• 6 Ways to Simply Spring Clean Your Life

    As the skies fill with less clouds and more softly floating cherry blossom petals, energies that have been hibernating are now taking the stage, offering new life into all that we have been creating over the last few months. This is a time when we shed our layers, literally and figuratively, and make way for new and exciting moments. It’s important that not only on the surface we feel prepared for this seasonal and energetic transition, but within ourselves and the subtle layers of our beings.  Here are some ways you can ready your body, mind, soul, (and house!) for what lies ahead.

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    1. Ditch the Un-used.

    This is one of the biggest ways in which we impede the natural flow of growth and change. Holding on to physical items that we no longer use or care about not only clutters up our visible space, but contributes to maintaining ties with the past and getting in the way of our mental and emotional clarity. What’s better is that often these items can go to homes where they would be much more appreciated, helping more than just the state of our closets but those in need.

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    2. Do the Lemon Water Thing

    Just try it and see how you feel. Warm water with lemon every morning is a super easy and superbly beneficial way to clear toxins, reset the digestive system and you may notice clearer and more vibrant skin among other pluses! You may have heard the term ‘alkalization’ or ‘alkaline’ among one of the many health blogs circulating, and for good reason. What this basically means is that we are choosing foods and drinks that are going to bring our ever-changing chemical levels into a pH balance where our physiological processes run at their smoothest and our bodies become a place where disease is less likely to occur. Nowadays with the amount of toxic foods and lifestyles we are constantly surrounded with, our bodies can become too acidic, allowing health problems to develop because, quite simply, nothing is running the way it should. On top of giving you a Vitamin C boost, though it seems acidic, lemon is alkaline forming.

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    3. Clear your E-Mess

    This may sound funny (or a scary task) but those hundreds (or thousands) of emails that don’t seem to affect us to contribute as a bit of a dragging weight on a subconscious level. This goes for all those desktop icons that need purging, old voicemails, pictures that need archiving. Get rid of the bulk and see how head first you dive into upcoming projects.

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    4. Get Fresh

    Comfort foods have provided us with the strength and sustenance we’ve needed through this chilly time of year, but we’re moving on to fresher and brighter things. Incorporating bright, fresh whole foods into our warm recipes will ease us into more lively summer meals and pack a serious nutritional punch that will fire us up to get going. Go for the rainbow, and don’t be afraid to get creative with fruits and veggies you wouldn’t normally use!

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    5. Banish the Dust Demons

    In addition to looking desirable and creating a welcoming environment from which to grow, giving our nests a proper scrub will get rid of all the unseen dust, bacteria and allergens that take a toll on the immune system. The last thing we want is to be stuck with a cold when the sun’s shining!

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    6. Get a Massage

    When we’re freezing and stuck indoors, not only do we have a tendency to round our backs and shoulders as we shield our faces from the rain and get into poor postural grooves at the computer, but we can often hold onto this tightness long after the cold is gone. Think about how the body feels almost instantly softer when laying in the sun. Treating yourself to a tension-freeing session is the perfect way to jumpstart your momentum as we spring into the sunnier wave of the year.

  • Hydrating Watermelon and Feta Salad

    Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 10.28.19 AMThis salad is great for the hot summer months.  Watermelon is 92% water, so you are sure to stay hydrated at even the hottest picnic. Try adding mint or basil if you like!

    Watermelon and Feta Salad:

    • 1 small package baby arugula
    • 8 cups 3/4-inch cubes seedless watermelon
    • 1 package feta cheese, crumbled
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar glaze (you can find this is in dressing isle or make your own!)
    • Basil or mint, torn into small pieces (optional)

    Arrange arugula on a large platter.  Top with watermelon and crumbled feta. Drizzle with glaze!

     

  • Recipe: Raw Coconut Ceviche

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    This recipe is the perfect summertime appetizer! Try it with tortilla chips or even on its own.

     

     

     

    Coconut Ceviche:
    -1 young coconut
    -2 Tbs red onion
    -1 chilli (try red Thai chili if you like it hot or a jalapeno)
    -Handful of cilantro
    -1/4 cup diced cucumber
    -1/4 cup diced tomatoes
    -Juice of a fresh lime

    1. Crack open the coconut and drink the coconut water inside (very important 🙂 )
    2. Scoop out the coconut “meat” from inside and chop it up into small pieces.
    3. Combine coconut with the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate for an hour or two.
    4. Enjoy with tortilla chips or on top of tacos!

