks over the years. I tried it for the first time this spring in Morocco and loved it! I wanted to make it at home and was only motivated to do so as the weather started to cool off this fall. The harira I had in Morocco was made with beef, a bit of rice, served with dates and delicious little sweet crispy fried morsels of dough. I decided to make a vegetarian version, as I felt the spicing was bold and well suited to being a vegetarian soup. I also made the soup with fresh turmeric, an ingredient I only learned of when I took a 9 year friend to Caribbean Corner and she picked up the little roots and asked ‘what’s this?’ Fresh turmeric looks like dirty mini pieces of ginger and needs to be grated on a microplane for this soup. Be careful, turmeric leaves persistent yellow stains! If fresh turmeric is not easily available, use the powdered version. Fresh ginger is another key ingredient (powder will work too). Turmeric and ginger both have anti inflammatory properties. It is also best to use chickpeas made from dry, although a can will work if you desire. Serve this delicious soup topped with fresh chopped cilantro and parsley along with some dates…and crispy moroccan morsels…if I could find them!

1 cup dry chickpeas (soaked overnight in water with baking soda, then cooked until tender, see http://www.vivianlaw.ca/cook-beans-from-dry-skip-the-cans/ )

1 cup brown lentils

1 796 ml can diced tomatoes (puree if a smoother textured soup is desired)

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 celery rib, finely chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

1 small piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped or 1/2 teaspoon powdered

1 small piece of fresh turmeric, finely grated or 1 teaspoon powdered

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pinch saffron

4 cups vegetable broth

pepper and lemon juice to taste

chopped fresh parsley, cilantro and whole dates for serving

In a large soup pot, melt butter and saute onion, celery, jalapeno and ginger over medium heat until softened. Add tomatoes, vegetable broth, lentils and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add chickpeas. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until lentils are tender. Adjust salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Enjoy topped with chopped fresh parsley, cilantro and whole dates.

Delicious vegetarian harira soup, dates are essential

Delicious vegetarian harira soup, dates are essential