Summer Salads

I love salad!  I love the fact that you can just throw a variety of fruits and veggies together and they taste delicious… salads are only limited by your imagination.  With the local Farmer’s Market opening today I thought I’d share with you a couple of my favourite recipes made from a number of fresh fruit & veggies that I pick up at the Farmer’s Market.

486578_10151929570870597_1021576739_nWATERMELON CUCUMBER FETA SALAD

 

Watermelon (cubed)

fresh blueberries

feta cheese (broken up)

chopped up fresh mint

craisins

edible flowers

alfalfa sprouts

cucumber

all layered together for a delicious fresh salad

 

dressing: 

 

RASPBERRY CREAMY VINAIGRETTE 

 

fresh raspberries

juice of one navel orange

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

3 tbsp honey

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper

 

Put raspberries, orange juice, red wine vinegar, greek yogurt & honey in blender… pulse gently until mixed.  while

blending on low, add in olive oil until fully mixed add in Salt & Pepper

 

IMG_3897FRESH FLOWER GREENS SALAD

fresh greens from farmers market (variety of lettuce types – arugula/butter/romaine/red)

thinly sliced onion (I use red onion)

avocado

alfalfa sprouts

green grapes halved

chopped fresh herbs (basil & mint)

shredded carrot

edible flowers (farmers market)

 

dressing:

 

CUCUMBER DRESSING

1 cucumber peeled & chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp agave (or honey – local honey is delicious)

1 tsp tarragon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

 

blend all ingredients until smooth.

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CHALLENGE #9 – A VIDEO BLOG

Well, having never done a video blog before I was very unsure of what to do.  And since I wasn’t really that into sitting in front of a video camera and talking to you all.. I made a video of photos.   Our challenge this week was to make a video and share with you the things we have done to improve our health and lessons we have learned along the way.

 

Sweet n Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

delicious snack

delicious snack

I think I just found my new snack!  One of the ladies in my Kin’s GreenFighter Challenge posted a recipe for Roasted Honey Cinnamon Chickpeas so I thought I’d give them a try.  We love roasted chickpeas for snacks in our home, but I had actually never considered making them sweet!  Usually we add sea salt, garlic, paprika etc…

THEY ARE DELICIOUS!  …  I didn’t really follow the recipe that was provided (no measuring done for this one).  When cooking I usually consider recipes a guideline (which is why I rarely bake!)

This is how I made them (again measurements are approximate!)… one day I’ll actually measure for you ha ha

  • 2 cans of garbanzo beans (organic low sodium)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1-3 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • few pinches of hawaiian sea salt
  • few pinches of cayenne pepper
 
*** for part of the batch I also used just the Garlic Ginger infused Honey I happened to have on hand
 
Preheat oven to 375
rinse & dry chickpeas
I roasted for about an hour at 375  (you can test them to see if they are crunchy)
once dried in oven I mixed them in (hot) with the honey mixture
back into the oven convect at 375 for about 10 mins 
 
YUMMMM!!!!!!  I love that salty sweet spicy-ness!
 

Let me know if you tried them… they are such a good option for a crunchy snack – and now, thanks to the recipe Alicia shared. I’ve learned they can be a sweet treat as well

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Earth day .. every day

Happy Earth Day!

The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970 … after U.S. Senator Nelson witnessed the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. On the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. And so became an annual event.

Earth day .. should be every day. We all can take steps to help our earth.. to leave this earth a better place for our kids, grandkids .. their kids. Be a good ancestor! Think ahead, what are YOU leaving for our future generations?

In our home we do our best to teach our kids to be conscious of the impact they have on this earth. We each have to do our part.

