Vegan “Cheesy” Cauliflower Soup

Now that cauliflower prices are back below $11 a head, we can feed our kiddies this family favourite , scrumptious “Cheesy” Cauliflower Soup. Even our recently picky 9 year old gobbles it up! I like to cook it in my crockpot, so that it is ready to serve when I finish up work. YUM!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower (chopped- including stem)
  • 4 carrots (chopped)
  • 2 celery stalks (chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or more if you like extra cheesy flavour)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • water, to thin if desired (about 1/2 cup)

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Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425F. Melt coconut oil and shake it with chopped cauliflower and carrots to coat.
  2. In a large roasting pan, roast carrots and cauliflower for 40 minutes or until vegetables start to brown.
  3. Meanwhile….On low/medium heat sauté onions in coconut oil on a large skillet until caramelized (golden brown-approx. 8 minutes)
  4. Add celery and garlic. Sauté for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add all vegetables to blender with vegetable broth (split into 2-3 batches to prevent splatter.
  6. Pour mixture into crockpot and add cumin, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper.
  7. Heat on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8.
  8. Add up to 1/2 a cup of water to this the soup, if needed. (I personally prefer mine thick)
  9. Serve hot and enjoy.

TIP: Substitute 2 small heads of broccoli for the cauliflower to make a yummy “cheesy” broccoli soup instead! A great way to get the kiddos to eat their greens. 

 

Roasted Beet and Chickpea Hummus

This delicious and beautiful savoury hummus recipe will be sure to delight your senses and is packed full of an array of nutritious ingredients to make you feel great about what you are putting in your body.

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sized purple beets (peeled and chopped into 1″ squares)
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 14oz can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp “Sriracha” hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish:  I use walnuts and arugula or pea shoots.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Melt coconut oil and shake beets in it to coat them. Place beets in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for 25-30 minutes or until browning on the edges, turning half way through the cook time. Set aside to cool.
  2. In food processor add all the ingredients including the cooled beets and puree until smooth. I like mine a little chunky, but you can decide the texture that you like the best.
  3. Garnish with a handful of walnuts and some greens and serve.

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Tip: This is a perfect dish to add to a charcuterie platter or just with a side of rice crackers and veggies.

Mindfullness Jar

This is a beautiful gift to give your children, friends, and family, or even for your own stocking this Christmas.

When you are feeling frustrated, angry, sad, and stressed you can shake the jar. At first the sparkles scatter and move rapidly throughout its core, representing the thoughts in your mind when we enter a place of stress. But as you set it down, taking full deep breaths, its sparkles soon begin to float delicately and slowly, and as they begin to settle, so does your heart and your mind. You are able to go to a place of calm, hitting the reset button, so you can continue to nurture yourself throughout the day.

This recipe was adapted from the book “Moody Cow Likes To Meditate” by Kerry Lee McLean. One of my favourite books for teaching children (and grown ups) how they can change their response to the the world around them with meditation.

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Ingredients:

  • 500ml Mason Jar
  • Craft paper (any design that you love)
  • gorilla glue (so your jar doesn’t open up)
  • water
  • craft sparkles
  • vegetable glycerin (found at most health food stores and pharmacies,usually in the first aid section)
  • dish soap

Directions:

  1. Fill Jar 3/4 full of warm tap water
  2. Fill the rest of the jar with glycerin and 4 drops of dish soap, leaving a bit of room.
  3. Shake jar allowing the glycerin to dissolve.
  4. Add sparkles and shake until all clumps have dispersed.
  5. Trace smaller lid insert on paper. Cut out paper and place decorated side up onto your lid.
  6. Apply a bit of “gorilla glue” around the lid ring and twist it on.
  7. Allow time for glue to set.
  8. Enjoy the beauty and relaxation benefits of your new mind jar!

Ginger Spiced Dehydrated Apples

The incredible bounty of apples this time of year has me knees deep in coring, peeling, and finding all the creative ways to eat them all up. Apples are incredibly versatile, I use them in soups, sauces, salads, desserts, ciders, etc. The possibilities are truly endless! However, you don’t have to make it complicated. This easy recipe makes a delicious snack perfect for packing in the kiddo’s lunch kits, taking on a gorgeous fall hike, or if you’re like me…popping them in your mouth, anytime you set eyes on them!

