recipes

Cinnamon Bun Energy Bites

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I would like to preface this recipe by saying that I love real cinnamon buns, in their all their glutenous sugar-laden glory. Those little pillsbury ones that come in a tube and fluff up like marshmallows when you bake them? The giant ones you can smell from half-way across the mall (or from the subway at Eglinton station if you live in Toronto)? Of all the baked goods, cinnamon buns are the most satisfyingly nostalgic and they will always have a special place in my heart.

However, if you crave these tasty treats on the regular, you may wish to find something a little more healthful to indulge in. Hopefully that is where I can be of some help.

These little energy bites are made up of just walnuts, oats, coconut oil and naturally sweet dates but they are absolutely delicious. Perfect for a midday snack or an after-dinner treat. And best of all, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to get your fix of pillowy cinnamon sugar. Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Cinnamon Bun Energy Bites
Yield: about 18-20. 

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1.5 cups dates
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a few tbsp of water

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients except for water into the food processor and blend until the mixture starts to look a little like brown sugar (thick and grainy).
  2. Add in a little water to the mix, 1 tbsp at the time until it begins to clump up and forms a big doughy ball. I used about 2-3 tbsp.
  3. Use a tbsp scoop to roll the mixture into balls.

 

 

 

budgeting, lunch, snacks

Planning ahead: In life and meals

I often say that a person’s best quality usually has a reverse, which is their worst quality. I feel this way about my own ability to plan ahead.

On the one hand, planning ahead has helped me accomplish a lot. I finished college, grad school, more grad school, got a rewarding job, an apartment in a city I love. For an achievement-junkie like myself, these things were very important to me.

However, my inclination towards planning and manifesting can also get me into trouble. I have a hard time going with flow when I have a clear vision of what I want. My therapist calls this “set shifting” or cognitive flexibility. I spend so much time thinking about the future and how to get there, I undervalue the present.

Finding a balance between serenity and ambition has been the great struggle of my 20’s.  Yet both have served me well.

I’m giving this preface because today’s post is all about indulging your inner planner.

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For those of you who work a 9 to 5 (or a 6-3, or a 10-7), you know that preparing a healthy lunch on the regular is easier said the done. Most days it’s all you can manage to grab that $5 sandwich or that $10 salad. But this kind of daily spending adds up to almost $50 a week…before coffee.  Not to mention how hard it is to make healthy choices in a food court.

For all these reasons I like to spend the last few hours of my Sundays on meal preparation for the week ahead. So for today’s post I thought I’d break down that process into a few easy steps…

STEP 1: Cook up some whole grains

Healthy grains are a staple of my monday-friday diet. They keep you satisfied, full and help me stave off that 3pm crash. My favourite is to cook a big pot of short-grain brown rice, then add a little salt, pepper and a hefty scoop of tahini.

STEP 2: Ready the snacks

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to snacking, but some of my favourites right now include:

  • hummus and veggies
  • berries
  • raw cashews or almonds
  • steamed eggs
  • dates stuffed with nut butter

STEP 3: Prepare your protein

When I’m planning for lunches, I always try to add some kind of protein to my meal. Typical suspects include: tofu or tempeh, chickpeas or lentils, grilled chicken or eggs.

STEP 4: Chop, chop chop

Obviously with my vegetable-heavy tendencies, this is an essential component of meal for me. Whether it’s chopping zucchini for salads, carrots for snacks or broccoli for dinner, getting this legwork out of the way will save you time and cleanup all week long. You’ll thank yourself.

STEP 5: Pack it up

This is my favourite part! When you’re all done, the last step is to pack everything into jars or tupperwares so that it’s ready and waiting for you to grab whenever you choose.

And finally…

STEP 6: Leave it in the fridge if you want to

If your coworkers are going out for sushi or you’re really craving a burger, go do that instead and save your perfectly packed lunch until the next day. Because planning ahead doesn’t mean forgoing life, as it happens. 

 

feminism, inspiration

How to Make Female Friends

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Women like me. They always have. And it’s not a coincidence.

I have spent years perfecting the art of making and maintaining female friendships. It’s not always been easy and I have made many mistakes along the way (sorry again), but I am constantly rewarded by the inspiration, support and community my ladyfriends have to offer. I can’t imagine who I would be today without them, nor do I want to.

So when I hear a woman say that she “doesn’t have any female friends” or that “other girls don’t like her” I call bullshit. Not being able to make or keep female friends means one of two things to me:

  1. You are acting judgmental, competitive or critical with other women, so they are responding in kind.
  2. You have been judged, competed with or criticized by women in the past and now you are projecting that trauma onto every new woman you meet.

