Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Last Day...

....Of August!!
Typical Calgary let down:
Today's high: 9 degrees. C'mon really Calgary?!
Oh well, between work and my CPR re-certification class I'll be stuck inside all day anyways so I guess I'll get over it.
Even if this terrible weather wasn't rubbing my face in it...summer is ending :(
It's very sad yes, but I'm sooo ready to go back to school! Yes, I'm a huge nerd, but I'm pretty sure my brain has shrunk by like at least 80% this summer. I guess that means I had a successfully relaxing summer? Some successes: 1) I did practice yoga EVRYDAY in August! 2) Lots of family time. 3) Somehow forced myself to finish that online philosophy course (and got and A?!) 4) Lots of bike riding and camping. 5) Started this blog!
That was a very short recap, but overall a good summer!
Bring it September!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Lazy Summer Trifle

Ahhh summmer...
The living is easy...
And I have way to much free time...
Yet I went for the instant vanilla pudding mix. Yes I did. 
I wanted to go on bike ride, and there was only so much daylight left. Enter 2 minute vanilla pudding! This was also an attempt to be more economical (what else was I to do with left over cake, over-ripened fruit and a near-expired jug of milk?)
Resourcefulness turned out to be delicious.
Lazy Summer Trifle
1 yellow cake mix (baked according to box directions)
1 instant vanilla pudding mix (prepared and cooled)
1 c. peaches, chopped
1 c. mixed berries (I used strawberries and blueberries)
1 T. honey
1 T. vanilla
1/4 c. almonds, slivered and toasted
After the cake has cooled, remove from pan and cut into bite-sized cubes. 
In a large bowl, combine the fruit, honey and vanilla. 
Now layer! Spread a layer of the cake cubes on the bottom of a large bowl. Spoon about half of the fruit on top of the cake. Next, spread about half of the pudding over the fruit. One more layer of cake. One more layer of berries. One more layer of pudding. Top with some more berries and the toasted almonds.
Now go on an hour long bike ride. Shower. Devour trifle. Finish latest summer novel. (Story of my monday night).
Oh summer, I will miss you so badly.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Coconut Love

Top 2 favorite Friday foods: Pizza or....Indian!  I wasn't feeling pizza yesterday, so Indian it was!
That was a good call. A really good call.
Coconut Lentil Curry Stew
2 T. curry powder
1 T. turmeric
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. all spice
1 T. canola oil
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c. red lentils
4 c. water
3/4 c. coconut milk
1 tsp. salt
toasted coconut (to sprinkle on top)
In a pan, combine all of the spices and heat over medium heat. Let the spices heat up until you can smell them, and they start to smoke slightly. Remove from heat, and set aside.
In a large pot, heat the canola oil and then add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook for about 5-10 minutes over medium heat until soft and slightly browned. Add the lentils and water, reduce heat and let simmer for about 30 min until lentils are soft. Stir in the coconut milk and salt. Simmer for a few more minutes, and keep warm until you're ready to eat!
Which will be immediately.
Moving was Friday after all, so what's a girl to do with extra coconut milk and some free time? Make blondies obviously! You must be prepared for these...
Your nose is about to get happy. Very happy. Maybe even happier than your lentil-filled stomach.
This may will be the most amazingly wonderful smell that you have ever experienced. I'm serious. I was not expecting such a result when I opened the door to pull these beautiful, creamy golden babies out of the oven, but it nearly knocked me off my feet! So prepare yourself. There's a tsunami of rich, nutty, sweet, buttery goodness heading your way. (Watch out. It may cause you to consume the entire pan.)
I want to smell this smell for the rest of my life. 24/7. All day long.
Chewy Coconut Blondies
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. coconut milk (canned, not the So Delicious variety)
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
1/4 shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a, 8x8 inch glass pan with butter.
Combine the melted butter, coconut milk and brown sugar in a bowl. Stir until well mixed and smooth. Add the vanilla and salt.  Add the flour and baking powder, and stir until well combined.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg slightly and then mix into the batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.  
Sprinkle shredded coconut over batter. Using a butter knife, swirl in the coconut.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.
Remove from oven and let cool. 
Next challenge: Figure out how to bottle this smell.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Chocolate-Almond Butter Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

