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!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A day in the life...

Amidst the chaos that is unfolding here today (my mother is moving INTO our house while we're in Vancouver and we are moving OUT of our place tomorrow), I needed some serenity so I have turned to my blog! I would be out running but Noah is napping and Dan is helping my mom move so this is my at-home-therapy (my workout dvds are all packed away too)!

Summer has always been a season where my body has craved lighter fare and I have eaten amazing local produce! This year is no exception but with a little exception! I have been eating divine local and organic produce, picking fresh berries and vegetables with Noah and having so much fun in the sun with my family. But we have also spent a month traveling and visiting family in Winnipeg, gone to Tofino and Vancouver and are planning a big move! So there has been lots of change and unusual stresses.

Two weeks ago I began to feel extremely overwhelmed and stressed and it was an awful feeling. I couldn't pin-point it exactly but I was definitely not feeling my usual, perky, positive, outgoing self! It's the worst feeling really when you live and breathe a healthy way of life and then still have downs that can be quite draining! I have a tendency to get overwhelmed because I am full of big ambitions and big dreams and I am HUMAN! What can I say?!! When I stress a little, I end up stressing a lot! My poor husband! While running, I realized that even though I was eating a vegan lifestyle and exercising regularly, my body was missing something that it needed. I eat pretty clean but I had not been eating as clean as usual and I was visiting Starbucks way too much! I had a great talk with my hubby and then we both just took a step back and started from scratch!!! Sometimes that's what you need to do!

I started steaming greens for breakfast (I had been in the habit of eating fresh berries with granola), and just eating more homemade and 'convenient'...just because you are vegan doesn't mean you always make the healthiest and best food choices!!!

Within just one day of tightening up my diet, I immediately felt like ME again! I suddenly had more energy and felt much more positive and happy :)

I just thought that I would share with you the power breakfast that made me feel on top of the world and one that I have turned too numerous times! I always cook a big batch of quinoa since everyone in my family loves eating it! So I already had some in the fridge which I re-heated. I then took some local zucchini, broccoli, green beans and kale and steamed it all up! While those were steaming, I dry-toasted some sunflower seeds with a couple of drops of shoyu sauce. I sprinkled the toasted sunflower seeds over my greens and quinoa and voila! Sunflower seeds can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week once toasted!!!

For lunch I used my food processor to shred some carrots, beets and zucchini and then I put a wrap together with the above ingredients, quinoa, lentil hummus, toasted sunflower seeds, cucumber and tofu! It was amazing! Even if you take a few steps away from your clean-eating, all it takes is one step back and you fall in love again and realize that it's just the best way to live!!!

I still have been enjoying fresh picked berries but just realized that I don't need to add granola all the time! When something comes from a box, it has been processed and isn't necessarily the healthiest form for your body! I LOVE granola so much (specifically Nature's Path - Hemp Plus Granola), but I am excited to try and make my own and also to step back and not have it ALL the time!!!

I recently had my blood taken and found that my iron levels are low once again so I have decided that once we are settled into Vancouver tomorrow, I am going to eat strictly as a 'superhero' (as Alicia Silverstone describes this particular lifestyle), for one month and I will blog about any changes that I've noticed and also see how my iron levels are at the end of that month!!! I eat very clean but I also treat myself with maple sugar (in cookies for example), granola, and Starbucks but I am going to eliminate all processed goods and sugar just to see how affected my body was by this 'drug' aka sugar!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010



I am SO SO SORRY that it has been WAY TOO LONG! I have missed my blogging life so much and I promise that once we are settled in Vancouver, my blogs will become regular once again!

Since returning to Victoria, my husband and I have been working random times and have been busy with Noah and planning his birthday party as well as thinking about packing for our move to Vancouver! That's right...we are moving to Vancouver this Sunday!!!! I can't believe how much we still have to do but I figured that to blog would reduce some of my stress, put a smile on my face and relieve some of the guilt that I have been feeling over not blogging!!!

Noah doesn't turn two until August 5th, but we wanted to throw a little party for him in Victoria where his friends could come and celebrate so we did so last weekend! It was such a gorgeous day and we held it at a beautiful park! I was proud of the healthy food that I served, along with my vegan chocolate cake!!!! Everything was a hit and everyone's different tastes were met!!! Everyone RAVED over how delicious the cake was so I thought that I would share the recipe with you...I stumbled upon it while searching for the 'perfect' recipe! After skimming tons of tempting recipes I settled for this chocolate cake recipe which I found at the following website: http://vegan-food.suite101.com/article.cfm/delicious_vegan_chocolate_cake_recipe

I first made this cake in Winnipeg so that Oma, Opa and Ally could sing Happy Birthday to Noah and share some very-early birthday cake and celebrations! It was a great time to test out this new recipe which everyone loved!

