Welcome Wagon

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So the holidays happened and the New Year rolled in.  I swore once again I would AVOID the gym for ALL of January, because resolutioners.  Not that I have anything against resolutions, but more because the pressure of another year ending with not enough “shoulds” having been done.  And too many people setting up too many “shoulds” for the future, ending in disappointment when they don’t achieve (unrealistic) goals.  And the craziness that becomes the gym when everybody shows up all at once, en mass.

Okay, so not everyone fails and I’m being a bit of a pessimist.  But deciding to do something just because it’s a new year is not a good enough reason for me to do anything.  Deciding to do something because of an intrinsic motivational factor is. So when I feel inspired to change something, or break a habit everything has to do with ME and not a date on the calendar when the numbers change.  So my new year’s resolution is always to avoid the gym in January.  And please note…I’ve already failed (I think failure happened at week two of the new year, oh well).

My meal plans continue weekly even when I don’t share them here.  And this week is looking exciting!  Some new recipes and CAKE even! (Sorry for all you “I won’t eat cake/sugar/sweets” resolutioners.  This is ah-mazing!  And what’s life without balance?)

  • Vegan Spagetti (Easy pleasy! And also good with some non-vegan parmesan on top!)  See recipe below.
  • Slow Cooker Enchiladas.  I am in need of making use of this ugly slow cooker I own…but finding vegetarian recipes that are healthy and tasty are hard to come by. (Meat seems to be a main ingredient for getting this bad boy to work, much to my disappointment.)  This is a new recipe.  Anyone out there with good veggie slow cooker ideas??
  • Spinach-Potato Tacos.  Also new!  Only instead of following the recipe exactly, I plan on using hard shell corn tacos and wrap them with soft shell tortillas. YUM.
  • The BEST Chocolate cake ever.  With layers of buttercream icing of course. Now of course we’re not having this for dinner.  But we are bringing it along to a dinner party.  And it’s my husband’s birthday Yeah!! So with the best cake ever it instantly becomes the best birthday ever (right?!!)  I will try to take a picture and post later.  But it might just all get eaten before then…

And then the big “thing” I alluded to in my previous post.  I printed a cookbook for my family for Christmas!  So exciting. All my favourites, in one place.  Although I am constantly changing and altering recipes, I can’t claim many as original.  Therefor you won’t be seeing this bad boy out in stores.  But I do endorse all the original recipe chefs because they are amazing.  And without them, I’d be eating mostly porridge.  Seriously.

So also this week I’ll be making the Vegan Spagetti  and my most favourite Masoor Dal with cauliflower yogurt and naan bread. Both in the book.  The Cook Book. My most favourite.

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Vegan Spagetti

Vegan Spagetti

So here is to wishing you all a great start to the new year.  And if you made resolutions, I wish you luck (really I do!)

And in the meantime I’ll be back blogging weekly.  And I’m also on instagram @backyardyogalove following my yoga path daily.

If you like what you see here please “like” it and let me know! (or comment) And if you don’t, then don’t.

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How To Be Healthy. In A Nutshell. (Without The Nuts, Someone Might Be Allergic.)

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First off, drink milk so your bones grow strong.  But not too much, saturated fat is bad for you. Eat fish, the omega 3s are great for your brain development.  Not actual fish though, they have high levels of mercury and heavy metal poisoning.  And don’t drink homogenized milk as it has been linked to heart disease.

Dairy leads to juvenile diabetes.  Don’t eat dairy. Yogurt should be consumed everyday for the positive effects of probiotics on the gut.  However any yogurt you buy will likely contain refined sugars or sweeteners.  Do NOT eat refined sugar or sweeteners, they lead to tooth decay and diabetes.

IMG_2195Live in moderation so you don’t end up teaching your kids that all sugar is bad.  Otherwise they will go crazy in their teenage years and only eat sugar.  Eat sugar.  And only eat homemade things as they are healthier than eating out.

Do not eat baking.  It is filled with refined sugars and flour and fat.  And eggs.  But eggs are okay, they are a good source of protein and B12.  Do not eat eggs that you can buy in a store, the chickens were likely abused.  Do not eat eggs you buy.

