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.

 

 

Homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette

My MSG free journey is coming along pretty well. Of course there have been a few surprises along the way. One of the surprises was the realization of just how much MSG has infiltrated our lives by being in almost every prepared product on the shelves of the grocery store. This annoying little toxin is in so many every day items that you really have to re-think almost everything that goes into your mouth. An example is that I had to toss out my minty fresh, flavour enhanced toothpaste and am now brushing my teeth with a coconut oil/baking soda mixture. Oddly enough, I’m finding that I have fresher breath with this natural cleanser. I can’t wait until my next trip to the dentist for a cleaning to see what the verdict is on my new found oral hygiene. But I digress.

What I really want to talk about is salad dressing. Do you know that it’s pretty much impossible to buy a commercial salad dressing without a liberal dose of MSG added? I’ve looked and looked and haven’t been able to find one (If anyone out there knows of one please leave the brand name in the comments section below). So, I’ve been making my own dressing at home…much like I’ve been making my own everything on this journey. The TV show Little House on the Prairie that I used to watch as a teenager has been popping into my mind as I make all of my meals from scratch in my little galley kitchen. I used to love watching the show and all of the homesteading that was just part of life back then. Oops, digressing again.

tossed salad with raspberry vinaigretteSo salad dressing! I’ve concocted what I think is a winner.

Such a winner that as I eat my delicious, wholesome salad, I wonder why I ever bought that preservative filled, MSG laden store-bought dressing in the first place.

Here it is:

Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Drizzle this over a salad of mixed greens, pecans, goat cheese and fresh raspberries for a big plate of yum!

Sooke Harbour House

With all of the political unrest south of the border dominating the news this week, I can’t think of a more soothing place to write about than Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island.

I was lucky enough to spend three nights there a few weeks ago and the whole experience was a blissful, back to nature retreat.

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Let me start with the view. Our room faced the ocean and we saw breathtaking vistas like this every day from our balcony.

sooke, british columbia

vancouver island

The hotel is quaint and luxurious at the same time, making a visit there feel like entering a warm haven from yesteryear. If I had to describe the visit in a metaphor, staying at Sooke Harbour House is like wrapping yourself in a fuzzy blanket with a good book beside you and a cup of delicious hot chocolate cupped in your hands. And, speaking of good books, the hallways of Harbour House are lined with shelves and shelves of books. There are also super comfy love seats nestled in the hallway, waiting for someone to sink into them and dive into one of those good books.

sooke harbour house

sooke harbour house

Leave your room for an afternoon and you’ll see that the grounds around the Inn are filled with an edible garden. Herbs, lettuces, root vegetables, fruit trees and lots of beautiful edible flowers make the garden a delight to walk through. And later at dinner, the unbelievable freshness of your meal is a foodie’s dream. This is due to so many food items being picked from their very own garden but also because they source almost all of the menu items from the Island. Sooke Harbour House is an example of the 100 Mile Diet at its best.

Then there’s room service. Here we have garden pomme frites, a chanterelle soup and garden salad topped with pretty edible flowers.

organic food

Everything tasted amazingly delicious, as did every other meal eaten in the two restaurants, The Copper Room and The Restaurant. If you’d like to make this rich and creamy soup at home, so you can cuddle up in a fuzzy blanket and forget about all of the worries of the world for a while, let me help you out…

Sooke Harbour House’s Chanterelle Walnut Soup

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 cups wild chanterelle mushrooms, brushed and chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, shelled
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup carrot, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
20 fennel seeds
10 coriander seeds
10 cumin seeds
2 Tbsp garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
5 cups vegetable stock
1 cup whipping cream (or whole milk for a lighter version)
2 fresh or dried bay leaves

Place butter in large, stainless steel pot over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add mushrooms, walnuts, onion, carrot, celery, fennel, coriander, and cumin seeds, and saute until onions are translucent and carrots begin to soften (about 10 to 13 minutes). Add garlic and ginger, and saute for 5 minutes. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Add white wine and increase heat to high. Reduce wine until approximately 1/4 cup remains. Add stock, cream, and bay leaves, and bring to boil. Then, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from heat; remove and discard bay leaves. While soup cools, prepare garnish. Place whipping cream in medium-sized bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Once soup has cooled for 30 minutes, puree in blender at high speed in small batches for 2 minutes each, or until very smooth. Return puree’d soup to pot. Bring to boil and serve. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish each with a dollop of whipped nasturtium cream. Serves Six.

 

Superfood Chia – Why you should be eating it every day

chia puddingAfter doing a little digging on the internet, I found so many benefits from eating chia that I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen to whip up a batch of yummy chia pudding.

I have a feeling that these awesome little seeds – also used for the iconic chia pets of the 70’s – are going to be a major player in my anti-aging journey.

I’m also excited to share a few of their health benefits, and a delicious recipe, with you.

Here they are:

  1. Chia keeps your skin clear

Chia seeds have a natural antioxidant concentration that stops up to 70% of free radical activity. Chia seeds are one of nature’s riches antioxidants and antioxidants speed up the skin’s repair systems, as well as preventing any further damage.

