Creamy Cashew Chia Pudding

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I’ll admit, I got myself into a bit of a food slump and I’ve been sticking with all my “go-to” recipes lately. A lot of them I’ve posted on here already, so I haven’t been very motivated to put up recipes onto my blog. In addition, the apartment I’m living in right now has no natural light, so it’s hard to take beautiful pictures of food living in a cave! However, a few people have seen me eating this chia pudding lately and asked how I make it, so I figured it needed to go up!

I’ve made this chia pudding for over two years and I haven’t adjusted the recipe at all! That is a strong testament to how delicious it is. I found the original recipe on one of my favorite blogs and it’s now a permanent link I have saved: http://www.mydarlinglemonthyme.com/2014/10/vanilla-chia-pudding-gluten-free-vegan.html#more

I’m always tinkering with recipes and trying to improve them, but this one is definitely tried and true. I think the best part about it is how easy it is to make and I always have the ingredients on hand to whip up a batch.

This pudding can be eaten for breakfast, as a snack, or served as dessert. The chia seeds provide protein, fiber, and omega-3’s, the soaked cashews add additional protein and magnesium, the coconut oil kicks in some healthy fat, and the dates are a perfect natural sweetener! I also love topping the pudding off with fresh fruit or berries to add some pizzaz. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked 2-6 hours in water
  • 4 cups water
  • 4-6 medjool dates, pitted
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut butter or extra virgin coconut oil
  • fresh berries, to serve
  1. Place the cashews in a bowl, cover with water and soak for 2-6 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse cashews and place in blender with 4 cups of water, dates, salt, cinnamon, coconut butter and vanilla extract. (If you can’t fit it all in at once, just put less water in and add it later with the chia seeds)
  3. Blend on highest speed until completely smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Pour into large bowl with chia seeds and whisk thoroughly. Continue whisking every few minutes to prevent chia seeds from clumping.
  5. Once thickened (around 10 minutes) place in the fridge for around 2 hours or until completely chilled. I usually make it the night before and eat it for breakfast!
  6. Serve chilled topped with berries. Store any leftover pudding in a jar in the fridge for up to five days.

 

Dealing with Life’s Curveballs – Part 2

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That is the attractive get-up I got to sport several times when I visited the hospital for x-rays, ultrasounds and surgeries. I loved the cozy socks they give you that go up to your knees, but I could take or leave the robe! Since my last post I’ve had several tests done and results analyzed to figure out why my body is producing kidney stones. I have learnt a lot over the past six months about the renal system and I feel I have a much greater appreciation for the complexities of various systems in my body and how a small stone can cause so much disruption!

I know several people have asked to learn more about how kidney stones are formed and how to prevent them, so I thought I would write out what I’ve learnt. However, please note that this information is specific to my case. Although much of the information is applicable to other cases, it’s important to ask your doctor to have appropriate tests done to know what is the root cause of your stones.

The most common form of kidney stones is calcium oxalate, with calcium phosphate coming close behind. Stones are formed in the kidney when there are high levels of calcium and oxalate or phosphate present. For various reasons, sometimes when these minerals are absorbed they end up in the kidneys, rather than other areas of the body where they can be used. The calcium and oxalate/phosphate bind to one another in the kidney which form stones. Some stones are small and are passed undetected, while others remain in the kidneys and are never excreted. However, sometimes the stones become large and are either painfully passed through the renal system or need to be removed through surgery or medication.

Through some tests I found out that my body is excreting extremely high amounts of oxalates. Oxalates are found in a lot of foods, but they are particularly high in several foods including dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards) beets, nuts, coffee, tea, and dark chocolate. These foods are not unhealthy on their own, but when your body is not digesting them properly this can affect your oxalate levels. You can reduce the the risk of kidney stones by monitoring your intake of these foods. However, I have done more research on oxalate levels and it also matters how these foods are prepared. As some of you know, I typically have a green smoothie every morning for breakfast. This would typically involve several cups of raw greens along with some fruit and other vegetables. I loved starting my day with these green smoothies, but I should have headed the advice of “everything in moderation”. Raw greens have high nutritional density, but they can be hard on your body to digest. Therefore in some circumstances, especially those who are susceptible to kidney stones, it is better for  to steam greens to aid in the digestion process. Moving forward, I’ve reduced how often I am having green smoothies, I am rotating my greens that are in the smoothies and I am also steaming them beforehand to help my body digest them more easily.