Do not eat meat.  Meat and animal products have been linked to cancer.  Meat also contains saturated fat.  Saturated fat is bad.  Do not eat saturated fats.  Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.

Eat coconut oil.  Rub it on your skin. Use it for oil pulling. Clean your house with it. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature.

Make sure you get enough iron and protein in your diet.  Eat meat and nuts.  Nut butters are especially good.  Not in public, someone might be allergic.  Nuts often contain alfatoxin.  Alflatoxin stimulates cancer growth. Do not ingest alflatoxin.

Don’t ingest anything that hasn’t been produced locally (to help save the environment.)  Make sure you get enough colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet, especially in the middle of winter.

IMG_3267Juice veggies in order to meet your daily quota (goodness know getting enough in can be hard some days.) Blend up a green smoothie as well.  Drink your vitamins!

Don’t drink juice, it lacks the fibre.  Without the fibre, the carbohydrates are more readily available for your system to ingest causing a glucose spike.  Glucoses spike cause strain on the system and may result in diabetes and obesity.  Use common sense. Don’t “drink” more than what you would actually eat in a sitting (i.e. 2 bananas, 3 apples, a head of kale and tablespoon of ginger).

Only eat raw food as it is closest to the source and the most natural form.

Vitamins may not be readily available unless you steam or gently cook foods like vegetables.  Cook all your food.  Add coconut oil to the cooking process, as some of the vitamins are only fat soluble.

You should get enough vitamins and minerals in the food you eat, as long as you eat a varied diet, full of all the colours of the rainbow.  Most supplements don’t contain what they say they do, as they are not regulated by any government or regulatory body.

Take vitamin D as you are likely deficient.  And B12.  Also take a multivitamin just to cover your bases.  If you are iron deficient add iron.  And if you are taking iron you should take supplemental vitamin C to ensure iron absorption.  If pregnant you should also take folic acid to prevent neural tube defects.

Exercise regularly.  But do not run.  Running causes strain on the joints and there won’t be enough osteopaths around for the knee replacements required later on.  And do not walk as it doesn’t elevate your heart rate enough for cardiovascular activity.

IMG_3807Only engage in non-linear physical activities.  Linear physical activities like running, walking, biking and elliptical trainers only provide one directional movement for your body.  Swimming could cause death by drowning, especially if you eat food (eating food could cause you to cramp up and die/drown.) So don’t swim either. Or eat.

Sitting is the new smoking so don’t do that either.  Oh and don’t smoke.  Or drink.  Alcohol is a depressant and can lead to obesity and dependance.

IMG_3900A glass of wine once a day is recommended and healthy for your heart.  It also provides you with antioxidants.  Also you should eat berries, they are high in antioxidants too.

Do not eat anything that isn’t organic.  Especially non-organic berries.  The pesticides will be harmful to you, like they are to the bugs they kill.

Organic farming isn’t sustainable for the whole world.  It is costly and not as effective as traditional farming methods.  We could not feed the world if produce was organically farmed.  Do not buy organic.

Meditation has been shown to decrease cortisol levels and improve physical and mental health.  Close your eyes and sit down to meditate at least once a day for 20 minutes.

Lastly: attack life, it’s going to kill you anyway.

 

If you like it, share it.  If you don’t, don’t.

 

 

The Pint Size Snack.

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Welcome back to the school year!  And with it, the volunteer activities and necessity to pack lunches and snacks.

Enter the preschool helper.  The position of prestige in the eyes of my child.  And a good place for a parent to see their child flourish amongst others.

Along with the helper part also comes the lunch part.  (We take turns providing lunches for the classroom.)  When it comes to feeding my kids all is well and anything (or just about anything) goes.  But being a classroom of pint-sized people, many lunches have been a flop.  Some parents have resorted to bringing in delivered pizza…yet I have persevered to find something healthy AND likeable.  Not an easy feat. Especially when one of the considerations is that it is easy to prepare – remember this is a whole classroom.  And as much as crackers and cheese seems to be a lunchtime staple, the lack of nutritional fruit and vegetables kinda drives me nuts (nuts – which we are also not allowed to bring.)