Trim your Waste …. We recycle anything that can be recycled (and nowadays there are more and more opportunities to recycle).

recycle

We use reusable bags when shopping. Think about it… when you grocery shop, on average how many bags do you use? Let’s say 5? How often do you shop? Twice a month? More?… So if you used reusable bags for the entire year you alone could avoid using at least 120 plastic bags!

green bags

Shop local or grow your own food. I love when it’s Farm Market season. We will buy our berries in large quantities and freeze them for the year. You can find jams, veggies, fruit all sorts of goodies at our local farm market shop local

Plant your own food. Don’t have room in your yard/condo? Why not check out a local community garden. Only a 5 min drive away from us is Maples Discovery Garden you can rent a plot from them and start growing your own herbs/veggies etc.  My friend Ginger and her family have a plot there, they have inspired our family to look into renting a plot and growing our veggies/herbs etc. as well!

Not only are you eating local you are also then increasing the number of plant based meals you consume! And who can’t use more green in your life! (spinach or kale salad anyone?)… and you just can’t beat fresh herbs!

And if you want a glass of wine at dinner… there are so many local wineries and even breweries for you to sample from.

Carpool when possible. Often in our household we are pulled in so many directions with little time between activities or activities at the same time in different cities, we do our best to arrange for car-pooling. Not only does it help schedule wise, it also helps the environment.

Unplug and power down unneeded electronic devices and appliances. Chargers, computer peripherals, home entertainment devices and other appliances can all be unplugged when not in use. This can help reduce your utilities bill and carbon emissions simultaneously. This morning when I left for work, I shut down my computer (it won’t be used all day and often I am in the bad habit of leaving it on… all the time!), I unplugged the toaster oven, microwave, cell phone chargers (those tend to get left in the wall even without the phone attached)…

Disconnect and Reconnect… if you have teenagers in your house, you know they love their phones, electronics etc. (we have 2 teens and they are attached to their phones – okay, so am I!) Even our 2 year old loves the iPad etc. So disconnect, leave the phone, the TV, the iPad grab the kids, family, friends … and go outside… play, go for a walk, enjoy nature! If you go for a walk bring along a garbage bag and pick up any garbage along the way.

I encourage you to make one positive change for our earth today and every day…

A Few of my Favourite things…

Okay come on … admit it.. you just started singing didn’t you?  When I hear “my favourite things” I suddenly want to run in a field in Austria whilst twirling my dress made out of curtains …. annnnnd back to reality!

The challenge this week for us GreenFighters is to share with you some of our favourite things, and so… I present to you, my favourite things… NOW try not to sing!

Raindrops when running & making me hustle
20lb dumbbells and feeling my muscle
Great tunes on iPods making me sing
These are a few of my favourite things

Cream in my coffee and crisp juicy apples
Winning at negative tough mental battles
Cold dreary weather turning to spring
These are a few of my favourite things

Fresh Breakfast smoothies to drink in the morning
Feeling my healthy body transforming
40 degree heat and yoga and stretching 
These are a few of my favourite things

When the day’s tough, when there’s no zing
When I’m feeling sad
I remind myself of my favourite things 
And then I don’t feel so bad

hot yoga

hot yoga

I have really enjoyed discovering Hot Yoga at Oxygen in Walnut Grove, they have a great variety of hot yoga classes and I have found that while I’m recuperating my back (and still wanting to stay active and healthy) this has been a great solution.

I’ve signed up for a full year and don’t plan to stop!  I’ve been doing 3-5 classes a week, the instructors are so awesome there & always offer help in modifying for my injuries etc.  If you’ve ever considered giving Hot Yoga a try, I really recommend it.

I love my running shoes, my favourite shoes so far, the bright colours on a rainy day (have you looked outside today?) make me smile.  I love lacing them up and heading outside for a walk.  I’ve accepted that for now, I can’t push myself to run and I am IMG_4512(somewhat) okay with that.  I have gone running a few times in the past couple weeks and have definitely paid for it later on in the day.  So for now, I walk.

