Taking a break from it all… and hot cross buns! {Recipe}

This Easter weekend has been a special one. Not only are we reminded of the hope we have in Christ, but I feel a new life has begun in me. It’s nothing like I have felt in a long time.

I took a much needed break. I decided to have an analog weekend and turned Twitter, Facebook and Instagram off my phone. I needed to take a step away and live life. No distractions, just focus on my family, my husband and God. I’ve got to tell you, it was incredibly liberating! No pictures were taken; no time was spent scrolling through posts, comments, articles that really could just wait. And you know, the world just kept turning. Fancy that.

It’s amazing how much time you have when you’re not editing the pictures of breakfast you want to post on every possible form of social media, and how much battery life you have left on your phone when you’re not checking it every five minutes. Do you realize how much more life you have to live when you are in the moment not reading up on what this person is doing or eating, and then sitting there wishing you were doing or eating the same thing? So much energy and time is wasted when you are constantly wishing you had what someone else has.

What a lesson learned! Now, I don’t think that social media is all bad, and I’m not saying I will never go back to checking it every once in a while. But it’s time to stop letting it control my decisions, and how I spend my time. I love the connection with incredible people who love and have a passion for the same things I do on these forums, but I personally have let it take over far too much. In an unhealthy way.

This analog weekend has taught me even more than that. It has taught me to let go of what is not serving me, for now. The Easter service we attended a few days ago was an eye-opener and reminder that my focus has not been where it should be. Even though I have felt certain things slip away, I know that I can begin again, any time.

I have come to the realization that the intensity of the last year/year and a half in the food elimination, digestive healing, and everything else, is starting to break me and take its toll. I’ve had a few break downs in the last few weeks, one last week that was different than what I had experienced before, and there is a reason for that. The amount of supplements I’m taking, making sure that I take them at the right time, on the right day, in the right form, has me completely and utterly exhausted. I had been thinking about this for a while, and honestly feel the stress of keeping up is weighing me down far more than it’s helping me. There have been a few friends that have spoken to this truth as well. I am so grateful for them! It finally came to a head yesterday, when I realized that I had been doing the hormone seed cycling protocol completely wrong this past month. It showed me how incredibly out of sorts I truly am.

Letting my fear of undoing everything I have worked so hard for to control everything, has taken over. When I realized my mistake yesterday, I actually felt a relief. Well, at first I was frustrated, but then I felt a huge weight was lifted off. I was racking my brain trying to figure out how I could possibly have done this wrong, when a voice, God’s voice, said, ‘Trust me.’ Clear as day, no question.Two simple words. Two simple words that cover any doubt, questions, any fear that I have of giving up control.

Trust me.

It is my responsibility to hear those words and act on them. A new life has begun. A new chapter. How awesome is that?! I have stuck with going my own way for so long; it’s time for Someone else to take those reins. To do the work He wants to do in me. So, for the next few weeks, my time and energy will be spent enjoying life, enjoy the traveling I will be doing in the next few weeks. Enjoying the life I have been given, because you know what? It’s pretty darn great.

let-go-let-god

You know what else is pretty darn great? Hot cross buns. I know, I’m super late to the party on this one. But seriously. Yum.

What’s even better is that I have a delicious recipe to share with you, one that I had a lot of time to work on during a busy few days spent with family thanks to my analog weekend! I had a lot of fun making hot cross buns; I have never made them before! Yes, I’m posting the recipe even though it’s a tad too late for the Easter weekend; though it turns out that it would be the perfect breakfast!

