Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy holidays!

Well I've been a bad blogger this month. December just kind of got away from me. I'm currently enjoying my last full day on PEI with my family. It's been really nice -- lots of relaxation and fun.

I was also blessed to receive some pretty fabulous presents this year.
Cougar® Women's 'Rankin' Pull-on Style Rubber Rainboots
  • I got some awesome red rubber boots so I can channel my inner child and go jump in some puddles, or slush for that matter because these babies are good for up to -15C!
  • I also was given a very cool new Hamilton Beach blender. It's very lovely super powered machine,with a nice glass container. I decided this would be a very needed tool to have in my healthy kitchen. It will replace my magic bullet, which is dying a slow, painful death and my current blender which is an el-cheapo from university. So excited to get home and get this set up in my kitchen.
  • I got lots of new David's Teas to keep my addiction alive and well.
  • And the last thing I'll mention are my super awesome glass straws from Strawesome. They are super fun and super Eco-friendly. Also can't wait to put these lovelies to use in my smoothies and other deliciousness.
Can't say that I've been eating that well. M&Ms and Quality Street chocolates have been my nemesis but only for another day... Refined sugar will be banished again very soon! I hope you're with me.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 12, 2011

There's a birthday in the house

Would you believe this here little blog of mine is 1 year-old? I find it hard to believe myself. But it's not about how much time has passed; it's more about how my life has changed (so much!) in one short year.

Last year at this time, I had just started my journey to better health. Last December I was paying much more attention to what I was putting in my mouth and my body began responding -- my waist shrunk without much effort and the unneeded pounds melted off. I still eat lots! The key here is that the quality of the food changed!

These changes in my body lead me to enroll in the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition's Holistic Nutritionist program, which I am LOVING.

And it didn't stop there, I also learned that my body has trouble breaking down gluten proteins. I also want to point out that I figured this out through listening to my body, not by subjecting myself to unnecessary blood tests. I'm adapting to a gluten-free lifestyle quite easily as well as a healthier lifestyle in general and enjoying its benefits.

But mostly this year has given me a remarkable appreciation for health and how to stay healthy without the need of pharmaceuticals and vaccines, but through nourishing my body with what it requires! The human body is such an amazing instrument and unbelievably resilient – but remember to treat it well!

I honestly believe that this year, which also marked a milestone in my life with my 30th birthday, has been my best and most life changing yet. I'm so glad I started Everyday Rae to capture some of these moments.

Happy 1st Birthday!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My favourite wellness and nutrition blogs, Part 2

Early on in this blog's existence, I posted a little summary of some of my favourite healthy living blogs. Spurred on by a request, I thought I'd add to the list, and maybe revisit a couple, because they are what I consider the best of the best (that I've come across, thus far).

My New Roots
A Canadian holistic nutritionist and vegetarian chef living in Denmark. Great blog, lots of lovely recipes.

Cook Bake Nibble
Kristin is a natural food chef. She has great recipes, pretty much exclusively gluten-free and many grain-free.

Joyous Health
Joy is a holistic nutritionist based out of Toronto. She's got lots of great stuff on her blog, including recipes, healthy living ideas, and the mind-body connection. She's genuine; you can tell.

Gluten-Free Goddess
Karina seems to be the queen of all things gluten-free. She has a large following, especially in the Celiac community. Amazing recipes. Not the easiest mind you, but if you're more than a beginner baker, I'm sure you can pull her recipes off.

Inside-Out Nutrition
Josh is a clinical nutritionist. He knows the ins and outs of it. I've had great "aha" moments reading his posts. Things just make sense.

Comfy Belly
The blog of a mom with a sick child. She chronicles the recipes she's created to heal her child -- all gluten free!

Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat
Angela, based in Kitchener, Ontario, writes a daily blog about healthy eating and exercise. She's young and fun and so is the blog.

Ok and I have to mention again my healthy blog staples. Such amazing stuff here:

Making Love in the Kitchen
I'm such a Meghan Telpner fan. I read her blog religiously everyday. I can't get enough -- I even went to Toronto for a weekend to take in some of her healthy living/eating classes that she offers. So amazing, so inspiring!

Oh She Glows
Angela from Oh She Glows is the most amazing food photographer; she can make anything look good. But she doesn't have to because her stuff is so amazing on it's own. She blogs about a completely plant-based diet. I've tried many of her recipes, and no complaints here! Again, super inspiring Canadian woman.

