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, March 13, 2011

Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure!

Happy Sunday! I wanted to share with you an amazing book that I just finished reading and LOVED so so much! It's called Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure (she was DJ on Full House)!!! Ally told me about this book before it was available and then she wasn't able to find it in Winnipeg so when she visited us in Victoria, we went to Vancouver for a day and I bought her a copy (on her b-day) and then decided to buy one for myself! I didn't think that I would be drawn to it initially before I read the back. First off, she is not a vegetarian or vegan and I didn't know if I would feel any connections with this book. When I flipped through the book which in summary is motivation for physical and spiritual fitness I was really impressed and intrigued.

I think that in every aspect of your life, good and bad, you take away what you like and leave won't you don't. I believe that you learn more about yourself when you experience different views, cultures, religions, families, friends and you really evolve into the person that you want to and will be.

When I began to read this book I already knew that I wouldn't be reading it for recipes (a lot of meat and dairy recipes and pretty basic, easy recipes that don't contain or mention the importance of organic or local). Instead I was reading it for the spiritual and mental stimulation that I seek. Cameron is a devote Christian and I admire how passionate she is about her beliefs. Dan and I are very spiritual. I am very faithful and believe in God and love going to church with our family but I also find beauty in so many diverse religions and don't believe that one is better than another necessarily. I don't know enough about a lot of faiths so who am I to make that judgment? Anyways, I am not here to preach about faith because I truly believe that each journey is individual and we are all growing in different directions and I am on my own personal journey that may be very different from yours and I respect that completely! I do want to tell you how I took so much away from this book though!

This book made me smile so much and made me want to communicate even more with my husband and connect on a deeper level and it inspired me to be confident and believe in myself when I'm feeling doubtful. I have been struggling with so many torn feelings and guilt over whether or not I have it in me to become a doctor and complete all the courses necessary and if I even want to sacrifice the time away from my children (not before they are in school)! I am taking an online class right now which I find very challenging! I have been knocked off my feet by a sprained sacroiliac joint which has put me on as close to bed rest as I can muster with a 2 year old (if you know me and how HUGELY passionate I am about being active and fit, then you must know how much this kills me)...this book though has shed so much light on my life! I have so much respect for anyone who juggles parenting, work, life and still pursues their dreams. Cameron has done this by publishing this very open and honest book. She doesn't sit on a pedestal and look down like 'Hey I'm this amazing Christian'...she talks about her journey and how she struggled with bulimia and food issues and vulnerabilities and how her relationship with God has been such a gradual, and beautiful journey. She is so passionate about her family (her hubby and beautiful children), and stresses the importance of what matters most to them: faith, family and being healthy and fit together! I love that! I have been inspired to new levels to continue my journey and hold my head high and be thankful for EVERY day even when it's not turning out the way that I had imagined! This injury will only make me stronger and love every healthy day and every post-baby run so much more! I encourage you if you are at all interested and seeking any inspiration about anything in your life, to check out this book! Again remember, that you take what you like and leave won't you don't :) I will leave you with some amazing quotes from this book that make me smile so so much :) Cameron ends each chapter with what she calls Food For Thought which is a recap of scriptures she has used and also The Candy Dish which consists of a quote or two that is just random but beautiful and inspiring! LOVE that! I am a huge quote person!

The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don't define them, learn about them, or even seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them - Denis Waitley

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6.34)

People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters; they will not allow life's circumstances to push them down and hold them under. -Charles R. Swindoll

I could quote forever because there are really so many inspiring quotes but I will leave you with a final thought: I really feel that the reason Cameron has been so successful in her weight-loss (she is 25 lbs lighter than when she was on Full House), her career and her family is because she found such peace, love and faith and let all the other 'stuff' go! I think when we hold on to fears and doubts, it really is so damaging to ourselves. I found such a release and pure happiness after I had Noah and then doubts and fears crept back in at times and I still will have struggles with self-doubt but I am learning to believe in myself and love myself purely because it's really the best way to live and the way I want my children to live and the way I want my relationship and journey with my husband to be :)

I want to thank each and every one of you for being in my life too! I am a pretty happy, positive person but like everyone, we are human and we all have moments of weakness and vulnerabilities! I find so much inspiration all around me and I am so passionate about everything that I talk about! I love my friends who each are unique and bring something different to my life. I love my family and am in awe of them for who they are. My son amazes me every day and my husband is such a rock and incredible man to walk with through life! He encourages me when I doubt myself and supports me when I decide to branch away from what may be mainstream and loves me for me. I wish all of you balance, health, love and faith - no matter what your faith is in this life :) Carry happy thoughts with you throughout your day!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A new recipe book and 2 new recipes from it!!!