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Tools:
Apple Corer
Dehydrator
*If you don’t own a dehydrator, you can use your oven, parchment paper, and a cookie sheet.

Ingredients:

15-20 apples (thats how many fit in a batch in my dehydrator)
1 heaping tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. all spice
1/2 tbsp. Grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (“braggs” is my favourite)

Directions:

  1. Wash, remove core, and thinly slice apples.
  2. In a large bowl put apple slices, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, all spice, and ginger.
  3. Shake until apples are coated as evenly as possible.
  4. Lay apple slices in a single layer in food dehydrator. Set on135F for 7 hours. (8 hours if you like them extra crunchy)Alternately, if you do not have a food dehydrator, you can bake them in the oven on 2 parchment paper lined ,large, cookie sheets. Bake at 200F for 2hours and 45 minutes or an extra hour if you like them extra crunchy.
  5. Store in a glass container in cupboard for up to 1 week or in refrigerator for up to 1 month. Or enjoy immediately.*TIP: I like to add them as salad toppers or as a side on a charcuterie board!

Roasted Squash, Apple, and Caramelized Onion Soup

This savoury soup will warm your soul on a crisp fall day. With fragrant herbs, fresh picked apples, creamy autumn squash, and toasted nuts and seeds, this nutrient dense soup will help to boost your immunity and provide you with many other health benefits. You are definitely going to want to go back for seconds.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 apple
  • 6 cloves of garlic (I love garlic)
  • 8 fresh sage leaves (extra for garnish, if desired)
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1L of vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • handful of pecans
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • salt and pepper

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Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 400F. Slice acorn and butternut squash length wise. Scrape out seeds with a spoon. Brush olive oil over the flesh of your squash. generously sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Add 1-2 sprigs of thyme on top of each half of squash. Flesh side up, bake on a cookie sheet for approx. 1 hour or until you can easily put a fork through and the edges start to brown. Set aside.
  2. While the squash is baking, heat a pan on low/medium heat. Add onion rings, apples. garlic, sage, and 1 tbsp coconut oil. Sauté until onions and apple brown, stirring frequently. If burning occurs, lower heat. Set aside.
  3. In large pot, add vegetable broth and can of coconut oil. Once cooled, scrape out flesh of squash and add it to broth/coconut milk mixture. Add caramelized onion/apple mixture.
  4. Simmer mixture on medium heat for 20-30 minutes.
  5. With an immersion blender or counter top blender (being careful not to fill to high- I usually split it into 3 batches to blend), blend your soup until it becomes creamy and there are no chunks left.
  6. lightly toast pumpkin seeds and pecans on a cookie sheet (approx. 5 minutes, stirring occasionally)
  7. Enjoy sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and pecans, and topped with couple sage leaves.

**We cut up a few extra apples and multigrain crackers to have on the side to dip into our soup.

Beets and Bourbon Salad

If you want to get the man in your life to eat more greens, just add bourbon. This fresh, delicious and beautiful salad is a hit at my house.

Dressing 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I like “Braggs”) 
  • tsp. dijon mustard
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • sea salt and pepper (to taste)

Recipe:

  1. Combine all ingredients in blender, blend until creamy.

Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 2-3 purple beets
  • 2-3 golden beets
  • 1-2 small zucchini(s)
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 2-3 tbsp goat cheese
  • small handful of pea shoots
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 8 cups mixed greens lettuce
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut oil

Recipe:

  1. Peel and chop beets into bite size pieces. Shake in 1 tbsp coconut oil. Bake on 425F for 30 minutes; stirring at about 15 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Slice Zucchini length wise creating strips, and onion into rings, shake in 1/2 tbsp melted coconut oil. Grill on medium. Set aside.
  3. lightly toast pumpkin seeds in oven (about 5 minutes at 425F)
  4. Toss greens in Bourbon Dressing.
  5. top with zucchini and onion, then beets. Top with crumbled goat cheese, pea sprouts, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