Elana's Pantry
Elana has the simplest recipes I've ever come across. Very few ingredients, but maximum flavour. Her recipes are all gluten-free, but also grain-free as she eats according to the paleolithic diet. She also has a couple cookbooks, if you're so interested!

Please share with me your favourite blogs. I'd love to add more to my roster!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I won a giveaway!

I won my first blog giveaway! From one of my most favourite blogs!

A few weeks ago, Meghan Telpner from Making Love in the Kitchen held a giveaway for a great gift basket from Prana.

Prana is a fabulous little Canadian gem of a company, based in Montreal, that make great snacks (sweet and savory) from healthy and organic nuts, seeds and fruits.

I found out about the 'win' on a Monday, and by Tuesday my package had arrived. Now in my usual excitedness about getting packages in the mail, I tore it open before I even thought to take photos. I tried to stuff all my goodies back into the basket to take a photo but I couldn't do it justice; so just pretend everything is in the basket and it's all wrapped up in cellophane and some pretty ribbon. You'll also have to imagine I took nicer photos where I've taken care to make sure the background is clear of say Dyson vacuums. But at the time I didn't care about the quality of the photo, I wanted to EAT these goodies!

My loot!

Included were:

Sumsuma Sesame Squares
Ignore that the bag has already been
ripped opened in this photo
Chia Oil

    White Mulberries
    Brown Manuka Raisins
    Raw Walnuts

      Sundried Tomatoes
      Dried Apple Rings
      Dried Cherries
      Pumpkin Seeds

      They also included a lovely note and a coupon for 20% off an order from their online store.

      What a lovely gift! Let's just say the sesame squares were gone by the next morning. So good, but full of sugar, which is not good for maintaining a steady blood sugar, which then leads to cravings... So these will only be a treat.

      The chia oil is lovely. Lighter in colour and taste than a flax oil, but both are very high in Omega 3 fatty acids (an essential fatty acid that the body does not produce on it's own). I used most of it in my morning smoothies, but I also made a salad dressing with it and it was lovely.

      The rest of the loot (all the seeds, nuts and dried fruit) got poured into a big jar and shook up! Instant trail mix! I've been picking away at it for a few weeks. It nice when you get home from work and are hungry and need a little something to satisfy you while dinner is cooking. Due to the fact that there's a good blend of all three macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrate), it sustains and doesn't make you reach back for more and more. And plain and simple it's so darn good together. The different textures and flavours blend so wonderfully. One thing to watch for when purchasing dried fruits is that they are often loaded with sulfites to preserve them. Sulfites can trigger asthma and allergies in certain people. It's always best to eat the cleanest, most natural foods available. Prana delivers on this with all organic products.

      I've been really impressed with the pumpkin seeds as well as the raisins and dried cherries. I think my discount coupon will be spent on stocking up on those.

      Check them out and maybe order some items for yourself! Or find their products at a store near you.

      Thank you Prana for your gift. I thoroughly enjoyed and am continuing to enjoy it!

      Sunday, November 20, 2011

      Pumpkins aren't just for Halloween

      Until this year, I'd never cooked a pumpkin. But so far this fall, I've cooked two! And my oh my they are one delicious vegetable. I picked up my latest one at the Ottawa Organic Farmers' Market on Saturday.

      Cooking pumpkin or any kind of squash is so unbelievably simple:
      • Cut in two with a large knife (be careful, they're hard!)
      • Scoop out the "innards"
      • Lay face down in a baking dish with a bit of water (1/4 to 1/2 inch)
      • Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or so (depends on the size) until it's soft
      Roasted pumpkin. Ready to peel.
      • Let it cool for a quick bit and peel off the skin
      • There you have it, amazing, delicious, nutrient-dense pumpkin!
      Depending on what you're using it for, the instructions can change here. I like mine pureed, so I cut the peeled, roasted pumpkin up into large chunks, and tossed it in the food processor to puree.

      Pureed pumpkin.
      Keeps in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it for later use.

      Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, very low in sugar, an amazing source of vitamin A due to it's rich colour and full of lots of other nutrients that are oh so good for the bod, including vitamin C, iron, and B vitamins.

      So now what do you do with your pumpkin... Well a few ideas for you. Some tried and tested, some recipes to come this week, to use up that gorgeous bowl of orange goodness.

