We are two individuals, sister-in-laws, and friends who are striving to thrive and be our personal best as well as making our surroundings a better place to live! Connected by faith, family, friendship, photos, and writing, we just want to share our journey with you!

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Hey all,
Just wanted to let you know of a great website that brings awareness to a variety of concerns that need to be addressed. Care 2 is an incredible site that provides a lot of information that can help you and your families live a greener life. They also raise awareness and have a lot of petitions available for signing on matters that are devastating and need to be addressed. It's so easy for us all to hear something and say "Oh that's so terrible", and then continue on doing what we do. But if we stop and take a moment to digest the news, research a little more, sign a petition or two, and spread the word in hopes that others will in a chain-reaction-effect, then we are taking small steps to change.
One story from the Care 2 site that caught my attention recently was the Gulf Oil Spill and it was titled 10 Horrifying Facts You Never Wanted to Know. Read it to learn more at http://www.care2.com/causes/environment/blog/10-most-horrifying-facts-about-the-gulf-oill-spill/
You can scroll down to the end of the story to sign two petitions as well.
Animals are becoming extinct and it makes me sick that gambling companies are making money placing bets over which animal(s) will become extinct first. Are we really all part of the same human race? How can people be so de-sensitized to LIFE?

The Ups, The Downs, The All-Arounds!

Yesterday started off as one of the crappiest days I've had in a long, long time. On Friday, I got something that I hadn't experienced in almost three years: My Period.
I am personally not into swearing. Those words rarely enter my vocabulary and I just have never enjoyed saying them...that being said, by Friday night, I was feeling BITCHY and several profanities were zigzagging through my mind. You see, when you haven't had something like that in a long time, you forget how unpleasant and inconvenient it can be! Don't get me wrong; after being told by a walk-in-clinic doctor that I am infertile (*not by my doctor, it was the first time I had EVER seen this doctor...I saw her complaining of a sinus infection and she made this bold claim before running ANY tests), I am THRILLED to have my period....Dan and I want to have more children and it's been my dream since I was a little girl to be a mother. After this false news was delivered to me a few months back, my doctor as well as in-laws (who are physicians), reassured me that this was NOT true...but I couldn't help but worry and cry over the possibility. I have a beautiful, healthy son and he came as both a surprise and a blessing to my husband and I...and maybe I am selfish for saying this, but I want more! There are so many people out there who want to have children but can't and it's devastating. I feel blessed that I am able too, but for a fraction of a moment, I was told and believed that I couldn't. It was horrible.
So when my period arrived, Dan and I celebrated and were feeling incredibly happy. I went from feeling happy to crampy within hours and I was MISERABLE yesterday! I felt ridiculously hormonal and emotional. I went to see Sex and the City 2 with my mom and cried during the preview for this upcoming movie 'Life As We Know It' with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel. (I don't think that the movie trailer was supposed to make people sob). As I watched the movie and saw Samantha's character consuming globs of hummus and yams trying to counter-act her 'menopause', I stared down at the bag of cherry pits and laughed. I literally consumed about 2 lbs of cherries while watching the movie out of a pure act of desperation (tart cherries contain higher levels then sweet cherries of anthocyanins which can reduce pain and inflammation). I also did something that is bizarre and strange for me. I consumed an entire 80% dark chocolate and almond bar (I am not a chocolate bar-craving person at all)...WEIRD....what was happening to my mind over matter???!!! I could feel panic setting in as the cramps intensified and all I wanted to do was lie on the couch in lululemons! So I thought to myself, SCREW THAT and when I came home, I threw on my work-out clothes, runners, grabbed my running belt with water and went on an INTENSE work-out, determined to kick my period's ass!
I am not an angry person on your average day and my workouts are usually peaceful and full of positivity and happiness...but yesterday when I set foot on my run, I ran with intensity, purpose and to see if running could diminish the intensity of my cramps.
I practically sprinted the first 40 minutes of my run. I ran up two huge hills with such force that I even surprised myself! I wasn't going to let my period control me. I thought about how a period comes every 28 days on average and mine lasts for a full week and I can't handle feeling this terrible for an entire week! After 40 minutes I came to a track and ran up and down the stadium stairs 30 times and then did 100 meters of walking lunges. It was interesting because when I started my run the weather was stormy and matched my mood but as I arrived at the track, the clouds had parted and the sun shone down on me and matched my joy and happiness. My cramps had settled and I felt proud of myself for persevering through the initial discomfort. After running the stairs, I followed that with butt kicks and high knees and then did burpees, tricep dips and push-ups. I repeated that and then finished off at the track with some serious ab exercises, jump squats and high jumps. I ran easy home and it took me about half an hour because after ten minutes, my cramps returned (okay, maybe I overdid it), and I had to ease off and give my body a break.
When I came home, I stretched and ate a plate of steamed kale, green beans, peas, hemp hearts and avocado. I read that the best foods to consume during menstruation are fruits and vegetables. A clean diet can really help your pain. So that chocolate bar was probably the worst food-choice I could have made!

Last night Dan gave me a massage and it felt amazing! I felt like myself again and this morning woke up feeling AMAZING! Yes I still have my period, but it's manageable and I feel like I will survive!!!!
Dan just started running last week. We went for our first run together last week and it was the most incredible feeling to share my passion and love, with the man I love! Today was our second run together! My mom took Noah to her friend's farm to collect eggs and mingle with the animals, while Dan and I ran with Maggie around Elk and Beaver Lake. Dan ran his first 10km! We had to stop a bit because he has a sore knee (not something you want to play around with), but we completed it, had some 'just us' time and it felt great!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Visiting and Venturing to Various Restaurants...seeking some good vegan-friendly food!