I'm doing this because I love you.
Also I love my Dad. And he loves chocolate and almonds. Almonds and chocolate. In all forms and combinations. Forever and always.
I have to agree with him, it is definitely one of the world's best flavor combinations (totally trumps peanut butter and chocolate!) Especially when the almonds are toasted!  Really, is there anything better then rich, buttery toasted nuts mixed into velvety dark chocolate? No, there isn't. Don't try to argue with me.
Unfortunately the toasting process proved to be extremely and inexplicably difficult for me to master last night! (Moral of the story: don't bake after midnight?) This was the result of 2 toasting attempts!
Round 1: smoky and black. Round 2: slightly more smoky and black! Fail.
Anyways, by round 3 I finally achieved golden-brown toasty success! Proof of cheesecake success? The pan is half empty. It is 10am. Win.
Also, I'm just going to point out the lack of actual cheese in this cheesecake! Greek yogurt makes an amazingly tasty (and healthy) substitute for excessive amounts of cholesterol-spiking cheese.  So go ahead, eat 2 slices and get your probiotics! (Yes, I realize this is a stretch).  But you're not going to argue with me...
Are you?
Chocolate-Almond Butter Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
1/2 c. almonds
1/2 c. cashews
2 T. cocoa powder
1 T. canola oil
2 T. agave syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. cream cheese
1 c. plain greek yogurt
2 T. smooth almond butter
2/3 c. chocolate chips
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 c. toasted, slivered almonds (toast in oven at 350 for about 5 min)

-For the crust, mix the almonds and cashews in a food processor, and pulse until very finely ground (if you like a really crunchy crust, leave the nuts more coarsely chopped). Add the cocoa powder, oil, agave syrup and vanilla and process until the mixture reaches dough consistency.
-Dump the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and press down with moistened fingers to cover the bottom and sides of the pan (otherwise dough will stick to you!)
-Place crust in the freezer to chill while you prepare the filling!
-Add the cream cheese and greek yogurt together in food processor and pulse until smoothly combined.
-In a small bowl, mix the almond butter, chocolate chips and sugar.  Microwave for about 20-25 seconds until chocolate begins to melt.  Stir in the melted chocolate until the mixture is smooth.  Allow to cool to room temperature.
-Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the food processor along with the almond extract, and blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
-Remove crust from the freezer. Pour the filling into the crust and spread with spatula. 
-Sprinkle toasted almond slivers on top.
This one's for you Dad!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Kids Rule

Good Morning! (Oh, it has been a week of very early mornings).

My week as an EFY camp counsellor is over, and it's time to go back to life as usual.  It might just be the sleep deprivation talking, but I already kinda miss all of my kids!  Even though it was an exhausting week, I learned a lot about myself, and what I want to do with my life.
I'm very excited.  I had the opportunity to lead a group of 16-18 year old youth, and I love, love, loved working with them and teaching them!  After I finish my nursing degree, I have been thinking about pursuing an education degree so that I can teach Health and Wellness in high school.  After this week, I am  positive that this is what I want to do!  So today I set a new goal: get my teaching certification.  I love having goals that are really motivating!

In other good news, its yoga challenge day 13!  And despite my hectic week of chasing kids around the UofC campus, I was able to fit in a little yoga practice everyday :)  Even if its only 10 minutes long, a little practice is the perfect way to clear your mind, refocus and energize your muscles - Yoga for the win!