My smoothies are another favourite thing, I can throw any combo of fruit and veggies in there with some protein and I have a delicious meal ready to be enjoyed

cranberry & veggies w/ chocolate protein powder

cranberry & veggies w/ chocolate protein powder

My favourite meals are salads, again being able to throw such a variety of foods in … okay.. it excites me.  The other day I had a craving, I wasn’t sure what for but I wanted something kinda sweet.  I came up with a citrus salad with goat cheese and shaved dark chocolate… can you say YUMMM????

Citrus Salad

Orange
Grapefruit
Avocado
Boursin Cracked Pepper & Cranberry cheese
shaved dark chocolate

citrus salad with goat cheese and avocado

Another favourite thing… okay well PERSON is my awesome trainer Andrea.  She has a boutique studio for women in Cloverdale.  Anyone intimidated to go to a gym, or wanting more than just an on-your-own gym workout – go see Andrea.  Even though, at the moment I’m unable to do the HIIT classes, TRX classes or weight lifting, Andrea remains to be a wonderful supportive inspiration and I hope that I will be back training at Life Designs Fitness Studio very soon!

I love getting creative in the kitchen and trying new meals….. what are some of YOUR favourite things on your health & fitness journey?

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In Store Challenge #2 & Inspiration

Saturday was another in-store challenge for us Greenfighters. We were collecting donations for the Canadian Cancer Society & providing Daffodil pins for those that donated.  There is a prize for the GreenFighter that sold the most pins, and one of my fellow fighters has stated that if she is the winner she will be shaving her head!  Her story, along with all the other fighters’ is inspiring.  Each of us is doing this for a very special reason and I have to give a shout-out to all my fellow GreenFighters … you are ALL doing an amazing job! And keeping so many people inspired.

I love reading about their progress, or their ups and downs.. because, really… that’s life!   They have all put themselves out there and shared so much  – keep up the great work.  We are all winners in this one!

My Saturday started out early, 6:30am taking my son to the hockey rink and then meeting up for coffee with a friend & heading out to Fort Langley to photograph some amazing women that meet every Saturday morning and Wednesday evening as part of Abreast In A Boat, a Dragon boat team of breast cancer survivors.

Inspiring to say the least, these warrior women are out there paddling together and sharing a special bond.

What an awesome way to start the day!

I then headed off to Kin’s Market at Guildford for some Cancer Fundraising.  Met and chatted with some wonderful people (and a friendly bearded dragon!). We had delicious fruit samples, kids activity books, baloons etc.  for all to enjoy.

Finished off my day by going to a Canucks game.  All in all a great Saturday!

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Holidays, a time to relax or a time to exercise?

Exercise or Relax?  In Hawaii… hmmmm?  Maybe a combo?

I knew in the back of my mind that the day we returned from holidays was the day I had to do my “official mid-way weigh in” for Kin’s Green Fighters… this stayed with me the entire trip – I couldn’t let it go.  My weight has constantly gone up for the past 6+ months and I’m not exactly enjoying that fact.  However I did NOT let it deter me from having a fantastic family holiday.

I did do active things on holiday… snorkelling, swimming, body surfing, walking, being conscious of what I ate (most of the time!), tennis, pickle ball…. it was a great holiday!  I even got to read TWO novels, I miss reading and it was awesome to have some quiet time to read. I did bring my purple exercise band… apparently rubber does deteriorate over time, because I broke the band and it snapped a good one on my foot! OUCH!

As for the weight thing… you will have to wait until Friday to get the dirt on that one (we can’t post until then)

I do know that I need to continue with my workouts at home, I will keep going to Hot Yoga and go on more walks… perhaps even a jog?  I haven’t been able to take a full stride without an excessive amount of pain for the past 8 months or so.  I finally had a CT scan just before we left for holidays & I’m hoping that this will give me some answers as to why I’m in so much pain.  I have sciatica, and I’ve dealt with that for 16 years, but this is even worse and it gets quite frustrating feeling limited to what I can do for exercise.  I know if I do anything that entails too much jumping, or longer strides (tennis, jogging etc) I pay for it later that day or I just can’t even do it at all because my body revolts.

