Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Move & Sweat: Yoga Journal to Go

I just discovered I can embed this right into my blog from YouTube. Awesome!! Anyway, I just did this 20 minute routine from the awesome folks at Yoga Journal. It's a faster paced yoga practice and if you're looking to get your heart rate up and sweat a little, give this one a try!

Yoga Journal has a great channel on YouTube so be sure to check out there other videos, too! If you give this one a try or any other one, let me know in the comments section :)

Namaste :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Yup, I'm baking & photographing...again...

Again, I found myself with the cookies getting low in the freezer. I've discovered Facebook (which I have a LOVE-HATE relationship with) & Pinterest are great resource for recipes. And yeah, these recipes I found are relatively healthy. I also love, especially with Pinterest, the photos! There are some talented bakers out there who are also talented photographers. You've probably already gathered that I, too, enjoy photography and I do enjoy coupling this with baking. I love photographing food and capturing all the different textures & colours.

I made these awesome cookies called Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies, adapted from a recipe on the Watching What I Eat blog. This is a very simple recipe with the only sugars coming from a natural source: the banana, apple & dried fruit. Simple, easy but a makes a great snack.

The ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal, uncooked
  • 2 ripe mashed bananas
  • 1/3 cup of raisins OR a mixture of dried fruit/sunflower/pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (totally optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract (don't be using that fake stuff)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (but feel free to put in more, especially if you're a cinnamon fiend like I am)
Okay, now what? Be prepared for MANY pics of this process...

Turn the over to 350 degrees. Mash the banana...

Combine oats & cinnamon...

Mix the mashed banana & applesauce together. Add the vanilla & mix again. Add this mixture plus the dried fruit to the oats...

Mix until well combined. If you have a KitchenAid mixer like I do, use it. Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes...

Drop spoonfuls of batter onto a cookie sheet that has parchment paper. You'll notice in the photograph, I did not use parchment paper. USE PARCHMENT PAPER! Trust me...I'll be using it next time...

Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden. Voila...

These little cookies turned out awesome! They are soft & chewy. I think any dried fruit, nut or seed would work in it & don't be afraid to maybe throw some chocolate in there, too!

Want the recipe for yourself? I created a google doc of it & you can access it here.

Oh, and if you want to follow me on Pinterest, here I am!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Trifecta of awesome in the world of baking...

I had an abundance of over-ripe bananas in my kitchen. Over-ripe bananas = TIME TO BAKE! Yesterday, I made a banana loaf which Jeremy took into work him today (one of the things I love about baking is sharing with people). So, that banana loaf used up four of the bananas. That left two on my counter so clearly, I needed to bake something else.

Searching around on Clean Eating magazine's website, I stumbled upon a recipe that melds together the trifecta of awesome: BANANA, PEANUT BUTTER, & CHOCOLATE!! The recipe I made today is Banana & Peanut Flaxseed Cookies. And yes, they have chocolate chips. They were listed as an "optional" addition and to me, chocolate is NEVER optional. Agreed? Yes. It's just like fork marks on peanut butter. IT IS A MUST!

Cookies all set to go in the oven.
Note the fork marks.
The recipe was super-simple, is egg & dairy free and instead of pastry flour, you could use spelt or oat flour. Personally, I love using oat flour for cookies. It adds a really nice flavour and is easy to bake with. Also, if you can find gluten-free oat flour, it'd be easy to make a gluten-free version of these cookies.
All done!!
You can find the full recipe here on Cleaning Eating's website and I also created a document of it in Google docs which you can access here:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used oat flour)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 medium banana
  • 3/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 cup of natural peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoon natural vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of chocolate chips
I mixed the dry ingredients together. Next, I mixed the wet ingredients together. I added wet to dry and mixed the batter using my Kitchen Aid mixer. The yield according to Clean Eating is 28 cookies but I ended up with a very random number of 37. I generally make smaller cookies.

A plate full of cookies! All 37 of them...
And how did they turn out? Jere enjoyed them! They aren't as sweet as other peanut butter cookies I have made but the flavours all blend together quite nicely and I would definitely make them again.

Namaste!! :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Yay! It worked...

So, the sprouting has worked! Well, at least for the lentils. The kidney beans are starting to sprout but they are going to take longer than the lentils did. Anyway, here's the lentils after sprouting:

Ta-da!! Sprouted lentils...
So, once they had finished sprouting, I gave them one final rinse and cooked them. Sally Fallon is correct in her book that sprouting does cut down on cooking time! On some sites I read that you don't need to cook the sprouted lentils but I did this time around. Next time, I might try them raw.

Once you've got them sprouted and cooked (if you want), you can add them to salads, sandwiches, soups, etc. They'll be a delicious and nutritious addition to many different meals! From what I've read on various websites including this one, they'll keep for about seven days in the refrigerator.