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*Bourbon Dressing adapted from “The First Mess”

Traditional Dhal and Sautéed Garden Veggies

Traditional Dhal

This is a traditional South African/Indian Dhal recipe handed down to me from my daughter’s amazing Amma. This dhal is my go-to comfort food. Packed full of tons of healing foods, spices, and generations of love.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried yellow split peas
  • 3/4 medium pot of water (to boil peas)
  • 1/2 cooking onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4-6 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 dried red chillies (broken in half)
  • bunch of cilantro (optional)

Directions:

  1. Boil yellow split peas or lentils, with salt, curry leaves, and turmeric. Once boiled, bring mixture down to low/medium heat until split peas are fully cooked and the consistency has thickened.
  2. Sauté chopped onion &  finely chopped garlic cloves in coconut oil for about 2 minutes
  3. Add black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and dried red chillies.
  4. Let that cook for about 2 minutes
  5. Pour in the split pea mixture and let simmer for about 10 minutes
  6. Add some water (if needed) depending on the thickness you desire
  7. After it’s cooked, add some chopped cilantro to taste

Sautéed Garden Veggies

Nothing beats fresh vegetables from the garden. I absolute love this season and the bounty of beautiful nourishment that it brings. This simple recipe only takes a few minutes to make, but will keep you feeling good all day.

Ingredients:

  • Bunch of rainbow chard
  • 1 zucchini
  • 3 dates
  • tbsp olive oil
  • tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2  cloves garlic (minced)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Chop rainbow chard and slice zucchini to desired size
  2. De-seed dates and slice
  3. Add all ingredient to pan and sauté on medium heat until desired texture

THIS IS WHO I AM- The struggle for perfection and the female athlete triad

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Reading through my fitness magazines I always feel bombarded with the message that the ideal female is ultra lean, big breasted, and in top physical form. This so called perfection however is not real. I wanted to let you in on a little secret; even those photos of me on this site were only what I looked like for a very short period of time. The appearance of physical perfection was not that at all. I want you to know, that even I struggle with body image, that I sometimes don’t follow all the “rules”, and that my decision to take on that appearance had its consequences. We are all human, we all have our stuff, and I’m hoping that by sharing my experiences I can help you reach your goals, and prevent you from making my mistakes.

​It all began when I started dieting down for the INBF show in August of 2011. My body was already physically fatigued from the stressors of day-to-day life as a full-time working mom and I had just barely recovered from a summer cold. I didn’t feel like the diet or added training effected me at all. I felt like I had lots of energy and was thrilled with the way my body was changing. At only a 1-2 lb. loss/week the change in body weight wasn’t even that drastic, however come September my menstrual period didn’t come. I disregarded this period loss as a normal fact of the competition scene, not really realizing the health issues that come along with it. As training continued, again, I felt great. I looked better then ever, and I was feeling strong and athletic. I was at the top of my game, but still, no periods.

​The Female Athlete Triad had taken its place in my life. Others around me could see I was overtraining, and I know deep down, I knew that too. But I saw the end in site, and figured as soon as I was finished competing everything would go back to normal. It didn’t. Post competition I didn’t have a period for two more months. I started taking herbs, going for acupuncture, reducing my training time, eating a well-rounded diet again, and going for bowen to try to regain menses. After a month of treatment, I got one period. Then again 6 weeks later, I got another. After that, my body weight returned to 15lbs higher then what it was during competition and I reduced my treatments again, thinking things were going back to normal. Again, I lost my period for 3 more months. Wanting to fix the problem, so that my partner and I could start trying to conceive, I decided it was time to get my hormones checked. After doing so, I found out my estrogen was low and my progesterone was especially low, and that I most likely was not even ovulating at all.

