Saturday, September 22, 2012

That overwhelming feeling

Lately, I've been feeling overwhelmed. I'm not sure why, but when it happens, it takes a toll on my body. Today I'm feeling under the weather. Something similar happened back in June when I was under some stress as well.

This time however, I feel like my 'stress' is more self-inflicted. I don't need to feel stressed, but I am. Here's why (I think):

  • I've been fighting allergies for a while now. Despite my previous attempts to quell them, they are still sometimes there, it's getting really tiring. I'm now waiting to get in to see an allergist. However, my family doctor's 'favourite allergist' also happens to be the busiest one in town, she tells me. Great. I get to wait months. In the mean time, I'm loading up with lots of natural sources of antihistamines, including quercetin and vitamin C and hope that it quells the symptoms somewhat.

  • School is back in session and despite my greatest efforts, I feel behind already. I know I'm really not, but I feel like I should be further ahead in my readings. 

  • Weekends are too short. To get everything I want to do done has become an impossibility. Before I know it, it's always Sunday night. This weekend I've made a list of what I'd like to accomplish, but now I don't know where to start! 

I know I need order to stay stress-free. I feel my life is lacking some of that order right now and I find it hard to deal with. Or maybe I just need to find an organization project, because often that does the trick.

But I can't just sit here and write about how stressed I'm feeling without doing something about it. So, let's just git'er done! I know if I can get through most of my list I'll feel a lot better. I'm also taking on another challenge starting Monday. The ever fabulous Fab Detox, put on by the very lovely Meghan Telpner. The last time I took part in this detox, I felt the best I have in a while. I'm hoping to get similiar results this time around, but preparation is going to be key! I need to get my kitchen in order! My very top priority for Sunday -- groceries and meal prep! That's how to eat well and stay sane -- it's all about preparation. And I can do it.

So let's forget about feeling sorry for ourselves and get our bums moving -- because it's going to be great. Better if my nose would stop running... but conquering the list, will conquer the stress, and hopefully conquer the nasal leakage!

I feel better already.

Speaking of feeling better, my family was blessed with a beautiful addition this week. Evan William Perry entered the world at 9:30 p.m. in Edmonton on Sunday evening. He's a doll. I love him and I've not yet met him. His cute as a button face now occupies the home screen on my phone. And whenever I feel I need to smile, I reach for my phone and I look at his most perfect face: his bright blue eyes (who I see a lot of my brother and dad in), his little smirk, his wee ears and his hand in a fist looking ready for a punch and I can't help but smile. True love, I tell you, true love.

Monday, September 3, 2012

I'm back... summer recap and a recipe!

Well hello there... it's been a while. Apparently I decided to take the summer off from blogging. Oops. Let's recap:

The first two weeks July were spent at my favourite place in the world... my real home on Prince Edward Island. The weather was spectacular and we had great fun with my family (immediate and extended) and friends. Lots of time at the cottage, beach walks, seafood, bonfires, wine -- everything needed to recharge the batteries after a couple of very busy months!

Arrived in time for Canada Day fireworks in Summerside!
Just waiting for it to get dark.

My mom and I hosted a baby shower for my sister-in-law.
This was one of my contributions for it.

Oh Charlottetown, you're so quaint and lovely.

Ah wine, I love thee.

Cottage life demands bonfires. Every. Night.

Love North Cape! Colours are always spectacular.
The tide was coming in on the reef.

The next couple weeks, I can't really remember what we did, but lots of taking in the sunshine here in Ottawa. Which finally lead to early August, when my other half had a pretty serious surgery -- a total knee replacement. That unfortunately put a bit of a damper on plans for August as we were mostly house bound. However, I still felt like I had a good restful summer despite being the sole cook and cleaner, not to mention ice getter, pill pusher, and all-round "fetcher" of too many things to count. On the one hand, having this surgery so young is a bit of an anomaly, on the other hand, I think his recovery might be going better than the norm. Blessings!

Since I've left you for so long, I've got a treat to share with you! There is a serious abundance of zucchini at my house, and I didn't even grow any in my little garden. Between our produce deliveries and my farmers' market outings, I've got a fridge full! And I don't really care for sauteed or roasted zucchini! So what to do? Make lots and lots of raw zucchini noodles! And baked goods. Yummy baked goods. I give you my gluten-free and vegan zucchini muffins!

Zucchini Muffins
Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free
Yields 12 muffins
Adapted from Florida Coastal Cooking

2 chia eggs (2 tbsp chia seeds + 6 tbsp water)
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 c maple syrup
1 cup shredded zucchini (tightly packed)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix the chia eggs and set aside for about 5 minutes. Mix the coconut oil, maple syrup, zucchini and vanilla in a medium bowl; add chia eggs once set. Stir in cinnamon, flours, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt; mix until wet and ingredients are just combined.