Citric acid or citrate is found in lemon juice and is a helpful compound that helps break down oxalates. My doctor recommended putting lemon juice in my water to help break down the oxalates in my stomach before it reaches my kidneys. Lemon juice also helps aid other digestion processes and helps balance the ph levels in the body, so even if you don’t have a history of kidney stones it’s good to do! I researched if lemon essential oils had citrate in them, since I commonly put it in my water. However, I found out that the essential oil is made from the rind of the lemon, therefore it does not have any citric acid in it. It still has important health benefits, but not for the purpose I am looking for.

The last recommendation my doctor had was to increase the amount of calcium supplements I am taking. At first this seemed counter-intuitive to me, but it turns out by increasing your calcium intake you increase the likelihood that the calcium and oxalates will bind in your stomach, rather than in your kidneys. By binding in your stomach instead, you’ll just poop them out!

Throughout this whole process, I learnt that despite having mostly healthy habits, I need to be aware of the variety in my diet as well as the frequency of foods. The above dietary modifications are specific to those who are prone to kidney stones, but I still think it’s good to take a hard look at what you’re frequently putting in your body. Sometimes I get in a slump where I prepare the same handful of meals over and over again because it’s easy and I don’t have to think about it. However, I’ve learnt that variety is important and I need to continue to challenge myself to incorporate new things. I am definitely a person who likes routine and consistency, but perhaps this whole things was a kick in the rear to let me know I need to step outside of my routine a bit more often!

 

 

 

Dealing with Life’s Curveballs

As I’ve thought about my blog these past few weeks, my instinct has been to write a post listing out all the excuses why I haven’t posted for 4 months. Sure, my life has been busier than usual, but the honest truth is I haven’t made it a priority at all this summer. At first this made me feel lazy and undisciplined because I really do enjoy keeping up this blog, but I’ve begun to realize that some times life just happens and I need to embrace it. However, regardless of my dedication to my blog lately, I wanted to give an update on one of the struggles I’ve had for the past two months. For those of you who’ve seen me lately, you’ll know I was dealing with a stubborn kidney stone that just would not go away! The whole story is quite eventful so for those of you who find medical stories interesting, I will indulge you. (Warning: I openly discuss bodily processes in my story for those of you who find that uncomfortable. Additionally this is a very long post!)

It started on a Sunday in mid-June when I woke up with a mild cramp on the front left side of my lower abdomen. At first, I thought I was ovulating, since I sometimes feel a mild cramp for a day or two. However, as the day progressed the pain became worse. We went out for breakfast with my in-laws and I could barely sit up straight. I was sweating and had chills all over and I couldn’t even look at my food because I felt so nauseous. I finally told Bryce we needed to head home so I could lay down. Once we got home, I called my mom because I figured she could tell me what to do and fix everything! However, as I described the pain she got stumped. Her best guess was that it was gas and it would pass. The area where I was describing where the pain was didn’t have anything but my bowels. However, to help reduce the pain I took an Advil and fell asleep. I slept on and off all day until the evening when I felt better. By dinner I felt almost 100% and I figured my mom was right and it was just upset bowels.

The next day I left for a four day work trip to Cincinnati for a conference. Just before I boarded the plane I quickly went to the washroom. Before I flushed, I looked down and I realized I had literally urinated straight blood – inside the toilet was crimson red. My heart started beating out my chest and my mind started racing. I called my mom again and gave her the update. “No pain today, but now there is blood. Nope, it doesn’t sting to pee and my urine hasn’t been cloudy” As I discussed it with my mom, who happens to be a nurse who works in renal dialysis, her conclusion was I must have a kidney stone. At this point, a doctor wouldn’t do anything but wait for it to pass, so I figured I might as well get on the plane. During the trip the pain came in waves, sometimes I felt fine and other times I had excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. I also continued to pee straight blood for two more days, so I finally decided to go a hospital to get it checked out. After running blood tests and examining my stomach, they came to the same conclusion: kidney stones.