Due to it's great success I made it again for Noah's party. Our family were the only vegans and EVERYONE loved it! whoohoo! It didn't look aesthetically pleasing because I attempted to shape the cake into a dinosaur (a vegetarian brontosaurus) and failed miserably!!! Let's face it, I am much more interested in cooking than baking!!! I did however, have a blast making Noah his requested dinosaur cake and watching how happy he was!

hahaha....oh wow! Who would have known creating a dinosaur cake could be so trying?!!

Nevertheless, we all had so much fun and watching the joy on Noah's face was incredible!!!

So for those of you who either have a birthday coming up and you would like to wow everyone with your own vegan chocolate cake OR for those of you that are just feeling in the chocolate-mood, here is one very delicious chocolate cake recipe!!! I had no idea how easy it would be to make this cake! The only difficulty proved to be my carving-a-cake-into-a-dinosaur skills (or lack of)!!!
I want to add that I tweaked the recipe by throwing in some dark chocolate chips into the cake mix before baking. This added a little added punch and deliciousness! I also substituted spelt flour for all-purpose and used maple sugar.
When I made the cake in Winnipeg, I found the following ingredients sufficient for an 8x8 pan but for Noah's birthday party I doubled the recipe!


1 and 1/2 cups of spelt flour
1 cup of maple sugar
4 tbsp. of vegan cocoa
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp. of baking soda

1/3 cup of canola oil
1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 cup of water


Pre-heat the oven to 350'F. Add all of the dry ingredients to one bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl add all of the wet ingredients and mix together. Make a well into the center of your dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well that you've made. Mix together until the batter is smooth. Pour into a round or 8x8 square baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick is inserted into the middle and comes out clean!

Vegan Icing:
I did not measure the amount of the ingredients but just took advice from Dan's mom who is an icing expert!!! In Winnipeg we added approx. 2 heaping tbsp. of vegan (Earth Balance) butter and whipped it until creamy. We then added a bunch of vegan icing sugar (ewww, did you know that a lot of icing sugar is made by grinding with animal bones?!)...so make sure it's vegan!!! We stirred rapidly and added a couple of large spoonfuls of cocoa...once the icing was very thick, we added a few splashes of soy milk (or almond milk), and a splash of vanilla. Really you just need to whip everything together and keep adding icing sugar when you want to thicken the icing, cocoa if you want it more chocolaty, and soy milk if you want to thin-out the icing a little!

The icing turned out AMAZING I must say!

I re-created the same icing when in Victoria by myself and I actually loved mixing and throwing in a little of this and a little of that!!! How fun! I let Noah lick his first spoon of icing too!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

U.S.E.D Bags!

Hello, buenos dias, and bonjour!!!

So Dan, Noah, Maggie and I are back in Victoria after being in Winnipeg for almost one entire month!!!! It's really nice to be settled back into our own home although of course we miss having so much family around!!! Noah has had a difficult time adjusting to the change and asking to go back to Winnipeg!!! As a parent, you always feel torn because you want to do the very best...to be the very best for your child and it breaks your heart when they are sad! That being said, we are feeling so blessed that we had the opportunity to visit with our Winnipeg fam for so long and we know that there will be many more visits in store!!!
Today has been a much brighter day for Noah so that makes mama and papa smile!!! We went to Elk Lake for some playtime and then Dan and I ran around Elk and Beaver Lake (Maggie ran beside us and I pushed Noah in the BOB stroller)...it was Dan's first time running around Elk/Beaver non-stop!!!! WHOOHOO! I was so proud and we ran it in a great time! Noah was like our cheerleader!!! Afterwards, we went to Dan's Farm where Noah got to feed the goats, chickens, ducks and rabbits! I bought a HUGE flat of raspberries and a ton of amazing, local, organic produce!!!! YAY! We then went home and I made these delicious wraps along with steamed kale and peas!!!