HELLO! I wanted to write a quick lil' something to share with you a few new 'hotspots' where I have found both excellent service and excellent food! Dan's aunt and uncle were visiting last week and we went out for dinner with them. My friend Erin and I also went for breakfast at Mole which I LOVE so much! It was such a treat to have some 'just us' time!!! Girl time is definitely needed!!! Dan, Noah and I also grabbed a quick lunch a couple of weekends ago so I have three different restaurants and three different meal-times (breakfast, lunch, dinner), to share with you!!!
Victoria is pretty local-organic-vegan friendly but I like anywhere, some places are much more accommodating then others!
Let's start on breakfast and work are way to dinner!
When Erin and I went to Mole, I found that the menu had lots of vegan-friendly options and also wrote in brackets which food-items were vegan-friendly. I really like that because it immediately narrows my options and helps me to just concentrate and ponder over those items! I was craving pancakes when I went there but they didn't have vegan-pancakes. Boo! I guess I was hoping they did after experiencing delicious vegan-pancakes from The Naam when I was in Vancouver! I decided to get the Curried-Tofu Scramble (I had NEVER had tofu-scramble before), and I added avocado (I heart avocado), to add some extra flavor, punch and good fatty acids.
The presentation was beautiful! The tofu-scramble came with pesto potatoes (who would have known just how amazing these little pieces of heaven would taste), and toast...BEWARE: When I ordered my meal, thankfully my server asked me if I was vegan because apparently even though the meal says vegan-friendly, they usually put butter (aka...non-vegan butter), onto the toast they serve?!!??! So, obviously I asked for my toast DRY! I am actually NOT a bread-person! To my husband's dismay, I never crave any kind of toast, bread...the only time I really have bread/toast is when I'm making a sandwich...but let me tell you something about my special breakfast with Erin (the most beautiful, smartest, kindest, best friend anyone could wish for)...when I go to restaurants I COME PREPARED!!! I brought agave nectar (yes a bottle of it!), along with a container filled with cinnamon, hemp hearts, and chia seeds in my PURSE!!! Haha...I KNOW! The server commented on how impressive it was...he was being kind!!! Anyways, originally I was going to order oatmeal because I had never been to Mole for breakfast and wasn't sure of their vegan-friendly options...when I opted for something new, I realized that I could still use what I had brought from home...I drizzled the agave nectar onto my toast and then sprinkled it with my hemp-chia-cinnamon concoction and it was THE BEST DAMN TOAST I'VE EVER HAD!!!! I had an 'Ah-ha' moment and realized why my mother-in-law, sis, hubby, mom and son LOVE toast!!!! I just love it in a very-different way!!!!
Onto lunch *note: keep in mind that I ate all this food on DIFFERENT DAYS!!! I don't go out to eat often but it's SUCH a nice treat...especially when you find places to eat that will accommodate your needs!
Last June, Dan and I bought annual passes to the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre (located in Sidney...you can check out their website at http://www.oceandiscovery.ca/). We have taken Noah several times and we all LOVE the experience and learn new things with each visit!

After our latest visit, Noah asked us for 'pita and hummie (hummie=hummus), meaning that he wanted to go to Maria's Souvlaki which is this really cute and small Greek Cafe located in the heart of Sidney! It's run by this equally cute Greek family! I wasn't sure if there were any options for me but after speaking to the kind lady who seems to always be there taking orders, she assured me that the falafel souvlaki was vegan-friendly (with hummus instead of tzatziki)! They make their own hummus too and it's sooooooooooo good.
Dan ordered the same dish (but with the tzatziki), and Noah had the hummus and pita as well as some of my falafel. We had such a wonderful lunch and the service was fast!
When we took Dan's aunt and uncle out for dinner last week, they really wanted to go to Milestones located in the Inner Harbour (downtown Victoria). The view from the window-booths is spectacular...you look over the inner harbour, the parliament buildings, and during the summer it's PACKED! I was nervous because it doesn't have ANY vegan-friendly options listed but I was pleasantly surprised because the waiter we had was so accommodating to my requests. I told him that I was a vegan and wondered what options they had available for me. I ended up ordering the California Spring Salad which usually is served with goat cheese but instead they substituted avocado (at no charge), and then I added grilled portabello and button mushrooms (with garlic) and no oil/butter. I was very pleasant and didn't come across demanding (instead appreciative of the extra efforts my server went to assure me vegan friendly dressings, salad, etc)....the food was pretty good and the company was even better! We all had a great time and Noah was very happy to eat some vegetarian pasta with lots of sauce! YUM! I also had a delicious mint-green tea! Splendid!

So if you're a tourist or want to act like a tourist in the Victoria-area, you have three new places and three new meal-times to explore!!!

Ally is coming for another visit (YAY YAY YAY) soon and we're going to Tofino...if any of you have any recommendations for vegan-friendly hotspots either located in Tofino or along the way, let us know!!!!

Love, peace and health to all! xo

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Berry Delicious Vegan Pancakes!

You must think that I'm obsessed with fancy breakfasts because I sure post a lot of different 'breakfast' recipes!!! I could NEVER live without breakfast because it fuels me for my day! I love feeling energized and good-to-go for the day! Most mornings, I eat oatmeal, barley and sweet rice, steamed greens with avocado or a chlorella smoothie...but on Sundays I LOVE to make a delicious family breakfast! I invited my mother over to our house this morning and made these incredible vegan pancakes!
Since becoming a vegan, I have made it my personal mission to create some of my favorite dishes not only vegan-friendly, but DELICIOUS! I really feel that I eat a much larger variety and more flavorful dishes then ever before!
So this morning I made these fabulous vegan blueberry and strawberry pancakes, drizzled them with a touch of pure maple syrup and indulged in a little loveliness!
Just like when I cook, I would much rather share the product of my creativity than consume it alone! It brings me so much joy and happiness to share my recipes with you, in hopes of starting a chain-effect of spreading some vegan-love! Whether you are a vegan, or not, isn't what this is about. I really believe that if everyone consumed even a few vegan dishes/week, we would all be working together to fight against animal cruelty and to fight for the protection and preservation of our environment!!! So here is my easy recipe for some scrumptious pancakes if you're feeling the urge to indulge!!!