Also, if you decide to do some sprouting yourself, be very sure you keep rinsing them while you are waiting for the sprouts to get to the desired length. Fallon recommends rinsing at least twice a day but you can do more as well. The reason for rinsing is to prevent mould/slime growth. No one wants that! YUCK!!

So, while I wait for the kidney beans to sprout, I decided I would attempt to sprout quinoa as well. The process is fairly simple and hey, it results in a more nutritious and flavourful food! Sounds like a good deal to me.

Enjoy the weekend!!



Friday, April 12, 2013

Gears: A sort of love letter...

Last Friday was kind of a crappy day for me. It just one of those days (kinda like Friday where I had a case of the "Mondays". Ever had that before?) and I felt like getting lost in a good video game. I knew that would make me feel better. And what better game than Gears of War. It was Gears of War 2 specifically that I selected from our library of video games downstairs. My absolute favourite game series for MANY reasons. I played for two hours, getting lost in the story, the characters and the world of Sera. Why do I love Gears of War so much? Well, there are a few reasons...

To begin with it is the first video game I have ever completed from start to finish. Nope. Not kidding here. I have been playing video games since the age of 7 and it was the first video game I EVER finished. Since then, I've finished a few more, including Halo 3, Bioshock, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (I get it...those are a few years old. Shhhuuusssshhhh....). Not only did I complete it once but Jeremy and I went back a played the first one nearly all the way through on INSANE difficulty level. You have no idea how much patience this takes (and how much I swear while playing). We have yet to finish it. And where we left of is laughable. The last damn level! We spent nearly two hours one day trying to finish it ON THE SAME DAMN LEVEL! We haven't went back to revisit it since that day and all I remember from it is swearing...a lot.

It's the first game Jeremy and I ever played through together, just the two of us. I was living in Peterborough going to school and he was in Goderich. It was a way we could "hang out" even though we were four hours apart. It also helped me unwind from school. There were some Friday and Saturday nights where we'd play, me in Peterborough and him in Goderich, for hours and hours. It was awesome.

Marcus Fenix...my first video game crush ever. He remains my favourite video game character. I latched onto Marcus within 30 seconds of starting this game and I played as him throughout the game. To this day, when Jeremy and I play a Gears of War game (well, original Gears, 2 & 3), I always play as Marcus. It's the way it is and is an unwritten law of the universe ;) No, it's not Marcus' physique I'm after though I do love his rugged looks. I love his character, his personality, his backstory. It's also his eyes. Their is something about his eyes. Oh, and it's his voice. That rugged, sexy voice of Marcus Fenix. Yup, I love everything about Marcus Fenix...

Marcus, you sexy beast...

The graphics. Gears of War is a visually stunning game. It's one of the reasons why I got so drawn into the world. Yes, it's a lot of greys but to me, it's a visually beautiful game and it sets the mood and tone from the moment in the first game where Marcus is leaving the prison.

There is a mood to Gears, a certain tone. You are playing as characters who are fighting for their home and through the graphics, complexity of the characters and the story that mood is set.

 This is one of the most complex story lines I have encountered in a game. I was drawn into the world of Sera and all these characters. There is so much there. There is Marcus and his backstory and Dom and his search for his lost wife, Maria. I don't want to spoil too much for you in case you decide to go play this game.

Now as much as I've just gone on and on about this game, I have not yet finished Gears of War 2 OR 3 and I have yet to play Gears of War: Judgement. Games have kind of fallen on the wayside for me in the past couple of years but now I'm playing them again a lot more than I was. I've missed them and that's why I'm going to plug away at the Gears games. Not only are the Gears of War games amazing but sometimes, I just love getting lost in the world of Sera with these four awesome dudes:

My four favourite guys in the world of video games:
Baird, Cole, Fenix & Santiago.
I'll leave you with the trailer for Gears of War 2. I remember when this first came out, I had chills when I watched it. I love the song and I can never take my eyes off Marcus:

Namaste :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sprouting Day 2 (Plus what's currently cookin' in the kitchen...)

So, yesterday I started the process of sprouting with kidney beans and lentils. It looked like this:

First day of sprouting. Just added lentils & beans
to jar, filled with water, put on lid/cheesecloth. Now they sit

And when I woke up this morning, I had this:

Day 2 of sprouting before draining water & rinsing.
I get why Fallon in her book "Nourishing Traditions" says to only make the jars 1/4 to a 1/3 full. Those lentils/beans absorb A LOT of water.

I drained the water off & rinsed the beans/lentils. For the kidney beans, I actually had to take them right out of the jar since they had stuck together at the bottom of the jar. For the lentils, I have to do this and was able to drain the water & rinse them without removing them from the jar.