2. Spoon batter into muffin tins lined with liners, or oiled with a bit of coconut oil. Bake for 18 minutes or until browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy the bounty of the season!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Spreading nutrition love in the workplace!

So for the past month or so, a colleague and I have been putting on a series of four mini-workshops on health and wellness for our co-workers. I've been presenting on nutrition and my colleague did presentations on stretching and different yoga poses to counteract our sedentary cubicle lifestyle.

At my superfoods workshop
My topics were:
  • Superfoods
  • Stress-buster foods and supplements
  • Power breakfasts and starting the day off right
  • Eating for energy and avoiding the 3 p.m. crash

It's been truly a fantastic experience and for me highlights the fact that I've chosen the right career path. I find it so interesting how nervous I can get about presenting the simplest thing at work (related to my current job), yet presenting about nutrition, something I can speak to passionately, doesn't ruffle a single feather.

It's been such a great experience for all involved -- presenters and participants. I had people coming up to me in the days following the superfoods talk telling me that they went out and bought hemp hearts. I felt like a very proud mom!

We plan to do more similar sessions in the fall. Looking forward to spreading more nutrition love to the workplace!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My urban garden

The long weekend in May turned into backyard reno weekend at my place. And I couldn't be more pleased! We (meaning a little me, but mostly my handy and awesome Dad along with his trusty assistant, the bf), got some power tools out and went to work.

More on the bigger renos later, because I still have a bit more work to do for it to be finished – I just have to find the time, which seems to be at a premium these days. But for now, a glimpse at a smaller part of the reno - vegetable gardens!

I've been wanting to do this forever! But now I have a little urban garden all of my own. I didn't go too crazy to start, planting just a few things that I know we'll gobble up without issue.
  • green onions
  • carrots
  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • red/yellow peppers
  • tomatoes
I also planted a few herbs. Other than the rosemary, which I bought from a local nursery, I wasn't organized enough to start them indoors, so we'll see how they do.
  • rosemary
  • cilantro
  • basil
So everything came up except for the carrots. I think our friendly neighbourhood squirrels might have gotten to them... The most promising are my tomato plants! Wow. I bought them at a nursery so they were already a few inches tall, but they have just taken off! Tomatoes on the vine already!

Here's a little picture tour. Enjoy!

Mighty tomato plants


Cherry tomatoes

Basil! May need some thinning out...

Cilantro and Rosemary

My now lone pepper plant, the other broke (wind/animal?) and died :( Also spinach!

Leaf lettuce! Pretty sparse... I think something's been eating it too!

A few green onions showing themselves

So vegetable gardening is not easy. Things don't always turn out like you imagine them -- all lush and beautiful. But I'm pretty happy with how my first summer is going. I plan to replant the carrots soon and maybe put up a bit of chicken wire to perhaps discourage hungry animals.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Refreshing strawberry lemonade

I don't want to brag, and maybe I should knock on some hard wood, but the weather in my part of the country has been oh so lovely recently. Today, after running some errands and doing a few chores, I was a bit of a sweaty mess and ready for some hydration!

I wanted to incorporate some beautiful and yummy strawberries that were lurking in my refrigerator and nothing is better than lemonade on a hot day!

I give you my strawberry lemonade. It makes two servings, so share with a friend! Or do what I did, and just have two glasses!

  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3/4 cup of hulled strawberries
  • 1 to 2 tbsp coconut syrup or other sweetener of choice (to taste)
  • 2 cups of sparkling water or non-carbonated filtered water
  • Place lemon juice, strawberries and coconut syrup into blender and blend strawberries are pureed.
  • Add water to blender and pulse a few times to combine.
  • Pour into glasses and enjoy!
This drink is HIGHLY enjoyable accompanied by a good book and a patio... just sayin'.

On a somewhat related note, please read what this Coke executive had to say about Coca-Cola. And then hopefully you will ask yourself, "is she freaking serious!?!?". Feel free to discuss below!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Before you take your doctor's advice, read the ingredients!

Recently my mother had some dental surgery. Prior to the procedure, I was talking to her on the phone and she told me she had just been out grocery shopping to get some things to eat following the surgery. She mentioned the dentist told her to get some "Boost" – a meal replacement drink.

I was appalled. I asked her on the phone to read me the ingredients.

I ask you now, what in this list of crap is nutritional?