Berry Delicious Vegan Pancake Recipe:
1 cup of spelt flour
2 tbsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of cinnamon
a pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp. of maple sugar
1 cup of almond milk
2 tbsp. of pure, unsweetened applesauce
berries (your favorite)!

Pre-heat a non-stick pan with a little coconut oil at low-med setting (I usually cook at about a 3 level). Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the almond milk and applesauce and mix until just combined. Place a scoop of pancake mix onto the pre-heated pan. Add berries on top and sprinkle with cinnamon. Once the pancake starts to bubble and the flipper can easily slide underneath the pancake, flip and cook on the other side for a few more minutes, until the pancake has cooked through. Place the finished pancake on a plate and add more batter to the pan and continue to cook the pancakes until all the batter has been used! Serve with some pure maple syrup or spread some unsweetened applesauce over and enjoy! This recipe makes 4-6 pancakes, depending on the size you make!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Entertaining Vegan-Style!

Oh how I've missed my daily blogging! Dan's aunt and uncle were visiting from Winnipeg last week (they sadly left yesterday), and I worked quite a bit. Anyways, we decided to throw a family bbq at our place in celebration of having family to visit with!!!! Most of our family live in Winnipeg so we don't get to have big-family dinners nearly as often as we would like! I have a tendency to worry about things TOO much!!!! Little silly things like we don' t have the space for a lot of people to have a sit-down dinner, I wish that we owned a house...but really, we are SOOOOOOO very blessed and at the end of the day, if you have a 'home' where people you love can gather, nothing else matters! I don't know why but I guess because Dan and I will be 27 this year and perhaps because we have a son, we feel the pressure to provide and 'own' a home...but we know that this day will come and right now we are just focusing on the here and now! We have our health, we have our love and we have the support and encouragement of our friends and family...so really, we're feeling pretty 'rich'!!!

I am currently eating some DELICIOUS vegan potato salad (made with a vinaigrette (no mayo, or 'heavy' stuff), which is the PERFECT sunny-almost-summer-comfort food...I bought this freshly made from the Planet Organic deli but I am going to try to make my own rendition...so recipe to come!!! While I nibble away, I am going to tell you all about the FUN evening we had with family!

I was a little nervous because the only vegan eating the dinner I made was ME!!! I am so excited to share with friends and family that you can really eat such a HUGE variety of foods when you are a vegan and dazzle their taste-buds but when it's family that have grown up eating 'meat and potatoes' I can't help but worry that they will go home 'disappointed' or feel like they've 'missed out' on something!!!! Well I can ensure you that this dinner was SUCH a success that our Aunty Marlene couldn't stop RAVING about how delicious all the food was and everyone left feeling COMPLETELY satisfied, full and wanting recipes!!!!

Including Dan, Noah and I, we had ten for dinner. When everyone arrived, I had a bowl of fresh tortilla chips (made in B.C.), salsa and my own homemade guacamole!!!
Placing the ingredients for my guacamole into the food processor...

Voila!!! And with just one twist of a dial!!!! I LOVE my food processor!
I have previously posted the recipe for this guacamole for those that are interested! If you don't have a food processor, you can just mash it all together and cut the red onion and tomato into small pieces!
I also put out cucumber slices, with lentil hummus and a bowl with cubes of watermelon and strawberries. I made a pitcher of iced lemon-berry green tea. The guests brought wine and beer (I don't drink), and everyone just gathered around the kitchen and nibbled and/or explored our backyard (which has beautiful ocean views which always excites the prairie-people)!!!! It had been a TERRIBLE day but an hour before our gathering, the clouds parted and the sun came out shining in full force!!! It was LOVELY!
When we can, Dan and I slowly replace our hand-me-down stuff for things that we have picked ourselves! This glass pitcher is one of my favorite purchases because it makes your drinks (even water with lemon slices), look soooo refreshing and pretty! The bonus?!! You are not using plastic!!! I was so lucky because our land-lords gave us the exact same pitcher for our wedding present so now we have two!!! YAY! I put slices of strawberries and lemon into the lemon-berry green tea just to dress it up a little!

Dan and I wanted to mingle with our family and not put a whole lot of time into cooking the food we served, so while we mingled, I had placed a pan of veggies into the oven to roast for 45 minutes! I had done all the prep-work so there was really nothing BIG that had to be done while our guests were here! It allowed Dan and I to visit and made our dinner look easy and effortless!!! Earlier in the day I baked the Lemon-Poppy Seed Poundcake from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. I had not made it before but it turned out to be SUCH a success! Alicia is so great and gave two suggestions for a glaze for the cake and I chose the lemon-maple glaze this time. You are supposed to make the glaze right before serving so that's the only thing that I had to do before serving it! I will list the recipe in a second but I just realized that I need to first let you know what else we served for dinner!
Dan handled the bbq and he cooked corn-on-the-cob and grilled teriyaki portabella mushroom 'steaks'! After the portabella mushrooms have been cleaned and had the stem removed, you just brush them gently with some teriyaki sauce, (I use Organic Ville Sesame Teriyaki Sauce because they don't add sugar - instead use agave nectar and they have 'cleaner' ingredients). Everyone raved about how delicious these mushrooms tasted!
I steamed green beans right before the roasted veggies were ready. Our aunt Marlene brought two vegan salads so I didn't need to make anything else! When the corn was cooked, I shucked the corn and brushed the corn with a mixture I had made (olive oil, oregano, lime and chili flakes)...it was DELICIOUS! When the food was all ready we all got our dishes and spread out wherever a seat could be found...and it was so FUN!
My mom brought over a piece of sole since everyone at our house ate fish/meat except for Dan, Noah and I...but I can tell you that the fish was the ONLY food leftover!!! Everyone savored and devoured the veggie dishes that Dan and I had made! YAY! I felt so happy to have shared good food with our family! After we finished eating, we decided to take our family to this beautiful look-out by our house where you can see the ocean and the scenery is so beautiful! We stopped at the park by our house and everyone took turns on the swings!!! So fun!
When we came home, I made the Lemon Maple Glaze for the cake and we all enjoyed some cake and sliced fruit! It was delicious and a wonderful way to spend an evening!
After making this poundcake, I will most definitely make it again!