​I started incorporating more estrogen and progesterone forming foods into my diet, and trying to reduce stress in other areas of my life. A few more months went by and my period still hadn’t come. But to our delight, it was because we were pregnant. But shortly after finding out, I was exhausted. This is a usual result of the first trimester, but I was BEYOND exhausted. After doing my blood work at 8 weeks, I found out that my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was too high. My adrenals were so fatigued trying to make that pregnancy happen, and eventually my hormone levels couldn’t keep up with the task. At nine weeks, I miscarried. The delight and excitement that warmed my entire being was taken away from me and I was left staring at a black and white screen at my empty womb.

When I got home, I sunk into a vast hole of self-pity, drinking wine to subdue my sadness. I decided to REALLY slow down this time and put a hold on all the things I had deemed urgent matters before and took a month to just be. After that month, I was ready to be me again. The real me, not the “perfect” me I thought I should be, but the me with flaws. The me that doesn’t have to do it all. The me that can miss a workout and not beat myself up, the me that can spend a night watching “Ellen” clips on “You Tube” lying on the couch. I have realized that I am not perfect all the time in the way that society deems perfect, but I am who I am supposed to be, and I do my best with what I have. That’s not to say, I don’t wake up some mornings and wish I could have that great six-pack that you see in my pictures. However, when my mind starts to travel down that path, I am reminded that the best goal in life is to be healthy and happy with the person I am inside and outside.

​As I am learning to, I hope you can love who you are this moment. To continue to grow and succeed in your goals, and to do so in a way that you are gaining a positive result in all areas of your life, not just in your reflection.

​If you think you may be over training, or have any symptoms of the female athlete triad. Please talk to your doctor, myself, or any other health care provider that can guide you back towards a healthy lifestyle.

Thoughts Equal Reality

Last night, my girlfriend asked me “Do you think you are too hard on yourself?” After some quiet contemplation, tears started to fall from my eyes as I realized that my expectations of myself are far greater than anything I would ever imagine from anyone else.This got me thinking. Why do we do this to ourselves? What is it that we need to prove? Why is it so hard to look at our lives and be completely content with where we are at this moment, rather than fretting about the past? What we “should” have or could have done. Or worrying about what the future may bring? Wouldn’t it be nice to look in the mirror and see the beautiful, worthwhile person looking back at you, rather than judging every aspect of that reflection?

Our bodies can’t tell the difference between our thoughts and reality, so our thoughts, then become our reality as our body sends messages to all of our cells to respond to the information coming in. With this is mind, if we are constantly putting ourselves down, worrying too much, or in many of our cases, over working and putting too much unnecessary stress and expectations on ourselves, our bodies then must send out a “flight or fight” signal.

In time, this constant nervous system firing depletes oneself, causing “dis-eases” within our bodies. This “dis-ease” can manifest in many different ways. It can come in the form of chronic pain, fertility issues, and other illnesses.

On the other hand, if we project positivity and give our body the nourishment and love it deserves, our cells will not have to work overtime and the expression of our genes can literally change. Those perceived “flaws” will disappear and we will become the healthiest, happiest version of ourselves.

​Creating this shift in our way of thinking takes constant practice. It is something that I personally struggle with every day, and need to remind myself of all the time. Making time to meditate, taking a relaxing walk in nature, or practicing positive self-talk, are a few ways to connect with our own spirit, to give ourselves the time to heal our lives. In yoga, it is common practice to set an “intention” prior to each class or to repeat a “mantra” such as, “I am loved”, “I am happy”, I am grateful”,” I am at peace”. Give yourself care by taking a look in the mirror; telling your reflection “I love you”. Feed yourself natural foods, paint your toes, or get a massage.

Do whatever suits you best, to let your body and your mind know that you are worthwhile and that you value yourself, where you are right now (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).

That being said, I believe it is still very important to make goals and to strive to reach them, but enjoy every step of the way. Don’t let your life go by constantly being too busy, or too “stressed”. Let your journey unfold organically, appreciate every day that you are alive, and give thanks to yourself for holding you up and allowing you the ability to just be you in all of your magnificence.