I was browsing the vegan cookbook section of a local bookstore the other day, when I stumbled upon one copy of this cookbook I had never heard of before! It was eye-catching and titled Extra Vegan Za which I thought was quite fun! I definitely didn't need to buy this book but I couldn't resist after realizing that there was only one copy left and I couldn't get over the fact that I had never heard or seen this very appealing book before! I was in a hurry so I just skimmed the pages before heading home with my new cookbook. Once I arrived home and settled later that evening in the bath to look for new inspiration, I realized that this book is by a local author who runs Phoenix Organic Farms B&B, right here in Victoria, B.C.! The book is by this extraordinary lady by the name of Laura Matthias who seems like such a cool lady! She is a field biologist, B&B owner and operator, and organic farmer! What is so amazing, is that she sells a lot of her local, organic produce within the Victoria community and to local restaurants! I read the introduction of this book and learned so much! She has been a long-time vegan and co-bought this piece of land out in the country and had a huge steep climb before her land and house were able to evolve into what they have become. Her determination and love for the environment and animals allowed this vision to become a reality. The highlight for me was learning that she uses chickens and pigs - not for meat but to help her maintain her land without using herbicides and fossil fuels that would occur if she chose to use a tractor! The chickens help to eat the bugs in the garden and the pigs that she has (btw they have the cutest names ever - Paprika and Nutmeg), are used as rototillers, composters and fertilizers! They roam free and happily among her acreage and are treated with love and kindness! YAY!

I haven't been disappointed in the least by this book! It's so much more than a cookbook! Truly inspiring! I can't believe how many recipes are in this book too! The book is separated into three parts (each with quirky, cool titles such as Dessert Island): Part 1 consists of the following: 1) Appetizers, Spreads, Snacks and Dips 2) Soups 3) Salads 4) Dressings, Toppings and Sauces 5) Rice, Grains, and Legumes 6) Pastas 7) Vegetable Matters: Side Dishes 8) Main Dishes and Casseroles 9) Breakfasts, Buns and Breads
Part 2 consists of the following: 1) Cakes 2) Icings and Glazes 3) Pies and "Cheesecake" 4) Pie Crusts 5) Puddings, Mousses and Fruit Gels 6) Cookies 7) Sweet Loaves, Brownies, Cobblers, Crumbles and Oddballs 8) Beverages and Frozen Treats
Part 3 consists of the following: 1) Natural Food Dyes 2) A Glossary of Edible Flowers

Now if that isn't covering it, I don't know what is!!!! I am so impressed with this book and love that I am also supporting a local author, mother, and organic, local farmer who is so passionate about what she does! I am looking forward to visiting her farm, maybe Dan and I will check out the B&B and I am also so excited to test out her recipes! So far, I have cooked two recipes and they were so delicious so I thought that I would give you the recipes to try too! If you are interested in getting this book, I checked and they sell it on Amazon and it's cheaper then the bookstore sells it by $9.00!!! Bonus!

Onto the recipes! The first is a rice dish that is so simple, subtle but beautifully mild flavor and delicious! Enjoy.

Lemon Cardamom Rice with Green Peas - From Extra Vegan Za by Laura Matthias

Serves 6-8


2 cups of brown basmati rice
4 cups of water
1 Tbsp of coarse sea salt
3 Tbsp of lemon rind, grated
1 tsp of turmeric
1/2 tsp of black cardamom seeds, ground
1 cup of green peas, fresh or frozen


Place the rice, water, salt, lemon rind, turmeric and cardamom in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cook for about 45-50 minutes. Check to make sure that there is no water left in the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and pour the peas on top of the rice. Cover and allow the peas to cook in the steam for about 5 minutes. Stir the peas into the rice and serve.