So far Hot Yoga and weight training have saved me, when I’m able to be in control of what my body does I can usually modify to make it work.  My trainer offers alternatives to certain exercises if my back is really bothering me on a certain day as well.

And so, I do the best I can.  I stay conscious of what I eat and I try to keep up with exercise and being active as often as possible.

Now it’s back to reality.. a one day “break” and then we are off to the cabin to celebrate my oldest daughter’s 13th birthday.  She’s bringing 3 friends with her.  So it will be me and 6 kids…. wish me luck!

 

Challenge #4 – an Easter Fitness/Health Challenge

Easter and Health aren’t necessarily words you would put together… there’s chocolate, candy, more chocolate, large meals, hot cross buns … but all of that doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy Easter (and enjoy some chocolate! – 70% dark is my favourite!!)  All can be enjoyed… in moderation of course.

The challenge this week for us Kin’s GreenFighter’s is to share some tips on how to make this Easter a healthier one.

So here are my tips:

1.  a healthy and fun breakfast (bunny pancakes anyone?)  I’ve shared my pancake recipe below

2. a fitness inspired easter egg hunt.  We have sports themed eggs and fill them ourselves.

You don’t always need to fill these with candy! why not try some of these ideas:

      • miniature cars
      • silly putty / play dough
      • little jewelry
      • littlest pet shop animals
      • fun shaped erasers
      • Home made coupons i.e. “movie night with mum” or “a trip to the park” etc.
      • Bath beads
      • stickers
      • a loonie or twoonie
      • magnets
      • hair accesories

3. go on a different type of hunt…. a GEOCACHE HUNT … never heard of Geocaching? It’s a free outdoor treasure hunt.  You try to locate hidden containers using your smartphone or GPS… a fun family activity!

4. do an Easter inspired fitness circuit & break a sweat:

      • HOP
        • Plyometrics baby!! (Plyometrics is a series of explosive movementd:  jumping, bounding and hopping exercises they fire up your fitness level and will also help with coordination and agility)
        • jumping jacks
      • SKIP
        • grab that skipping rope!  it’s a great way to work up a sweat
      • JUMP
        • jump lunges
        • jumping jacks
        • burpees
        • skaters
    • My littlest one LOVES joining in on my workouts when I’m at home… create a “little kid friendly easter workout” 
        • hop like a bunny
        • roll like an easter egg (somersault)
        • bend down and pretend to pick a flower then hold it over your head
        • flap your arms and tweet like a chick

5. eat like a rabbit (wear your bunny ears!). you can usually find some fun easter dress-up ideas at your local dollar store.  Put on your bunny ears and see who can eat the most bunny food.

        • Snack on carrot sticks, celery etc. and dip them in hummus
        • fresh fruit salad
        • bunny trail mix (dried fruit, seeds, some pretzles and maybe a few jelly beans)
        • make a fun little salad (like my little cottage cheese bunny salad)

I hope you enjoyed these ideas!  And don’t forget to share what YOU will do to get in some extra fitness and some healthy foods this Easter!  I hope you all have a fabulous Easter.

Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Pancake

(again, I tried to remember to write down what I used…. but sometimes I just “wing it”… sorry!)

I do use pancake mix in these so maybe they aren’t as “clean” as they could be but I figure with all the other good stuff in them (and the kids like them!) that for us it works!

half a banana mashed and some applesauce1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup steel cut porridge oats (Rogers) it has steel cut oats, oat bran, wheat bran, & flaxseed
1 cup pancake mix
2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
2 teaspoon vanilla (I use vanilla that we brought back from mexico… couldn’t live without it! lol)
milk and water, as needed to the consistency you prefer

mix … cook on the griddle and Enjoy!  Top with some fresh berries and a little fresh whip cream…. yummm!

my crush on kale

I was rather dubious when I decided to try kale last year, I love spinach, I love cabbage, I love a variety of greens – but I had heard that kale was bitter.  However since it’s insanely good for you. (packed with Vitamins A & C, and is also rich in beta carotene, potassium, calcium, and phytonutrients that are believed to help fight cancer and repair cells) Kale is like the Hulk of cruciferous vegetables, bulging with nutrients and antioxidant properties… I figured I’d give it a go….. I love it!  I could eat it in every meal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks!

Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and has zero fat.
  • One cup of kale has only approximately 33 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It is great for aiding in digestion and elimination with its great fiber content. It’s also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium
Kale is high in Vitamin K.
  • Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and the prevention of blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Kale is high in iron 
  • Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more
Kale is filled with powerful antioxidants
Kale is a great anti-inflammatory food
 
Kale is high in Vitamin A
  • Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.
Kale is high in Vitamin C 
  • 17 times more Vitamin C than carrots and four times more than spinach
Kale is high in calcium
Kale boasts a relatively high protein content for the number of calories it contains. You won’t reach your daily protein needs eating kale, but when you’re running low every little bit counts
There’s more than one variety of Kale
  • Curly is the most common variety of kale and may even be found in mainstream supermarkets – I find this to taste better if softened by cooking, steaming, sautéing, adding to stir-fry or blending in my smoothie (delicious in a wintery type soup or stew)
  • Varieties of curly kale can range in color from a light green to a dark purple, though most common is a dark green leaf

Nero Kale | Lacinato Kale | Tuscan Kale | Black Palm | Dinosaur

  •  oblong shape and deep green bubbly leaves.   Grows in tall long stalks. For raw preparations, like salads, I much prefer Tuscan kale

Red Winter Kale | Red Russian Kale

  • resemble oak leaves with their soft sage color with red vining.  mild tasting and may have hints of sweetness

Today I made Kale Chips (these get devoured the second the kids see them)

START OF BY WASHING THE KALE AND DRYING IT

IMG_5557

SEPARATE THE LEAVES FROM THE STALK

IMG_5558

PUT ON A BAKING SHEET AND DRIZZLE WITH OLIVE OIL

IMG_5560

ADD SPICES (THIS TIME I USED PAPRIKA AND SEA SALT)

IMG_5567

POP INTO PREHEATED OVEN (350 degrees) FOR ABOUT 12-15 mins (until edges are browned & kale is crispy)

ENJOY!

kale chips

kale chips

Other ways to enjoy kale:  in a salad, in soups, sauteed with garlic, in a stir-fry,  blended into a smoothie, shredded onto pizza … so many options!

Everyday I’m Chauffeuring …….. (definitely not shuffling)

Yesterday I had a “day off” … the plan:

Morning

  • Make a fun breakfast for little E
  • Dishes
  • complete my upcoming 2 challenges for Kin’s GreenFighters (St. Patty’s day & Easter Challenges – as we are away on holiday)
  • Laundry
  • organize packing for holiday

Afternoon

  • Make lunch
  • Dishes
  • More Laundry
  • clean bathrooms & vacuum
  • older kids get home & then off to their hockey games

Evening

  • Finish up laundry & packing
  • more cleaning house
  • dinner
  • bed before 10pm (HA!)

************************************************************************************************************************

THE REALITY!

Morning started off somewhat as planned.  Dishes got done, I made a fun healthy pancake breakfast for E (albeit in a rush)  

E loves her special Easter Pancake

E loves her special Easter Pancake

…. (oatmeal cottage cheese pancakes, you will get the recipe at Easter!).  I started a load of laundry and sat down to do some blogging, while distractedly adding to my list of “what to pack”. And of course the odd distraction from the 2 year old (that never happens right?!).   I set up my couple projects for the Easter Blog and get ready to take photos….