Water, corn syrup solids, sugar, modified milk ingredients, canola oil, high oleic sunflower oil, corn oil, artificial flavour, salt, soy lecithin, carrageenan, artificial colour, soy oil, (may contain potassium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid), minerals (calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate tribasic, chromic chloride, cupric sulfate, ferric pyrophosphate, magnesium phosphate dibasic, manganese sulfate, potassium chloride, potassium citrate, potassium iodide, sodium citrate, sodium molybdate, sodium selenite and zinc sulfate), vitamins (biotin, calcium d-pantothenate, dl-α-tocopheryl acetate, folic acid, niacinamide, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, sodium ascorbate, thiamine hydrochloride, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B12 and vitamin D3). 

From what I can tell, you've got the following:
  • water
  • sugar
  • sugar
  • modified milk ingredients, as defined by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency: any of the following in liquid, concentrated, dry, frozen or reconstituted form, namely, calcium-reduced skim milk (obtained by the ion-exchange process), casein, caseinates, cultured milk products, milk serum proteins, ultrafiltered milk, whey, whey butter, whey cream and any other component of milk the chemical state of which has been altered from that in which it is found in milk (Source)
  • a bunch of oils, from most likely genetically-modified sources
  • artificial flavour, as defined by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency: one or more substances prepared for their flavouring properties and derived in whole or in part from components obtained by chemical synthesis (Source)
  • some very processed thickening agents
  • artificial colour, this shouldn't be news to anyone... they are chemicals 
  • a bunch of added mineral and vitamins that are poor sources and often a type that our body cannot readily absorb (calcium carbonate, for instance is a poor calcium supplement choice, we absorb very little calcium from this source)

Feel free to help a nutritionista-in-training and point out the REAL FOOD, and therefore nutrition...

Still looking... thought you might.

Instead of Boost, here's my suggestion: easy, fresh, cheap, and is full of REAL nutrition.

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp hemp hearts
  • large handful of greens (spinach, kale, chard)
  • 1 cup of mixed berries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • BLEND this goodness up and then DRINK this goodness up

Feel free to take it to the next level and add more nutritious superfoods using my two go-to smoothie recipes here and here.

Enjoy and be well!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

DIY Spice Rack 2.0

Spice jars have been my enemy for a while... but I think I have it under control! At long last!

I enjoy organization. A great deal. I love the satisfaction it gives me. Messy spice bottles and little plastic bags in the back of a cupboard does not give me satisfaction. So when I saw this photo on Pinterest months ago, I got a little excited. Mainly because it incorporated my love for mason jars in a very cool way.

So I went to the hardware store and the craft store and got my supplies. And well that attempt turned into this...

So going on a tip from a reader, I headed over to Lee Valley and got some super duper magnets. They held the jars, but unless you were very gentle at pulling them off and putting them back on the wall, you'd end up with a minimum of six jars crashing onto the counter top. Not fun. Insert a few curse words here.

I decided to abandon this great Pinterest idea. Let's face it, DIY projects don't always work out as planned.

And yes, yes, I know those little spice jars with the magnets on the back exist already. But they are expensive. And not as original and pretty as my little mason jars.

Insert this. My handy-dandy drawing of what will become the new spice holding device -- thanks to some input from my handyman-dad and a coworker.

Off to the hardware store once again (thank goodness neither project was that expensive!) to get a pine board, some 'L' hooks and some drywall wall anchors. Roughly fifteen bucks later, I'm ready to get to work!

I started with a 1 x 6 piece of pine, when milled is actually 11/16" x 5 1/2". I needed about 10ft for my project, so I got one piece 6 ft long and had it cut down the length of the board at the store (for free, I might add), so I ended up with two 6 ft boards roughly 3/4" x 2 3/4". Perfect width for my little project.

I measured out all the lengths required (two 13 3/4" sides and four 20" shelves and got to work cutting them using my mitre box saw. Handy little thing to have around (thanks Dad!). And yes, I just got to work in the middle of my dining room! Hardwood floor + deluxe vacuum = easy saw dust clean up!

Once that was done, a good sanding was in order. I like to do this with a sponge sander. I find it easier to get a smooth finish.

I marked where all the shelves would go as well as where the screws would go. I then pre-drilled all the holes and followed that with screws to secure the structure. Forgot to take a photo at this stage, but this photo shows how I attached the screws via the sides.

Once it was all together, I applied a bit of wood filler where some of the boards met. In a few cases there was just a little tiny space where the boards didn't come completely together. This was easily fixed with a putty knife and wood filler.

Then one last sanding to smooth out where I applied the wood filler and all over for good measure. A quick cleaning and then I was off to paint! Using some left over paint from my kitchen walls (read: leftover paint costs $0). I applied 2 light coats with a sponge brush. I got great coverage after only one coat, seen here:

After the second coat of paint has dried for a day or so, it's ready to be mounted to the wall! Simply attached four of the "L" brackets to the rack.

