Thursday, 20 March 2014

Read These Books NOW

I know quite a few people who set a New Year's Resolution to read a new book (or two!) every month this year. I am a big fan of reading for pleasure outside of school or work commitments, and wanted to help contribute to this admirable goal.

I got a Kobo E-reader for a gift last year and although I sometimes miss the classic paperback, the convenient user-friendly format makes reading on the go extremely easy. Two of my favorite books I just downloaded and read are:

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of you who think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are by Brené Brown

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

After only one day, I was already halfway through Brené Brown’s new book. I first got introduced to her research through a Ted Talk, and have been addicted to her work ever since. This lady is AMAZING, she really knows how to DIG deep, get to the root of your problems and discover what thoughts, feeling or behaviors are preventing you from living your life to the fullest. One great example from the book is perfectionism and it’s destructive role
According to Brené Brown, “Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfectly, look perfectly and act perfectly, we can avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame.”
The feeling that we need to be perfect is 100% something I relate to and something that probably everyone has struggled with a some point in their lives. Moreso in the past, I had lots of perfectionism tendencies, whether it came to school, relationships, diet, exercise and even the cleanliness of my apartment. I used to think that if I was ______ (fill in smarter, prettier, thinner, blonder) I would make the people around me love me more, and I would be a happier person overall. This thought process had the exact opposite effect, causing strain on my personal relationships, creating undue stress, and blocking me from living an authentic and worthy life. You can strive to be the best you can be, but this doesn’t mean feeling the need to be perfect. Perfectionism is unattainable, no matter whom you are.
The book also spends a lot of time talking about courage, shame, resilience, love and other very important topics. Her writing it light, insightful and humorous, allowing the reader to connect with her thoughts and I can’t recommend this book enough.

If you have read The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns, you will love Khaled Hosseini’s new Book And the Mountains Echoed. Each chapter is a different character’s personal story that leads you across several countries and families over many generations. The book is full of surprising twists and turns, and each new chapter and character will leave you thinking about your life, family, friends and commitment to one and other in whole new light. It focuses on the importance of personal bonds, romantic or plutonic, and I finished the book wanting to call all my family and friends and remind them how much I love them and appreciate everything they do for me.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

March SuperFood of the Month Is......Cranberries!

#polarvortex have been the bane of my existence this winter. By now, my plan was to have my bike tuned up, and be biking to midtown each day as a way to increase my exercise and split my subway ride in half. Instead, I have become a connoisseur of the Toronto Path system downtown, the lovely underground walkway that literally connects you everywhere and anywhere without having to go outside. I can tell you the location of each Starbucks, Tim’s, David’s Tea, Longo’s and Subway within the downtown core without ever putting a jacket on. To help get into the spring mood, I did some baking the other day, throwing together delicious lemon cranberry scones that remind me of warmer weather. The combination of coconut and almond flour makes for a yummy high fiber, low-carb and protein rich snack. Side note: gluten-free does not mean low-carb when it comes to baked goodies; most are worst then their gluten filled counterparts as companies use truckloads sugar and cheap white rice flour to make them taste good. This recipe at the bottom of this post, an exception, was adapted from this recipe posted on a great food blogger website, I didn’t mean to make so many substitutions to the original recipe, but had to do with what ingredients I had on hand during my post-midterm baking fest on Friday.

This recipe turned into inspiration for this blog post, making cranberries the March Superfood of the month. Cranberries are an excellent addition to any diet, these high fiber berries are powerful antioxidants, rich in vitamin C, E and K, and have long been touted for their ability to prevent (not treat) urinary tract infections. This is where is gets tricky because most version of cranberries sold on the market are not the healthiest form. You are likely to find cranberry juice cocktail, which isn’t even real juice and chocked full of sugar (Mean Girls anyone?) and dried cranberries coated in cheap vegetable oil and sweetened with white sugar. I buy whole frozen cranberries from Loblaws, which work well in muffins, loaves and even oatmeal recipes. If you do buy dried cranberries, look for organic cranberries that are sweetened with fruit juice and contain no added sulfites. For women who suffer from UTI’s but don’t want to drink gallons of sugary cranberry juice each day, try taking a D-mannose or a whole cranberry extract supplement to help prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the walls of the urethra, and also drink LOTS and LOTS of water on a daily basis.

FYI, this recipe is not paleo friendly because off the Greek yogurt. You could try subbing coconut yogurt or coconut cream at your own discretion. Also, I list the details for each recipe item to give you an idea of what products I used, but don’t feel obligated to have the EXACT same ingredients!

·            1/3 cup Let’s Do Organic coconut flour
·            2/3 JK Gourmet’s almond flour
·            ¼-1/3 cup coconut sugar (depending on desired level of sweetness)
·            2 tsp baking powder
·            1/4 tsp sea Salt
·            1/2 cup Liberte Organic 0% Greek Yogurt
·            2 Free run Omega-3 eggs and 2 ‘flax’ eggs (or 4 large eggs total)
·            1/4 cup fresh squeezed organic lemon juice
·            1 Tbsp Artisana Coconut Oil, melted
·            2 Tbsp grated lemon Zest
·            1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
·            1 cup unsweetened frozen whole cranberries

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together coconut flour, almond flour, sweetener, baking powder and salt.
Add Greek yogurt, eggs, lemon juice, coconut oil, lemon zest and vanilla extract and stir vigorously until well combined. Stir in frozen cranberries
Drop by large spoonful onto prepared baking sheet. You should get 8-10 large scones in all. Bake approximately 25 minutes, until firm and light brown
Remove and let cool 5 minutes on pan, then transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled

Store in refrigerator for a few days or freeze.