  • She was too quiet!
  • She decided to “Help you packing Mum!” …. so I tidy up that messTWICE!…
    clean for 5 mins

    clean for 5 mins

    …..we recently got rid of her dresser as we are re-doing her room, and so her clothes are in boxes right now – easily accessible

  • “mum it raining out I need blella”  … I walk into living room she has changed her clothes (totally normal, when home she goes through 5 outfits a day!) she’s dressed herself (backwards) and is dancing with an umbrella

    I need a blella

    I need a blella

  • try to sit E down to watch a bit of a movie and distract her so I can get my housework/challenges done

    PLEASE sit & watch TV for more than 2 mins

    PLEASE sit & watch TV for more than 2 mins

  • Phone beeps it’s the familiar “text tone” for son:  “not enough drivers for field trip can you come to school”  His Gr. 10 Spanish class was to go to the local Mexican Restaurant as a field trip and speak only Spanish
    need drivers ASAP

    need drivers ASAP

    How do you say No?.. It would mean they couldn’t go on the field trip

  • dress E in some clothes fit for our rainy day

    rainy day in March

    rainy day in March

 

  • Go pick up students at school… WAIT … there really aren’t enough drivers……………. “mom can you make 2 trips?” ………………………. And so I do, drop off at restaurant, back to school, back to restaurant…
  • Okay well while I’m out I’ll pop by my Aunt & Uncle’s for a little visit.  E starts to fall asleep in the car. We arrive at Aunt & Uncle’s “I close my eyes I sleep mum”.  I have a quick visit on the front porch.  E is fast asleep in the car.

    I close my eyes and sleep mum

    I close my eyes and sleep mum

  • Arrive home.  Unload child, PRAY she stays asleep  – NOPE!
  • go for a  walk in the rain

    rainy day walk

    rainy day walk

  • get back home
  • Attempt to start up with blog where I left off

TEXT: “mom can u come back & pick up 1st group” 

  • back to restaurant – get kids, drop at school.
  • rush home – attempt to feed E lunch (LATE!)
  • throw more laundry on
  • dishes
  • finish blog

Oldest daughter “Mom I have hockey evals”… RIGHT! …… EAT…. QUICK!!!!

Son: I can get a ride home BUT can you drive me to ball hockey” (same time … different hockey rink, other part of town)

Thank god C was home from work  in time so I didn’t have to load little E into the car!  SUCH a relief! … a quick “HI” at the door as we pass by each other

  • Drive to daughters hockey
  • drop her off
  • take son to his hockey
  • turn around go get daughter
  • cancel yoga as I wasn’t going to make it in time

HOME!

  • dinner
  • dishes
  • finish writing packing list
  • start packing

A fairly normal busy day – things rarely go as planned.  I’m sure many of your households are like this as well!… it’s nothing new for families to be busy!

WHAT I LEARNED

I didn’t eat when I should have, I forgot to drink water until about 3:30, I let the TV babysit E for a while … I didn’t get exercise in, I didn’t get to bed by 10pm.  I won’t call this day a “failure”.  It wasn’t.  I DID have healthy food when I ate (few bites of E’s healthy pancake, a quinoa salad, turkey avocado lettuce wraps).  So that’s a bonus, this healthy eating challenge is really helping me not just “give in and give up” and reach for junk.  My son and his classmates were able to go on their field trip, I was able to have a quick visit with my Aunt & Uncle, I got SOME packing done, both kids got to their respective hockey rinks on time. I got my blogs done for the challenges.  So, instead of dwelling on the negative (yup I tend to do that!) I looked at the positives that happened.  No, it wasn’t a “perfect” day – but in reality, no day can possibly be.  There’s always something thrown in, and that is what makes life fun (okay and frustrating & hectic at times too!)  And so bring on the next challenging day, I’ve learned from this one and will be even more prepared next time (I hope!) 

OH NO……… She’s quiet again! …… signing off!

is it too early to have a glass of my favourite wine?

Satruna Island Family Winery

Satruna Island Family Winery