Now the jars are sitting inverted in small bowls:

Sprout my pretties....SPROUT!!
From now until the sprouts grow (could be 1-4 days and it also depends on how long I want the sprouts to be), I will rinse them twice a day and keep them in this position to, as Fallon says, a) drain any excess water and b) let air circulate. So far, this process for sprouting is far better than when I've attempted it in the past. I once tried a method where the beans were wrapped in a damp cloth after soaking them for 24 hours. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't and really, it was not a method I would recommend.

Also, I don't know about where you are but the weather here it SHIT-TAY! Ice pellets, freezing rain and in general, it seems like mid-March instead of April 11th! Winter is giving it one last go, I guess. Clearly, Mother Nature is drunk and needs to go have a nap. So, coupled with the shitastic weather is also my day off (actually a few days off. Hi, welcome to the world of working part time in retail!). I decided I needed to make the most of my time today and as much as I want to shoot locusts in Gears of War 2, I need to re-stock the soups/chilis I keep in my freezer. So, today was all about the red lentil chili:

Trust me...it is delicious!
It's from one of my favourite cookbooks, "Forks Over Knives: Over 300 Recipes For Plant Based Eating Year Round". The only change I made to it was I used black beans instead of kidney beans. Thought I'd mix it up a bit.

Well, wherever you are, I hope you are having a good. Feel free to comment if ya want! I really have no idea if anyone actually reads my ramblings.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I'll admit it. I'm a health nut. I love learning all-things nutrition, food, etc. I also love food, trying new food, baking, cooking, etc. Yup, it's a past-time for me. I only work part-time and baking & cooking are one of things that help keep my sanity on my days off ;) That, along with reading Hellboy graphic novels, killing grubs & locusts in Gears of War 2 or attempting to contort my body into some yoga pose. Sorry...I digress...

Back to the topic at hand...

Sprouting beans/lentils is something I've attempted a few times with mixed results. I've decided to attempt it again and hoping this time it'll turn out for the better. It takes a few days. It's a slow process but I believe will be totally worth it. Why? Sprouting increases nutrient value of food, helps with digestion and really, sprouts do look cool. You're really eating something full of vitality and energy. That's my thought anyway.

My "bible" in this process:

"Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges
Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats" by Sally Fallon with
Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.
Right up alley cause I am constantly challenging politcally correct/goverment
directed nutrition ideas such as milk (don't get me started on my stance on drinking
cows milk. Hint: I don't drink it and not just because I'm lactose intolerant). Too long
of a caption for this photo? Whatevs. Get over it. Move on...
Fallon is awesome and gives a history lesson in her chapter on sprouting. Credit for discovering sprouting seeds is credited to the Chinese. These smarty-pants and, ultimately, nutrient savvy people carried mung beans with them on their ocean-going ships, sprouting them throughout the voyage. This was done apparently to prevent scurvy (much like the British giving their sailors limes. Hence the term "limey" being used to describe a British person). The Chinese figured out that vitamin C (plus a whole other host of nutrients) was missing from the non-sprouted seeds. You want more history? Go read Fallon's book.

That leads into the nutrition part of sprouting...

So, we know we get vitamin B. But what else? Fallon states the process of germination changes the composition of the grain/seed in NUMEROUS beneficial ways. B vitamin content is increased, carotene content goes up, etc. And remember when I mentioned it helps digestion? Yup, it sure does! How? It neutralizes this little thing called phytic acid (present in the bran of all grains). This acid is thought to inhibit absorption of the ever-important nutrients calcium, zinc, iron, & copper. Grains, seeds, etc. also have what are called enzyme inhibitors. We have enough issues with digestion in our society due to poor diet and eating processed "foods" and these enzyme inhibitors can inhibit our already tapped supply of digestive enzymes (and what happens? Food doesn't digestion properly.). Sprouting is believed to neutralize these enzyme inhibitors. Have I lost you yet? :p

It's super-easy to sprout and no, you don't need to run out and buy any special equipment. All I used was mason jars, cheese cloth and the metal rim from a mason jar. Here's what I've got growing in my kitchen:

A mason jar, mason jar rim, & cheesecloth. Lentils & kidney beans
starting the sprouting process.

How does this process work? So, after the lentils, beans, seeds or grains (whatever you'd like to sprout), is put into the jar (1/4 to 1/3 full. I realize mine might but a little over that. Shhhhhhhhush.......), you fill it with water (Fallon recommends filtered water but I don't have a water filter) and allow to soak overnight. After that, pour the water off, rinse the seeds (you probably won't have to remove the screen to do this), invert the jar and let it sit at an angle so it can drain and air can circulate. Depending what you're sprouting, it'll take one to four days. So, like I said, takes a bit of time, but totally worth it.

And just what am I going to do with these sprouts? Well, kids, that's for my next entry...

Until tomorrow (or whenever I have sprouts. We'll see how it goes...;) )...

Namaste :)