Now that it is the beginning of the school year I can finally say I have found the perfect  snack, having worked at it all last year.  And usually everyone finds something they like out of it.

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Bring in the skewer!  Toddler style (or rather pre-school style) with the sharp skewer ends clipped off and a colourful display of vegetables.  This seems to be the best accepted, nutritional hit I’ve managed to conjure up.  And it’s great to have a preschool helper to prepare it!

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And speaking of conjuring…here was this weeks meal plan:

  • Chickpea Stew with Naan bread

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  • Mushroom Broccoli Quisotto (think risotto, but with quinoa!  And this dish can be fully ready in 20-30min…chopping time included!)

 

 

  • Daal with Cauliflower yogurt and Naan bread
  • Tomato Basil Pasta (with cashew cream sauce)

 

Go-Beta-Carotene!

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So what does one do when we are trying to pack in a punch of nutrition?  Get the most out of what we put in?

Try something new!

Still not sure I’m totally convinced of all the benefits. But after seeing all of what goes in, I’m happy with how I feel.  What am I referring to?  Juicing of course!

IMG_3262For the past 2 weeks I think we’ve juiced everyday.  Kale, cantaloupe, cucumbers, carrots, apples, melons, celery, ginger, oranges, mint.  You name it, we juiced it!  Another way to try and push in the iron content.  And for all us of taking iron supplements (3 out of 4 in the family) a great way to get a natural source of vitamin C to help with the absorption.

And I thought I didn’t like parsley.

Turns out all I had to do was drink it.

Direct from the garden - KALE!

Direct from the garden – KALE!

Now don’t misunderstand.  This is still juice.  I am not a regular juice drinker, or advocate.  I use this as supplementation to me and my family’s dietary needs.  Most of the juices are vegetable based (less carbs and sugars) and all are either focused on our need for vitamin C (to help us absorb iron supplements) or iron nutrients (like in the kale and parsley.)  We drink one cup a day (less for the kids).  And it is great!

Also made Costco shopping fun.  12lbs of carrots, a box of oranges, a ridiculous bag of apples (heavier than my son), and a ton of cucumber.  Okay so not exactly a ton of cucumber, but you get the picture.

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Being summer it also helps us to stay hydrated. As juices usually went along with snack and our usual water.

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My favourite was this morning.  I want to call it my “Go-Beta-Carotene!” 3 carrots, 3 oranges, 2 tbsp ginger, and about 1 cup pineapple.  Simple and yet so good.  Split 5 ways.  What a great start to the day. AND wow the houseguests.

Almond butter and beet juice breakfast.

Almond butter and beet juice breakfast.

That’s what I’ve been up to.  How about you?

Why juice? Read here.

Alteration.

So being dairy free means I’m missing out on all my favourite recipes that include, well, dairy.  Being the flexible girl I am (okay so I’m only sometimes flexible, like in yoga, sometimes…) I decided to try a recipe from my weekday go-to collection and alter it.  Dairy free!

Dairy free and fabulous!

Here is my take on Broccoli Pesto Pasta (dairy free). This is an adaptation from another blogger which I love.  (Find her original recipe here.)  Although it’s low on the protein side of things that’s nothing that can’t be made up for with snacks throughout the day.  Like all the hummus and peanut butter we ate finishing up the chopped raw veggies and pretzel sticks!

And here are the results of trying it out on the kids:

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As you can see it was a complete failure.  At least for having leftovers, well leftover for the following day.

And then there was the epic dessert that was to end my dairy-deprived 6 weeks.  We even had invited guests over!  This is The Ultimate Tiramisu.  It is like heaven on earth.  No, it is heaven on earth, in tiny bites that dance on your tongue like little happy fairies and make your hips wiggle just right while dancing the salsa. Or at least dancing, there is a lot of dancing and happiness involved.