The second recipe that I made from this cookbook last night reminded Dan and I of a carrot dish that we love from a local restaurant The Tapas Bar in town (Ally remember that amazingly delicious carrot dish?!!)...anyways, I tried this recipe hopeful, and we were not disappointed! It produced an amazingly delicious and special treaty way to cook our carrots! I am a huge fan of simple, steamed veggies, but sometimes it's nice to spice things up a little when you have company coming or it's the weekend and you just want to try something new! So here it is:

Sesame Glazed Carrots - from the cookbook Extra Vegan Za by Laura Matthias

Serves 4-6 as a side dish


10 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin sticks
2 Tbsp of olive oil (I was out so I used coconut oil)
2 Tbsp of fresh gingerroot, grated
2 tsp of fine sea salt
2 Tbsp of sesame seeds
3 Tbsp of brown rice syrup


In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium. Stir in the carrots, ginger, salt and sesame seeds and saute for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the brown rice syrup and saute for 1- 2 minutes more, until the syrup has dissolved. Remove from heat and serve immediately. *Be sure not to overcook; the carrots are best when they have a bit of crunch left and are still a bright orange colour.

I served a dinner last night to my mom, brother, Dan and Noah that consisted of the 2 recipes I just posted, along with simple roasted veggies and tofu sesame snacks (I have posted the recipe before but if you don't have it or don't have the time to search for it in our previous posts, then I will quickly jot it down again for ya)!

Tofu Sesame Snacks - Recipe from The Planet Organic Cookbook:


1 pkg of extra-firm, organic tofu, cut into strips - use picture above for example
3 Tbsp of Braggs
3 Tbsp of Toasted Sesame Oil
3 Tbsp of Sesame Seeds
Pinch of pepper
1-2 tsp of cumin


Pre-heat the oven to 350'F and prepare the tofu. *You can marinate the tofu with the rest of the ingredients for up to 24 hours if you would like. If I have time or remember I will do this! Last night, I didn't so I just whipped it up right there on the baking sheet!
Once the tofu has been mixed evenly with all of the added ingredients, evenly spread the tofu and leftover marinade onto a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the tofu over and then place back in the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes! Serve warm or cold!

*I am so in love with this tofu and let me tell you something...so is everyone that has ever tried this!!! I prefer it when it is more on the crispy-cooked side and I love how my son loves it too! In fact, he ate and loved everything that I made last night! Whoohoo! I put this tofu on salads, use leftovers to just snack on with or without hummus, throw it in stir-frys, use it as a side (like I did last night)...pretty much anything goes!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Easy and Nutritious Lentil Stew :)

I thought that I would write a quick lil' blog about my favorite stew at the moment! I have blogged about a lentil stew in the past and this is very similar although I'm sure that I've added a few new flavorings and since my husband says this is his all-time favorite, I thought that meant it was probably pretty blog-worthy! I was feeling under the weather this past week and Noah still has his cough from a nasty respiratory virus that's circulating so I knew that this stew was needed! By making this super-easy soup I am also ensuring that my family are all being nourished and taken care of! The recipe makes a really large pot so it's great for freezing or enjoying over the coarse of a few days! Whenever I make this my hubby says this cheesy but hilarious line..."STEWWW YEAH"!!! I hope this makes you just as excited; whether you choose to say stew yeah too is up to you!

Jayanna's Lovely Lentil Stew! - don't be afraid to use any of your favorite ingredients! I mix up my veggies in this stew a lot, but here is what I put in this stew...