Mark the wall where all the screws will go and insert wall anchors into the wall. Then attach the the spice rack! Ta Daaaa!

When I made my first spice rack with the magnets (version 1.0 and 1.1), I had made little labels for the jars. But I took this to the next level as well... I recently came across Martha Stewart's Avery line of products available at Staples and well fell in love... Here's how I re-labeled my spices. So pretty... You won't be able to see the labels when the jars are on the shelves, but in my organizing ways, I arranged them all alphabetically, so I have a idea based on that plus their colour/texture from the clear jar of what each jar contains. The label just confirms!

Hopefully (fingers and toes crossed), there won't be a Spice Rack 3.0 in my future.


(Apologies for blurry/grainy photos, been meaning to take new ones for a month now... but haven't done so, and now it's dark again and well if I take some now they'll turn out the same. This blog is finally going to see the light of day, blurry or not!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A plastic-free kitchen

I'm a bit of a plastic hater. And becoming more so more recently. We have become used to storing a lot of our food in plastic over the years, because it's convenient. But perhaps not so convenient to our health. Plastics are made of petrochemicals, which can leach into our food over time. Let's not touch the issue of putting plastic dishes in the microwave – that's a whole other story.

So I thought today I'd share with you some of my favourite reusables that take the place of plastic in the kitchen.
  • Anchor Hocking Kitchen Storage – Last year some time, maybe before school started in September, these babies went on a big time sale at Loblaws in all different sizes. I think I went three times to stalk up. Always realizing that I needed more in various sizes! They are made of glass and the lids are BPA-free plastic. Fantastic for lunches and leftovers.

  • Klean Kanteen – beautiful stainless-steel canisters. Good for water, juice, smoothies. And they have insulated containers as well for hot food. No more line ups at the microwave at lunch – even better!

  • Stawesome glass straws – for Christmas, I asked for some glass straws and received a set of four! There's nothing like it. And no waste! Just wash or even throw them in the dishwasher. Smoothies and juice taste better with a glass straw.

  • Reusable produce bags – these babies can be found at Farm Boy in Ottawa as well as other retailers. I just love them so much. 

  • RuMe bags – These are by far the most beautiful reusable shopping bags around. I have one and I love it. Holds up to 50lbs, with nice wide straps that you can sling over your shoulder. Great to not only go to the grocery store with, but why not the mall! RuMe also carries all kinds of bags (small baggies to large totes)


  • Mason jars – These are my number one kitchen storage solution. I have so many of them, because they are so cheap. They work out to anywhere from 50 cents to a dollar each. Head over to Canadian Tire and stock up!

Now if all that didn't inspire you, take two minutes and thirty seconds and watch this:

And if you want more tips on eliminating plastic from your kitchen and life in general, I recently came across a blog called My Plastic-free Life about a woman who is living plastic-free, or at least not introducing any new plastic into her life! Her story is incredibly inspiring and she has some great tips in the Plastic-free Guide.

Hope you found some inspiration to purge some of your plastic, or reuse it for corralling things other than food. Please share with me some of your great reusables.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Another wee milestone

Last we talked I was in the midst of the Fab Uplift Detox. What a game changer! The Detox started March 26, today is April 23... I've eaten so abundantly over the last month – following both the detox guide and eliminating my other food allergies – without gluten-grains, without any sort of dairy, without eggs and without animal protein (other than a bit of fish outside of the detox)! I haven't craved any of those food and I've thrived on what I have been eating, which includes lots of nuts and seeds, legumes, some fruit and lots and lots of vegetables and superfoods!

Life has been ridiculously busy these last few weeks too, but I've still managed to find some lunch to take with me every single day. And sometimes dinner, too, on school nights! It's a lifestyle. Some may cringe and turn their heads at my lovely green/brown smoothies, but I thrive as I know all this goodness is doing so much for me and tastes amazing too, I might add.

About a year ago I guess, I hit a big milestone of losing 20 lbs since slowing getting on this bandwagon back in the summer of 2010, when I saw a number on the scale I never want to see again. Now I can say that I've lost 31 lbs! I think the Fab Detox pushed me over as I had been hovering at 28 lbs for months. Anyway, this is just another little checkmark in my mind. Even though it took a year to lose another 10 lbs, I know I've gained lean muscle mass in the process as my body has continued to change (in a good way!). All this meaning that the total fat loss is likely more than this 11 lbs I see on the scale.

Yay for being healthy the real way – by eating REAL food.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Detoxing, fabulously

I've been absent... Life took over. If I wasn't at work, I was at school, studying for school or sleeping. That's been my life for the last few weeks. Things are on the up and up now though. Some big assignments for school are behind me, so a bit more free time. Hurray!

