Hiking and Appies

I love a trek to St. Mark’s Summit on a misty fall day.

Being surrounded by nature’s beauty makes my soul sing.

And, after a chilly excursion to the mountaintop, this dish helps to warm your soul and fill your belly:

Savoury Puff Pastry

The Pastry:

Ingredients
  • 2 ⅓ cups flour
  • 14 tablespoons butter, frozen
  • Pinch salt
  • 8-10 tablespoons chilled water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Place your butter in the freezer for a minimum of 2 hours but preferably overnight.
  2. In a jug mix together water and lemon juice and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl mix together flour and salt. Everything should be cold so feel free to put the bowl of flour in the fridge to chill.
  4. Grate the frozen butter directly into the flour mix. Stir the frozen butter into the flour with a knife in with a knife.
  5. Add the liquid, holding a little back just in case you don’t need it all. Using your hand bring your pastry together gently. You want to add just enough water to bring the pastry together. Too much water will not yield you a flakey dough.
  6. Bring the dough together to form a ball. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour. You can refrigerate it for up to 3 days or freeze to use at a later day.
The Recipe:
Form your puff pastry into little boats. In the centre, add sliced cherry tomatoes and a layer of bocconcini and top with a fresh basil leaf.
Bake at 350 degrees for half an hour. Serve. Warm your heart.
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Local Living and Blueberry Muffins

I’ve been eating only local foods lately for two reasons ~ first, fresh BC foods taste so incredibly good and second, our beautiful province is in a state of emergency again because of global warming (and human) induced forest fires. We have over 600 fires burning in total right now and I need, for my own happiness, positivity and mental health, to be part of the global warming solution.

I already have what some would consider an extremely green lifestyle ~ live in a small space, don’t have a car, don’t love being a consumer so keep my possessions to a minimum…but, with dark smoke hanging in our skies and beautiful BC being choked by smoke and fire, I need to do more.

So, I’ve been educating myself lately about the huge carbon footprint created by transporting our food across the world. Did you know that Canada ships farmed salmon to China for processing and then the fish are shipped back here for our consumption. Ugh, the madness has to stop. And what kind of chemicals and preservatives does our food have to be laced with to stay “fresh” during the many miles covered to get to our plate? As someone who grew up with a big backyard garden that fed the family, what is now happening with global food transport seems so unnatural and is clearly taking its toll on the planet.

To bring a more natural, eco friendly way of eating back into my life, I’m rediscovering the 100 Mile Diet. The last time I did this challenge a few years ago I felt amazing and eating close to home helps our beautiful planet that is currently in crisis. It might seem like we don’t have a lot of personal power in saving the earth but as David Suzuki says, if several million people made even small changes to their lives the result would be astronomical!

Last but not least, local food tastes so amazing. In fact it’s bursting with flavour. An imported papaya from the other side of the world just doesn’t compare to fresh, beautiful BC fruit!

And, to get you inspired to love local, here’s a yummy, healthy recipe that features BC berries:

Wholesome Blueberry Muffins

  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh and local
  • 1/3 cup oil if your choice
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the dry ingredients together, then whisk the wet ingredients together and add to dry, folding in blueberries last. Put in lined muffins cups and bake for 25 minutes. Then enjoy the goodness!

Sunday Smoothie

This luscious smoothie is full of vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes to nourish and energize.

Serves 2 smoothie-loving people.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 1/2 cups cashew milk
  • 1 handful fresh spinach
  • 4 romaine leaves
  • 1 orange
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp of fresh ginger
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1 scoop Vega greens plus protein powder
DIRECTIONS
  1. Toss everything in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass (so you can see the beautiful shade of green) and enjoy!

Earth Day Meditation & Mermaid Smoothie Bowl

I’m doing a chakra clearing meditation today. And any meditation is better when you’re getting a little healing tree energy at the same time.

Here’s what you do to clear and balance your first chakra:

Get grounded into nature ~ actually being in nature is best but you can do this at home too.

Tune into your 1st chakra at the base of your tailbone and imagine the bottom of your chakra opening up and a cord going deep into the earth from your 1st chakra. Now take a deep breath and think about all the old, stagnant energy that may be around this chakra that needs to go.

The first chakra is all about safety and security, so think of all of your fears around these areas, along with any old memories or painful feelings that surface, and imagine them leaving your body and going into the beautiful earth to be transformed. Keep going, imagining all of this old energy and old fear and sadness draining out of your body.

Make sure to honour any memories that come up in this process and stay with them as long as you need to. Don’t rush it. Let everything flow, knowing you can come back to this another day if you’re feeling a lot of emotion.

When the meditation is done, imagine the cord filling you up with energy from the earth. Then imagine closing the chakra and take three deep breaths to close the meditation, breathing in the new and sighing out the old.

This meditation could be done once or could be done every day for months, depending on how many issues come up for you. Repeat the meditation daily until there is nothing left to clear and then move on to do the same meditation with your second chakra, then third, then fourth etc. Expect amazing things to happen along the way.

And, after the meditation, I made a vegan, earth friendly snack that’s nutritious and delicious.

Mermaid bowl

  • 4 bananas
  • 1 avocado
  • pinch spirulina
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cashew milk

Blend together and top everything with coconut dusted blackberries.

This rich, yummy bowl is full of good fat from the avo, anti-aging antioxidants from the berries and good carbs, minerals and vitamins from the bananas.