      Here's how they look. They taste AMAZING.
      Chia Pumpkin Muffins! Mmm tasty. A few changes to the recipe, as I have a slightly different paper version:
      • I used 2 tablespoons of ground chia, instead of one.
      • I used 1/2 cup brown rice flour and 1/2 cup of quinoa flour to make up the 1 cup of flour.
      • I used arrowroot flour instead of tapioca and only 1/4 cup.
      • I substituted the agave for raw honey, still at 1/2 cup.
      • I lowered the amount of maple syrup to just 1/4 cup.

      Other great ideas for pumpkin (that I have tried or will be trying):

      Have you any creative and good ideas for using the very stellar pumpkin?

      Sunday, November 6, 2011

      Organizing a small kitchen

      I love my little kitchen, but it's small. There are very few cupboards, so space is at a premium. I've taken to finding vertical space to solve some issues and make better use of the space I do have.
      The first thing that started my kitchen reorganization was the biggest super saver of space. I installed a pot rack I found on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond from the ceiling above my peninsula. Warning: attaching heavy things from ceilings is tricky; I measured and measured and never used my stud finder so much! But it got up and hasn't fallen down (knock on wood -- it's been several months now).

      I'm lucky (thanks to my generous grandmother) to own some lovely stainless steel pots that I'm more than happy to display. This one project saved me tonnes of space in my lower cupboard.

      But the pot rack left me with a problem. What to do with all the lids? I found this idea on Pinterest.

      However, I couldn't find the right magazine rack. This cupboard was also causing me a huge headache as it is pretty much my only lower cabinet other than the under the sink storage and it's a corner cupboard that's annoying to get into to boot! So I came up with this idea.

      I installed two Bygel rails from Ikea (only $2.99 each!) along the sides of the cupboard and paired them with some Grundtal S-hooks. Works for all my pots lids as well as a colander.

      The Dollarama has also been a great help. These racks to keep pans and cutting boards vertical are amazing. Getting these things in and out of my cupboard is so much easier thanks to these. I put two side by side and at only $2 each, no biggie!

      Next I made some extra space in my stack of drawers by cleaning out an entire drawer buy using this little gem of an idea, again from Pinterest.

      I used Ikea's Dokument magazine files in white for the job. They are great as they are a wire mesh and can easily be cleaned if something spills. It came in a pack of two, with one file slight smaller than the other. The smaller file was put to good use to corral take out menus, small recipe books as well as recipes printouts.

      To make better use of that drawer space I cleaned out, I found some small baskets at the dollar store (2/$1) to house some smaller items such as measuring spoons and cups, as well as some smaller tools. They help keep the drawers organized, therefore making things easy to find! Bonus.

      To make better use of some vertical space, I installed a Grundtal wall shelf so I could double the use of this piece of counter space. On the shelf I have two baskets I found on sale from Micheal's. One houses my supplements and the other my tea collection, with my pretty yellow tea pot in the middle. Underneath the shelf I have three bowls to keep fruits and vegetables that need not be refrigerated, such as lemons, garlic, ginger, avocados, and onions.

      The dollar store is also awesome for finding great glass canisters. I have some almonds and red and white quinoa in these ($2 or less each).

      Last thing I have to share with you is an unfinished project, inspired again by Pinterest, seen here.

      Here's my version, again, under construction. I picked up a piece of stainless steel in the plumbing department at Home Depot. Thanks to my Dad, I have quite the toolkit that includes steel cutters, so I was able to easily cut my sheet down to size. I sized it so that it could fit 28 jars, in an 7 by 4 pattern. However, not every project goes quite according to plan...

      The small 125ml mason jars are small, but still heavy... and one magnet didn't do the trick. I used hot glue to attach the magnets and that didn't hold up either -- now some magnets are falling off. I need to revisit this one... Maybe with a more heavy duty adhesive for the magnets. I also want to clean up the edges of the stainless steel sheet by applying a small strip of moulding. Stay tuned.

      Have you undertaken any kitchen organization projects? Have you any great ideas to share?

      Thursday, October 27, 2011

      First Day of School, Part 2

      Back in March I wrote here about my first day of school after enrolling at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition's Ottawa Branch. I was so pumped to get started learning about this wonderful world of holistic nutrition. And then I had to stop for a bit -- not my choice. It's a long story and completely uninteresting. But to summarize, I got to complete two courses (about 24 hours worth of class time) and since then I've been on a hiatus.