Alicia Silverstone's Lemon-Poppy Seed Poundcake Recipe:

Serves 8-10 (I personally served smaller portions so it really served up to 16).

1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup of all-purpose flour (I used spelt flour and it worked beautifully)
1/3 cup of maple sugar
2 tsp. of egg replacer (Alicia recommends Ener-G so I tried it and it obviously worked well because the cake was perfect)!
2 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of baking soda
1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup of safflower oil (I used canola oil)
1/2 cup of pure maple syrup
1 tsp. of lemon extract
2 tbsp. of poppy seeds

Lemon Maple Glaze
1/2 cup of Maple Syrup
1/2 cup of Lemon Juice
2 tsp. kuzu, diluted in a little bit of cold water

Preheat the oven to 350'F. Oil the pans (I used one 'square cake' glass dish but Alicia says that you can also use 3 mini loaf pans, a muffin tin or 4 mini bundt pans).

Combine the flours, sugar, egg replacer, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk with the lemon juice and set aside for a few minutes; it will look curdled. Whisk in the oil, syrup, and lemon extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until combined. Fold in the poppy seeds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans, and bake for 15-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely before making the glaze.

To make the Lemon Maple Glaze, combine the syrup and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the diluted kuzu, and continue stirring until the glaze comes to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute. Drizzle over the cake, and serve.


Monday, May 17, 2010

As one journey ends, another begins...

So our family has had a VERY busy week! I have been blog-deprived and writing blogs in my dreams but sadly was unable to make it onto the computer!

So I have finished my last practicum and I am finally a certified Educational Assistant! I am proud of my accomplishment of completing my courses while juggling being a full-time mother, supportive wife and working around my hubby's schedule! Now that I have completed my year-long course, I feel more motivated and inspired than ever to persevere and take steps towards achieving whatever goals I set whether they may be education-orientated or anything else for that matter! For my 'grad' present, my mother paid for me to run in the Oak Bay Half Marathon which took place yesterday (Sunday)! Dan and I had my friend Nikki's wedding on Saturday so we were up late and I was wearing heels! I was so impressed because at Nikki's wedding, instead of a cake they served Vegan Cupcakes!!! They were so delicious and I did a little research and think that they came from this cupcake shop in Victoria called Pink Sugar Cupcakery. You can check out their website at http://www.pinksugarcupcakery.com/index.html. The flavours that Nikki served were vanilla with coconut and chocolate with chocolate icing. Dan devoured the chocolate and said it was DELICIOUS while I had the vanilla with coconut (I have a slight coconut obsession)!!!! I swear it was the most AMAZING cupcake I have EVER had!!!!

I felt a little hesitant to run the next day after being out late but I had set the goal and I knew that my determination would carry me through the run...and it did! Not only did I complete the half-marathon but in record-time!!!!

Me post-run! Feeling nervous, tired but excited!!!

Just after I completed my run! I was feeling so proud and soooo GOOD! I was so thankful to have my family there to support me and cheer me on!

Like I've said before, I think when I run. I had a lot to think about too. I was reflecting on the last year and not only the completion of my course but my husband being accepted into the UBC-Island Medical Program, the move that my family will be making to Vancouver in August, and many other things. I ran the half-marathon in 1 hour, 51 minutes! This year, I ran seven and a half minutes faster than last year!!!! WHOOHOOO! I was so proud!!!! To have my family cheering me on made all the difference and I really felt so much stronger and healthier than I did last year!!!

A lot has changed for me since last year. I wasn't a vegan last year, I was still recovering from having my son and nursing a lot more, I had been training less....we didn't know our future with Dan in school full-time and this year was so much different. With my vegan lifestyle and increased activity-level, I now feel healthier and more confident than ever before. I am so proud of my husband for being accepted into med-school (although no matter what, I would have stood by his side and believed in him until it was his time to get accepted). So what's in store for our family? Well it looks like we'll be moving to Vancouver from August 1st until mid-December and then we'll return to Victoria where Dan will complete his medical-degree at UVIC. We will miss our Winnipeg family so much but many visits are in store and who knows what our future holds! As for me and my education...I know that right now it is time for me to spend with my family and enjoy the moment and without a doubt, I will continue to take courses part-time and even though it will take me longer, I will finish school a little later but with a youthful positivity and high energy! Sometimes the best gifts are those that are not planned!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day...vegan 'protein' pancakes!