Unfortunately, I have no pictures to share. That’s the price I had to pay for a phone-free weekend and nothing leftover… I’m not sorry about that, but you’ll forgive me, right?! edited to add pictures: I did have a few buns leftover!

hot cross buns2

Grain-free Hot Cross Buns
adapted from iquitsugar.com
Makes 12 – 14

Ingredients
1 tbsp psyllium husks + 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup arrowroot flour
1/2 tsp baking soda, aluminum-free
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
5 eggs, organic & free-range
1/2 cup nut milk
1/2 water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons coconut nectar
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
raisins, to your preference

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease/line a muffin tin.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together psyllium husks and 1/4 cup water. Set aside.
3. Mix almond meal, flours and the rest of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
4. In a separate bowl add the eggs and lightly beat until frothy. Whisk in coconut oil, psyllium mixture, the rest of the wet ingredients and orange zest.
5. Add wet mixture to dry and combine well. Fold in raisins.
6. The batter will be thick, I found it best to scoop about a 1/3 cup amount, roll it into a ball, then place in prepared muffin tin.
7. To make crosses, lightly score the top with a damp knife into the dough. This will create a nice cross when baked, perfect for filling with melted coconut butter if you choose!
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden.

These buns are best when eaten warm, slightly toasted with a dab of ghee or your favorite spread! Also a great pairing with soup. Hey, we’ve barely had spring, I’m still craving hot soup!

hot cross buns

Don’t be scared off by the amount of ingredients. I usually try to keep it at a minimum, but this recipe is so easy regardless! I definitely need to make more, they were gone pretty fast. My dad and I had a bit of a hot cross bun bake-off/exchange, so that was fun. He came up with his own plantain version that was quite good!

I hope you all had a wonderfully blessed Easter weekend, and were able to spend it with family and close friends. It was certainly full of rest and relaxation for us; I truly hope you feel just as renewed, rejuvenated and re-inspired!

What was the highlight of your weekend? Is there anything in your life that you are fearful of letting go? I would love to hear your thoughts. 

I know that I talk a lot about letting go on this blog, but it’s something that I feel needs to be consciously practiced consistently. It’s also a good reminder to live life, and to live it to its fullest.

I’m putting this spread on EVERYthing… {Recipe}

I’m a serial snacker. I admit it. So is my husband. These days I would rather eat lighter meals and be able to have a few nibbles mid-morning and afternoon.

But I always snack well. I don’t let the clean eating fall by the wayside, especially when delicious food is at my fingertips at home, and can usually be made in a matter of minutes. When I can find products that coincide with the importance of clean eating, I consider that a huge bonus that I am grateful for.

NCNFull disclosure: I was sent this amazing package from my good friends at North Coast Naturals (NCN)

I was thrilled when they contacted me to join their amazing team. I love supporting local companies whenever I can. I’ve been using NCN hemp protein for a long time, so I was already a fan. Staying grain-free as much as possible, and having gone through food elimination for so long, I had to search for a good alternative to rice-based protein, and this is the best I have found so far. No grittiness, no intense ‘earthiness’ to it whatsoever.

I also found the fermented l-glutamine to be a highly effective supplement in the process of digestive healing; it promotes a healthy gut, alleviates mental stress and boosts the immune system. I still use it every day. For those of you who are vegan, or allergic to shellfish, this is derived from fermented beets not animal products or shellfish.

All of North Coast Naturals products are high-quality and certified organic. Most of their products are plant-based, vegan, with a few whey products available as well. For those, like me, who prefer to keep grains out, they have great options as well. This is a company I honestly feel good about, and have greatly benefited from.

Well, it seems I put this stash it to such good use this weekend; I am already out of hemp seeds! I couldn’t decide which flavor of spread to make, so in true nut/seed butter addict fashion, I made them both.

Problem solved.

Chocolate Maca…

Chocolate Maca ingredients

and Cinnamon Maple…

Cinnamon Maple ingredients

With a side of Miso photo-bombing. You just can’t leave anything out with her around.

So what is this spread that I speak of, and why is it so dang amazing?

I had been brainstorming for a while of what I could do with some of the products that were sent, and how I could make it effective and something that many people would benefit from. Including my husband. For the last week or so, I have been testing recipes for a fellow Culinary Nutrition Expert Program graduate, Michelle Vodrazka over at Inspired Bodies. She is currently working on an e-book called ‘Smart Snacking for Sports’. Let me tell you, once she releases this book, you’re going to want to get your hands on it! Some fabulous recipes in there that are sure to nourish and give you the energy you need to get through those hard workouts, or just give you snacking options that will satisfy any craving.