    Here is a video from Little Black Dress Plan on how to make this dish! Video here

     

     

  • Recipe: Liver Cleanse Juice

    Picture 27December is always full of sweets, alcohol, and other indulgences but January has arrived and it’s time to give our bodies a break.  The liver feels these indulgences the most and that’s why we have to give it a little extra support come January.  The liver is responsible for detoxifying our bodies and the milk thistle drops in this liver cleanser juice certainly help it along.  If you don’t have a juicer you can blend all ingredients in a high-power blender and strain.  Enjoy!

     

    Liver Cleanser Juice:

    -3 Organic Beets, washed and trimmed

    -2 inches Fresh Ginger, washed and peeled

    -1 Grapefruit, peeled

    -1/2 Lemon, peeled

    -30 to 40 drops of Milk Thistle (available at Whole Foods or Choices)

    Add beets, ginger, grapefruit and lemon to juicer.  Add milk thistle. Stir.  Enjoy!

  • The Alkaline Diet and Recipe for Quinoa-Lentil Salad

     

    Vegetables Stock PhotoLets be honest, much of our Western diet revolves around processed convince foods to support our “busy” lives.  But these foods can cause an acidic and anaerobic (lack of oxygen) environment in our bodies that can lead to disease and decreased immunity.  When the blood pH dips below 7.35 our body is forced to constantly use cellular energy to neutralize and detoxify the environment, instead of fighting of bugs, viruses, and fungi.

     

     

     

     

    Here are a few signs that your body is too acidic:

    • Headaches
    • Sleepiness
    • Nausea
    • Increased heart rate
    • Shortness of Breath
    • Joint pain

    The Alkalizing diet has been shown to have a positive effect on those suffering from arthritis.  Inflammation occurs in an overly acidic environment, which makes the symptoms of arthritis worse.  For more information on arthritis and Alkaline-forming diet click here.

     

    Luckily, eating by Alkaline-forming foods many of the symptoms can be reversed!  Fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and a few choice grains (like quinoa and millet) are Alkaline-forming foods that help your body regain balance.  Apples, Beets, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, and Kale are a few especially Alkalizing foods.  You can find a complete list of Alkaline-forming foods here!

    It can be tricky at first to work these Alkaline-forming foods into your diet.  Having foods prepped ahead of time can be helpful on busy days.  My favorite make ahead dish is Quinoa-Lentil Salad.  It keeps well in the fridge for at least 3 to 4 days, which is perfect for weekday lunches!

    Quinoa-Lentil Salad:

    1 cup uncooked Quinoa, rinsed

    1 cup uncooked french lentils, rinsed

    1/2 a Cucumber, diced

    2 medium Tomatoes, diced

    1/4 of a Red Onion, diced (optional)

    1 Red or Yellow Bell Pepper, seeded and diced

    2 Cloves of garlic, minced

    Salt and Pepper to taste

    2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Juice from 1/2 a Lemon

    1. Cook Quinoa: Bring quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil, then reduce temperature and simmer on low for about 12 mins, or until all the water is absorbed.  Place cooked Quinoa in the fridge until cool.
    2. Cook Lentils: Bring lentils and 2 cups of water to a boil, the  reduce temperature and simmer on low for about 25 mins, or until all the water is absorbed.  Place cooked lentils in the fridge with the quinoa until cool.
    3. Make Dressing: While the quinoa and lentils are cooling, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper together in a small container and let stand at room temperature.  This helps mellow the raw garlic.
    4. Once the quinoa and lentils are cool add in the veggies and dressing and combine.  Then pack the salad into single serving containers (I like half sized mason jars) and enjoy for lunch all week!

     

    For more information about The Alkalizing diet, click here

  • Vanilla Cinnamon Quinoa Pancakes

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     I love brunch!  I can’t think of a meal I look forward to more. While I usually opt for more savoury morning options, I do admit that pancakes are a huge guilty pleasure of mine.  Always on the lookout to update this starchy classic in favour or a more nutrient dense (but still delicious) option I stumbled upon this mouthwateringly great recipe.  Serve with fresh fruit, yogurt, maple syrup or even plain straight from the pan – I bet you won’t be able to eat just one!