The Benefits of Abdominal Massage

The abdomen is not generally a place where my clients ask to get massaged and for a long time I didn’t include it in my regular massage routine, to allow more time for the areas that my clients wanted to focus on. But recently I have been including it in more of my massage treatments and I am finding the more I treat the muscles, ligaments, and organs within the abdomen, the more benefits I see.

Improved Digestion: Struggling with what Dr.s always thought was just IBS for many years, and later finding out I was both celiac and had trouble digesting the proteins found in dairy, my digestion has always been a major issue in my life. Pain, feeling “stuck”, inflammation, etc. were always a constant. Learning self abdominal massage was a major relief for me. I would put heat over my belly and then give myself a massage, do some digestive yoga postures, and just focus on belly breathing. (Our breath is the BEST self massage)! After becoming a massage practitioner, I realized how many other people suffer with digestive issues and bloating too.

Once I began treating them with abdominal massage, I would get the most amazing feedback. “Feeling empty”, “Flat”, and many texts within hours saying that constipation had been relieved, and that they were pain free. (for both adults and the babies that I treat)

Abdominal massage always works with the natural flow of the large intestine, which helps to move waste products through smoothly. It also helps to relax and bring more blood to the digestive organs, which helps them function optimally. If you suffer with pain, bloating, constipation, etc, please don’t feel shy to let me know and I would be extremely happy to treat your abdomen with massage techniques.

Stress Relief: Im sure many of you have heard that our intestines are our 2nd brain. If you have ever had a pit in your stomach when stressed, or butterflies when your nervous, you can see the correlation between your thoughts and the way your digestive organs function. Stress can cause us to shallow breath which means our belly’s are not getting that wonderful natural breath massage, and we can start to feel..stuck! Stress can cause the muscles to be in a constant state of contraction which also wreaks havoc on the flow. Massage for the abdomen therefore, relaxes not only the digestive organs themselves, but also the mind. It helps refocus the breath and bring attention to full, deep, belly breathing.

Improved Reproductive Health: As part of my fertility massage, I always treat the abdomen. By massaging the abdomen and the organs and ligaments of the reproductive system, it can greatly increase fertility in both men and women. For woman, the ligaments surrounding the uterus can be tight causing the uterus to tilt or prolapse, which can cause reproductive organs to shift, constrict the flow of blood and lymph, and disrupt nerve connections. By treating the area with massage, it helps to relax the ligaments, which helps to restore the balance of the organs allowing for toxins to flush and for blood to come in and bring nutrients that help tone tissue and balance the hormones essential for a healthy pregnancy, labor and delivery. Massage also helps to reduce adhesions and scar tissue caused by previous surgeries, fibroids and cysts, and endometriosis. For men, massage helps to increase blood flow to the reproductive organs which can relive prostate swelling, varicose veins, premature ejaculation, and some impotency problems. Massage is recommended at any time, but can be especially helpful for fertility when timed with the womans menstrual cycle. I generally recommend both partners (if possible) coming in 6-8 days prior to ovulation, since this is the optimal time leading up to possible conception.

Post Natal Rehabilitation: Post Natal abdominal massage is extremely beneficial for new moms. After 10 months of the uterine ligaments stretching and loosening to accommodate those beautiful bundles of joy, they can become loose and weakened, causing tilting and prolapse as mentioned above. Also, during those wonderful months scar tissue can develop (or occur from C section surgery), the abdomen can separate, organs shuffle, digestion can be out of whack, sleep is disturbed and there is generally more stress. (Im not making this motherhood stuff sound great–but trust me, it is!). Abdominal massage is very beneficial in breaking down scar tissue, bringing in blood to help heal and repair, relieving stress and constipations and bringing back the body to balance. I recommend new moms coming in as soon as they feel ready after baby is born. It could be the next day even. I can check the abdominals for separation at this time and give a full body massage with the abdominal treatment included. Babies are always welcome to join their moms for the massage. Abdominal massage for moms who have had C sections, should wait until the 6-8 week check up, to insure that the incision has healed enough that there is no stress placed on it.

Having your abdomen massaged can seem uncomfortable at first, but once you try it a few times, I promise, you will feel the benefits! Let me know at your next treatment if you would like to give it a try!