Needless to say, I had sports nutrition on the brain, so I decided to use the hemp protein, hemp seeds and fermented l-glutamine. The protein will help build and repair those muscles, give you that burst of energy and for those of you with nut allergies, nut-free! The l-glutamine will do the same but will also help physical stress, mental fitness and improves recovery time. Both are superstars for your digestive system, which is why they have been on heavy rotation in my diet. The addition of maca, (which is a Peruvian root) in the chocolate version, again, helps with energy, stamina, and strengthens the adrenals. Not only that, but for those of us with hormone issues, this is a great addition to help balance those hormones out. It is adaptogenic, so no crazy energy crashes either.

Originally when I had thought of the idea of making this recipe, I had wanted a nice drippy hemp butter. But it didn’t happen. The result is absolutely delicious, so I went with it anyway, especially after I spread it on a sliced pear… so good! It ended up quite a bit more dense, so I decided to call it a spread. I think we can all agree that this is a very good thing…

Of course, as I mentioned before, I couldn’t stop at one flavour, so I am giving you two recipes for the price of one… sound good?!

Chocolate Maca2

Chocolate Maca Hemp Seed Spread

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup nut milk
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp cacao powder
1-2 tbsp coconut nectar or 10 drops stevia
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp fermented l-glutamine
2 tsp maca
1 tbsp hemp protein powder
good pinch of Himalayan salt

Directions
1. Blend hemp seeds and nut milk together until smooth, in a high-speed blender.
2. Add in coconut oil, make sure that it is not too hot from melting, allow to cool. Blend.
3. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until completely incorporated, smooth and creamy.
4. Spread it on everything.

Cinnamon Maple

Cinnamon Maple Hemp Seed Spread

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup nut milk
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp cinnamon
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp fermented l-glutamine
1 tbsp hemp protein powder
good pinch of Himalayan salt

Directions
1. Blend hemp seeds and nut milk together until smooth, in a high-speed blender.
2. Add in coconut oil, make sure that it is not too hot from melting, allow to cool. Blend.
3. Add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until completely incorporated, smooth and creamy.
4. Spread it on everything.

You can adjust the sweeteners to taste, I suggest starting with one tablespoon first and then test it. These spreads will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks… if they last that long!

Chocolate Maca

The best thing about making hemp spreads/butters? There is no need to soak for better digestibility. No prep required! Oh, and an extra special tip? Blend one tablespoon of either spread with one cup of water, and you have a delicious recovery milk! Who needs that nasty conventional chocolate milk?! Not this girl, and not you!

I think this classifies as a Strange But Good creation, yes?! I love this series over at Laura’s blog, Sprint 2 the Table. Adding protein powder and l-glutamine to increase the amazing benefits of these spreads certainly puts a new spin on things! I just love playing in the kitchen!

strange but good

 

Tell me, which is your favorite flavour?! Are you a cinnamon fan, or do you tune everything else out when it comes to anything chocolate-related?

Oh, and please excuse the iPhone photos… I’m currently considering trading in my old DSLR for a new one. Any suggestions/favorites that I should look into?

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In case you missed my posts on Instagram and Twitter, I had the wonderful opportunity to do a guest post over at Naturmend. I am looking forward to working with them more, I’m so grateful to be connected with this amazing community of health and nutrition-minded businesses and individuals. It’s incredibly inspiring!

Check it out! guest blog: 5 ways to detox your life

The Skin I’m In ~ Healing and Rebuilding

I’ve been avoiding this topic that I started so long ago, for a reason. It’s difficult to share a journey in healing when every single path is different for everyone. Plus, I’ve been through so much, and have gone through so many phases of healing that I can’t even remember what I was doing a week ago, let alone having the time to write about it all!

I will say this… the healing process has been incredibly long, but I am happy to say that I am now in the rebuilding part! In terms of my skin, I could not be happier. Is it perfect? Nope. But I am in a far better place than I was 6 months ago. I have had a few pimples here and there, and last week a few more than usual, but I’m no longer getting worked up about it and I almost feel like I can be seen without concealer on! I still have some work to do on the scarring, but even that is getting better with time.

