Friday, 20 July 2012


I had a great Nutrition class on Wednesday. (Wait. To fill you in, I'm taking a 6-week course called Nutrition 101 at Live With Spirit.) Okay, so it was great this week. The topic was Mindful Eating, ie. not letting your emotions dictate your eating habits. This is definitely something I think most people can admit to doing. Whether it's boredom, anger, or stress, just to name a few, I'm sure we can all say that at one point or another, we've indulged a bit too much when we're riding an emotional wave.

We began the class with our instructor, Pam Elek, leading us in a meditation to help us quiet our minds and relax after a long day. She then spent some time talking about positive affirmations. (If you're not familiar with the concept of affirmations, you may want to check out Louise Hay for some expert information.)

Pam had us choose something in our lives that we were currently working to improve. We wrote it down on a piece of paper, and folded it up for later in the class. Then we listened to twenty minutes of Louise Hays' "You Can Heal Your Life" book on cd. I found it to be really powerful stuff. Basically, the idea of positive affirmations is to change our thinking patterns. For most of our lives, we've had thought processes that were ingrained in us by our parents and others at a very young age. A lot of this is negative thinking, maybe stemming from that time a boy on the playground told you that you have a huge nose. So, since you were 6, you've hated your nose. Maybe you don't even remember why you hate your nose. You only know you have an ugly nose. It's all about breaking these negative and often destructive thinking patterns, so you can move beyond it to create your best life.

After we listened to the beginning of the cd, Pam had us go back to our piece of paper, and turn that goal into an affirmation for ourselves to use. For example, "I would like to focus on clean and healthy eating" can become "I respect my body, and I treat it only with love and kindness." Or "I need to get a new job" turns into "New doors are opening for me all the time." In choosing an affirmation, you have to be specific. It needs to be in the present tense and you need to revisit it (writing it and saying it aloud) many times a day.

Our homework this week is to spend 5-10 minutes per day meditating, and also to say and/or write our new affirmation at least 15 times per day. So far I've only been doing it for two days, but I've been saying mine aloud in the car and in front of the mirror, and I've written it on several pieces of paper and taped it up around the house as a constant reminder. As a personal goal for the rest of the summer (or longer if the habit sticks) I've decided to choose a new affirmation for myself each week. I'm very excited to do this, as this summer is a major time of self-discovery for me.

Hope you are all having some time just for yourselves this summer, and enjoying every minute of it!


Monday, 2 July 2012

Coco Love

You can call me the Sparrow Foodie today, if you don't mind ;)

One of my fave things to do when I have time off is to experiment in the kitchen. I like cooking anyway, but it's so much fun when you've got lots of time to really make a mess and try something new. So when Adam and I are home with nowhere else to be, we cook.

This long weekend we've made Huevos Rancheros (you're missing out if you've never had these!), some delicious steaks (marinated for hours), Caprese Salad Bites (Thank you Pinterest), grilled chicken breast, goat cheese and strawberry salad (goat cheese pretty much makes anything delish), homemade pizzas (deluxe and margherita) and this morning's Oatmeal Pancakes. I've made these before and they are phenomenal.

I'm beginning to get more creative with my recipes, mainly because of my goal to eat healthier. One of my main switches so far, has been from using veg oil or canola oil, to coconut oil. The health benefits of coconut oil are abundant, and I began the switch when I read about how heating olive oil at a high temp causes the oil to become unstable and to produce cancer-causing free-radicals. For years, I've been cooking with olive oil. I realize now that it should be used as a flavour-enhancer after the cooking is over. Enter coconut oil. Organic, unrefined, cold-pressed is best of course. It's got plenty of cosmetic uses also, so you'll be getting your money's worth from that jar. Add to the fact that it's got a shelf life of up to two years, and there's really no reason not to try it out! Find it at your local health food store.

Now back to those pancakes... My recipe is adapted from Chef Michael Smith's "The Best of Chef at Home" cookbook (one of my faves). Keep in mind that the coconut oil will add a slight coconut flavour, and there's nothing wrong with that in my eyes. Next time, to make the pancakes even more tropical, I'll substitute coconut milk for my regular or almond milk (I just didn't have it on hand today). Here's the recipe for you, and feel free to experiment yourself :)

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat, grain or almond flour
1 cup oatmeal flakes
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon or nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups non-dairy milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients, and begin to combine them with the dry ones. Stir until smooth, but don't overmix the batter. Spoon the batter into a preheated skillet. Watch for bubbles on top; this will tell you when your pancakes are ready to flip. (Tip: You can get ahead of a hungry crowd by stashing the cooked pancakes on a plate in a warm oven.) I added sliced bananas and plenty of maple syrup to mine :) Happy Canada Day long weekend!