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.

My new favorite breakfast, just might become yours ~ {Recipe}

There is no possible way I can even begin to tell you what the last six months has looked like for me. The best possible way to share from my experiences, and from my heart is to let it flow through my writing as I go, instead of forcing conversation. I just don’t work that way, and I still can’t say I am ready to get back into blogging on a regular basis. Wow, how very non-committal of me… who knows, everyone may have already given up on me here!!

If you are reading this, I am SO happy you are here with me!

If you have been following my Instagram, Twitter or Facebook posts, you have seen some crazy meals, but also some incredibly delicious, nourishing, and healing meals. Not that my weird dishes haven’t been any of those things, but they may look pretty strange compared to most.

#grainfree porridge2
This breakfast just happens to be the most warming, grounding, comforting and delicious breakfasts I have made in a long time. The inspiration came from a new online friend, Ricki Heller, with whom I have just finished a two-week Candida Kickstart program with. After the food elimination I have been through, I felt that I have much more to learn, and decided to change my focus to removing sugars in all forms for a while. I have not been diagnosed with candida, however, this program has taught me so much about using different spices, herbs, foods to take the place of adding more sugar, even the healthy ones, in my diet. Without really noticing it, this program allowed me to open up to certain foods I had avoided for a long time, so I didn’t feel restricted or deprived in any way.

I have Ricki to thank for helping me change things up and take another look at how my body functions with certain foods and to continue listening to my body. She is an incredible wealth of knowledge, I know there is more to learn from her. I am still on a candida diet now that the program is over, but don’t get me wrong, there are definitely foods I miss and hope to get back to soon. For now, my digestion is improving even more, and my skin is looking quite amazing as a result of the elimination and even more clear from the Candida Kickstart.

Hallelujah! It has been a long journey.

Alright, alright, I’ve made you wait long enough…

#grainfree porridge

Sesame Squash Breakfast Porridgeserves 1
inspired by Ricki Heller’s Grain-free Breakfast Porridge
gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, candida-friendly

Ingredients
3 tbsp lightly toasted sesame seeds (or 1 1/2 Tbsp tahini)
2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp chia/flax seeds (or both, like I do)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger, ground
1/4 tsp cloves, ground
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup water or non-dairy milk, more if needed
1 cup spaghetti squash, cooked (or any squash you wish!)

Optional
hemp or pumpkin seed protein powder
coconut sugar, lucuma, honey, liquid stevia, or pure maple syrup
ghee

Directions
1. Combine all dry ingredients and grind in a coffee grinder or blender until you get a flour-like consistency.
2. Remove 1 tbsp of the dry mixture and put it aside, this will be used to top the porridge.
3. In a small bowl, add the dry mixture with water or non-dairy milk, let it adsorb and form a gel.
4. Scoop cooked spaghetti squash and gel mixture into a blender, and blend until smooth.
5. Heat the porridge stove-top on medium heat just until it starts to bubble. Stirring occasionally.
6. Remove from heat, pour into your favorite bowl, and top with the dry mixture you set aside.
7. You can add 1 tsp of ghee if desired, this is incredibly healing for your gut and helps improve digestion adding in healthy fats to help absorb the nutrients.

By now I have an extremely low tolerance of sugar/sweetener, so I don’t find that I need to add any to my porridge. You may wish to add it to your liking, or give yourself a bit of a challenge and try it without! Allow your taste-buds to enjoy the flavors of the spices and sesame seeds.

I have created many versions, but this is by far my favorite, it tastes like halvah!! (does anyone remember that stuff?) I could eat this breakfast every day for a long time to come, but I do like to change things up in a while of course. Always good to keep variety in your life, and spice it up!

Question of the day: What is your current favorite breakfast, share and inspire!!

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If you want more, check out Ricki Heller’s Weekend Wellness, Feb 13-14. So many delicious recipes to be inspired by will be posted throughout the weekend!