      Until today, that is! Today I start back. And I'm as pumped as I was on the first day. In fact, possibly more excited as my feet got wet during the spring and I know with all my being that this is going to be the right field of work for me. I'm beyond passionate about it.

      But you probably know that already too, because if you've been reading along with me here, here and here, oh and here and here too, you'll have realized my passion for yourselves.

      P.S. I'm a crazy organizer, I spend a lot of time organizing my life. School, to me, is just as fun to organize. Staples is my friend. As is the coolest bright green laptop bag/brief case-y thing I found this summer. And so is Microsoft's One Note. I got a new computer earlier this year and once I found One Note as part of the Microsoft Office package, I fell in love. It's an organizing, school-going girl's dream come true!

      P.P.S. I know I'm crazy and a big nerd. I've come to terms with it. You should too. ;)

      Tuesday, October 25, 2011

      What is this dry skin brushing you speak of?

      I recently have become aware of a technique called dry skin brushing. Maybe this is widely known, but I didn't know about it, so maybe you don't either. If this is new to you, read on!

      So the skin as you all know is our largest organ and it has so many roles in keeping us alive and healthy. The skin eliminates between a good chunk of our bodily waste. And we can help our body out a little bit by giving our skin 5 minutes of our attention everyday before we shower.

      The benefits of dry skin brushing are simple. First, it eliminates dry skin from your body and encourages new skin growth and second, it stimulates blood circulation and the lymphatic system, which in turn eliminates waste (including toxins) from our body. And given that this is Breast Cancer Awareness month and next month we'll be focusing on the ole prostate, let's think about PREVENTION (I think we're all very aware of cancer) -- and this practice is a great cancer prevention habit.

      All you need to do this is a dry skin brush or a loofah. I bought my brush at Rainbow Natural Foods here in Ottawa for only $6.50! It has a nice long handle to easily reach all those harder to reach spots.

      Here's Joy McCarthy, a Toronto-area Holistic Nutritionist, to show you how to get this little gem of a healthy habit into your routine! You can read more about dry skin brushing and it's many, many benefits on her blog.

      Friday, October 21, 2011

      The perfect cup of (David's) tea

      I've never been a coffee drinker. I can honestly say I've never drunk a cup in my life -- save for a few sips while being hosted in Bolivia at a displacement camp; I had to be polite and eat/drink what was offered to me! I can't even say that I like the smell of coffee. Ohh, I know that one hurt some of you who cannot live without your daily cuppa joe.

      A few years back (not very many), I realized that flavour infused herbal, green and yes even black teas (but don't think you'll find me drinking an orange pekoe any time soon) can be oh so delicious. Fast forward to maybe about a year or so ago. I come to learn about David's Tea -- which is fairly new to town. It took me a while, but now I know why this place is so special. Their tea doesn't come close to comparing to anything you'll find in a box in your local supermarket. This tea is special.

      I was first introduced to it by my manager at work. She lives close by to one of their Ottawa locations (Glebe and Westboro, for those in Ottawa) and she got stuck on it last fall. She even gave me two flavours for my birthday in January. I tried them at home. But the thing is, I'm not much of a tea drinker at home. I drink teas at the office, but I didn't have the right cup for it at work and didn't want to have to have a tea ball at work. But then enters this:


      Genius! Perfect for work. Beautiful mug with a cover and an infuser (the infuser sits perfectly in the lid when you're ready to drink so no drips). I got the purple one -- I like purple. They have a great travel mug too which houses a little compartment for extra tea!

      Currently in my cupboard you'll find:

      Organic Silk Jasmine (Green)
      Toasted Walnut (Green)
      Super Chocolate - Organic (Green)
      Three Wishes Tea (Black)

      I am a lover of green teas and the Three Wishes Tea is actually a blend of black and green teas. In fact many of their teas are blends; the Super Chocolate is a blend of green and rooibos (and is currently my most favourite -- it has chocolate it in!). And those are real pieces of walnut in the Toasted Walnut.

      I've set a limit for myself that I have to drink two whole varieties before I buy more -- my incentive to drink up! Otherwise it could get a little out of hand...

      So if there's a David's Tea location near you, get yourself there today! If not, you can order online (but you'll miss the opportunity to smell the varieties). You'll be overwhelmed so give yourself some time to smell and enjoy the many varieties. And then go home (or to work!) and drink this goodness up!