I wanted to share with you this AMAZING company where I bought a new purse/bag when I was at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. I came across this sign which read U.S.E.D and found these incredible bags made out of recycled seatbelts!!!! What's amazing about this family owned and operated Canadian company is that ALL of the seatbelts they use to make their products, come from vehicles that are headed to the landfill. They make all of their own bags and it's just incredible! You can check out their website to see more of their bag designs at: http://www.recycledseatbelts.ca/

I had been looking for a purse/bag that differed from Noah's diaper bag for nearly two years! I wanted to buy a bag that supported my lifestyle, would inevitably become a conversation-piece, and be something that I absolutely LOVED! If I am going to spend a little extra on something...it had better be LOVELY!!!
It makes me so happy when I can find local businesses that support our environment and are advocates for a better tomorrow! I feel really proud that I took the time to find a bag that I truly love and that is made of recyclable material too!!!! BONUS: It's so HUGE that I can store all of Noah's things too!!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pumpkin Scones Galore!

So it's been quite the busy month with all the fam visiting, but do not fret... recipes and much more will be coming your way soon! I found this recipe the other day, and although I have so many other dessert/treat recipes on my mind (vegan rice crispy treats and some yummy vegan chocolate coconut cookies!) I just had to try it out (I am ADDICTED to the pumpkin scones at Starbucks... but this recipe is gluten free, vegan and much much much healthier!).

It is honestly a very simple and easy recipe to make. Obviously because it's vegan and gluten-free (and a 'healthier' recipe) the ingredients are more obscure and hard-to-find. I ended up finding everything I didn't have (I have a lot of random baking ingredients, but some of these I had to search for) at Bulk Barn! After getting all the ingredients together, the recipe is super simple! It took me a little longer than it would usually because I always take more cautions and extra time the first time I try a recipe... I wanted to get it just right!

I found the recipe on another blogger (where else? of course):

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Nutmeg Icing

Makes: 6 Scones

-1 cup sorghum flour
-1/2 cup organic millet flour

-1/2 cup tapioca or potato starch
(not potato flour) (I used tapioca)
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
-1 teaspoon xanthan gum

-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

-1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

-4 tablespoons organic light brown sugar
-7 tablespoons cold shortening (I used Earth Balance Vegan Butter)
-1/2 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
-1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
whisked with 2 tablespoons warm water till frothy
-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
-3 tablespoons rice milk
whisked with 1/4 teaspoon mild rice vinegar
-Extra rice milk to brush scones with

Maple Nutmeg Icing
-1 cup confectioner's or powdered sugar
-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
-1/2 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract

-1 tablespoon rice milk
-Pinch of nutmeg, to taste (start tiny, you can add more) (I added a lot!)


Whisk together the scone dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat in the cold shortening until the mixture gets crumbly. Beat in the pumpkin, egg replacer, maple syrup and rice milk (mixed with rice vinegar) until the dough comes together as a smooth mass (do not overbeat). To make the scone 'wedges', you must grease (use cold shortening) a glass pie dish and place the dough into the dish. Smooth the dough to fit the dish (grease your hands as well). Use a flat knife to cut the 'pie' into 6 pieces and use a spatula to scoop out each piece (place onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper). Feel free to use a knife or flat surface to reshape the scones into nice-looking triangles/wedges once they're on the parchment. Brush the tops with plain rice milk (don't drench them, but properly cover them with the rice milk).

You have the option of sprinkling the scones with raw sugar crystals if you don't want to squiggle them in icing.

Place them in the oven at 350 F for ~20 minutes and they should be done. Cool them on cooling racks (make sure they are FULLY cooled before you add the icing). To make the icing just beat all the ingredients together... and as usual for icing, if you want it thicker, just add more icing sugar... and so on! Add icing any way you want (slather it on... or do what I did: put the icing in a ziplock back, cut off a tiny bit of the corner and use this as an icing bag to squiggle the icing on!). Enjoy!

Notes: They taste delicious, but I prefer a stronger pumpkin taste, so next time I will add a little more pumpkin than this recipe calls for. An although I took my scones out at exactly 18 minutes, they weren't necessarily dry, but they weren't the consistency I'd like. So I would suggest if you don't add more pumpkin to check them around 16-18 min to see if they are ready, but if you add some more pumpkin than 18 min will probably work just fine!

Mouth... watering... mmm...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Crampton's Market in Winnipeg! Plus a delicious salad with a creamy avocado dressing!

So I have visited Crampton's Market several times since being here in Winnipeg. Crampton's Market is located on Waverley and is a great place to snag local, organic produce as well as a variety of freshly baked vegan bread and buns! What I love so much other than the produce of course, is that Crampton's has a great reward incentive. Every time you buy $30 worth of groceries you get a stamp and after you have received 5 stamps, you get $10 off your grocery bill! That's great!

Since I have shopped at Crampton's I have found local strawberries, raspberries, garlic, spinach, a variety of lettuces, asparagus, peas, beets, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and so much more! I also treated myself to some vegan coconut-lime cupcakes which were HEAVENLY!!! I also really enjoy their vegan hamburger buns and flax bread which is made their and tastes so fresh and delicious!