Only, after purchasing all the dairy (marscapone, condensed milk, heavy whipping cream) there were no find lady fingers to be found. For those not familiar, (like many of the store clerks I asked) they are the little crunchy, flaky, air-filled sponge cookies that hold the liquor and coffee goodness in the cake. (Is tiramisu a cake? More like an experience!)  I drove around for over an hour in search of these little ladies and even used my “source of all things good in the kitchen” friend (who knows where to get anything, at anytime) with no avail.

So I took it as a sign that maybe, just maybe jumping off the wagon with both feet wasn’t such a great idea.  And since we are overflowing with peaches on sale right now, I opted for peach crumble.  The night before guests. As a consolation prize of no tiramisu.  And as it was the night before the guests, I was still dairy free.  Another alteration!

The recipe is a little bit horrific when it comes to be counting fat, and calories, and nutritional value (unless you count the peaches – yeah vitamins!) For a once in a while treat, like when those peaches go on sale in the middle of summer, when the weather isn’t too hot to turn on the oven.  It is perfection. And peaches!

IMG_3182First I sliced up about 6 very ripe peaches in a greased glass pan.  I layered the peaches sprinkling a total of 2 tsp of tapioca, squeezing a small half lemon, 2 tsp Earth Balance and 1 tsp of brown sugar.

IMG_3183Next up, making the crumble I added 1 cup oats to 1 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup flour and mixed.  Then cut in 2/3 cup Earth Balance using two knives.

Once mixed evenly I used my hands to create “crumble”.  And put HALF on the peaches. (Freeze the other half for more peaches later!)  If you re-read the butter and sugar content you will understand me in feeling better about less crumble and more IMG_3185peaches.  Bake at 375degrees for 45min, or until nicely browned.  Then allow to cool before eating.  This is best made if you can pull it out right before dinner, then serve warm after dinner is done (I allow at least 1 hour to cool.)

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I guess a big part of me failing at the tiramisu is a life lesson that I repeat over and over (and over).  I seem to get stuck wanting something and when it doesn’t immediately happen I feel like a failure.

Failing has nothing to do with it.  You don’t fail until you actually quit.  So by quitting you fail.  And I am far from quitting.  This is so true for my yoga practice as well.  Trying to conquer handstand without a wall, and forearm scorpion.  I just keep trying over and over and over.  I’m not failing because I won’t quit.

This weekend I will go out again and look for those lady fingers.  The dairy is waiting in my fridge for the special moment when it all will come together.  And my yoga mat is calling me.  Despite falling on my face and my ego bruising in front of a class of 20, I will get there yet.  Even if I have to modify at a wall for a while, or seven years.

As for the guests that next night.  We did BBQ peaches.  Peaches. So. Good! And ice cream.  The real stuff.  Next to what was left of my non-dairy coconut ice cream.  Which I opted for, because given the choice, it didn’t seem like a big deal anymore.

 

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This week’s meal plan has me excited!  So many new things to try…and increasingly so many challenges.  I struggle when faced with new things.  And going no dairy was great for the first two weeks, but now that I am officially out of my comfort recipes (of which I don’t seem to have as many as I had thought which are no-dairy) I am throwing caution to the wind and trying out all sorts of new flavours.  Most of which happily seem to be going well.  So here’s the plan (and yes, I’m halfway through!)IMG_2049