      Have you been to David's Tea? If so, what is your favourite? My stock is starting to dwindle, so I'll be in there again soon enough!

      Wednesday, October 19, 2011

      21 days (plus a few more) later...

      In my last post, I went on raving about Meghan Telpner's 21 Days To Health. Well the 21 days have ended and what have I took away from it? Lots! Let's recap.

      So as a refresher the premise of the 21 days is to incorporate one new change each day and build until the 21 days are complete. This is based on the idea that it takes 3 weeks (21 days) to form new habits.

      Now it's pretty hard to incorporate all of them, but I'm doing my best and I know many of the changes I have made have stuck so that in itself is something to be proud of. I'm not going to go through the full list of 21 changes, but I will touch upon some of the things I have incorporated and maybe bring a little inspiration to you!

      My new habits!
      • Drinking lemon water first thing every morning. This was the very first point in the book. Drinking warm water with a couple tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (i.e. from lemons, not squeeze bottles) is a great cleanse for the liver. Meaning it flushes out the liver and gets rid of all the toxins that the liver works so hard at removing from the body.
      • Meditating or sitting quietly for at least 15 minutes each morning. This is to stop the fidgeting and to bring calm to yourself and just focus on the breath. I was having a hard time at this one, but recently put together a little morning routine so that I made time for it in the morning. I now have put 15 minutes aside each morning to do this. I also drink my lemon water while doing this (always a multitasker!)
      • Flossing - every time I brush my teeth. I've always flossed my teeth, but never with any regularity. I'd be really good for a few days and then slack off. But I can honestly say that in over a month I have flossed each and every day. I'm now working on doing twice per day -- morning and night. My dentist is going to be oh so pleased, I almost can't wait for my next visit!
      • Getting to bed 15 minutes early. My old bedtime was around 11:00 p.m. and now I make sure I'm getting ready for bed by 10:30 so that I'm actually in my bed by 10:45. The extra sleep helps with getting up earlier for my quiet time.
      • Brown bagging. I'm doing a much better job at bringing my lunch to work. I like how this affects my bank account.
      • No more going for seconds. I now make a mental note to not eat a second plate of food no matter how good it is. One serving is all my body needs. The goodness can be saved for my brown bag.
      • Cutting out all the refined sugar. I'm super aware of this now. By making your own food, this is super easy to do.
      • Cutting out some toxic body products. I recently posted about my soap-making endeavours, but I've also recently changed my toothpaste, deodorant and have stopped using body creams and replaced them with edible oils, like coconut oil. Because anything that goes on the skin should also go in the mouth because it's all the same... either way it ends up in the bloodstream.
      • Drink more H2O. I've been making a conscious effort to drink more water and herbal teas. Since doing so, I get a headache in the evenings when I don't drink enough water. Your body tells you everything you need to know if you listen closely enough.
      • Meal planning! So important. But I had a head start on that one, I've been doing it for a while!
      • Cut out the booze. I've drunk alcohol very sparingly for the last year -- just the odd glass of wine or cider here and there -- but it's a treat! And since going gluten-free I haven't had any beer. So check mark here too.
      • Dry skin brushing. This practice is new to me -- I've only become familiar with it recently, but I'm doing it! So good for the skin and for the lymph. More to come on this in a future post, because it's an easy thing to do that I gather most people know nothing about. So stay tuned for that!

      I'm pretty proud of what I managed to incorporate in just a few short weeks. Think about how much healthier a society we would be if we all just adopted one or two of these things!

      What changes have you made recently to improve your health?

      Wednesday, September 28, 2011

      21 days to health

      I'm a bit of a healthy living, nutrition blog nut follower. I admit it. Back in January, I came across Meghan Telpner's blog - and fell in love. I love her style, food philosophy, how she cured herself of an 'incurable' disease through nutrition, and how she turned her knowledge and passion for nutrition and food into an amazing and growing business. She's kind of my nutritionista idol, if you will.

      A couple of weeks ago she started a 21 days to health challenge based on one of her e-books, appropriately named, 21 Days To Health.


      She describes the program as follows:
      21 Days To Health is about incorporating very simple changes everyday for 21 days. By the end of those short three weeks, you will have tried out and gradually added more healthy living practices than you ever thought possible- and done so with virtually no stress and minimal effort. You will have broken old habits and established new ones.