I hope that you are all enjoying this beautiful day! I almost laughed last night because it seemed as though Noah had an 'extra' bad sleep and wanted "Just Mama" and at 2 am, I just had to laugh because I realized that this was really what being a mother is all about!!! Providing comfort and safety like no other and nurturing...nobody except Noah could drag me out of bed numerous times and through my exhaustion, still fill me with such pride and happiness (I probably would not have wrote this at 2am)!!!!
The best gift for me is and always will be my family. But really the second best thing that was 'given' to me today was something that most of us take for granted...a quiet house and a good cleaning!!! I'm not joking! Dan took Noah to the store this morning and I had a long bath and read and then washed my hair and even painted my toenails!!! It had been so long since I felt so relaxed and refreshed and CLEAN (don't get any dirty ideas...I shower and bathe on a regular basis but they are super-fast and usually involve Noah crying for me to "come out")!!!! It was SO LOVELY!
I felt that my day couldn't get any better and then Dan surprised me by CREATING his OWN recipe!!! I kid you not!!!! I usually am the cook in our house and Dan is so sweet...I used to make these 'protein pancakes' which were SO SO good but used egg whites and Dan decided to make them but use ground flaxseeds instead of egg whites! So thoughtful! So he made this delicious breakfast as I played with Noah! It was incredible! The only thing that would have topped off the morning, would have been able to share that breakfast with our Winnipeg family and my mother-in-law who really inspires me on a daily basis to be the best mom and wife that I can be!
After breakfast, we went and brought a picnic to the beach with my mom and our dog and we all played in the sun, ate good food and enjoyed some good old-fashioned family fun!

Here is the recipe for Dan's Vegan Protein Pancakes
This recipe makes 3 pancakes:

3 mashed bananas
1/2 cup of ground flaxseeds
1 handful of crushed walnuts
1/4 cup of water
2 tbsp. of almond milk (you may need to add more or less to make the desired 'pancake' consistency)
1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon

You add all of the ingredients and mix together well. Heat a frying pan with coconut oil over low-medium heat. Pour batter into the pan (you want your pancake to fill most of the pan and you don't want it to be too thick). Cook for a few minutes (until lightly brown and flips easily), and then flip and cook on the other side for another few minutes.

I added unsweetened applesauce, berries and pure maple syrup to my pancake and it was DIVINE! So incredible!

I told Dan that by him making this breakfast he just volunteered himself to be the 'Sunday Breakfast Man'!!!! Whoohooo!

ENJOY and I hope you all have an incredible and happy Sunday!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

To All the Mamas Out There!

Being a mother is the most incredible, difficult, rewarding, humbling and life-changing job I will ever bear. My life changed for the better when I met my husband Dan and then our lives were forever-changed when we became pregnant with our first child, Noah (he surprised everyone)!!! He has taught us to stop and enjoy the simple things in life, that the world doesn't revolve around just us...there is so much more out there! He has taught us that even though we had all these 'plans', having him changed everything and inspired us to dream even bigger than we ever had before...each milestone we reach is so much more rewarding with having a child and the difficulties and challenges you will surely face as a parent! I am so proud to be a mother. I feel so blessed to have found such a supportive, accepting and loving husband who is so patient with me and really is my best friend and soul-mate! My journey has been through many ups and downs and I know that there will still be many hardships (that's life), and it is those hardships that make you relish in the joy that surrounds you.
As a mother, your plans will be put on hold, you will no longer come first, going out will be a juggle and a challenge and your priorities will completely change. Being a mother is difficult!!! It is also the most incredible feeling in the world! I can' t explain how happy it makes me to be a mother! That in itself is the best Mother's Day gift anyone could ever give to me!

For you are fearfully and wonderfully made... Psalms 139

When Noah was first born, my mom gave me the book On the Night You Were Born, by Nancy Tillman and I SOBBED! It is so beautifully written and the words were in so many ways, explaining the overbearing feelings that I had for my son! I have read this book so many times to Noah and I still have to take deep breaths so I don't cry! I am a sap, what can I say?!!! Here is an excerpt from the book so you can see what I'm talking about:
On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, "Life will never be the same."
The illustrations are so beautiful and every page will surely make you smile!

Whether you are a mother or not, I wish you the most beautiful day tomorrow filled with sunshine, love and happiness! xox

Apple and Hemp Muffins!

Wow! What a BEAUTIFUL Saturday!!! Today was the first day of the year that Dan and I walked around without sweaters, and Noah without his coat! After the busy week we've had, it was really a treat to explore the park and feed the ducks together! Noah was so excited too!
Since tomorrow is Mother's Day and I'm guessing that I might be lucky enough to sleep in a little, Noah and I let Papa sleep while we played around the house, went for a walk and made some muffins! I have been wanting to make apple muffins for awhile now and I stumbled upon this amazing recipe on the internet for apple-hemp muffins! The recipe is originally from a cookbook which I don't have called
Vive le Vegan! You can order the cookbook on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Vive-Vegan-Delectable-Recipes-Everyday/dp/1551521695 but I don't have it so I can't tell you anymore about it other than it has an amazing muffin recipe! I took the recipe for the muffins and modified it slightly (I added chunks of a soft apple to the muffin mix because I LOVE the taste of real apple bits in a muffin), to meet our family's preference and what was available...they turned out AMAZING!

So here is the recipe for
Apple and Hemp Muffins:

1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup of ground oats (I ground organic rolled oats in our magic bullet, coffee grinder component but you could also use a food-processor)
1/2 cup of hemp hearts
2 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of baking soda
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1/4 tsp. of nutmeg
1/8 tsp. of cardamom
1 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup of pure organic maple syrup or agave nectar (I used maple syrup)
3/4 cup of organic almond milk
1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp. of canola oil
1 apple (I used a Spartan), peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch cube-pieces.

Makes 12 Muffins

Pre-heat the oven to 350'F. In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine all of the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined (do not over-mix). Add the apple pieces. Slightly grease muffin pan with coconut oil. Add the muffin-mix to each muffin cup. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes (my oven took only 20 minutes), or until a toothpick is inserted into the middle of a muffin and comes out clean!

and After!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

H is for Happiness, Health, Hemp Hearts and Heros!