  • IMG_2051Moo-Shu Veggie Salad wraps with peanuts.  Aren’t those little Boston lettuces to die for!  Almost too cute to eat, and add a wonderful texture to the warm cabbage wrap filling.  I basically stir fry a little bit of garlic, add one shredded head of red cabbage a few shredded carrots, two diced green onions until the mixuture softens.  Then I add a few tbsp of hoisin sauce (yes, store bought – oh shame) and one or two tbsp of tamari.  Stir in about 1/2 cup chopped peanuts and then serve in the wrapped lettuce.  (In the picture you see I had also made a wonderful cold soba noodle salad! Yum!  And substituted the red cabbage for green, but after having tried it prefer the original.)  This recipe was adapted from The Supermarket Vegan cookbook.
  • Pinto bean sloppy joes on whole wheat buns with maple coleslaw.  The kids LOVED this recipe also from the Supermarket Vegan book above.  I need to tweak it a little before I share it with you – the joes were a little too sweet in my opinion.  And goodness knows we already have enough sugar I am trying to cut out of our lives!
  • Tomato and Basil Pasta with cashew cream sauce
  • Black Eyed Peas with Collard Greens and brown rice.  This recipe also needs tweaking, hence me not sharing (sorry!) Too spicy for the kiddos…so once tweaked I will share away and give a spicy option for adults!
  • Chickin’ burgers and sweet potato fries (using Quorn brand veggie burgers) and of course a large salad.  I have also found that surprisingly I am not above daiya cheese.  And happily it’s a great substitute!  We may even give the fries a go on the BBQ, being a long weekend and all.IMG_1419
  • Chickpea Salad Sandwiches on whole wheat seeded bread.  Mostly because this week has been HOT and cooking is overrated on these 85+F days!
  • Avocado Pasta. Still haven’t tried out this recipe yet but I feel it will be a great addition to the week’s menu for the kids!   It’s also super fast and meets my ‘hot day’ meal criteria.

 

So that’s this week!  Happy Canada Day to all my fellow nationals.  And Happy July 4th to those around me currently.  Anywhere you are in the world I hope your week is great!

The No Dairy Diet

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And by diet I mean temporary lifestyle.  I’m trying this out for the next 6 weeks to give my system a break from certain inflammatory food.  And in the meantime it’s a good vegan experiment too!  I have even found a creamer substitute for my coffee.  It’s still not cream, but makes my coffee loveable and drinkable and still enjoyable.  Which in turn makes me happy.  Yeh for coconut creamer!

So here’s what I’ve been working on this past week:

  • Thai Cashew Quinoa Salad– perfect for the summer weather and filled with energizing protein (who doesn’t LOVE thai?)
  • IMG_2966Jumbo Stuffed Shells and Vegan cesear salad.  This appears to be a take on my tofu and spinach stuffed shells recipe…only it’s not at all and doesn’t contain parmesan like my recipe.  AND it tastes just as amazing.  I don’t even know how that is possible but it just is.  I planned on freezing half, and then we ate. it. all.
  • IMG_2409Thai Coconut Red Curry with added edemame.  Filled to the brim with veggies, and more veggies and THAI! I used red and green bell peppers, a sweet onion, edemame (about 2 cups!) broccoli and brown rice for our dinner.  And of course omitted the chicken, still a veggie girl over here!
  • IMG_2927Green “Pasta” Primavera.  This was a shocker.  Again, so amazing.  With all the new recipes I am testing I keep anticipating failure and yet I always am so pleasantly surprised.  But my poor husband ends up not getting leftovers for work.  These meals are just so great, they are gone by the end of the meal.  IMG_2929With this meal you make a sundried tomato pesto for the primavera; I doubled the recipe for that and froze it so the next time I make the meal my time is saved (and I don’t have to clean the food IMG_2928processor – bonus!) Bought a vegetable julienne tool (and spiral slicer) especially for this, and my many vegetable “pastas” to come!  I can’t wait to give it a go on kohlrabi – so refreshing for the summer.  My kids loved the carrot “pasta”!  The tool I bought was easy to use and ranked high in the ratings.  It also makes making vegetable pasta fast.  Way faster than the manual peeler type (and anything to make my life easier working with whole foods is a GO!)  You can find it on Amazon here if you are interested in expanding your kitchen helpers.
  • Spinach Lentil Bake.  My old go to, with love and comfort baked inside.  And enough leftovers for the sitter, kids and our night out to the baseball game!

Also this past week has been energized by the longest days of sunshine in the year.  Yeah for summer solstice! There just seems to be more energy in the air.  With that I am off to do a run!  Gotta make use of this vamped up energy.  And bonus that it helps me train for another upcoming race.

I love summer!

33. Cover Your Essentials

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Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

My grandfather used to always start his speeches with this line:  a speech should be like a mini skirt, short enough to get your attention but long enough to cover all of the essentials.  I know, I know, kind of creepy coming from a grandpa but the point was made.  So here is enough to cover the essentials…nutrient wise.