Ah, the dreaded ‘t’ word. Time.

I’ve also felt that sharing parts of my life that are incredibly personal, it’s almost like breaking open a fresh wound every time I talk about it. I’ve needed to move on, move forward, do my own thing, and truly listen to what my own body is telling me instead of trying everything under the sun that this person or that person is doing. Again, digestive healing, and most importantly hormone regulation and healing is so deeply personal and such an individual battle.

So, instead of going through absolutely everything I have been doing the last few months, I’ll update you on what I am doing right now. Let’s just say this is more about focusing on regulating hormones, than focusing on the food like I had been doing with the elimination. There are a few foods that I have continued to avoid, scaling WAY down on grains, if any at all, though I do consume buckwheat, and rice-based pizza crusts and buns every once in a while when I’m eating out, Honestly, I feel that my body does much better without it , though I do miss it sometimes. Most dairy is still out, though I have enjoyed a bit of goat milk cheese here and there, and I do eat eggs. If you read my one of my recent posts, you would know where I stand on the food labeling scenario. I still love the plant-based lifestyle, but continue to listen to what my body needs at the same time.

What I am focusing on right now is a homeopathic hormone protocol that Madeline MacKinnon from Blossom Apotheke had suggested in a meeting I had with her a month or so ago. I brought it to my naturopath to see what she thought, and she agreed that it would be a great first step. This protocol uses the seed cycling regime that I have wanted to try for a long time, but felt I needed something a bit more intense than just the seeds. This seemed perfect.

Now, I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty, as I am not a professional, though you may have heard of seed cycling and have seen this:

Screen-Shot-2012-12-27-at-1.35.39-PM

Now, because I have no cycle whatsoever, I needed to take the moon phase approach in starting the seed cycling as opposed to when my period starts. I entered all the information into my iPhone calendar to keep me on track and so far it’s working, though I’m only on day 2. Thankfully I’m a seed lover; it sure isn’t hard for me to get the 2 tbsp of ground seeds in every day.

What most seed cycling regimes won’t include is what I have been doing in the complete protocol from Madeline. I have been taking shatavari every day, which is described as the ultimate women’s herb, balancing hormones and cycles. Madeline shared with us at the Women’s Herbal Elixir Crafting Intensive class I went to last October (Calgary friends, there is one coming up in May!!), that shatavari means ‘she who has 100 husbands”. Really, whoever has that many must be doing something right, yes?!  I have been taking this powder form. The phase I’m in now also includes evening primrose oil and a specific homeopathic supplement. Every phase includes a different seed, and different supplements/homeopathy to coincide/work well with each other.

If you are looking into seed cycling/homeopathic protocol, and have had as difficult of a situation as I have which includes a PCOS diagnosis, I would highly recommend and encourage that you discuss this with a naturopath in your area, or another highly trained nutritional practitioner to help guide you. I don’t recommend doing this on your own, as I have said; every person is different and has different needs. There are so many ways to approach this that you can find online, trust me, it can be completely overwhelming.

This next step is a tough one.

I have also had to come to the hard realization that I will not be a slim as I once was. When I first lost weight over three years ago in my quest to get into shape and clean up my lifestyle and diet, I was extremely thin. Wouldn’t you know it, I wasn’t entirely happy either. I continued to feel that I could do better, be more fit, lose a little bit more. What if I messed up and gained 10 pounds in an instant, not paying attention? I was constantly trying to up my game in running, getting into some free weights and workout DVDs, but I was obsessed with spending as much time burning off the calories I was consuming (which wasn’t much). Then came in a little life lesson. In the last 6-7 months, exercise took a backseat. Not only because of the gut healing I had to focus on, but because of major job stress and just stress of everything in general.

I knew I needed to focus on other things, and scale down the intensity of my workouts. What I know about myself is that I am too intense of a person to ‘scale down’; I knew I would push myself too hard. So I decided to take a complete break from it. Which lead to the obvious weight gain after my food elimination ended and I was adding more and more foods back in. I wasn’t surprised, obviously, but I have had a real hard time accepting that I am not the size 2 that I once was. I have kept that image in my head for so long, wanting desperately to get back to it.