For women who struggle with these or other challenges, I took the time to compile a few lessons I have learned over the years (usually the hard way) about how to make and keep female friends. Hopefully they will serve you in your path to cultivating the ultimate lady coven of your dreams…

Always ask a woman questions on questions on follow-up questions.

Every time I meet a new woman, especially someone who might have a competitive vibe with me (ie. an exes new girlfriend, a co-worker, etc.) the first thing I do to dispel the weirdness is to get to know her better. I ask about her family and re-use the name of her siblings later in conversation to show that I’ve been listening. I ask about her hobbies and validate them, tell her how much I’ve always wanted to macrame too. I let her share and I hear her. 

Always compliment the effort a woman has put into her beauty, not the effortlessness.
No man will ever understand the amount of time and energy that goes into a woman’s beauty regime. So while men will compliment a woman on how “naturally” gorgeous they are, I love complimenting women on the labour that went into looking that way. Her liquid liner. The straightness of her stocking seams. Her blow-dried-then-flat-ironed-then-curled hair. These are the type of compliments that elicit a story, not just a blush and a self-deprecating dodge.

Never talk about food, diets or body issues.
Save these conversations for your therapist or your personal trainer. Your BFF does not want to hear about your new detox diet or how gluten makes you bloated or how you gained 10 lbs in the last 24 hours. Saying any of these things runs the risk of triggering in your friend a negative spiral of self-talk that will cause her to either feel superior or inferior to you (“Why can’t I detox?” “Is gluten the devil?” “Thank god I didn’t gain 10 lbs”, etc.). And nobody wants these kind of competitive, comparative thoughts between friends. AVOID.

Always confront your conflicts directly, grown-ass-woman-style.
It is inevitable that conflict between friends will arise. The challenge when you sense this tension, is to speak it’s name. I like to start by sharing my interpretation of a situation and then asking whether or not my perspective is accurate for her. Eg) “I felt like our texts last night ended abruptly, did I say something that pissed you off?” This gives her the chance to share her perspective while acknowledging the possibility that you may have misinterpreted. In the end, working through conflicts with friends gives you a chance to grow as a human, to become better. If your friends are worthy, they’ll understand that and want to help you be your best self.

Always give your friends specific, positive feedback…because how else will they know?

A while ago I realized that I give my coworkers positive feedback every single day. It’s just part of our working culture to acknowledge and validate each others’ strengths and accomplishments. But I never did this for my friends. So I started. Now I try to tell my friends as often as I can what exactly I think they’re great at, why I think they’re great at it and how their unique skills and assets contribute to my life in a positive way.

inspiration

“Work less and consume more culture”: An Interview with Creative Yogis Harriet & Lacey

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Today I am excited to share an interview I conducted with two dear friends who are also inspiring healthy hipsters. Harriet is an artist, Parisian literary scenester and author and Lacey is a va-va-voom writer, performer and yoga instructor. The two of them will be collaborating for the first time on a writing and yoga workshop in Halifax, Nova Scotia June 26-28th.

How would you describe your approach to healthy living?

H: I have to give credit to living in Paris for the better part of seven years for having shaped my approach. Food is generally sold only when in season as it’s too expensive or difficult to come by otherwise; meat is, by EU standards, devoid of so many of the hormones and toxins that are routinely inserted here; people drink wine and eat cheese and fresh bread because it’s great, cheap, and why not – but there is far less of a sense of overconsumption. There’s less reliance on cars, and exercise is built into part of a healthy life without ever being the focus of it. It’s a generalization, but it’s true: people work less and consume more culture, and I really value that for my own personal mental health and sense of fulfillment.

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What is the connection between health and creativity/the arts, as you see it?
L: Creativity is about feeling empowered and free to explore one’s own unique voice. Food needs to be digested and assimilated to help our bodies thrive. Likewise, ideas and inspiration need to be processed and expressed in order for our hearts and souls to alight.

Where do you turn when you’re in need of inspiration/motivation?
H: My friends, bodies of water, and the forever-feel-good-films Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually.L: The great outdoors. I dance. I practice yoga. I walk. I listen to music loudly. I reenact music videos. I talk to my stellar mate.
Hottest tip: Embodied movement and connecting with nature are the ultimate inspiration and motivation boosters.

What’s the last thing you read that inspired you?

