World Environment Day and Homemade Hummus

I was really hoping to get this post out yesterday which was World Environment Day but I spent the evening hanging out at the beach and celebrating the day by soaking up our magnificent natural world. So I have a great excuse for this blog post being a day late.

The big topic of conversation with my friends yesterday was the effect of meat consumption on human health, the environment and, last but not least, the suffering of animals in the factory farm system.

I read an article recently that if the human population keeps growing at the rate it is, food supplies will have to increase by 70%. 70%! Imagine cutting down that many more forests to raise animals to eat? Forests which cool the planet to raise cattle whose gas when fed an unnatural diet of grains (which we are currently feeding most cattle) create methane gas that damages the ozone layer and contributes to global warming. Is it just me, or does that sound like a very sad recipe for disaster and a burning hot planet?

And beyond the environmental disaster of excessive meat consumption is the stomach turning cruelty of factory farms. There is a slaughterhouse in Toronto called Fearman’s (appropriate name) that kills 10,000 pigs a day. Every. Day. And that is only one slaughterhouse of the thousands and thousands of slaughterhouses in North America. Kind of mind boggling, isn’t it? It gets worse. I recently read another article that will not leave me. It was a slaughterhouse worker who was promised anonymity for describing life inside the slaughterhouse. He spoke of how angry the workers get at pigs when they walk onto the killing floor. The pigs are usually thirsty and hungry after a long trip with no food or water, are always terrified and often they are crying in fear. I guess the crying and vulnerability of the animals enrages a lot of the workers so the men feel that they need to abuse the pigs before they kill them. I won’t even describe the things he recounts because the actions can only be described as hell on earth for farm animals.

So my hope for World Environment Day this year is that we all think about what the animals we eat go through and want to save many of them from terror and abuse. I hope that we realize the huge toll our love of steak and bacon is taking on the planet through pollution and climate change. And I hope we all love ourselves enough to feed ourselves a health-giving plant based diet. It does our bodies good too to stay away from too much meat.

When I talk to people about these issues who eat a lot of meat and can’t imagine life without it, I never say “give up meat”. Change doesn’t have to be so black and white. The less meat we all eat the better our health is, the less animals we hurt and the healthier and cleaner our world is. Every meal that we eat beans and grains and veggies is a big step in the right direction. If every person ate, say, half the meat they are currently eating, the planet would be transformed. The transformation would be a cleaner environment, less cruelty and healthier humans. A win/win/win.

I’ll be posting lots of my favorite bean dishes and protein smoothie recipes in the next while ’cause plant based is not only amazing for us, it can be unbelievably delicious too. And to get started, here is my hummus recipe. I whip this up in my blender, serve with an herb flat bread and a big salad full of veggies and avocado and dinner is served. Yummy, healthy and cruelty-free.

Homemade Olive Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice from 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 3 chopped black olives
  • 2 T Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt to taste

Blend all ingredients together and serve.

Beach Yoga & Energy Balls

 

The feeling of freedom I get from doing yoga and meditating in nature keeps me balanced, happy and sometimes sane.

I practice yoga in a studio over the winter but when spring hits and I can do a few Sun Salutions gazing at the Pacific Ocean and the mountain range behind it, well nothing indoors can really compare to that. Going barefoot in the sand and letting my poor little feet, usually imprisoned in some sort of high heel, sink into the cool, grains of dark sand feels better than the most luxurious spa treatment. And if you believe in earthing, it is better than the most luxurious foot treatment.

The beautiful ocean air, the sweet sound of the waves lapping the shore and my own little yoga practice on a deserted beach is my recipe for re-balancing and relaxation.

Then I like to go home, chilled out and stress free to work on some other recipes.

This week I have a raw energy ball that’s full of nutritious ingredients and easy to pack in your bag when you’re in the run. Clean eating approved and delicious, here it is:

Almond Oatmeal Energy Balls

 

  • One cup oatmeal
  • One cup almond butter
  • 2 T honey or maple syrup
  • 1 T flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together. Form into balls. Refrigerate.

 

 

Monsanto and our wheat supply

Do you ever find it strange that so many people in the past few years have developed a gluten/wheat intolerance? I can’t help but think back to my childhood, teen years and even 20’s and 30’s, when hardly anybody had an allergy to anything. I don’t even remember hearing the word allergy when I was in school. Granted it was a small, country school, but still. It feels like every other person I chat with today has a sensitivity/allergy/intolerance to something in their diet, or leaky gut, IBS or another illness of the digestive tract. All of this has made me wonder just what is going on in with our health these days. Then I stumbled on an article last week that could explain the problems and issues and ill health that so many of us are currently experiencing. The topic of the article was Glyphosate.

What is glyphosate? It’s a poisonous weed killer that conventional grain crops are now sprayed with a few days before harvest time. In fact 95% of farms in Canada’s prairies are spraying this GMO Monsanto poison…oops, I mean product on their crops.

Why is it sprayed on crops? Because it kills the crops and they dry out and die, making harvesting them easier, faster and more profitable for the farmer. The only problem is that the glyphosate residue is all over the grain and stays there until we eat it. Now I’m not a scientist but, considering how much grain we eat, we are probably being dosed with a Monsanto pesticide almost every day of our lives. Not good. Not good and not natural and a probable explanation for all of the health problems mentioned in the second paragraph.