    Ingredients  (makes 7-8 pancakes)

    1 cup quinoa flour (optional to toast quinoa in a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat just till it starts to brown and smoke a little.  I usually skip this step, but some people find it gives the flour a sweeter taste)
    2 tablespoons sugar (I’m pretty sweet on unrefined coconut sugar at the moment)
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup milk (cow’s, almond, coconute)
    1 large egg
    1 tablespoon oil of your choice or melted butter (yum!)
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract


    Directions

    1. In a large bowl, stir together the quinoa flour, dextrose, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, oil and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir well. Batter should be creamy and smooth (not thick and puffy). If not, add a little bit more milk.
    2. Heat a griddle to 375 degrees F or a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add a small amount of oil. For each pancake pour a 1/4 cup of batter onto griddle. Flip when bubbles break on the surface. Cook until golden brown on the other side. Repeat with remaining batches, Serve!
  • Refreshing Homemade Cucumber Aloe Face Mist

    This face & body mist brings is amazingly refreshing on a hot summer day – and it has major benefits for your skin. The rose water helps reduce any redness and swelling of the skin, while also acting as an astringent. The cucumber soothes and softens your skin, and also provides a cooling effect. The lemon acts as a natural exfoliator, leaving your skin smooth and soft. The aloe soothes your skin, promotes blood circulation, and improves your skin’s elasticity. Here’s how to make this refreshing cucumber aloe mist.

    What you need:
    1 cucumber
    1 squeeze of lemon
    1 teaspoon aloe vera gel (can be purchased at your local health food store)
    1 tablespoon rosewater (can be purchased at your local health food store)Homemade-cucumber-aloe-face-mist

    You’ll also need a blender, a cheese cloth, a small bowl, and a spray bottle to store your mixture.

    What you do:
    Peel your cucumber and cut it up into little pieces. Place the pieces in a blender and blend on high for about 1 minute.

    Cover a small bowl with a cheese cloth and strain the juice into the bowl.

    Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix.

    Transfer your mixture into a spray bottle and mist away! You can add some distilled water if you want to dilute the mixture a bit. Store this in your fridge so that it doesn’t spoil. It should last about a week.

  • Safe Natural Sunscreen Recipe

    For safe summer fun, you want to protect your skin.  But for many people it also means steering clear of many of the chemicals and preservatives found in commercial sunscreens.  There are a number of excellent natural sunscreens on the market, but I discovered its actually easy and affordable to make your own.

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    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup almond or olive oil (can infuse with herbs first if desired)
    • 1/4 cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4)
    • 1/4 cup beeswax
    • 2 Tablespoons Zinc Oxide (This is a non-nano version that won’t be absorbed into the skin. Be careful not to inhale the powder). This makes a natural SPF of 20+ or more can be added.)
    • Optional: 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
    • Optional: 2 tablespoons Shea Butter (natural SPF 4-5)
    • Optional: Essential Oils, Vanilla Extract or other natural extracts to suit your preference

    How to Make Natural Sunscreen:

    1. Combine ingredients except zinc oxide in a pint sized or larger glass jar. I have a mason jar that I keep just for making lotions and lotion bars, or you can even reuse a glass jar from pickles, olives or other foods.
    2. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and place over medium heat.
    3. Put a lid on the jar loosely and place in the pan with the water.
    4. As the water heats, the ingredients in the jar will start to melt. Shake or stir occasionally to incorporate. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, stir in well and pour into whatever jar or tin you will use for storage. Small mason jars (pint size) are great for this. It will not pump well in a lotion pump!
    5. Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is incorporated.
    6. Use as you would regular sunscreen. Best if used within six months.

    Additional Notes:

    • This sunscreen is somewhat but not completely waterproof and will need to be reapplied after sweating or swimming
    • Make sure not to inhale the Zinc Oxide- use a mask if necessary!
    • This recipe has an SPF of about 20, though adding more Zinc Oxide will increase the SPF
    • Add more beeswax to make thicker sunscreen, less to make smooth sunscreen
    • I recommend coconut or vanilla extract or lavender essential oils for fragrance
    • Store in a cool, dry place or in the fridge
    • I prefer to store in a small canning jar and apply like a body butter. It will be thicker, especially if you use coconut oil in the recipe.
    • remove the Zinc Oxide and this makes an excellent lotion recipe!

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  • Black Bean Chocolate Cake – Flourless and Gluten Free

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This cake is so moist and delicious your guests will never guess the surprise ingredient…. black beans!

    The best part about this cake is that it’s totally budget-friendly. It’s basically beans, eggs, and cocoa. That gives you no excuse to not try it.