1 yam, washed, peeled and sliced into 1 inch slices
3 yukon gold potatoes, washed and sliced into 1 inch cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, passed through a garlic press
3 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and chopped fine
2 handfuls of shitake mushrooms, cleaned and cut
2 bunches of baby bok choy, rinsed and broken apart
1 broccoli crown, cut into pieces
1/2 bunch of kale, rinsed and then tear the leaves away from the stem and add the leaves to the stew
1 zucchini, sliced
1/2 cup of pearl barley
1 can of organic lentils
1 TBSP. of coconut oil
2 1-liter containers of low-sodium veggie broth
2 TBSP. of miso paste (brown rice, barley or whatever your favorite is)
1 TBSP. of Braggs
1/2 TBSP. of whole grain mustard
6 bay leaves
sea salt and pepper to taste


1. Take a large pot and place it onto an element at a medium-heat setting. Place the coconut oil, onion, garlic and ginger root into the pot and as then start preparing your other veggies. I add the firmer veggies first (eg. the yam, carrots and broccoli), and then add 1 container of the veggie broth so that the veggies don't start sticking to the bottom of the pot. When you are finished adding all of the veggies, add the second container of veggie broth, the pearl barley and the bay leaves. Bring the ingredients to a boil and then simmer until the barley is cooked - about 30 minutes. Add the braggs, mustard, and lentils and let the stew cook for another 5-10 minutes. Take a few TBSP. of liquid from the stew and place into a bowl. Dissolve the miso into the liquid in the bowl and then pour back into the pot. Mix everything together and serve, adding sea salt and pepper to taste!

This stew is so amazing, hearty and complete on its own but I often will serve it with some toast for dipping! I hope that you enjoy this as much as we do :) Made with love from our kitchen to yours!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The above picture is of the incredible Green Cuisine Cookbook. If you end up buying this cookbook, I want to let you know ahead of time that your cookbook will not come with a Lightning McQueen sticker! Sad, I know! My son was decorating my cookbooks with stickers from the Cars movie!

My last blog was a recipe that I found in the amazing Green Cuisine cookbook and I just had to blog about my latest baking success, which once again comes from the fabulous Green Cuisine cookbook. I have to be honest; whenever I eat at the Green Cuisine Restaurant, I don't go for their desserts. Their food is so satisfying that I don't ever have room or need any dessert! I really feel that life is all about balance! I truly love nourishing my body with healthy, amazing, high-quality foods and I equally love a treat - but I like to know what's going into my body and that is why I prefer to bake my own treats instead of buying them! My favorite part of baking is making the recipe with my son! He is such a great helper and I love watching him feel so 'big' helping mama in the kitchen! He helps me cook and bake and really it brings me so much joy and inspires me to try new things with him! I used to bake with my mom and it was one of my favorite things growing up! I felt so important!
Anyways, my hubby Dan requested that I make peanut butter cookies - something I had never done! I am not a huge peanut butter lover like my hubby but I looked through some recipes that I had in my cookbooks and quite honestly, I tried this one because it was the easiest and Noah could really help with all of the steps!!! These cookies turned out amazing and I brought cookies over to our neighbors who were equally delighted!!! So here is the recipe, which I slightly revised (I used coconut oil, which I prefer instead of olive oil and I used almond milk instead of soy milk). I hope you enjoy these! I know my friend Delaney will because she LOVES peanut butter! A belated happy birthday to you Delaney and I look forward to celebrating with you soon :) xoxox

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies - Recipe Based from the Green Cuisine Cookbook

Makes: 20 cookies (they must have been talking about huge cookies because I made average-sized cookies and one batch of cookie dough resulted in 32 cookies for me)!

Pre-heat the oven to 375'F.


3 1/4 cups of whole spelt flour (I used light spelt flour b/c that's what I had)!
1 cup of dried cane juice
1 1/4 cups of chocolate chips (I love camino dark choc. chips)
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of salt
1/2 cup of olive oil (I prefer to use coconut oil when baking so I did)
1/2 cup of brown rice syrup
3/4 cup of peanut butter - make sure to use the real thing! NO fake peanut butter which is full of unnecessary extra ingredients!
3/4 cup of vanilla soymilk (I used almond milk)
1 Tbsp. of pure vanilla


In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Slightly oil a baking sheet. Use a spoon to deposit cookie size dollops onto the cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie with lightly moistened hands (I also used a fork, purely for the reason that I think it looks pretty with those lil' lines)! Bake at 375'F for 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies to a rack to cool.

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as we did :)