Happy Earth Day

Tulip Festivals & Fat Bombs

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival started this week and, lured by online photos of gorgeous rows of brilliantly coloured tulips, a friend and I journeyed out to the country to tour wineries and walk through rows of pretty tulips. When we finally arrived at our destination we were sad to find out that vineyard bistros are only open a few days a week this time of year. Then, when we got to the tulip festival, well, only one flower had braved the weeks of rain and actually managed to kind of bloom.

As my friend and I drove around searching for a place to have lunch I said to her “isn’t it crazy how different real life is from the perfect images we see online?”

The reality though, is that although real life isn’t perfect, in a lot of ways it’s way better. Ok, we didn’t get to hang out at a fancy winery but we did find an amazing little bistro with reasonable, delicious food and funny, friendly servers. We laughed a lot and swore a lot at our misadventures (dropping a bunch of f~bombs can be incredibly therapeutic) and, although we didn’t have any social media worthy photo~ops of rows and rows of breathtaking flowers, that one little pink tulip that was almost blooming looked incredibly beautiful in the endless green fields.

So, I guess that our trip to the tulip festival was a fun reminder that the imperfections and surprises in life are actually where all of the sweet moments live.

So don’t fight it when things aren’t quite what you expected. Go with the flow and enjoy every single moment. Everything is probably going to turn out way better than you could have imagined anyway.

And, after a fun, muddy day running around the raindrop filled fields of Abbottsford, I cocooned in my cozy, little apartment and made these:

Raw Cacao Fat Bombs

Combine:

  • one cup raw cashews
  • one cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2 T raw cacao
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • a little bit of water and a teeny tiny drop of honey

Pulse everything in a food processor, roll into balls and refrigerate.

Not super sweet but very chocolatey and coconuty when you’re feeling like a snack. These balls are full of good fat so will fill you up and are also very low in carbs so won’t cause any nasty blood sugar spikes.

Enjoy.

A Perfect Parfait

In my last post, I promised you a yummy, low sugar, dessert recipe.

Well, this one is more of a breakfast or snack item but it is definitely low sugar, nutrient-packed and very delicious.

A Perfect Parfait

  • fresh berries of your choice
  • Greek or plain, full fat probiotic yogurt
  • Homemade granola (recipe below)

Layer items, or as in pic below, arrange in a bowl and top yogurt with a drizzle of dark chocolate syrup for extra yumminess.

Homemade Granola

  • 2 cups raw, whole rolled oats
  • ½ cup raw nuts
  • chopped ¼ cup raw seeds (sunflower or pumpkin seeds are great)
  • ½ cup unsweetened dried fruit of your choice
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple syrup or raw honey (or a combo of both)
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large pinch fine sea salt

Recipe: Preheat the oven to 300º F. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Done.

Sugar and your brain

I’ve been sugar-free for a few days and already I’m starting to feel, well, sharper. My memory seems better and my afternoon brain fog is gone. Is this because of my no-sugar eating plan I wondered? So, I googled sugar and brain health and this is what I found.

Not only is sugar bad for your weight, skin and heart, but also your brain.

And here’s what will happen to your brain when you give up sugar:

You may experience cravings – Possibly intense cravings.

I’m writing this blog post on day 3 of my no-sugar lifestyle and, although I slept like a little log last night (a sugar-free bonus) my head is pounding today. And I never, ever get headaches..well, unless I’m hungover and I’m certainly not hungover today. Nope, I suspect this is good old sugar withdrawal. Since sugar helps release the feel-good chemical serotonin in your brain, giving sugar up temporarily depletes your levels of the happy chemical until your body adjusts and manufactures more on its own.

I know this headache and slightly off feeling will only last a few days so I’m staying strong, but on my way home tonight I had a fantasy about opening a bottle of maple syrup and drinking it straight from the bottle (I’ve actually done this before. More than once). So, yes, you may experience intense sugar cravings for a few days.

Your memory and learning skills will improve.

A 2012 UCLA study on rats found that a diet high in sugar impairs learning and memory by literally slowing down the brain by stopping communication between brain cells. I personally don’t feel extraordinarily smarter these past three days but I totally believe that sugar does negatively affect the brain, especially in people who are sensitive to it, so I’ll keep you posted!

 

Your depression and anxiety will lessen.

If you’ve ever had a sugar binge, followed by a sugar crash, you know up close and personal the feelings of crankiness, mood swings, tiredness and brain fog. This has happened to me on more afternoons than I care to count. And it all happens because eating a piece of chocolate cake or drinking a soda causes blood sugar levels to spike and then crash. This is exactly how sugary food messes with the neurotransmitters that keep our moods calm and stable. I’m definitely looking forward to less afternoons of feeling like I’ve hit a wall, very hard.

 

You can worry less about age-related cognitive decline and/or dementia.

There is a body of research showing that a sugar-filled diet increases the risk of cognitive decline as we age as well as developing Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t know about you but Alzheimer’s is one disease that I have watched older relatives suffer from and that I will do anything to avoid getting. If giving up sugar is insurance against future dementia, I’ll buy that insurance, thank you very much. Find out more about the research here.

So, to summarize, these are a few of the sneaky ways that sugar can affect your health, happiness and your entire life. It is now thought to affect our brains in a similar way as cocaine and other opiates.

And even though I’m typing away through an annoying headache and occasionally day dreaming about chugging maple syrup straight out of the bottle, I’m also so excited to see how I’ll be feeling in a few weeks.

Until next time.