    Ingredients:

    1-15 ounce can of unseasoned black beans
    OR 1 1/2 cup cooked beans, any color
    5 large eggs
    1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    6 tablespoons unsalted organic butter OR coconut oil
    1/2 cup of honey or other sweetener + 1/2 teaspoon pure stevia extract
    6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 tablespoon water (omit if using honey)
    Mint Chocolate variation:
    2 teaspoons mint extract (in place of 2 teaspoons vanilla)

    Preparation:

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Spray a 9 cake pan with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray, or just grease it with a thin layer of butter.
    Dust cocoa all over the inside of the pan, tapping to evenly distribute.
    Cut a round of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan, then spray the parchment lightly.
    Drain and rinse beans in a strainer or colander. Shake off excess water. Place beans, 3 of the eggs, vanilla, stevia (if using) and salt into blender. Blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. No lumps! Whisk together cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder.
    Beat butter with sweetener until light and fluffy.
    Add remaining two eggs, beating for a minute after each addition.
    Pour bean batter into egg mixture and mix.
    Finally, stir in cocoa powder and water (if using), and beat the batter on high for one minute, until smooth. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top.
    Grip pan firmly by the edges and rap it on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles.
    Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done with the top is rounded and firm to the touch.
    After 10 minutes, turn out cake from pan, and flip over again on to a cooling rack. Let cool until cake reaches room temperature, then cover in plastic wrap or with cake dome (I use an overturned plastic chip bowl). For BEST flavor, let cake sit over night. I promise this cake will not have a hint of beaniness after letting it sit for eight hours! If you are stacking this cake, level the top with a long serrated knife, shaving off layers until it is flat and even. Frost immediately before serving

    Frosting:

    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted organic butter,
    1/4 cup sugar
    5-6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 tablespoons half and half OR coconut milk
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    Pinch of sea salt
    Good-tasting pure stevia extract, to taste
    Optional addition for a glossy finish:
    1 fresh organic egg yolk

    Preparation:

    Cream the butter in a small bowl until fluffy.
    Stir sweetener into butter with a spatula, then beat until smooth.
    Slowly blend in the cocoa powder (unless you want to redecorate your kitchen), vanilla, and sea salt.
    Beat in the half and half and egg yolk, if using.
    Add stevia, starting with 1/16 teaspoon. You’ll probably use less than 1/4 teaspoon. Just keep tasting and adjust sweetness to your liking.

     

    Adapted from http://healthyindulgences.net/category/black-beans/

  • Support Local Food

    There are many ways to increase the amount of local food in our daily lives…and many benefits in doing so.

    It’s Good For You & Your Family
    When you provide your family with juicy peaches, hormone-free chicken and crisp baby carrots, eating healthy becomes very easy, not to mention incredibly enjoyable.

    It’s Good For BC Farmers & Communities
    By supporting local farmers you are voting with your dollar to keep BC farmers farming, and safeguarding BC’s agricultural land for future generations.

     
    It’s Better For Our Environment
    The fresh produce sold at BC farmers’ markets usually travels less that 300km to get to you. Compare this to the average North American meal, which travels 2,400km to get from field to plate and contains ingredients from 5 countries in addition to our own. All that transportation results in a lot of fossil fuels being burned, which contributes, to air pollution, acid rain and climate change.

     

    Here are 3 great ways to eat local

     

    Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
    Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) fosters a closer link between local families and their food. CSA members make a commitment to the farm at the beginning of the season by paying in advance for a portion of the farm’s products throughout the season. This guarantees the farm a market for its products, provides members fresh food at a discount, and fosters responsible relationships between farmer, eater, and the land where the food is grown.With most CSA’s  the produce is chosen for you, but some offer a “debit-style” program which allows you to choose the amount you’d like to prepay and what produce you prefer to have.
    See a list of local CSA programs here.

    Farmers Markets
    A farmers’ market is a place where you come to learn about healthy food. It’s a meeting place to connect with friends, family and neighbours. It’s a springboard for local farmers to introduce their wares to new audiences, and it is a celebration of community and the bounty of our land. People come to farmers’ markets week after week for many reasons, including the community gathering experience, the opportunity to talk directly to farmers, and the reassurance that they are eating nutritious and ethically sourced food.
    Find out dates and times of farmers markets in your area.

    BC Seasonal Availability Guide
    If you are looking to modify your diet or your menu to include more local and sustainable food products, understanding which farm products are available locally and when they are available is critical.  You can download and print a copy of the BC Seasonal Availability Guide here .  Keep a copy at home in your kitchen and keep a copy with you to bring to the grocery store.
    Download and print the BC Seasonal Availability Guide here.