Once I returned home I followed up with my doctor to get an ultrasound. After two weeks of waiting I got in and within 2 hours of my appointment I got a call from my doctor saying to come see her in an hour. My doctor was completely taken aback by the results of my ultrasound because it showed that a 1cm by 3mm stone was stuck in my upper ureter. The ureter is a tube that drains fluids from your kidney to your bladder. Typically when a stone leaves the kidney people experience excruciating pain as it travels down the ureter into the bladder and finally out the urethra. However, for some strange reason the presence of this large stone was not causing me to be in constant excruciating pain. Regardless, they were worried about my kidney function with a stone blocking the ureter, so I needed to see a urologist regarding surgery. Fast forward three weeks and after following up with the urologist I get booked for lithotripsy at Vancouver General Hospital. Lithotripsy is a procedure that uses ultrasound shock waves to break apart kidney stones so that they can be passed through the ureter. Typically the procedure works in around 80% percent of cases. After the procedure I was sore, but in surprisingly less pain than I expected. I was instructed to strain my urine for the next few days to catch the stone fragments as I passed them so they could be analyzed. Two weeks later I had to have a follow up x-ray to make sure the stone was gone; however, up until this point I hadn’t collected any stone fragments. I was feeling skeptical.

Once again, within a few hours of my x-ray I received another call. The stone was still in the exact same spot. At this point I was frustrated, but I was almost expecting this outcome, due to the lack of pain after surgery and not collecting any fragments. Fast forward three more weeks and I’m going into surgery at Lions Gate Hospital. My urologist decided he needed to use a scope to go up through my urethra past my bladder into my ureter to use a laser to break apart the stone. The surgery was scheduled for the day after my brother’s wedding in Kelowna, so my mom and I had to leave early the next morning to make it to the hospital in time. Additionally I had to fast all day and not consume any liquids after 10am. We arrived at 1pm and my surgery was scheduled for 4pm. I got dressed into my lovely hospital gown, got hooked up to an IV in preparation for my surgery. However, it slowly became clear that they were running behind schedule and I was the last patient slotted in for surgery that day. Finally at 6pm the anesthesiologist came to tell me they would have to reschedule my surgery. I was devastated.

I had rushed here after my brother’s wedding, starved myself all day, and sat in the hospital with an IV for 5 hours only to be turned away in the end. Fortunately the nurses felt terrible and they told the doctor, so he came out to talk to my mom and I. He felt terrible as well, so he suggested I come back in the morning and check myself into the ER in order to get put on the waiting list for surgery the next night. I could go home and eat dinner that night, but I would have to fast all day in hopes that I could get surgery that night. Fortunately the plan worked and I got in the next night, instead of waiting several more weeks for surgery! However, the surgery ended up to be much more invasive than anticipated and they had to put in a stent from my kidney to my bladder to ensure proper drainage of fluid while my ureter healed from the damage the stone left behind. They also wanted to keep me in the hospital overnight because they were worried my kidney was infected due to the discolored fluid that drained from it once they broke up the stone.

That night in the hospital was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had. When I woke up from surgery I felt an unimaginably strong urge to pee. If anyone has had a urinary track infection, it was like that times ten. I tried going pee several times during the night and each time it felt like burning hot lava coming out. However, as soon as I returned to my bed, it felt like I still had a bladder that was about to explode. On top of this pain, I had cramps in my side and back that felt like deep intense period cramps. I barely slept that night despite the heavy drugs I was on and the only thing that got me through was the expectation that the recovery would be quick. At this point it was probably a good thing I didn’t know what the next week had in store for me because it would’ve been impossible to have a positive attitude. I could barely walk upright for several days after the surgery. I had to take pain medication and anti-inflammatories every four hours to keep functioning and I barely got out of bed.