Hello Everyone!
I am so so excited that we finally have a few followers! YAY! I want to say WELCOME to you!!!! Thank you for your kind words and let this be the beginning of a new friendship full of fun, laughs and food!
I am on a journey just like you and although ours might differ in certain ways, I think we'll find a lot of common bonds and interests and we're all heading in the pursuit of health and happiness!

I am finishing up my last practicum for my education assistant course in a high school right now...and I had a revelation as well as many flashbacks as I entered high school ten years after I graduated! I was DREADING it to be honest...I love working with the little kids in Elementary School settings and I've never known any other way! I was terrified of the attitudes and hormones that I would surely discover at High School-level..but you know what??? I just realized once I set foot in a high school that they are just 'big' kids and are wonderful, kind, sweet, smart, funny and I've really had an amazing eye-opening experience!
My passion is still to tie my love for health, medicine and children together and I feel that stepping outside my comfort zone has made me more well-rounded and happier!!!

So onto my letter 'H'!

The Webster Dictionary's definition of
Health is the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially: freedom from physical disease or pain.
I really strive to feel and live a healthy life. I think that health is parallel with balance because you need balance in your life to truly achieve health in all three (body, mind and spirit). This can be tricky and it takes a lot of organization and commitment but really, aren't we worth it?!!! I sometimes catch myself cutting myself down or being too critical and then (usually my husband), reminds me to stop, breathe and really look at what I HAVE achieved and what I HAVE done and focus on the positives!
Every day I learn something new and even though we take what we want and leave what we don't, we are really learning more about ourselves and taking steps to become happier, healthier beings!

I chose to talk about Hemp Hearts because they really are AMAZING! I know that I've bragged about their incredible nutritional value in previous posts but since it's a 'double-H', and a favorite of mine, I thought that it deserved another shout-out!!!
As Elizabeth Barrett Browning would say "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."
I love hemp hearts by themselves (as you can tell by the above picture)...I love hemp hearts sprinkled over steamed greens with avocado, in vegan patties, stir-fries and over sushi....I love hemp hearts over granola or oatmeal!!! I love hemp hearts in muffins, cookies and almost anything!!!! It's a great food that is a complete protein, gives you an abundance of energy and keeps you feeling satisfied for hours...my 21 month-old son Noah loves to eat Hemp Hearts by the spoonful!
I don't know why I have posted more vegan burgers in the past month than it seems like anything else...we really do eat a more varied diet!!! I think with summer coming and our discovery of the amazing vegan burgers that are listed in The Thrive Diet, we just have branched out and experimented with our food processor and vegan burger-making!!!!
Dan made an AMAZINGGGGG vegan walnut-hemp burger tonight with the recipe derived from The Thrive Diet...let me tell you that it was INCREDIBLE!!! The only thing that I would change next time is the amount of coconut oil that Dan used (2 tbsp.)...I would personally just use 1 tbsp for the recipe but Dan insists that the 2 tbsp. was perfect and loved the burger the way it was made!!! Since I am a garlic-fanatic, I would probably throw in a clove or two of garlic next time too!!! But all-in-all I would even go as far as to say that this was the best vegan burger that we have ever made!!! The patty was quite mushy and crumbled easily but it was like butter melting in your mouth!!! YUM!
So here is the recipe (derived from The Thrive Diet) for

Vegan Walnut-Hemp Burgers:
1 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup of hemp hearts
2 1/2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar (tastes soooo good in this recipe)
2 tbsp. of coconut oil
fresh basil (to your liking)
1 tsp. of oregano
pinch of sea salt

Makes 2 medium patties

Throw all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until mixed. What is great about this burger recipe is that it can be eaten raw!!! Yes that's right! By eating part of your diet raw, you get a higher quality of nutrients from your food and it is less processed. We chose to slightly grill our patties tonight but I have enjoyed them raw before! We topped our burgers with hummus, cucumber, tomato and mustard!!! YUM!

I hope that you enjoy this recipe and I am going to experiment some more this weekend and post new and exciting recipes including an apple-hemp muffin recipe!!! So stay tuned!

I wanted to finish this post with a quick explanation of why I put 'hero' into my 'H is for' segment...
I really believe that you should be your 'own hero' in the fact that you shouldn't compare yourself to anyone (ideally)...it's one thing to look up to and admire but when it becomes unhealthy in a way where you cut yourself down and place unnecessary expectations and pressures on yourself, then it's detrimental to your well-being.
Deciding to become a vegan has been a journey for me with mostly smooth-sailing but I'm not perfect and have obstacles to face...the other night Dan and I went to a movie and I had a few handfuls of his candy that he had bought and although I LOVE treats and enjoy snacks, I try to make them myself so that I know the ingredients are more healthy than processed crap that you would find elsewhere..I don't even crave that processed stuff that you would find in a grocery store but the other night I didn't have anything and chose to eat some junk...it was an interesting experience because almost immediately I felt terrible! I went for a run after the movie was over and felt sluggish and had cramping...Instead of beating myself up for making a 'poor' food choice, I felt proud of myself for committing to my run and persevering through the discomfort. It was a good reminder at how far I've come and how I want to live my life and what food I want to fuel my body with! After my run was over, I felt cleansed and a sense of joy and gratitude for the lesson and my health!

Monday, May 3, 2010

G is for Garlic and Ginger!

Garlic and Ginger....they add flavor and intensity to your meals and heal your soul! I am a bit of a garlic addict...when a recipe calls for 2 cloves, I add 4-5!!! When I am making up a dish on the spot, garlic is a must! Roasted garlic is the ultimate indulgent. Ginger on the other hand is something that I have grown to appreciate! If I feel a little cold brewing, I boil some hot water and add a chunk of ginger root and I feel the healing powers immediately! Add some lemon and it's even better!
There are many health benefits that Garlic offers including:
-reduces blood pressure
-lowers blood sugar levels
-digestive stimulant
-antibiotic (
making garlic a good wound medicine)

Research has shown that garlic inhibits cancer cell formation and proliferation. Garlic is an antioxidant and helps to stimulate the immune system. Garlic protects organs from damage induced by synthetic drugs and chemical pollutants. Garlic also helps to maintain healthy blood circulation!
*Did you know that 1 raw clove of garlic provides 6 grams of protein?!!! I didn't until I read 'The Vegan Cook's Bible'!!!! It also provides 29 mg of calcium, 529 mg of potassium and 15 mg of vitamin C! Sweet!