As I mentioned in my last post (that seems oh so long ago), I made some major changes to my diet over the last few weeks. But the best news is, that I'm having great success! My allergies have piped down a lot and my digestion has never been better! I still have room for improvement, but things are heading in the right direction – so that makes me smile (a lot).

I've been getting some interesting reactions when people find out what I've eliminated from my diet: "so where do you get your protein? your calcium?" My response... uh... plants, some grains and some meat. There is still SO MUCH I can eat that I'm not finding it overly cumbersome. Eating out, on the other hand can be a bit of an issue sometimes... ah well, I'm likely saving way more money by eating mostly at home anyway.

Last weekend, amidst the craziness, I was in Toronto for the weekend visiting friends and relatives. But the real reason for going this particular weekend was to attend a couple of workshops with the lovely Meghan Telpner! One of the workshops I attended was based on her successful Fab Uplift Detox program. Included in the price was also registration into her coached Fab Uplift Detox program that started this past Monday.

This detox is so timely to what I'm going through right now with food allergies/sensitivities and I thought it would be a great "reboot" button for my body. And so far so good! The first four days weren't a big change from the way I currently eat -- just cutting out the meat (which there wasn't tonnes of to begin with), so I didn't see big changes, but Friday marked the start of the real deal leading up to a juice and smoothie fasting for a day, which from my calendar looks like it will fall on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to it and feeling great thus far.

I hope to post a few more times about some of the things I'm eating and how I'm feeling so you can follow along and maybe join in next time, but also for myself, so I can look back and see how far I've come.

Enjoy the ride. I know I will.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A lengthy list

Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about how I conquered my allergies? Well I should have knocked on a lot of wood after I wrote that, because a couple days later the uncontrollable sneezing came back and never left. After one particular bad night where I couldn't sleep and then woke up in the middle of the night all congested and sneezing up a storm, I thought it best to seek some more help.

So once again, not wanting to just deal with suppressing symptoms, I made another appointment with my Naturopathic Doctor to see if she had any wise wisdom to share. To be honest, we thought we were dealing with a dust and mold allergy -- but I was doing everything possible to address that issue. So next on the list was food. She suggested I take a food intolerance test. It was a bit of a financial commitment, as it cost over $300, but we were both pretty sure it would reveal something that would be very hard to pinpoint on my own through elimination diets.

On Friday, I had an appointment to go over the results. And it was a doozy. I'm pretty much intolerant to most of the common food allergens. This doesn't mean anaphylactic shock, it just means by body is attacking itself in a way in response to these foods that it sees as foreign, because my digestive tract isn't processing them properly. Which all means that my digestive tract is somehow compromised and needs some healing time.

So the main culprits I am to avoid (in no particular order) are:
Yikes, right! Actually, it's ok. I can deal. Believe it or not, my issue isn't so much the eggs and dairy, it's the almonds! No almonds, almond milk, almond butter or almond flour/meal. The flour/meal part is especially sad because it can be a key ingredient in gluten-free baking. Oh well, I'll be experimenting with some other nut flours such as hazelnut, walnut and pecan, in addition to all the other gluten-free flours.

I'm trying to stay really positive about it all. I mean there's no point getting angry or pitying myself. I already eat along these lines, so just a few adjustments to make and hopefully in a few weeks I'll start noticing changes in my body.

My dinner tonight: Thai Green Curry with Sprouted Tofu, totally made from scratch! A good weekend meal as it requires lots and lots of prep. But totally worth it, so yummy and so good for me (and you too!)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A new go-to smoothie

Last summer I wrote a post about my "go-to" smoothie at the time. Well things have changed and I've mixed things up a bit and I have a new "go-to" smoothie that packs an even BIGGER superfoods punch. Try it and let me know how it goes. I made this a few times and the colour changed from purple to brown... don't worry about the colour – it depends on the quantities of the food you put in. I never measure, which drives my scientist-brained bf a little mad. It should taste chocolate-y with a hint of sweetness no matter the colour.

"Check me out, I'm a lovely shade of poo.
But I taste A-maz-ing!"

Raeanne's go-to smoothie (2nd edition)
  • 1 cup almond milk (or 1/2 almond milk, 1/2 water)
  • 1 heaping tbsp of my seed mix
  • 1 scoop of protein powder, I use Genuine Health Vegan Protein+ Vanilla
  • 1 tsp maca powder (a superfood, great for stamina, fatigue and helps you adapt to different environmental factors)
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder (the best antioxidant there is)
  • 1 heaping tbsp of goji berries (another superfood/amazing antioxidant)
  • 1 tbsp raw honey (full of good for you enzymes)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (some good fat!)
  • 1 tbsp of prepared Irish moss (information on how to prepare Irish moss)
  • 1-2 handfuls of greens (usually spinach, but whatever you've got)
  • 1/4 cup of frozen berries
  • 1/2 or whole banana (frozen is good, but not necessary)

Put everything into a blender and let it go! If you'd like it nice and cold, pulse in some ice cubes after the initial blend. This recipe can result in a pretty thick smoothie, so get out a glass straw or spoon and slurp it up. 