Does anyone else care what size I am except for me? Nope. But it has taken me until the last few weeks to accept that this is me right now, and I am doing the best I can for my body. I have been giving it the rest it needs, but now that I am finally getting active again (and more so when this winter decides to leave us), I know that it’s to keep healthy and strong, not to lose a few pounds and be that ‘perfect figure’. There is a danger in losing too much weight, too much body fat, especially when battling hormone issues. I didn’t intend to write about this, but I think it’s important for women to know that it is ok not to be that size 2 and be a ripped, lean machine. I am learning to accept the curves bit by bit.

I’m going to leave it at that. I will leave the body image rampage to someone else, I could go on forever. But know this, our bodies are beautiful, complex and amazing, and trying to fit into a certain ‘box’ that the media, social media, and sadly sometimes our friends try to put us in is so awful and dangerous, no wonder we have disorders and imbalances. I am slowly learning to love those curves, and embrace the beauty of those soft lines and extra padding ;)

Well, that’s where I’m at! No recipes today, no fun pictures, but I hope that I have given you a glimpse of health and positivity in this post. I am getting into a much better place, and look forward to seeing what the next few weeks hold with this new approach. There is another step I am taking, which I will share with you next week after I meet with my ND again. This will give another new perspective that I’m sure you will be interested in!

Until then, I would love to hear what steps you are taking in your health right now, whatever it is, no matter how small or significant it is, I would love to hear it!

Stop the snacking guilt with this… {Recipe}

#waybettersnacks 1

Once in a while I have the need for something salty and crunchy to snack on. When this hits me, raw veggies aren’t going to cut it (#sorryimnotsorry). I crave the crispy deliciousness of a chip.

You see, I have always been a savoury snacker. Growing up, I sadly did not have a good relationship with snack foods; I could sit and eat an entire large bag of chips in one sitting without batting an eye. Um, ew. 

My, how things have changed. But regardless of my journey in learning to eat whole, nutrient-dense foods, the desire to indulge and enjoy those tasty chips hasn’t wavered.

Enter the delicious, heart-healthy, nutrient-dense goodness alternative. Yes, I am saying that about a chip, yes I still consider them a treat, but I have learned to snack better. I snack more mindfully while enjoying it at the same time.

photo courtesy of www.gowaybetter.com

photo courtesy of http://www.gowaybetter.com

note: I have graciously received a sample of Way Better Snacks chips, but my thoughts, opinion and love for them are certainly my own. They are one of the very few packaged foods I snack on.

Let me gush about Way Better Snacks for a just minute. Every single reason why I love their chips is listed right here:

1. Simple IngredientsWe use simple ingredients to produce a great tasting and nutritious product. (read: I can pronounce every ingredient)
2. SproutingSprouting provides increased vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, digestibility, and nutrient absorption.
3. Great TasteWhether you’re snacking by yourself, or with friends, we have a flavour that fits.
4. WAY BETTER For YouOur broccoli and daikon radish contain sulphoraphane glucosinolate, the natural antioxidant found in broccoli. Plus, each serving of our chips contain at least 17 grams of whole grains.  

My own addition:
5. Certified Gluten-Free and Non-GMO - These are non-negotiables in my books. Period. With a major bonus, most of the ingredients are organic!

#waybettersnacks 3

While I am still trying to rebuild and strengthen my digestion, I continue to have had a hard time digesting grains, especially quinoa which is one of the ingredients in this line of chips. Thankfully, because of their sprouting process, I have been able to digest these relatively well. Healing my gut is still a work in progress but I am grateful to have something to enjoy once in a while, especially this past weekend during birthday festivities!

Now, the love doesn’t stop there. Match these chips with an incredible dip that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating an entire batch of… (that ALMOST happened to me yesterday) and you have an unstoppable, delicious and nutritious duo.