There are many health benefits to ginger including:
Ginger root calms nausea, morning sickness and can prevent vomiting. Ginger stimulates blood flow to the digestive system and increases the absorption of nutrients and increases the action of the gall bladder. Ginger is also known for protecting the liver against toxins and preventing the formation of ulcers.
Some studies show that people suffering from arthritis may find relief from pain and swelling by consuming ginger root in their diet.
*Ginger is wonderful and has many healing properties but should be taken with or after meals as it can irritate the intestinal mucosa.
If you feel a cold brewing, boil some water and cut some ginger root into 1" pieces. Place in the hot water along with 1/2 lemon squeezed and let the ginger root sit in the water for 5-10 minutes. Drink and enjoy the cold-fighting effects!

So now that I have touched briefly on some of the health benefits of garlic and ginger...who wants a YUMMY recipe to try?!!!


(Sorry I am easily excitable)!!! The following recipe is amazing!!! I love roasted garlic and maple syrup and so why not mix the two together?! This glaze tastes amazing spread over steamed veggies, on top of a veggie burger patty, on toast, or over a salad. Be creative! I love this recipe so much that I will serve it next time we have friends over!!!! YAY!

Roasted Garlic and Maple Glaze

2 bulbs of roasted garlic

1 tbsp. of pure maple syrup

1 tsp. of balsamic vinegar

pinch of sea salt

1/4 tsp. of cinnamon

1) Roasting Garlic: Pre-heat the oven to 400'F. Take the 2 garlic bulbs and slice 1/4 inch from the top. Place in a baking dish and drizzle the bulbs with 2 tsp. of olive oil. Tightly cover with a lid or tin foil. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. The garlic is finished when you can easily pierce a clove with a fork.

2) Squeeze the roasted garlic into a bowl and mash with a fork. Add the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, salt and cinnamon.

3) Store the leftover glaze in a tight container (glass preferably), in the fridge for up to 1 week! Enjoy!

Noah presenting our black bean and almond burger with the Roasted Garlic and Maple Glaze!!! YUM! So delicious!
Dan and I chowing down!!!! After his hot yoga session (I did it earlier this morning and then Dan went this evening), and my run...we were ready for a hearty burger...vegan friendly!!!!!!
*We modified the almond burger recipe (found on a previous post), by adding black beans, onion and mushrooms...yummy!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

F is for Fitness!

Fitness is fun for all ages! Noah loves to work-out with Dan and I! Here he is in his 'downward dog' pose!!!

Being fit happens from the inside, out! I love eating and living a healthy lifestyle and I constantly find inspiration in my family, friends, strangers, and books. When I look at my son, he inspires me to be kinder to myself and be my personal best always so that I can be all that I want to be...a better mother, friend, wife and person who helps others and gives back! I want to spread my happiness and also learn a thing or two along the way!
I went to church tonight with my hubby and son and while I was reflecting, I realized that I want to work on my organizational skills, compost, and be more patient and have more faith (not necessarily in that order)!
It's so important to set personal goals and make sure they're obtainable. I have said this before but my 'break' away from my daily happenings is a good workout! I love to feel fit and I feel that I am slowly evolving into my personal best! Fitness has in a way taught me more patience, allowing me to embrace the journey and enjoy every step along the way. I dream of one day competing in a triathlon and after successfully completing my first half-marathon, I am looking forward to my second this month as well as running as part of a team with my hubby's family/friends in a full-marathon in June! By joining an event or making a workout 'date' with a friend or partner (today my running buddy was my dog), you will more likely follow through with your plans and you will feel such a heightened sense of pride and achievement!
With the warmer weather and increased hours of daylight, creates many new opportunities to explore the great outdoors! I find that running is a great way to explore as well as work on your fitness level and relieve some stress! I try to run 3-5 times/week, varying the speed and distances each time. A new favorite work-out of mine is to run until I find a good set of stairs and then choose a number in my head (before starting), and then make it a goal to run the flight of stairs (up and down), that set amount of times. I have no one to disappoint but myself...and I always increase the number and it's just the most amazing feeling when you've completed what you thought wasn't necessarily in you to achieve! I find myself imagining The Biggest Loser contestants and how strong and determined they are. I also think of my son cheering me on and pretend that I am encouraging others to 'pick up the pace' to match mine! It sounds silly and YES I talk to myself sometimes!!!! But it works!!!
If running isn't your thing or it's something that you're new too...just remember that you need to find whatever it is that you are passionate about and explore that, opening your mind to the endless opportunities it will present to you! I never loved running the way I do now...it's a journey! What has really helped me tremendously with my long-distance running is having a running belt with two water bottles attached (around my waist)...just having water with me motivates me to go further and reminds me that I don't have a reason to stop or turn back...I have water to re-hydrate me and that's comforting and inspires me to persevere. I also recommend getting running shoes that are properly sized for your foot. I went to Front Runners and the service was incredible. They looked at my feet and measured them properly and checked my arches and really asked what I was interested in...they then were able to make the best suggestions to really help me with what I was looking for. I would rather pay for good running shoes then to injure myself and have to take time away from my family and things that I enjoy!
In fitness, you really can do no wrong. Fitness is for everyone of all ages, and all shapes and sizes. Fitness is for anyone who has the common interest of being healthy and living a life full of energy and positivity!
These are ten of my favorite fitness activities (most of them just happen to be free too):
1) Running (obviously)...trails, tracks, bleachers, stairs, the beach or the road!
2) Hiking or walking with my family or friends!
3) Surfing (a killer work-out and you'll meet some of the coolest and most generous people)
4) Jillian Michaels DVDs....yes I said it...A DVD!!!! Don't knock it 'til you've tried them!
5) Circuits...jump rope, burpees, high knees, skaters..mix the cardio with some weight-training and you're good to go!
6) Have a dance party! We'll throw on some sweet tunes in our house and everyone dances!!! It's a blast, a work-out and a great family fun moment!
7) Swimming. Whether you go alone, with a date or with your children, swimming is an excellent, low-impact exercise that will make you feel like a kid again!
8) HOT Yoga (or any type of yoga for that matter)...I recently hurt my back and was feeling tight and sore all the time because I enjoy a lot of high-impact activities that are rough on my body...hot yoga is something that I've just been committed to over the past 2 weeks but my back is already better and I feel like it's helped my posture, patience and overall well-being tremendously.
9) Going to the park! Swing, go down the slide, do some cartwheels...play 'ready-set-go' or 'tag'....playing in the park is a great way to meet new people, share some laughs and be fit!
10) Rowing...in the warmer months, Dan and I will rent a canoe or kayak and paddle around the lake/ocean...it's romantic and a great way to feel connected to nature and one another. BONUS: It's a great upper body and ABS work-out! Whoohoo!