Note: all the superfoods are optional as you may not have them all lurking in your cupboard as some of them can be expensive. Try to buy a new one every month to add to your pantry. That's what I'm doing as I know I still have a few more to add. Spirulina, you're next on my list! 

"I've overdosed on berries. Help!
Thank goodness I have a matching straw!"

Monday, February 27, 2012

Review: Café My House

On Friday night, in the middle of a snowstorm (or the aftermath of one), the boy and I ventured out to Café My House for dinner. I had "won" a free meal via a little facebook/twitter contest so I was anxious to get there and get my free meal!

I've been to Café My House for brunch twice before this trip and had a wonderful experience both times. Their menu is the same whether you are out to dinner or out to brunch, which may seem a little odd, but not so, many of their brunch dishes are lovely dinner mains.

Take for example my dinner on this visit, Herbivore’s Tempeh Burrito with Edamame Guacamole (organic tempeh/brown rice/cilantro/kale/black bean/vegan cheese/house edamame guacamole/organic multigrain tortilla wrap), is actually on the brunch menu but I had it for dinner and it was perfect and delicious! I asked for it to be made with a gluten-free tortilla, rather than the whole wheat one. I was warned that the burrito may fall apart, as I well know... brown rice tortillas just don't have the flexibility that wheat ones do – but I was lucky and mine held up fine. The flavours melded beautifully and the guacamole had just that little kick I wanted.

The BF had the Spicy Smoked Salmon Roll (capers/dill/cucumber/lemon zest/spicy mayo/avocado/green onion/smoked salmon/brown rice). It came out wrapped in nori, like large 7-8 large sushi roll pieces and just beautifully plated and equally delicious.

Both dishes were spectacular.

We finished off the night with one of their ever changing raw, gluten-free, vegan desserts. If you follow them on twitter, you'll be salivating as they are always posting their most recent dessert concoctions! There were three to choose from and we chose the strawberry and cream cake and were not disappointed. It was very similar to this dessert, which I've made twice. I spoke to our waitress about it and she confirmed it is a very similar recipe.

In my very humble opinion, Café My House is top notch and their food can be considered high end. The service has always been very friendly and the atmosphere is cozy and unpretentious – just my style! But if you make the trek out to Bank and Alta Vista you'll see and taste for yourself the deliciousness that is there!

P.S., Sorry for the lack of photos... I know, how could I post this without photos! But to be honest, nothing I would have taken with my iPhone would have turned out anyway, as the lighting was much too dim (lovely for dining, bad for photos). You'll just have to take my word for how good it was; and my word is good, promise!

Café My House
1729 Bank Street (Bank Street/Alta Vista Drive)
Ottawa, Ontario


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My new weekend pastime: Juicing!

If anyone follows me on Instagram (@raes_16), you will have noticed that for the last two weekends I have been juicing! Oh what fun it's been! And I don't even have a fancy, expensive juicer!

I will admit to being spurred on by reading this blog post from a lovely Ottawa-gal, who I happened to meet in Toronto last fall while attending some classes with Meghan Telpner. I've known how to juice without a juicer for a while now, but sometimes you just need a little push or a little inspiration, and that's what Alexa's post did for me.

And in I dove, and now I'm hooked. Don't be scared, minimal equipment is required:
  • blender
  • nut milking sac
  • bowl (I use a large 4+ cup liquid measuring cup – it's just easier to pour that way!) 

And very easy process (photos of step by step found here):
  • Put veggies in blender
  • Add 1 cup of water
  • Blend, blend, blend, until everything is liquified (and then for a few more seconds)
  • Pour into nut milk sac over bowl
  • Milk it for all it's worth, and squeeze the juice out into the bowl (don't be scared of milking  beets... your hand may be red for a bit, but it goes away quickly after a couple washes)
  • Pour into a glass and drink with glass straw (it tastes better that way... for real!)

I've made three different concoctions so far, depending on what I had around. And to be honest, the first time I did it on whim, I was pretty pleased at what I did happen to have on hand. It might have helped that my delivery from Ottawa Organics came the day before. Side note: love them, check them out. I now receive the medium-sized veggie/fruit box every second week. Delivered groceries... you can't beat it!