      This program has nothing to do with whether you should eat organic or not, or what’s the best kind of fish oil you should take. This is about 21 simple transitions that cover off the 20% of the effort that will give you 80% of the results. This is the important stuff. The changes in this book are not rocket science, they are things we inherently know we should do, but for whatever reason, don’t do.
      So, spurred on by her challenge and my wanting to incorporating more healthy living tips into my routine, I'm participating (if you follow me on Twitter, hopefully now my most recent tweets make more sense). And it's awesome!

      I've found that a few of her tips I had already incorporated into my routine, including meal planning and shopping with a list, and incorporating more natural body care products. However, I've begun new ones as well that I've been committed to, such as flossing daily (if not twice a day), drinking a large glass of lemon water each morning first thing to help cleanse the liver, alkalize the body and stimulate the acid in the stomach, getting to bed 15 minutes earlier each night and more.

      It's a really great book, filled with lots of great recipes and ideas, all with one goal in mind. I'm hoping to get to Toronto one weekend soon to take in some of her amazing cooking classes too... I just can't get enough!

      I'm a bit obsessed, but I'm ok with that.

      Wednesday, September 21, 2011

      "You made your own WHAT?"

      I made my own body wash. Yes you heard me right. Is your next question "why"? Thought so. Well, I'll tell you why.

      The stuff you do in the bathroom, including showering, brushing your teeth, putting on your makeup, washing your face can lead to putting an enormous amount of poison into your body each and everyday -- sometimes twice or more per day. To combat this, I'm trying to make small changes here and there to lessen my toxic load. In doing so, I consulted the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to check some of the products I use. And, well, I was somewhat shocked. What I thought was a more "natural" body wash, turned out to be just average for the money I was spending and had more bad things in it that I thought. I should have known better, but we all get fooled once in a while.

      And so I began a search for a cleaner product. And by the magic of Pinterest, I found what I was looking for!


      I only needed three things: a "clean" bar of soap, vegetable glycerine and an essential oil (optional). I headed to Rainbow Natural Foods to find my loot and found it!

      This soap, Kiss My Face's Pure Olive Oil Soap, gets a "0" from the Skin Deep database, because it's just that, pure olive oil. I also picked up some pure vegetable glycerine and some pure, organic tea tree oil.

      The instructions are pretty simple: grate the soap, which made four cups of soap, and put it in 16 cups of water, over a low to medium heat and stir until all the soap melts. Add 4 tablespoons of the glycerine and at the end 20-30 drops of the essential oil.

      This gave me four litres of body wash. I washed out my old body wash bottle to use in the shower and the rest got poured into large 1-litre mason jars (the colour is that green/yellow because again I used olive oil soap and therefore it's the colour of olive oil!)

      Easy-peasy! And the verdict? It's a very different soap, but that's mostly because of my choice to use an oil-based soap. It's more liquid than a cream or a gel and like all soaps without sulfates, it won't lather that much. But that doesn't mean it doesn't feel lovely on my skin and makes me squeeky-clean.

      So now the cost... well the soap was about $4, the vegetable glycerine was about $6 and the oil was $11. I used all the soap, half the glycerine and not much of the oil. I used to pay $10/litre. This one cost me about $9+tax for 4 litres. Yup, that's a bargain!

      Sunday, September 11, 2011

      Happy Rambles - A gratitude journal

      A few weeks ago, spurred on by a tweet from someone I follow, I started a gratitude journal using Happy Rambles. What a lovely idea for a website. It keeps a running log of all things for which you are grateful.

      Every day (or at whatever interval you want) at 8 p.m. (or whatever time you want), I get an email asking me what I'm grateful for. It's a really nice reminder to reflect on your day and pick something small or large that might have stood out in your day.

      Try it out, it's totally free and when you get the email each day, included in it is a past entry from your journal. I love the idea and love contributing to it each evening.

      Wednesday, August 31, 2011

      My go-to morning smoothie

      I've been asked a lot by friends and family what I eat for breakfast. I've never been a morning person, so breakfast, especially on weekdays was always difficult, as it was hard to make time. But I know the importance of eating in the morning now and have become addicted to smoothies for two reasons -- fast and delicious!
      Raeanne's go-to smoothie
      • 1 cup almond milk
      • 2-3 tsp flax oil
      • 1 tbsp (heaping) seed mix (see 'recipe' below)
      • 1 scoop of protein powder, I use Genuine Health Vegan Protein+ Vanilla
      • 3 1-inch chunks of banana -- fresh or frozen
      • 1/4 cup of berries -- fresh or frozen, I use a combination of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries or whatever I have on hand
      • 1 handful (or 2!) of spinach leaves

      Put all ingredients into a large magic bullet cup or a blender and pulverize it! Drink it! And say YUM!