Finally after one week it was time to get my stent removed. The unsettling part of this was it had to be pulled out through my urethra via a tiny black string. The urologist said I could do this myself, but I had no idea what to expect and didn’t trust myself, so I had my doctor do it. This was the strangest, most uncomfortable feeling, as the stent moved down my ureter into my bladder and then out my urethra. I could feel it moving inside me as it slowly got pulled out. When it was finally out I looked down and couldn’t believe what I saw. The stent was ten times bigger than I had imagined! I couldn’t believe it had actually fit inside me that whole week. I asked the doctor if I could take a picture for bragging rights.

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After the stent was out, I figured I was on my way to a full recovery. I was off my meds, I had more energy and I assumed the stone was gone. Boy, was I wrong. Three days later I started getting a dull ache in my side. Five days later I was back in the hospital and diagnosed with a kidney infection. I felt completely defeated. After all these procedures and drugs my body was still in battle mode.  The following week was awful, as I continually experienced fevers, nausea, back pain, and body aches. I had to miss a whole week of work and could barely get out of bed or leave the house.  As a precaution, I got an ultrasound done to see how my kidney was doing. Within two hours I got a call from my doctor and I was back in her office. Turns out that a fragment of the stone was still lodged in my ureter, just outside my bladder. It was only 5mm, about half the size of the original stone, but it needed to come out. My doctor called my urologist and he suggested a medication to help me pass the stone.

A week later after taking more meds and straining my urine, I’d collected nothing. It looked like I’d need another surgery to get it out. I had another ultrasound and they found it in the same spot, unchanged. I followed up with my doctor the same day and she sent me to the bathroom for a urine sample to check on the infection. As I was collecting the urine I noticed a dark object fly out into the toilet. At first I thought I was mistaken, but as I stared into the toilet I became more convinced that it was the stone! I quickly reached in and grabbed it and began to laugh out-loud. Here I was holding the stone in my doctor’s office after just getting an ultrasound done that morning showing this stone was stuck! I had been straining my urine for 2 months for this thing! When I showed my doctor she was stunned and she sent the stone off to get analyzed so see what it’s made up of. The strangest part of this all, is as soon as I passed the stone I had instant relief of my back and side pain that I’d been experiencing for weeks! It was incredible how such a small thing could so drastically affect my overall health. Again I had to take a picture for bragging rights!

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That was two weeks ago and I am feeling so much better! I still have a ways to go to get my body back on track and to repair the damage that has been done, but this whole experience has given me a new perspective. I thankful for the doctors who worked with me throughout this process and that I have access to a healthcare system that could provided me the services I needed without paying a penny. I cannot even imagine what additional stress I would’ve had if I needed to consider the financial repercussions of receiving the care I needed throughout all of this. I’m also thankful  for my husband and mother who helped keep me sane by entertaining me and taking care of me after my surgeries.

I have some other insights that I’ve learned through this that relate to food, but I’m going to save that for another post, since this one is already long enough. However, I am excited to explain some of the things I’ve learnt and will incorporate into my diet over the next few months!

Coconut Cashew Macadamia Butter

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I’m sure you have had those days when you are trying to eat healthy, but nothing you eat satisfies the craving you have for something sweet, something creamy, something fatty. The last few months since cutting out gluten and dairy and reducing sugar from our diets most days I feel great. I rarely have cravings for things I can’t have. However, every now and then I get these cravings that result in me digging through my fridge and pantry looking for something to satisfy the cravings.

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However, I have found one thing that completely satisfies these cravings which also doesn’t break any rules! This coconut cashew macadamia butter is everything I’m looking for – a little sweet, a little fatty, a little creamy! My sister-in-law made a similar butter for me for Christmas and I’ve made several batches with my own twist since.  I’ll spread it on toast, eat it with apples, mix it into my oatmeal, or eat it off a spoon!

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Nut butters are so easy to make and there are endless possibilities of combinations. It’s a healthy snack or a great addition to a meal if you need some additional protein. Both these nuts contain healthy monounsaturated fats and have high levels of magnesium, zinc, and selenium. The additional fiber is also a bonus!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts
  • 2 tbs hemp hearts
  • 2 tbs coconut manna
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 1 tbs maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Add the cashews, macadamia nuts and hemp hearts into a food processor or blender and blend until finely ground. I like mine to have a bit of crunch so I don’t blend completely.
  2. Add the coconut manna, coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla and blend until completely mixed in.
  3. Spread on toast, fruit or mix into oatmeal to enjoy! Keep refrigerated.