Spinach, swiss chard, cucumber, cilantro, lemon, ginger, apple, pear:


Kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, parsley, lemon, ginger, apple, pear:


Kale, spinach, beets, celery, parsley, lemon, ginger, pear:

Yummy in my tummy! Now run off, and get juicing!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why I went gluten-free – a summary I didn't write

I came across this little gem of a post on Meghan Telpner's blog this morning.

Many people ask me when I tell them I don't eat gluten: do you have celiac? My answer is always no, I just feel better and have better digestion when I don't eat it, so I choose not to eat it because I know it does more bad than good for my body.

I've posted a lot about my gluten-free journey here, here, here and here (there are actually a few more, but these are the main ones), but Meghan sums it up beautifully in her post. AND, she is starting a gluten-free cleanse online coaching program – so if you too want less gluten in your life (and feel like a million bucks), maybe you should hop on over and read all about it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Conquering allergies, naturally

Last spring, I started sneezing. And I couldn't stop. My eyes were constantly puffy. I sneezed all day long at work. I sneezed at home. I sneezed while driving my car (very scary if it happens often and over and over). The one place I didn't sneeze was outside.

To some spring is the start of allergy season, but this had never been the case for me before. In addition, all of my "sneeze attacks" seemed to happen indoors - so I was not convinced I was reacting to pollen/grass/trees.

I was determined to get to the bottom of this, as I was not interested in medicating myself with [insert name of over-the-counter anti-histamine here] to suppress the symptoms of the real problem. So I made an appointment to see a naturopathic doctor. She suggested I do a simple blood test for some common (mostly indoor) allergens. Success! The results showed I was reacting highly to house dust, dust mites, mold and cockroaches (lovely!).

The recommendation was to use some sublingual drops, which would address the root cause of my allergic reactions and a quercetin supplement to relieve my symptoms (quercetin has a natural anti-histamine effect, without the side effects of the drug-store variety). I also made good use of my neti pot to help wash out some irritants (bonus is it also helps relieve the intense dryness in my nasal passages this time of year).

It's taken some getting used to what works for me: how often and when to take the supplements, with or without an extra dose of Vitamin C, which helps the quercetin work better, and how often to use my neti pot. But I think I've found the right combination and I've essentially eliminated my body's allergic response without the need for drugs.

Score 1 Raeanne, 0 Big Pharma!

Of course I've also done the obvious things like made sure that my linens are cleaned regularly, my house and office are dusted regularly, and my car's cabin air filter is changed regularly. I've also been using a humidifier in the house during the colder months.

Does anyone else have any good natural allergy remedies to share?

Friday, February 3, 2012

So 6 a.m. isn't my thing... But 7 p.m. sure is!

So at the beginning of the year, I decided that I would try 6 a.m. workouts to see if I could use that time in my day to get to the gym. I tried a yoga class that I loved, and then I tried a spinning class, which I loathed. I'm keeping it real here...

To do a proper cardio class well, I need to eat first to have some energy to burn... But that early in morning I found it really hard to do. Also the whole getting up THAT early isn't as easy as I thought it might be. In addition, since I was getting up earlier it meant I had to go to bed at least an hour earlier in the evenings and I found I really wasn't saving any time in my day in the long run.

I'm reading this and it's sounding like I'm listing off excuses, which I said I wasn't going to do this year! But someone had me in mind at the gym... because they added new classes in the evenings that fit my interests and scheduled them for a time when I actually enjoy working out. Hurray! I've now got a yoga, cardio/strength and pilates class built into my schedule Monday through Wednesday each week. Thursday I have school. Friday will never be gym day in my books. And the weekend is optional. And I'm happy with that.

My abs are still burning from my pilates class this week, and I feel good about the decision. So even though the morning thing didn't work out, I've found a good compromise and I'm happy about it.

No excuses! I'm moving forward.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gluten intolorant or a gut in need of healing?

I've always been pretty in tune with my body. My chiropractor knows this. I can usually tell her what needs adjusting before she even looks at me. But in the last year or so and especially since going gluten-free, I've been much more in tune with my digestion and my gut.

So back in May, I went on a mini-elimination diet to see if I could pinpoint what was making my tummy not-so happy. And I found it - the ever guilty gluten! And since that time, I've been gluten-free.

Until recently...

A couple weeks ago I went to a sushi restaurant and I usually bring my own soya sauce, because the normal stuff is laden with wheat. Side note: more and more restos I've frequented recently are offering GF soy sauce now! I could have went without but said to myself, oh well, I'll just deal with the effects for a day or so. But those effects never really came...

And then last night, I was helping my BF make a version of my mom's amazing meat pies that he fell in love with at Christmas. We used a biscuit dough to make the crust and there was a little bit left after the pies were made so I just shaped them into a few biscuits and threw them in the oven too. When they came out, well I couldn't help it. Warm homemade biscuits! Are you kidding me? Thoughts of my childhood came flooding back and I HAD TO HAVE ONE! So I did. Laden with butter, like they should be consumed. Again with the thought, that I would deal with the effects, but this was too good to pass up and it was only one. Twenty-four hours later, nothing - which would never have happened six or even three months ago.