So here's to day 13!  I'm looking forward to a 45 minute Dave Farmer download after I finish unpacking and devouring my protein rolls!
These were inspired by one of my favorite childhood memories: the Tootsie Roll!
Okay, I know they don't look very appetizing...but I promise you they are chocolaty, chewy goodness!
Protein Tootsie Rolls
2 T. peanut butter (or almond butter)
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
2 T. oat bran
1 tsp. cocoa powder
2-3 T. water
1 T. ground flaxseed
1 T. chopped peanuts (or almonds)

In a food processor, combine nut butter, protein powder, oat bran and cocoa powder. Pulse until nut butter is incorporated.  Add the water one tablespoon at a time until mixture looks like cookie dough.  Divide into 6 portions and roll out each on into a log. Mix together the flaxseed and chopped nuts.  Roll each log in the mixture. Wrap each roll in wax paper and refrigerate until you're ready to snack!
Each roll contains 5g of protein.
And tastes like a Tootsie Roll!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

A Saturday in August

Good Morning!

Made even better by...
Oats!  Almond-Vanilla Cookie Dough Oats of course.  In the mix: 1/3 c. oats, 1 T. chia seeds, 1/4 tsp. almond extract, 1/4 vanilla extract, 1/2 c. vanilla soy milk, sprinkle of stevia and a big scoop of almond butter on top.

The past few days have been...weird.  I've been trying to do so much, but feel like I haven't accomplished anything!  (Go to work, come home, eat, sleep, repeat?)  I feel like I am making zero progress with all my goals.  Time for a new time management strategy...
Anyways, I have however managed to keep up with the yoga challenge :) welcome to day 6!  My legs are definitely feeling it this morning!  I had a wonderful home practice yesterday night doing this yogadownload on my living room floor.  It was a super twisty detox routine that made my spine cry out with pleasure.  It was so energizing, and after sinking deep into one of my all time favorite poses - eagle pose - for an extra 2 minutes I felt incredibly balanced and flexible.  Oh! And as for the meditation, personal best still remains at 5 minutes.  But its getting better!  I've noticed that taking this short, short period of time out of my day to focus and examine myself has really helped calm my mind and redirect my thinking.  At least my inner yogi is making progress.

Now that I have devoured my oats, Saturday can begin!  
This afternoon I have a training session for my EFY counsellor experience next week!  Other than that, I'm not working today so I have resolved to make today productive.  On the agenda: prep for EFY, do some writing, do some shopping, do some yoga and read my book (so good so far)!
Totally productive :)
Dear August, I will miss you when you're gone.

Try this:
Answer these questions.  They are HARD.  But sometimes asking the right question can be the answer.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Good Afternoon!
I am totally loving this yoga challenge!  Today is only day, but I can already feel my flexibility and focus improving in my practice.
As part of my attempt at yogic advancement, I have also been trying to meditate daily.  My goal is 10 minutes of meditation.  Just 10.  And let me tell you…it is HARD.  Most days I have trouble stopping for 30 seconds, let alone 10 whole minutes.  This feeling of constantly being in overdrive makes me feel anxious, and completely disrupts my ability to concentrate.  I’m in need of a deep brain cleanse.

I have always had a hard time getting my mind to slow down (it feels like trying to stop a high speed fan with a toothpick).  So needless to say, forcing myself to sit still, breathe and clear my mind for 10 minutes straight has been no easy task.

I confess.  I haven’t even made it to 10 minutes yet.  My personal best is 5.  But I’m not giving up yet! 
As I lay in savasana yesterday (after a short 20 min vinyassa), I was thinking about how hard it is to focus on the present.  My thoughts were wildly bouncing around (as per usual), but every though I had was either about the past or future.  No respect given to the present moment.
I want to make it a point in my life to truly appreciate the present.  So often I find myself trying to live in the past or future, but this isn’t really living!  Life is in the present moment.  Each moment is what makes up your life.

Mindfulness (or “Sati” in the Pali language spoken by Buddha) is non-judgmental awareness and appreciation of the present moment.  I’m hoping that I will be able to develop this quality as I continue practice.

Mindfulness meditation (or Vipassana Meditation) increases your patience, mental clarity and level of personal insight.  Just what I need!  Also, a study I read several months ago revealed a happy conclusion that consistent mindful meditation actually produces measurable changes in your brain’s grey matter.  The areas of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress were all positively affected.