      • I would make sure you put in something frozen (berries or banana) as it will chill the smoothie and I find it tastes a lot better. Otherwise I would likely throw in some ice.
      • All amounts are approximate. I never measure -- no time for that!

      Seed mix
      • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
      • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
      • 1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
      • 1/2 cup chia seeds
      • 1/2 cup flax seeds
      • 1/2 cup hemp hearts

      Pour all the seeds into a large glass jar (3-cup), put the cover on and SHAKE! Store in the refrigerator.

      This is packed with well over 20g of protein, good carbohydrates, fiber, and lots of good fats (Omega3s a plenty!). It easily keeps me full for 3 to 4 hours. Obviously there are tonnes of variations, and I change it up with what I've got on hand, but when I'm half asleep in the kitchen, this is most often what gets made!

      If you try it let me know! Enjoy!

      Sunday, August 28, 2011

      A weekend in the kitchen

      I love to spend time in the kitchen because I absolutely love to bake and make things from scratch. This weekend I took some time from my day to try a few new things. All the recipes can be found in my Delicious bookmarks.

      Here's a sample of my weekend in the kitchen (I know some of the photos are bad... my kitchen has terrible lighting...):

      First thing I made were Oatmeal Spelt Peach Cookies: I  bought a basket of amazing, succulent Ontario peaches last week and they were ripening faster than I could eat them. Spelt is not a gluten-free grain, but it is wheat-free. I'll eat them in moderation as I react more to wheat, but still somewhat to other gluten grains.

      Keeping with the peach theme and my absolute love for jam, I made Peach and Plum Jam Muffins. The recipe called for blackberry jam, but I had plum jam. I love peaches and plums, so I went with it. And it turned out great. I remember when I was a kid, my brother and I watched the Urban Peasant a lot, I'm not sure why, but the two things I remember from it was his love for sherry (he seemed to put a splash of sherry in everything!) and that he always preached that you should "use what you have". So I did.

      Next up were Strawberry Mint Popsicles. Again, I screwed up the recipe, I misread. It was supposed to be strawberry basil (there was another recipe for Mint Lemonade on the same page). Again, I went with it... with good results!

      And it didn't stop there. Just prior to dinner on Saturday, I whipped up my own homemade BBQ sauce. I'm not a big fan of store bought BBQ sauces. I usually read the label and then put it back on the shelf with disgust -- I can't stand the amount of sugar in it! I found a better option once when I visited Whole Foods, but given that I live 5 hours away from the nearest Whole Foods, it's not an easy thing to pick up when you run out. So I went with this one, which has no sugar at all! Bonus.

      For dinner, I made this amazing kale salad. Our most recent produce delivery included a huge head of kale, so what to do but whip up a great salad. I served it with some fresh local made-in-store sausages I picked up the day before at The Piggy Market in Westboro. Nom nom nom. So good! The key to this salad is to let it sit for a while after you mix it up. The kale leaves will soften from the olive oil in the dressing making it much more palatable.

      Sunday morning I tackled my most complicated recipe of the weekend -- blueberry scones (gluten-free)! I love scones and blueberry ones are a bonus. This recipe included a few ingredients I've never used before but are easily found at most natural foods stores, such as Rainbow Natural Foods, which is where I found my loot.

      Ok, I know enough, right? But one more. Blueberry grain-free pancakes for Sunday breakfast, made with almond flour. The recipe didn't call for blueberries, but I had some left over from the scones, so had to do it! Yum yum. Served with some chopped strawberries and pure maple syrup. 

      So now you know what I did for a good part of the weekend. What did you do??

      Thursday, August 25, 2011

      "Delicious" Recipes

      Ok, ok, so I might be late to the party, but I'm sharing anyway, in case your tardiness is worse than mine.

      I found something new. Well as I alluded to above, it's not new, it's been around for awhile and I had heard of it but never had a need for it. Until now. Taadaa...