This has lead me to believe that what I was really in need of was a period of healing. My gut needed a good long break to heal and now it can tolerate some wheat again (although my trials included a very limited amount).

Does this mean I'm going to start eating pizzas, pasta, and sandwiches again? No, because obviously my body couldn't handle it in great quantities and I do believe that an abundance of wheat and grains isn't great for the body anyway.  It is, however, interesting to find out that I can handle a bit, now that I've obviously healed my intestinal lining.

I find this all quite fascinating. And I stress once again what you can really learn about yourself by simply listening (closely!) and following your body's instructions! The human body is such an amazing piece of work - so treat it well!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I did it! And plan to do it again!

Guess what? This morning, at the dark hour of 5:30 a.m., I dragged myself out of bed (not that hard actually) and went to a yoga class at 6 a.m.!

I did it! And it felt great!

My plan was to start slow, and not scare my body too much on the first try with something too intense. So yoga seemed perfect. What a lovely way to start the day. I found it slightly ironic that we were doing sun salutations in a room filled with windows without the slightest hint of sun -- but whatever, the darkness was nice too.

I'm going to try and incorporate lots of different classes into these morning workouts. The gym I attend offers hot yoga three times a week, a cardio/strength class three times per week, spinning classes four times per week and a regular yoga class once per week – all at 6 a.m. So lots of variety!

I'm excited to continue and see results of my efforts in a few months.

Monday, January 9, 2012

No more excuses!

Well 2012 just started and already I feel in a rut. Generally, I like order and organization in my life -- all parts of my life. Since the Christmas break, I haven't been to the gym because in order to get myself to the gym, I need to plan -- spur of the moment trips will just never happen. In addition, I do group exercise classes pretty exclusively. I find it motivates me, I'm stuck there for an hour and I end up having a "good" workout. So if you're following me here, you'll notice that schedules (mine and the gym's) need to align and I haven't been making that work.

Lucky for me, the gym I attend has the most classes of any gym I've ever come across. This is perfect. Now to just get there...

I have this grand idea in my head. To execute it, however, will take A LOT. You see a bunch of classes start at 6am. In fact I could do a class a day at 6am and get cardio, strength, yoga in during the week -- a little bit of everything, which in turn would be awesome for the bod! I love it!

The downside, you probably already noted: six freaking a.m. I am so not a morning person... I want to be, but ever since I was a wee child I've had the worst time getting up. My mother used to threaten to pour water on me when I was a teenager, now I just ignore my alarm clock and then when the time comes that I know I'll be late for work, I just swear at the clock (and myself) and get up, begrudgingly.

Now my hate for mornings has nothing to do with not getting enough sleep, I easily get my 8 hours per night (sometimes more). So what's my issue? I have said for the longest time that the worst part of my day is the moment that my body goes from horizontal to vertical, i.e., getting out of bed. It's awful.

But getting the gym out of the way first thing in the morning, starting my day with a great adrenaline rush and having time to get ready at home afterwards (gym is only max 5 minutes away) is all very enticing.

I love the idea. Execution is the problem. But as Meghan says, no more excuse-itis. I've got to give it a try.

But ideas on getting my a$$ out of bed and into gear are more than welcome and appreciated!

Update: I followed through on my plan and it was great!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Starting the new year off right

Now that the holidays are over, I'm trying to put little things back into my routine and nourish my body with lots of nutrients that I know were missing over the holidays -- but damn those M&M peanuts are good! Upward and onward to 2012!

Here's how I've started off the last two days:

First thing when I got up I downed a big glass of lemon water. This is super alkalizing for the body and detoxes the liver when drunk first thing in the morning.

Super simple to do. Squeeze half a lemon add it to a glass, fill the glass 2/3 to 3/4 with cold water and then top it off with with some boiling water to make the water warm. Drink it back with a glass straw -- really there isn't anything better and more fun than eco-friendly straws.

Once that's down, I got out my new blender (How I love! Thank you Mom & Dad), and whipped up a green monster, courtesy of Oh She Glows' Classic Green Monster recipe. I followed it more or less to a tee. I used my seed mix instead of only chia seeds, in one case I only used half a banana (and it wasn't frozen), and I did add my vegan vanilla protein powder from Genuine Health.

Simple, add stuff to a blender and blend.

And then pour and drink (again with glass straw).

Now I'm ready to be somewhat productive on my last day of vacation. It's still vacation after all... can't be too busy.