Today I'm breaking my meditation up into two sessions (hoping this will be more successful).  I did 5 minutes this morning, and I'll do 5 more tonight.  I promise.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Rainbow Bit Cupcakes with Cake Batter Buttercream

The best part of baking a cake is and always will be licking the spoon.  And bowl.  And any other kitchen appliance that is coated in cake batter!


Imagine tasting that creamy cake batter at the same time as the sweet, crumbly finished product.  You can have your cake batter and eat it too!  Or something like that...

Anyways, my adorable sister Julie has been in Ethiopia for the past three weeks volunteering with an organization called Canadian Humanitarian!  We picked her up from the airport Sunday night and she definitely deserved a little something special for all of her hard work.  Enter cupcakes.

Julie and I are both huge fans of "unbaked goods."  Cookie dough, cake batter, pie filling, pancake batter (gross, I know), so for her "welcome home" treat I thought I would take our weird obsession into consideration.  The result?  Frosting that tastes like cake. WIN.
Oh, and there are lots of sprinkles.
Because, we love sprinkles.

Rainbow Bit Cupcakes with Cake Batter Buttercream
Makes 12 cupcakes
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c. milk
1/4 c. rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl combine the flour and baking powder and set aside.  In another bowl beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy and well combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, and whisk until they are well mixed in.  Mix in the vanilla.  Add half of the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Then add milk and other half of the flour mixture and stir until the batter is smooth.  Gently stir in the rainbow sprinkles. (Don't stir too vigorously or you will end up with some really ugly purpleish cupcakes).

Line a muffin tray with paper liners, or spray tray with nonstick spray.  Using a 1/4 c. measure, spoon the mixture into each muffin cup.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.  Remove from tray and let cupcakes cool.

1 stick butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. white cake mix
2 T. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a small bowl beat the butter until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and cake mix and beat with mixer on low gradually adding the whipping cream and vanilla until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.  Add a little more cream if the icing is too thick, or a little more sugar if it is too thin.

Once cooled, pipe the frosting as highhh as you want atop the cupcakes as you desire.
Top frosted cupcakes with more sprinkles!

Monday, 1 August 2011

31 Days of Yoga

For the next 31 days of this beautiful month of August, I will be getting my yoga on EVERYDAY.
Even if its only for 5 minutes I'm getting on that mat once a day from now until September! Practicing yoga regularly has really helped me to become aware of my surroundings and the needs of my own body.  Yoga is about practicing, not being perfect.

I'm joining in on Jenna's 21-day challenge over at Eat, Live, Run (one of my other favorite blogs!), so heres hoping that it becomes a habit and the last 10 days of my goal will be super easy :) Thanks for the extra motivation!

I just did a 20 minute Jivamukti routine from
It was glorious.


Apricot-Orange Fruit Smear

Apricot-Orange Fruit Smear
Too much extra ripe fruit means jam-making time!  I like this "smear" because I don't really have the patience to make legit jam, and this recipe has way less sugar!

2 ripe apricots, chopped
2 small oranges, peeled and chopped
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 T. honey
1 tsp. cornstarch

In a saucepan, mix together the chopped apricot and oranges, ginger and honey.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Mix in the cornstarch, and continue to boil until it thickens up a little.  Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.  Blend the mixture in a food processor until smooth.  Transfer to an air-tight container and refrigerate.  Smear it on toast, spoon it on top of your oatmeal, blend it up with ice and green tea (delicious)....or just eat it with a spoon!
Also, Happy August!

5 things to do this month:
1) Practice yoga once a day.
2) Get this blog rolling!
3) Prepare my closet for coming invasion of super cute fall clothing (Anthropologie is about to obliterate my bank account)
4) Camping, hiking and biking!
5) And of course I'll be a counselor at EFY (Especially For Youth - a camp that is sponsored by my church) for all of next week! (alright...alright....alright alright alright hey!)

Make August great!