L: “Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times — a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses, and to those who are specially touched by God. But curiosity is available to everyone.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, from her forthcoming book Big Magic

H: “It is a feeling thing, to be a painter of things: cause every thing, even an imagined or gone thing or creature or person has essence” –Ali Smith, How to Be Both. I wish I could write a novel so multi-faceted, so fluid, so beautiful and metamorphosing.

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I won’t ask you to describe a typical day on your plate (no one wants to hear about anyone else’s glass of lemon water upon waking)…but how about your favourite thing to cook for friends or family?

H: Pumpkin risotto! My favourite pumpkins are the bright orange little ones that are called potimarron in France because they have the nutty and velvety quality of roasted chestnuts (potiron is the word for pumpkin, and marrons are chestnuts). Oh, and my grandma drank a glass of lemon water every morning upon waking but it’s something I can never remember to do. All I want is coffee.

L: Breakfast. I managed to find the sweet spot with my cast-iron pan (notoriously tricky in my life) and made an omelet with avo and local goat’s cheese that didn’t stick. Accompanied by local micro greens and tahini, it was a masterpiece.
recipes

Creamy Matcha Green Smoothie

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I love smoothies. But I’m not in love with them.

I think of smoothies like casual dates. They’re fun, sweet and they satisfy my immediate need for sustenance, but they’re not substantial. An hour or two after I drink one, I’m hungry again. Totally different than my long-term relationship with oatmeal.

That said, after years of perfecting my blending game, I’ve learned a thing or two about transforming a light little smoothie into a hearty, satisfying breakfast.

  1. Use frozen fruit: It just maintains its texture better and keeps things nice and thick.
  2. Add fibrous veggies: I put spinach or kale most of my smoothies but I also use fibrous veggies like celery, zucchini, beets, carrots or even broccoli stems. You barely taste them alongside all the fruit and they keep you feeling energized and full all morning long.
  3. Add healthy fats: I always throw some chia seeds into my smoothies when I have them around, a scoop of nut butter or even 1/2 an avocado. It dramatically improves the texture of your drink and helps you absorb the nutrients in any fruit or veggies you’ve put in.
  4. Add protein: I like to use natural protein powder like sun warrior blend but you can also use hemp protein or hemp hearts, yogurt, silken tofu, whatever your prefer. It will definitely amp up the staying power of your morning blend
  5. Add toppings: Sometimes I like to add some crunch to my smoothies by adding toppings like pumpkin seeds, goji berries, granola or coconut. It helps me savour my breakfast rather chugging it back in one gulp.
  6. Not too much ice: This is a big mistake I made in my early smoothie days – I would always add a full tray of ice. The problem with this is that when the ice melts, it makes the smoothie runny and thin. Try to bulk up your smoothies with the ingredients above, and just a few ice cubes to keep things cool and fresh tasting.

Using these basic tips, I whip together all sorts of creations, today’s being a bright green matcha explosion.

Creamy Matcha Green Smoothie

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Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe frozen banana
  • 1 heaping tbsp cashew butter 
  • 1-2 tsp matcha green tea powder
  • 1 scoop sun warrior vanilla protein powder (optional)
  • 2 cups kale 
  • 1-2 cups almond milk
  • 4 ice cubes

Directions

  1. Place all fruit in blender first followed by nut butter, protein powder if using, ice, then place your greens on top. Cover with almond milk until your ingredients are about 1/2 way covered.
  2. Blend. Add more milk if needed.
fitness

Why I Love Bodyweight Workouts

IMG_0690.PNGToday I wrote a guest post over at Pure Transformation on my absolute all time favourite way to stay fit – bodyweight workouts. I’m super proud of this post because I’m such an advocate for equipment-free exercise. It’s cheap, challenging and it’s what got me into fitness as an adult. I’m also proud because think I think the guys over at Pure Transformation are really inspiring. They are definitely healthy hipsters – they eat like normal people, go to shows, get outside and generally live full balanced lives…and they’re personal trainers. Their whole MO is designing workouts that are simple and accessible to help their clients lead healthier and more active lives. And they do it all outside the box (aka the gym).

Check out the full post here.

My go-to Bodyweight workout
Courtesy of Satch from Pure Transformation

40 Mountain Climbers
15 Regular Pushups
30 Bodyweight Squats
1 min Plank

100 Jump Rope
45sec Wall Squat
15 Tricep Dips
40 Single Leg Stretch

20 Jump Squats
20 (steps) Walking Lunge
15ea Side Plank Crunch

– Move quickly from one move to the next in each circuit, then take a 30-45sec break. Move onto the next circuit.