A Healthy Twist on Jambalaya

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February was somewhat of a tumultuous month for me. Personally there were a lot of things that recently came up in my life that challenged me. It caused me to reflect a lot on my character and values, and to re-evaluate what’s most important to me. As hard as times like these are in my life, I can’t help but be grateful for them. When I look back at the hardest moments of my life, I realize how much these moments have defined who I am today. I know that what I’ve been going through this past month will help define who I am in the future and it brings everything into perspective.

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Also, during hard times I realize how much cooking brings a sense of calmness to my day. It allows me to break away from time-wasting distractions and just think and reflect on my day and how I’m feeling. Even though some days I don’t feel like putting in the time and energy, I’m always glad I did afterwards.

This meal is the ultimate comfort dinner, without the bad stuff! I’ve turned to it many times this winter and my favorite part is that I can make a giant batch and freeze portions to eat a few weeks later. It’s one of those meals that you can clean out your fridge with and it doesn’t really matter too much what goes in. You can’t really go wrong!

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The spiciness of the chorizo sausage and the nutty flavour of the quinoa give this meal a lot of depth! You can crank up the spice with some added peppers and seasoning, or you can make it more mild with more vegetables and tomato sauce. I’ve never really measured the ingredients that I use for this recipe, except this last time I tried to take more careful notes. The biggest thing to keep consistent is your liquid to quinoa ratio. You don’t want your quinoa under or over cooked, so I would keep those ingredients fairly consistent. The rest you can play around with to your hearts content!

Ingredients:

  • 3 chorizo sausages, chopped
  • 15-20 prawns
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 cups of cabbage, chopped
  • 2 sweet peppers, diced
  • 2 cans of 16oz stewed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • handful of cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  1. In a large dutch oven pot, saute the sausage, onions, garlic, and jalapeño on medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the celery, carrots, cabbage and peppers and saute for another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, paste, broth and spices and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, add the quinoa and turn the heat to medium/low heat with the lid on and let simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the quinoa is cooked.
  5. Add the prawns and cilantro and heat until prawns are cooked.
  6. Remove from heat and mix thoroughly until quinoa is evenly distributed then serve!

 

Spicy Sausage with Zoodles

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As the days get longer and the nights get shorter, I have noticed over the past few weeks how much easier it is to get up in the morning to workout and to come home in the evening and take time to cook a good meal. Daylight gives me so much more energy! There has been a remarkable amount of sun here over the past few weeks, with some days feeling like spring already. Just yesterday there was a bear sighting near our house, which definitely signals that other creatures are noticing the warmer temperatures as well!

However, despite feeling more energy with the increased daylight, I still like to have ingredients on hand for a quick meal to throw together. Lately I’ve really been enjoying spicy Italian or chorizo sausages with veggies. Sometimes I roast or steam a variety of veggies, but another favorite is making veggie noodles. Zucchini noodles, often called zoodles, are definitely the easiest and fastest. What I like most about them is I can throw them in the pan with the juices from the sausage and after 2-3 minutes they soak up the flavors and are warm enough to serve. It can’t get much easier than that! I also like cucumber, carrot or beet noodles, but I find they are better served cold.

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I have two tools I can use to make the noodles, a spiralizer and a julienne peeler. I find the spiralizer works best with vegetables that have a diameter greater than 1-2 inches, typically beets and cucumbers. If the diameter is too small, it’s hard to make decent noodles, which is why I like the julienne peeler for smaller zucchinis and carrots. It’s amazing how much better vegetables taste when they are noodley! It also makes it easier to feed my cravings for spaghetti sauce or pesto, when I know I have healthy alternatives to pasta and grains.

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So if you just want to try making vegetables noodles, but don’t want to pay $30-40 on a spiralizer, I would suggest looking for a julienne peeler which you can find pretty much anywhere for around $10. I promise you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make noodles, plus it’s great for cutting up vegetables for salads as well. Mine definitely gets used every week!

