An eco-friendly dog birthday party

Yes, you read the title right. An Eco-friendly doggie b-day party happened a few days ago for the Nickster’s 8th birthday.

What made it eco-friendly and why am I having a birthday party for my dog? Good questions.

I’ll start with the why question. I never had kids and totally missed out on the fun of having little rugs rats running around, excited and on over-drive from a chocolate cake sugar buzz. Now that I’m a dog mom, I get to invite my friends over for wine and cake and get to see a bunch of excited pups run around barking and chasing each other. Close enough.

And how did I make my fete eco-friendly? In so many ways that I’m excited to tell you about.

Here are the top ten:

  1. The (super elegant) crystal stemware I used is from craigslist
  2. The beautiful turquoise bowls were from Salvation Army
  3. The chocolate cake was vegan
  4. I asked for the plastic to be removed and re-used when I bought the flowers
  5. I picked some of the flowers from an abandoned lot
  6. The (people) menu was vegan
  7. The only gifts allowed were edible, ie. treats
  8. I asked that guests didn’t use packaging for the gifts
  9. The wine and sparkling wine were local, from the Okanagan
  10. The napkins were from the Salvation Army

And, with all of this eco-friendliness, the party was still very chic, and very easy on the budget. Simple is elegant, easy on the earth and cost effective too. xo

Relax ~ Reboot 

Last week was a crazy one. You know the kind of week that leaves you with bags under your eyes and knots in your shoulders.

So I decided to treat my tired self to a rejuvenating, relaxing and nature-filled weekend. I dedicated myself to pampering, relaxing and re-balancing for two whole days.

This was on the agenda:

  • A soothing Epsom salt bath
  • Daily walks in a beautiful forest called Pacific Spirit near my home to do a little forest bathing and tree hugging.

  • Leaving my smartphone in a drawer for most of the day
  • Chilling out on the couch reading a really good book
  • Playing with my dog
  • Last, but not least, nourishing myself with yummy food like this:

Watermelon Smoothie

  • 1/2 fresh watermelon, cubed
  • two sprigs fresh mint

Put ingredients in blender, blend until mint is pulverized. Serves two.

Banana Mango Smoothie Bowl

  • 4 bananas
  • 4 mangos
  • splash unsweetened coconut milk
  • shredded coconut

Blend all ingredients together. Top with shredded coconut. Serves two.

The other item on the table is a nut and seed vegan pate served with Mary’s organic, gluten free crackers.

Reboot complete.

Cypress Mountain & Nice Cream 

A few photos and quotes from last week’s hike on Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver:

Birds are not meant to be caged. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. – Stephen King

In quietness are all things answered. – A Course in Miracles

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive. – Gilda Radner

Spending time in the forest has always been my yin to the yang of the corporate world. Nothing for me is more soothing and rejuvenating than spending an afternoon surrounded by sweet scented, mossy green trees.

And after working up an appetite on a hike I like to head home to whip up a tasty, sugar-free treat. This recipe is a post hike favourite. It’s vegan, naturally sweetened and uber-healthy with nut butter, dairy free milk and lots of anti-oxidant fruit.

Peanut Butter Banana Nice Cream

  • 5 bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 3 T. peanut butter (or almond butter if you prefer)

Blend together and store in freezer until frozen. Top with your favourite fruit. This one has banana, mango, strawberries and unsweetened coconut. The recipe tastes a lot like ice cream but is so very good for you.

Hope you enjoy it.

Sugar free is the way to be

A few weeks ago I found myself sitting in a raw food eatery in Calgary with my ex-boyfriend, his daughter and his son-in-law, celebrating father’s day. Don’t ask how this happened. It’s a long story.

The cool thing about this luncheon, though, was that the daughter and son-in-law had been sugar-free for a few months and they were singing the praises of this lifestyle like the truly converted.

They had more energy and more even energy throughout the day, balanced moods, their skin looked better and had both, effortlessly, lost weight, they said. And their eyes lit up when they talked about their new eating plan and how much it had improved their lives.

As they talked, I remembered feeling that way too when I gave up sugar. The only thing is that it’s hard and, invariably, I slink down the slippery slope that leads to sugar mountain.

But, what the heck, I’m feeling ready to take on the sugar demon one more time.

I’ll chronicle my experience (and recipes) here and start the journey with one of my sugar-free life savers. This pudding is rich, creamy and bursting with a deep, dark chocolate flavour. Here it is:

The Chocolate Avocado Raspberry Pudding

  • four bananas
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • splash unsweetened coconut or almond milk
  • 2 T raw cacao

Blend, garnish with fresh raspberries & unsweetened coconut and serve.

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 beautiful natural world.

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.

Nice Cream

I’m loving the raw food recipes I’ve been sampling as I continue with my nutrition course.

You can’t be perfect though, and sometimes I just want to leave the uber-healthy green smoothies behind and indulge in a messy, gooey, rich and delicious dessert. But a dessert that won’t make me feel unhealthy and bloated and give me a sugar rush. Well, The raw food recipes I’ve been experimenting with have got that covered too.

Let me introduce you to Nice Cream.

Nice Cream

  • 3 frozen bananas cubed
  • Splash of maple syrup
  • One T coconut cream
  • Two T raw cacao for chocolate (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries etc. for other flavours)

Blend all ingredients together and indulge in this rich, delicious ice cream-like dessert that is actually good for you!

MSG Free

I’ve been learning a lot about MSG lately and none of it is good. Did you know that MSG is an excito-toxin that does a bunch of terrible things to our bodies? First, it contributes to ADD, mood disorders and the “dumbing down” of our society by causing neurons in our brain to fire too quickly. It also exacerbates Alzheimer’s disease when eaten in excess (and, since it’s in everything, it’s very easy to unknowingly eat in excess). And, as an explanation of why North Americans are getting bigger and bigger as time goes on, it suppresses the mechanism in our brain that tells us when we’ve had enough food. Oh, and to top it all off, this cheap little flavour enhancer is addictive too. Clearly big food corporations aren’t interested in our health and well-being – only their profits – by adding MSG to literally every processed item in our food supply.

So, after reading all of this, I’ve decided to eliminate MSG from my diet and I’m discovering that it’s literally everywhere, hidden behind some very sneaky labeling in a lot of cases. It was even in my toothpaste, vitamins, vegan protein powder and “healthy” granola. Basically, if a food is processed and packaged, it’s got MSG in it. So I’ve realized that the only way to avoid this nasty little toxin is to make my own food for every meal.

I’ve been doing just that and it’s been a wonderful experience the past few days. Time consuming for sure, but the food I end up with is wholesome, yummy and, most importantly, real. It tastes like the food I ate as a child when we picked our own veggies out of the garden, added butter and salt and chowed down. No health-robbing chemicals needed.

I’m looking forward to sharing all of my healthiest and prettiest raw, MSG free recipes here as well as any changes I notice as I go along.

There’s nothing more important than nourishing our bodies with delicious, healthy food made with love. I’m excited to be on this journey and to share it with you.

Happy Valentines Day ❤