  1. Chia keeps your digestion flowing

Chia is super-high in fiber, providing nearly 11 grams per ounce. One serving provides your recommended fiber intake for the day. Amazing and so easy! Chia seeds also create a gelatin-like substance in the stomach due to the soluble fiber in chia seeds. This works as a prebiotic supporting the growth of probiotics in the gut. How awesome is that? Prebiotics and all the fiber you need in one shot!

  1.  Chia loves your heart

Chia seeds’ ability to reverse inflammation, regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure make it a friend of your <3. Also, because of this, someone is less likely to develop atherosclerosis when they’re eating chia seeds daily.

  1. It boosts your energy & metabolism

A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning says chia seeds improve exercise performance for workouts in the same way a sugary sports drink would. But…without all the sugar. Yes!

  1. Last but not least – It gives you a rockin’ bod

Chia seeds are also one of the top plant based sources of protein. This is another reason this superfood is amazing to consume for those trying to put on lean muscle, burn fat, and balance blood sugar levels.

Chia seeds pack a powerful antioxidant punch to help replace some of those nutrients lost when exercising. They’re high in essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc (very anti-aging), iron and niacin.

One of the qualities that makes chia so incredible is that it can absorb up to 10 times its own weight in water.  Because of this, chia seeds can help keep you hydrated and increase absorption of electrolytes. This also slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer reducing those sabotaging fast food cravings.

Can you see why I’m in love with these awesome little seeds? And I’ve found a delicious way to incorporate them into my diet every day with a serving of chia pudding. Here is one of my fave recipes:

Strawberries n Cream Chia Pudding

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • A handful of fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Blend all ingredients together. Let sit overnight in a covered container in the refrigerator. Serve.

Hiking Joffre Lakes

There are certain places in the world so beautiful they’re almost shocking. Joffre Lakes is definitely on that list. The first time I gazed at the pristine, glacier water I thought “Is this real?”

The three beautiful jewels that are Joffre’s glacier lakes are very real and getting to spend some time dipping my feet in their aquamarine hued water, hiking along their shores and sitting lake side, gazing at their cool, clean beauty is, in my opinion, a wonderful way to spend a day.

joffre lakes, bc

hiking bc

And the best food to re-fuel with after a day of getting up close and personal with the natural beauty of Canada’s wild west?

A very vegan power salad, full of good-for-your-body antioxidants. Here it is:

Raspberry Cashew Greens

  • mixed organic greens
  • sliced red peppers
  • cucumber
  • raspberries
  • raw cashews

Dressing:

  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • maple syrup
  • fresh raspberries

All ingredients are to taste.

salad

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. – Albert Einstein

joffre lakes hike

Hike. Eat. Drink.

What makes you feel on top of the world? For me it’s overlooking stunning views like this..


You’re probably wondering where I was to see a view like this, so let me fill you in. I was at the lookout point of St. Mark’s Summit, a gorgeous hike on Cypress Mountain.

St. Mark’s is a 5.5k trek up the mountain and takes about 4 hours round trip. It’s trail goes through a misty, magical forest and, as a grande finale, ends up overlooking the stunning seascape of Howe Sound.


It’s a hike that will also have you working up an appetite. So, I’ve created a yummy, vegan, apres hike dinner that features one of my all-time favorite dishes, Pan Fried Tofu Cakes. These cakes are smoky, onion-y pieces of foodie heaven and are served with a yummy spicy mayo. They are seriously one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

Here’s the recipe:

Pan Fried Tofu Cakes

  • 400 grams soft tofu, drained for 3 hours
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T Worchester sauce
  • 6 drops of sesame oil
  • 3 shakes of chili spice
  • 2 T julienned green onions
  • 1 package Asian seasoning mix
  • 1 cup panko flakes.

Directions

Place tofu in colander and break apart let stand for 3 hours to completely remove water.  If this isn’t done cakes will not form.

Next beat eggs, Worchester and chili oil.

In a separate bowl combine the seasoning mix, green onions and add wet ingredients with 1 cup of panko and mix by hand.   The mix is ready when a ball can be formed and hold its shape like a meatball.  If mix is too wet add more panko until achieved.  Scoop enough to form a 3 inch diameter cake.  Don’t go too big or they will be mushy. Pre-heat cast iron pan and add olive oil. Place patties in pan for a few minutes to make them crisp on each side.  Finish in a 350 oven for 10 minutes.  Serve hot.

Spicy Mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

tofu cakes

Finish the meal with a big bowl of blackberries or cherries and a lovely Okanagan wine and you have all of the ingredients you need for a healthy, delicious (and sugar free) feast.

Beach Days & Chunky Monkeys

Last Sunday I felt the need to unplug from the city so my pup and I headed to a sweet stretch of beaches a little west of my home and spent the day soaking up West Coast nature.

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We ran through the slippery, slimy (but therapeutic) mud of low tide.

low tideAnd then came home covered in salt and sand with a bit of an appetite.

The answer to that? A yummy Chunky Monkey smoothie..

Chunky Monkey

2 bananas

1 scoop chocolate protein powder of your choice

1 T cacao (organic raw is most delicious)

1.5 cups almond milk

1 scoop ice cubes for a milkshake consistency