Ingredients:

  • one package of spicy sausages
  • 2-3 zucchinis, made into noodles
  • half a red onion, cut into half moons
  • dash of olive oil
  • dash of red pepper flakes

Instructions:

  1. Heat up the olive oil in a pan on medium heat and then add the sausages.
  2. As the sausages cook, cut up your zucchinis into noodles and dice the onion.
  3. Add the onion after the sausage has cooked for 5 minutes and wait until it softens up, around 5 minutes.
  4. Add the zoodles and red pepper flakes and saute for 2-3 more minutes until the zoodles are warm.
  5. Serve immediately before zoodles get cold.

 

Cacao Chia Power Balls

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2014 has come and gone and like many of you, this past week I paused to reflect on the past year and to plan what I want to accomplish for 2015. The past year brought a lot of change for me, finishing graduate school, moving from Seattle to Squamish, starting a new job, and having my husband only home for weekends while he is at school during the week. There has been a lot to celebrate and a lot of challenges to rise to. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given this past year and the amazing experiences I have learnt from. I am looking forward to the personal growth I know I will experience this upcoming year and I want to capitalize on all the opportunities I have available to me now.

Therefore, I made some resolutions this year that will help me focus on the areas I want to grow in. Bryce and I made some resolutions we want to work towards together, including each of us planning a date night once a month, working out together twice a week, Skyping with family once a week and cutting down our sugar intake. Personally I am focusing on meditating everyday for 10 minutes, completing an art project every month, taking photos once a week, working out four times a week and listening to others before making assumptions.

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Another change for 2015 is that Bryce and I are now both cutting out dairy, gluten and eggs out of our diet. I started on this path at the end of November and thankfully Bryce is doing the same now, since it really helps to not have any tempting foods in the house! It’s amazing how much better I feel already and it’s only been a month. My energy level is higher throughout the day, without feeling an afternoon slump, plus I don’t have strong urges to snack between meals. I have been focusing on eating more protein and healthy fats, along with incorporating more vegetables into all my meals.

This recipe I created for two reasons, I wanted something quick I could grab before my early morning workouts to help fuel my body and Bryce can’t eat almonds anymore which is an ingredient in almost every granola bar. Therefore, I wanted to make something that he could eat on the go as well. These power balls are so simple and quick to make, plus you can add pretty much anything you like to them! They are also beyond delicious and I couldn’t stop picking at them after I made them! I hope you enjoy 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup peanut or almond butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/4 chia seeds
  • 1/4 unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp ground flax

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the peanut butter, honey, vanilla and coconut oil and mix together. Once mixed, add the raw cacao powder. If consistency is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water.
  2. Measure out the rolled oats, chia seeds, shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds and ground flax and combine in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the mixture from the saucepan into the mixing bowl and mix throughly using your hands.
  4. Place mixture in fridge for 10 min before rolling the mixture into tiny balls.
  5. Keep in refrigerator until they are all eaten!

My Go-To Salmon Recipe

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After looking through my past posts, I realized I’ve neglected to share some of my go-to recipes for quick dinners during the week. Therefore, I felt that my next recipe needed to share the magic of quick, delicious meals! I can’t really take credit for this recipe, since my mom originally came up with this mixture back when I was in high school. When I started cooking for myself in university, I distinctly remember calling her to ask for this recipe because I couldn’t imagine preparing salmon any other way! Since then I have rarely strayed away from this recipe when preparing salmon. In fact, Bryce has imposed this recipe on his own mother because he loves it so much!

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The beauty of this recipe is that it involves simple ingredients and it can be mixed up in minutes. Typically I have all these ingredients on hand and the flavors go well with a variety of salads and vegetables. However, the typical accompaniment is sautéed asparagus and mushrooms.