My dear friends, this is SO easy to make… AND to eat ;)

#waybettersnacks 2

Spiced-Up Smoky Butternut Squash Dip
gluten-free, dairy-free, bean-free, vegan, vegetarian

Ingredients
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in filtered water for at least 30 minutes
1 cup butternut squash, roasted
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 tsp puréed chipotle pepper, I used chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (or 1/4 tsp cayenne, to your preference)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup filtered water*

Directions
1. Strain cashews, discard soaking water and rinse.
2. Add all ingredients to a food processor or high-speed blender, and blend until smooth.
Tip: if you want the dip to have a chunkier texture, leave out the salsa when blending and stir it in after. 

3. Pour the dip into a bowl, serve and enjoy!
*feel free to add more water to create a saucier version to drizzle over nachos instead of using as a dip
#waybettersnacks 4
Now, I would say that the flavours in the dip would come through more after sitting for a few hours in the fridge, or if you pulled it out the day after, but this was gone in a matter of minutes between my husband and I! It was delicious to the very last bite. I love the subtle balance of the savoury and sweet in this simple dip. I know you all have leftover squash of some sort in your fridge, use whatever you have on hand and mix it up!
Go, make this dip, find these chips and snack well, snack better… with no more guilt!

What are your favourite go-to snacks??

please also note: I rarely do this type of product endorsement here unless I truly stand behind it. If you have any questions or concerns about what I promote here, I am happy to chat with you about it! Contact me here
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Vegan, Vegetarian, Plant-based, Paleo, whatever… it’s time to break the mold.

‘Our stories are what people are going to remember when we’re gone… no one is going to give a d*mn about what you ate, what you didn’t eat, how many calories you counted… people will remember you, and me, for how you made them feel, how you touched them, how you loved them, how willing you were to speak the truth
- Marc David

‘Our dietary choices are ours alone.’
- Meghan Telpner

Choose to heal the body, not harm it, with food.
Choose freedom, no limitations.
Always learn, grow and create.
Being true to oneself.
- Christa Collie, food philosophy

I posted a photo of my dinner last night on Instagram and Twitter, as I so often do, but felt I had to fully disclose something. Not because I thought I must give an explanation for everything I do, but because it allowed me to release myself from the guilt that I had been feeling for a while now. The ‘shame’ of the choices I have had to make. Don’t get me wrong, I’m releasing the pressure, guilt and shame I’ve placed on myself. I own it; there is no one else to put the blame on.

Throughout the last few years of trying to heal my skin, balance my hormones, and heal my digestive system, I have been left wondering who I am in the middle of all of it. What will my lifestyle (read: not diet) look like when the food elimination is over? I’m still working on it, but I have decided here and now, that I’m removing elimination, limitation, and restriction from my food vocabulary.

If eating a certain way has helped or healed someone else, let me tell you that it doesn’t always mean it’s for you, or that it’s going to serve you the way it has for the other person. The power of suggestion in social media, blogs, websites, TV, magazines, books, you name it, is just that, incredibly powerful. So much so that it can be debilitating. For you, and ultimately in this case, your health. I allowed the power of that kind of suggestion to take over too much.

Let’s stop the shaming, and build each other up.

Be conscious about what you do, and what you choose.

Cheer others on in their own journey, just as you need to be cheered for.

Embrace the change and be bold enough to listen to your own intuition.

Think about it… do we place the limitations and the labels on ourselves so that we have a place where we feel we can fit in? A safe place where we won’t be judged? No, I understand and realize not everyone, but I feel that there are some that really struggle with this. I have been one of them.

Listening to Meghan, and Marc David’s recordings yesterday that I linked to at the beginning of this post, spoke volumes to me and have touched on how I have been feeling the last few weeks. I am done with the food shaming, watching people put others down because of the choices we all have needed to, and must, make for ourselves.

Now is the time for me to trust that God will continue His work, continue the healing, and allow others to find their own journey too. And I hope along the way I can be that encouragement for someone else.

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Please note that in no way do I intend to point any fingers or making generalizations on anyone. These are thoughts based on my own struggles, in hopes that we can all change the way we view food and change the way we view others’ journeys.