– Once all three circuits are done, rest 1.5 – 2mins and repeat for total of three sets.

– Cool down and stretch

fashion, fitness

Gear up: Style your workout

There was a time when I wouldn’t be caught dead in athletic wear. In high school I would have waved a copy of Adbusters in the face of anyone sporting a swoosh. In college I would have scoffed at the very idea of athletic anything…while finishing my tallboy. Nowadays I wear my nikes out dancing, and my crop tops to the gym. Sure I still have a problem with the awful labour practices of these big companies. So I usually buy my branded gear second hand (a lesser evil in my mind). But in general I’m pretty supportive of how mainstream fashun has adopted comfortable kicks, curve-positive leggings & all of the 90s crop tops.

Today I thought I’d share some of my favourite gear and in true hipster style none of it is over $50.

Lipstick & hoops optional, but encouraged.

b&w workout style


reflections

It’s not them, it’s you.

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My sister said something characteristically wise to me last week. We were talking about the film While We’re Young, which we had both just seen and she said, “I liked how their relationship was not the cause of or the solution to their problems.” She was so right. In a sea of movies and television shows that focus on quarter or mid-life crises, it’s incredibly rare to see a person begin and end the story happily in love. It was refreshing and a good reminder to me.

In my own life, the second I start feeling unhappy I put a microscope to my relationships. I blame myself for not putting enough energy or effort into maintaining them. I blame my friends/family/partner for the way they have (or haven’t) treated me. Rarely do I ever survey the landscape of my relationships and feel satisfied. Rarely do I accept that perhaps it isn’t about them, it’s about me. 

There will always be times in life when you feel anxious or unsettled. When you second guess your choices. When the existential questions you used to shrug off start weighing on you. Am I happy? Am I doing what I want to do? Is this all there is? It’s easy to look to others for these answers, much harder to look inward. But in my limited experience losing my shit and getting it back together again, the only way you’ll ever find the real source of your discomfort, stress or anxiety is to take responsibility for yourself. For your own happiness. And give your loved ones a break.

breakfast, reading, recipes

Pancakes and Good Reading

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I look forward to Sunday mornings the way other people look forward to Friday nights. It combines all of my favourite things: breakfast, coffee, pajamas, blankets, family skype dates, reading and Coronation Street.

Here’s a little of what I’m enjoying this morning…

Good reads.

And of course a tasty breakfast.

These panacakes are wholesome, whole-grain and unlike your average boxed mixes will actually leave you feeling energized (not ready for a nap). They are full of protein, healthy fats, fibre…and chocolate chips 😉IMG_0640.JPG

Satisfying Oatmeal Pancakes
yields 1 generous serving

Ingredients

  • coconut oil (for frying)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • optional toppings – berries, nut butter, mini-chocolate chips and a drizzle of honey.

Directions

  1. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Mash banana in a mixing bowl. Add 2 eggs and whip with a fork.
  3. Add oat and coconut flours and stir until well-combined.
  4. Pour batter onto frying pan and cook until each pancake is browned and lifts easily with spatula (3-4 minutes). Cook an extra 1-2 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with berries, chocolate chips, nut butter, etc.

 

diy

What I Made Wednesday

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There’s a trend in the blog world called “What I Ate Wednesday.” Basically it lets you peek into someone elses life (and onto their plate) for an entire day. It’s a little voyeuristic. And totally fun.

But I’m proposing something different here today. What I Made Wednesday. It isn’t about food (not this time at least). It’s a chance to showcase a DIY project, a piece of artwork, a craft you helped a munchkin make or even a shelf you managed to hang on your very own wall. In a world where everything comes to us so easily, I think it’s worth celebrating the things we do and make. Because these are things that require honest effort, and therefore they are things we can be proud of.

Here are some of mine from the past week:

1. Made my own fur throw using this basic method. Essentially purchase $14 worth of ugly faux fur fabric. Cut it into a wonky shape. Looks perfect. Sweep up fur scraps. Took me 10 minutes and my couch couldn’t be happier.

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2. I needed some additional seating for my living room so decided to throw together a couple of cheap ottomons and a simple white throw pillow. I love that I can keep them together or take them apart if I have more guests around.

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3. More paintings of course. Still working on my watercolour game but I tried to used as many vibrant shades as I could in honour of spring.

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So…what did you make this week? (And as a challenge to fellow bloggers: how bout giving WIMW a try?)