It's so great to find and support local businesses! You feel so great buying from the local farmers and the food tastes so much better!

This morning I made this DELICIOUS salad that just gave me an abundance of energy that lasted for HOURS! I woke up feeling like I really wanted to fuel my body with a power-breakfast so I steamed some flowering kale and asparagus. While that was steaming I cooked some quinoa and grated a beet and carrot. I sliced some cucumber and then threw everything on a plate and sprinkled some pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds over top! The dressing I made was inspired by Dan's cousin Beth whom we had lunch with the other day. She is an amazingly healthy individual and Ally, Dan, Noah and I went over to her place for lunch! We made a delicious salad and Beth drizzled this creamy avocado (plus an abundance of other tasty ingredients as well), dressing over top. Anyways, I wanted to re-create this dressing but didn't really know everything that was involved. So I started by mashing 1/3 of an avocado in a bowl. I added 1/2 a spoonful of whole grain mustard, a few drops of maple syrup and 2 tsp. of apple cider vinegar. I mixed everything together and drizzled it over my salad! VOILA! It wasn't the same taste (I forgot to add garlic), but it was incredible!!! I had so much energy afterwards that I took full advantage of the beautiful sunshine!
I walked Maggie and Alfie for 1/2 an hour and then Dan and I went for over an hour bike ride through the neighbourhood and around Fort Whyte which is a local nature sanctuary here in Winnipeg. There were so many ponds and lakes to cycle around and a spot that looks over bison at the reserve. It was so beautiful. I love nature sanctuary's so much! They fill me happiness but I have to say that I can't help but feel disappointed that Fort Whyte also has a cafe called the Bison Cafe which serves and sells bison burgers/meat. I asked a really nice lady who works there and she assured me that the bison were from a DIFFERENT farm and that the bison here are "for the most part" able to live a cruelty-free life...I wasn't sure what 'for the most-part' meant and I wasn't sure why they needed to sell meat at all! I mean, couldn't they just serve light refreshments that don't include selling any bison or other animals?!

A 2 Bean and Couscous Chili

My mother-in-law made a very delicious chili the other night and I just HAD to share the recipe with you! It's very unique and unlike any chili I had previously tasted before! The couscous and chickpeas made this chili not very 'heavy' feeling and it was just lovely! I have been really blessed here in Winnipeg because my family has been so supportive to my vegan lifestyle! It's sweet! I feel so passionate about my decision to become a vegan and I can't imagine living any other way! It's funny because I never imagined being a vegan and was quite content being a vegetarian...my journey to becoming a vegan was one that I now see was inevitable but at the time I never even thought about it! With every month that passes since January (when I became a vegan), I feel better, stronger, happier and healthier! YAY! Anyways, just wanted to share some of my excitement over my vegan lifestyle! One thing that I really want to work on and that Alicia talks about in The Kind Diet, is that I want to become more of a 'superhero' and consume less refined-sugars (such as the soy chai latte that I LOVE from starbucks)...I eat tons of greens, quinoa and hemp hearts...I would say that my diet is 90% extremely healthy...but I have this vice...I love stopping at Starbucks for a half-sweet, soy chai (no H2O)!!! It's such a terrible habit and I really want to break it! Baby steps...I think that once I am able to cleanse my system of this 'treat-which-has-become-more-than-a-treat', I will feel even better! SO that's my work-in-progress update for ya!

Onto this chili recipe!
Here it is!

Easy-Peasy 2 Bean & Couscous Chili:

1 tbsp. of olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
2 cups of kidney beans, cooked
2 cups of chickpeas, cooked
1/2 cup of couscous
796ml can of tomatoes
1 cup of medium salsa
1/2 cup of water
pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp. of chili powder
1 tsp. of basil (or more if you like it)
1/2 tsp. each of pepper, oregano and cumin
1/4 tsp. of cayenne
1 tbsp. of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup of corn niblets
1 tsp. of maple sugar

Makes 10 1-cup Servings

Heat the oil in a large pot. Saute onions, peppers, and garlic for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute for 4 or 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except the corn. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the corn. Scoop onto a plate or bowl and enjoy with a slice of local, vegan bread, toasted! MMM!

I wish I had taken a picture but I forgot! We were just so hungry that we dove right in! Next time I re-create this meal (on a cooler day), I will be sure to snap a few pics!

Enjoy and my next post will be a summery-dish! MMM