The smoothie!

There are all sorts of variations out there but this is our go to at least 3-4 mornings a week.   

Go-To Green smoothie

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Add some extra nutrients to your day.  It’s really easy, and tastes great.  You can up the anti by adding extra omega 3s (by adding a few teaspoons of ground flaxseed – just make sure to drink up fast, this stuff gels!) or up protein by adding a tablespoon or two of chia seed.

My breakfast smoothie caters to little kids and has added avocado, which provides the essential fats needed for brain development.  Want it a little sweeter – add a diced apple.  More anti-oxidants?  Add some berries as I did in the pictures. (Frozen works great too, and are cheaper than fresh.) The possibilities are limitless, and the ability to add essential vitamins and nutrients in the form of whole foods is exciting.

Enjoy your day!

Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

32. A Stitch in Time

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Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

What is one way you can save money, time and not have to decide what to make for dinner again?  Meal Plan!!

Okay, I know that I love organization.  It gets me all excited and I love the end result.  For those of you who aren’t into organization I’m sure you have your own system that works.   But for me, this saves time: I only grocery shop once a week and everything is outlined so I don’t have to work magic in the kitchen every day trying to figure out what I have in stock and what I can make with it…the magic is already there I just have to show up and follow the plan!

It saves me money: I only grocery shop once a week (see a pattern here?), saves me from impulse buys and it also helps me to organize and use what I do have in the kitchen.  Meal planning ahead of time also allows me to use leftovers from one meal in another…like making a large greek salad and being able to use it in two dinners, or cut up veggies from one dish in a stir fry the following night.

And it saves me from the dreaded “what are we going to have for dinner??”

I spend an hour to an hour and a half Monday mornings planning the meals for the week, and then another hour to hour and a half grocery shopping for our needs.  Then I have very set meals I am prepared for all week.  No decisions or quandaries about what to eat!  And my little kids love it, because they can choose from the list of meals for that week what they want.  (Especially in the beginning of the week when there are up to 7 choices!  My daughter loves this, which in turn helps her to actually want to eat the meal…because it gives her the feeling of choice and control.)

I’ve been missing posting my weekly meal plans on my blog…I’ve made such fabulous meals lately it’s been hard not to share.  But know that when this 40 days of tips is done, I’ll have a bunch of exciting recipes and meal plans to share!  Like the cookies pictured above (ok ok so it’s not a meal…but they are SO good!  And if you are using the recipe link: I substituted peanut butter with almond butter, ground my almonds into meal instead of flour and used coconut oil as the ‘buttery spread’.  Now the cookies are gone, even though we are not a vegan household.)

That today’s tip!  Helps with mental health, financial health, and health in general because you are less likely to resort to ordering in pizza…even if I did just convince you to make cookies.

Happy Friday!

Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

13. For The Birds.

Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

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Eat like a bird.

 And I’m not talking about hardly eating (as most people imagine birds do.)  Have you ever actually watched a robin hunting for worms?  Or how much chickadees eat at a bird feeder?  Birds eat almost their weight in food everyday.  Although I’m not recommending you trying that, I am recommending following their pattern of eating.  Eat small amounts often.  I’m talking 6 times a day (3 meals and 3 snacks) Snack on healthy whole foods; nuts, seeds, berries, fruit, vegetables.

By filling your body with nutritious foods at regular intervals you are less likely to crash (and crave sugar or carbs).  Nuts and seeds are amazing when it comes nutritional value.  They contain good fats, protein, vitamins, and fibre.  Walnuts and almonds pack in particularly good punch when it comes to curbing appetite and sustaining your blood sugar.  You only need about a handful a day.  I divide that into two 1oz snacks along with some fresh berries or fruit.

A few things happen in your body with this combination: By combining the nuts/seeds with fruit, you get a burst of energy from the fruit sugars and then a gradual release of energy from the nuts proteins, keeping you satisfied longer.  The bulk of the fruit also helps to make you feel full.  Fruits and vegetables are nutritionally high, not calorie dense. So eat as much as you want.  And eat like a bird.

Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days