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I prefer cooking the salmon on the BBQ, as I find it adds more flavor and it’s effortless to cook. To prepare the salmon I simply lay the salmon on a large piece of tinfoil, spread the mixture over the top, then I cover the salmon with another large piece of tinfoil. I fold up the edges so the juices don’t run out and the steam stays in the entire time it cooks. I place the salmon on the top rack of the BBQ and put the outer two burners on high and the inside burners on low. I find with most BBQs this setup maintains a temperature of 350-400 degrees. I cook it for 20 minutes, without peeking, since that lets out all the steam and heat. You can tell if the salmon is cooked by its firmness using a spoon or spatula, very similar to a steak. Once its ready, just peel away the tinfoil and its ready to eat!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs mayonaise
  • 1 tbs grainy dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbs dried dill
  • 1 tbs Mrs. Dash

Directions:

  1. Mix together all the ingredients.
  2. Spread evenly over salmon.

Blackberry Peach Coconut Milk Sorbet

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Not sure how this happened, but it’s October 19th and I haven’t posted a recipe since July! Tsk, tsk… However in my defense, it has been a whirlwind for the past two plus months. Since my last post I finished grad school (whoop! whoop!), my husband and I moved to Squamish, BC where we originally met 7 years ago, I started a new job as Director of Admissions at Quest University, and I have travelled around to four states and one province recruiting for Quest. I finally got back home this week after traveling for 28 days. I must say, I ate some incredible meals while I was traveling, but I am happy to be back in my kitchen making my own meals!

 

This is a recipe that I made back in August several times. I was fortunate to have my sister come visit me from Kelowna and bring my 80 lbs of peaches! My friend and I spent a whole day canning and freezing most of them, but I did keep some for eating fresh. Also, in Squamish there are tons of wild blackberry bushes. I have a few good spots that I like to go pick and I was luck to get a few buckets full. Now there is no better combination with peaches than blackberries, I must say. Therefore I made a large blackberry peach crisp, as well as several batches of sorbet with my bounty. These fruits, among others, are the reason why I love August so much!

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I used my handy Vitamix to make the sorbet, but if you don’t have as powerful of a blender I would suggest not freezing the fruit before hand and instead freezing the sorbet for several hours after blending it to get a thicker consistency. Also, if you want more of a potent sorbet, you can use less ice and just pop the mixture in the freezer for a few hours instead. Whatever floats your boat!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 can of coconut milk
  • 2 cups of blackberries (frozen if possible)
  • 2 peaches, sliced (frozen if possible)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 trays of ice

Directions

  1. Put the blackberries, peaches, vanilla and coconut milk in a blender. Blend on high until smooth.
  2. Add the ice in stages until you reach your desired consistency. If after adding both trays of ice the mixture is not thick enough, place the bowl in the freezer for an hour or so, until thickened. If you continue to add ice the flavor will become diluted.

Watermelon Slushies

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How is it already the end of July!? We’ve had an incredible summer so far, filled with plentiful sunshine, fresh produce and lots of fun times with friends and family. The last few weeks we’ve been trying to make the most out of our time in Seattle by checking off things on our bucket list before we move in two weeks! We’ve hit up some parks and beaches and eaten at some amazing restaurants. One year has gone by way too fast and we’ve loved our time in Seattle. However, we’re excited for the next stage and moving back to Canada. Other exciting news is that I passed the Washington State edTPA which means I am now a fully certified teacher! I have 10 days left of class and then I will be finished with my Master’s Degree. The MIT program has been amazing and has inspired me even more to follow my passion for teaching and educating others. It has definitely changed the way I perceive the teaching profession and I am thankful for the wonderful faculty mentors and peers I have met during the process. I can’t wait until the day I have my own classroom. However, until then I will enjoy all the free time I can get!

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This recipe was created during the heat wave we had last week when our apartment was still 80 degrees at 10pm and Bryce and I were overheating and trying to cool down in order to go to sleep. I had a small watermelon in the fridge and with a few simple steps we had a great treat that cooled us off instantly! We laughed as we drank these because within 5 minutes of me drinking mine I had goosebumps on my arms! You could easily add other fruit you have on hand to jazz these up, but I love the pure watermelon flavor! I added the salt because it helps bring out the watermelon flavor. If you’ve ever had salt on watermelon you’ll know what I’m talking about! I hope everyone is finding ways to keep cool this summer 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • one mini watermelon, cut up and cubed
  • 2 trays of ice
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Directions:

  1. Put the watermelon in the blender and mix until smooth consistency. Add a bit of water if needed.
  2. Add the ice, salt and lime juice to mixture and blend until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately, but beware of goosebumps as a result!