What crops are sprayed with glyphosate? Here’s a list of conventional crops (organic are okay) to avoid. All of these crops are currently heavily dosed with glyphosate:

  • Lentils
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans
  • Millet
  • Flax
  • Rye and buckwheat
  • Canola
  • Peas

I don’t know about you, but I find that a very depressing list. Not only are some of my favourite foods on the list, but some of the items on the list are in almost all packaged food, meaning this Monsanto pesticide is heavily embedded in our food supply.

When glyphosate is ingested it upsets the all important balance of good bacteria in our gut, probably contributing to a host of health issues and may compromise our immune system as well. 

What can we do to get glyphosate out of our diet?

  • Make sure to only buy organic when it comes the list sprayed crops.
  • Buy local as much as possible as small, organic farms don’t use Monsanto products.
  • Eat rice instead of wheat or rye
  • Don’t use canola oil in cooking or as salad dressing
  • Don’t eat soybeans as all are pretty much GMO or sprayed now-a-days
  • Email this address and tell them that it’s not okay how Monsanto is affecting our food supply

When you’re searching for safe grain products, avoid conventional agriculture and packaged food with suspect ingredients.

 It make take a little effort but your health is so worth it.

Spring flowers and chia pudding 

Vancouver is blooming and I just can’t get enough of all of the beautiful blossoms and their scents.

My current favourite activity is leashing up my dog, hitting the beach and breathing in the floral wonderland around me. Nature’s aromatherapy has opened up shop in my hood. The light pink cherry blossoms that were lining our streets have loosened from their stems this week and glided down to cover the ground in sweet little pink petals. Luckily fushia Azaleas have taken their place, as well as a plethora of other blooms.

And what to snack on during a walk through the flower lined streets? Banana chia pudding. This treat is raw, healthy and chock full of omega 3’s.

Banana Chia Pudding

  • One cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • one banana
  • sprinkle of raw cacao
  • 1 T hemp seeds
  • 1 T flax seeds

Blend all ingredients together and pour into mason jars for a snack on the run!

“Always look up; there are treats beyond your wildest dreams waiting!" ~ Pawsh Magazine

“Always look up; there are treats beyond your wildest dreams waiting!” ~ Pawsh Magazine

 

Beginning a Meditation Practice

I tried meditating once about 7 or 8 years ago. All I remember about the experience is sitting in a candlelit room with a bunch of strangers and having the instructor softly tell us to “empty our minds” over and over again. Every time she instructed us to do this, my teeth clenched a little tighter. You see my mind was full of random thoughts that were ping-ponging all over my brain and refusing to go away, no matter how hard I fought against them. It was a very frustrating experience so I proclaimed myself “bad at meditation” and didn’t try again. Until now. I’m not sure what sparked it but I have become fascinated with meditation recently and I now know that emptying our minds is not necessary, or even necessarily recommended, for a fulfilling meditation practice.

Why have I finally started flirting with meditation? For so many reasons but I guess a few of the main ones are these:

  • The feeling that so many of us live in our heads, cut off from the signals that our bodies are valiantly trying to give us.
  • Sleepwalking through so much of my day, not feeling present and not fully experiencing my life.
  • Internet addiction. The opposite of being mindful and present. Next time  you’re out in public, on transit or just walking down the street, really observe how many people are glued to their phones, missing out on the real world around them.
  • I’ve heard it can be anti-aging (anything to keep the botox and fillers at bay!)

And I’ve been practicing on my own in my little living room. I’ve been lighting candles and playing rainforest music in the background to set the stage. Every time I meditate, I find it easier to sink into my body. Memories of old pain come up once in awhile and I sit with it and accept it and listen to what it has to tell me. Sometimes the pain comes up several times before it goes away. I’m patient and loving and stay with it until it transforms into something else (even if this takes days or weeks).

Also, I’ve recently learned how to do a Loving Kindness Meditation and I’ll like to share it with you:

Loving Kindness Meditation

This practice involves silently repeating phrases that offer good things to yourself and to others.

  1. You can start by thinking about your own goodness—remembering things you have done out of good-heartedness and celebrating the potential for goodness we all share.
  2. Silently repeat phrases that reflect what we wish most deeply for ourselves (and others). Traditional phrases are:
    • May I live in safety.
    • May I have peace and joy in my life.
    • May I have good health and freedom from pain.
    • May I live with ease.
  3. Say the phrases with enough space and silence between so they fall into a rhythm that feels natural to you.
  4. Each time you notice your attention has wandered, be kind to yourself. Notice the distraction and either let it go or realize that it is here for you to stay with and, think about. When you’re ready, come back to repeating the phrases without any judgement toward yourself.
  5. After some time, visualize yourself in the center of a circle composed of those who have been kind to you, or have inspired you because of their love and guidance. They are your circle. As you visualize yourself in the center of it, experience yourself as the recipient of their love and attention. Keep gently repeating the phrases of loving kindness for yourself.
  6. To close the session, let go of the visualization, and simply keep repeating the phrases for a few more minutes. Each time you do so, you are transforming your old, hurtful relationship to yourself, and are moving forward, to a presence full of love.

And that is it. A simple, loving-kindness meditation. If you try it, please let me know how it goes in the comment section. Namaste xo