So enjoy your fit lifestyle as much as I enjoy mine and share some of your fun and fit stories with Ally and I because I am always wanting to try something new and seeking inspiration from YOU!!!!

E is for Eating Out!!!

Since I have three days off (whoohoo), I am going to try and play catch-up with my A-Z list and create some new recipes!!! Tomorrow is my creating and cooking day!!! I'm excited to try a new recipe!

But let's face it...sometimes when we are ridiculously busy with our lives we either don't have time to make a bunch of food, or we are visiting family or friends who want to go out for a nice lunch/dinner out...when Dan's parents were visiting, we went out for dinner 3 times!!!! In one week! Dan and I rarely go out because it's more expensive, it can be difficult with a toddler, and I really LOVE cooking and most of the time we find that whatever I make tastes so much better than you can find in a restaurant!

If you are a vegan, when going out it can be tricky to find something that is vegan-friendly and delicious!
Dan's parents really enjoy going to Milestones Restaurant when they are in town because it's right on the inner harbour, showing a beautiful view of the Parliament Buildings, The Empress, and the boats and water! I used to LOVE their california salad when I was a vegetarian because I LOVED goat cheese...but now I couldn't order it because I knew that it wouldn't taste the same with just mixed greens and a few other ingredients...I was a little nervous that I wouldn't find anything but the server we had (James), was AMAZING and so knowledgeable and made me feel so relaxed and he didn't treat me like I was a burden!!!! I told him that I was a vegan and interested in the veggie burger but without cheese or any dairy products. He was so great at double checking with the kitchen on the ingredients of the patty and it turns out that they veggie patty was vegan-friendly, but the bun wasn't!!! I don't know why I was surprised but I was!!! The bun had eggs and whey in it! So it just goes to show that you should always ask before ordering!!! We all deserve the right to know what's in the food we are about to eat! Of course there are nice ways of asking! I made sure to be really pleasant too! What goes around comes around!!!! Anyways, the server and I ended up learning that the flatbread which is used for an appetizer on the menu was vegan friendly so I had the veggie burger with a house-made avocado salsa (yum) and served on the flatbread instead of the bun! It was delicious...I definitely left feeling like I had taken in a lot of sodium...but I eat so clean at home most of the time so I figured that I would have felt like that if I had ate almost anything out! And it was a nice treat! I really enjoyed the visiting and the service and the food! I also had a delicious mint green tea! Noah was amazing and was kept occupied by coloring (they provided crayons and paper) and the various toys and books which we had brought (we always bring a bag of surprises)!!!!

Dan and I went on a date to REBAR which is a vegetarian restaurant downtown and I was surprised to learn that their famous 'Almond Burger' was not vegan friendly :( So sad, but at least Dan and I have found a delicious almond burger recipe from Branden Brazier's Thrive Diet (recipe in a past post by Ally), which we LOVEEEE...So when I went for dinner there I ordered the warm veggie salad with smoked tofu (made on Saltspring Island), and a homemade maple dressing...it was incredible but I was hungry soon after!!!! Dan and I shared a miso soup as well and we were impressed that the cook added the miso right before serving (to keep the optimal nutritional value), but it wasn't dissolved so we had to stir it in ourselves!!! That's okay though!

A great and COMPLETELY vegan restaurant in Victoria that I really recommend checking out if you're going for a casual lunch (it's buffet-style so it's super chill and a serve-yourself, fast experience), is Green Cuisine! You can check out their website at http://www.greencuisine.com/
There is so much variety there and it's all vegan!!! The food is delicious and you pay by weight...you'll end up paying between $10-15 but it's soooo worth it! One thing that I love is that it's located in Bastian Square and they are totally family-friendly...they have a play area and Noah loves to run around! Check-out their website because they post recipes all the time and have a list of what food they will be serving for the day and often they have facts about some of the local, in-season food!!!! YUM!

So if your fridge is bare or you're tired of cooking, then go out for a bite to eat and don't be afraid to have the restaurant create something special to accommodate you and your needs!!! You're paying for it after all!!!!

I found that the eating out was GREAT and is always a nice treat...but it also re-sparks my desire to go grocery shopping and get creative in the kitchen and make more at-home meals! It gives me a new-found appreciation for the food that I make and how healthy and delicious it truly is!

Happy Eating!