      I find a lot of my recipes online. In fact, as I blogged about earlier this week, I don't leave for the grocery store until I've picked out meals/recipes for the week. And it got me thinking... I have to rely a lot on my memory to find recipes to recall seeing recipes on Twitter or on Blogs I subscribe to. I had been adding "stars" to my Google Reader account, but after a while, there are a lot of stars, which are not well organized. I also had a lot of recipes simply bookmarked in my browser, but again no organization, no search capabilities.

      And then an AHA moment. Bookmarking with tagging. It all makes sense now. And I am happy. I've entered a bunch of recipes I had marked in one way or another (Google Reader stars, browser bookmarks, and Pinterest) and I'll be adding to it. So feel free to check out what I've found. Perhaps before you head to the grocery store this weekend!

      Tuesday, August 23, 2011

      Everyone needs a 'me' day

      I'm a big proponent of finding time to treat yourself. I last did this as part of my 30th birthday back in January. Since the summer months are winding down, I decided that I needed a little more me time and decided to take the final two Fridays in August off from work.

      Last Friday, I treated myself really well. At noon, I met up with a friend at Play Food & Wine in the ByWard Market for a succulent lunch. They specialize in small plates and at lunch you can get any two plates for $20! Great deal and great food. Afterwards, I made my way over to this amazing 'new to me' spa called Daya Spa and I got pampered!

      I treated myself to three services: the organic customized facial (using all Eminence products), followed by the cucumber mint sugar scrub manicure and pedicure. Heavenly! The facial was amazing and my fingers and toes look pretty good too! I left feeling rejuvenated and happy -- just what I wanted!

      What a fantastic way to start the weekend! Now, what should I do this Friday? Any suggestions?

      Sunday, August 21, 2011

      Getting the most out of my food and my grocery bill

      I'm an organized person, I think I've alluded to this before. I get a wonderful high from my house being in order and things having a place to call home. With school, I'm an über-nut, I won't even go into how I organize myself for school, because you'll roll your eyes and think I'm crazy.

      I've recently redone my spare bedroom/home office to work better for me. I got so into doing it that I forgot to take some key photos before and after, but I'll post about it soon. My main bathroom is also undergoing a organization renovation, it still needs to be decorated and then photos will follow. My next task will be my kitchen, my tiny townhouse kitchen... drives me insane. My I've got a project up my sleeve to tackle that one.

      The kitchen brings me to my subject for today. For about a year now, I've completely changed the way I approach food, which has brought some great results. One way I have done this is to treat food as essential fuel for my body, not as a comfort or something brought upon by boredom. Once you see food in this different light, you'll be amazed at what you will stop putting in your mouth... I roll my eyes with disgust at things I ate without question just over a year ago -- and it has MUCH more to do with the ingredient list than it does with the nutritional value chart.

      You hear regularly people complain about the high prices for good food, REAL food. My solution is quite simple. I put my organization skills to use and I plan. I will NOT go to the grocery store without having a plan in hand. So before my weekly trip, I find out what I've got on hand, perhaps go through the amazing box of goodies that was recently delivered and come up with a meal plan - meals for at least 5-6 days (which leaves some flexibility) and that uses everything I buy so little goes to waste. I go to the store with a plan and I know what's in my refrigerator -- awesome for my health and my budget.

      It has worked awesome. No more "what are we going to have for dinner?" questions when getting home from work, the answer is on a piece of paper on the refrigerator. The real question becomes, which of these awesome meals am I going to eat today.

      Friday, August 12, 2011

      Home, sweet home

      I've been absent. But with good reason. Vacation! I was back home on PEI for about 9 days last week. Lots of fun, family, and food. I'm terrible at taking photos while on vacation but I took a few with my IPhone using the Instagram app. You see, I'm not very talented at taking photos, but this app makes even the worst photos look cool. Hence why it's perfect for me!

      Here's a sampling of my beautiful island.

      The beautiful approach on Air Canada's smallest plane, the Beech 1900
      The summer patchwork
      Victoria Row in Charlottetown
      Birthplace of Confederation, Province House
      Charlottetown has a Starbucks!
      Anne, Anne, everywhere
      Summerside (my hometown) boardwalk views
      Summerside is funny
      Spent lots of time here... cottage by the ocean. Nothing better.
      There are tonnes of blueberry patches near the cottage. Dad picked about 2 litres in about 40 minutes. I could ate eaten 2 litres in 5 minutes if I wanted to.