A New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

 

The only way to deal with an unfree world

is to become

so absolutely free

that your very existence

is an act of rebellion.

Albert Camus

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Muhammara – Spicy Lebanese Pepper and Walnut dip with Pomegranate

Today is THE Day of THE amazing VVP – The Virtual Vegan Potluck!

Welcome!

168 bloggers gather around the virtual table, each bringing a delicious vegan dish.

You do not have to be vegan to enjoy it – believe me!

This is THE perfect place to be inspired and possibly even awe stricken by all the incredible delicious and creative dishes coming from the vegan kitchen!

VVP was originally created by Annie, the amazing woman behind the wonderful  blog anunrefinedvegan.

Thanks to all the wonderful people behind VVP – Somer, AnnieJason and Lidia for hosting the event. You guys rock!

This is how it works:

If you want to start from the very beginning you have to go to veganbloggersunite – Or you can go from here and simply scroll down and press the “go forward” or the “go back” buttons, and away you go.

And so the party begins! I hope you have fun!

My contribution this year is an appetizer, inspired by the Lebanese kitchen. It’s intense, spicy, a little hot with a hint of sweetness. It’s delicious and it tastes SO good as dip for veggies or on a cracker.

This is my version of the Lebanese dish Muhammara – originally it is made with the little Piquillo peppers, but I used red peppers to make a milder version.

red peppers ready for the grill

Red peppers ready for the grill

Muhammara 

Spicy Lebanese Pepper and Walnut dip with Pomegranate 

3 red peppers

1.5 cup of walnuts

2 slices of good bread

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses

1 tablespoon of cumin

1 heaped tablespoon of chopped sun dried tomatoes

1-2 cloves of garlic

1/2 green chili (depending on how hot you like it)

1 tablespoon of paprika

2 tablespoons of olive oil

Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon

Sea salt – and freshly ground pepper

Grill the peppers on the BBQ or bake them in a hot oven till the skins are completely black. Let them cool a bit before removing the skins, the seeds and the core.

Put the walnuts and the bread in a food processor and pulse until finely processed.

Walnuts and bread

Walnuts and bread

Add the grilled peppers and the other ingredients,

Muhammara magic

Muhammara magic

the pomegranate molasses, the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil to the blender mix.

Pomegranate molasses and balsamic vinegar

Pomegranate molasses and balsamic vinegar

Process until it turns into a smooth paste.

Serve in a bowl with a sprinkle of fresh pomegranate seeds and a dash of olive oil.

Fresh pomegranate

Fresh pomegranate

Enjoy the Muhammara with homemade crackers

Served with crackers

Served with crackers

A delicious mouthful

A delicious mouthful

or serve the dip with fresh vegetables

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“I drink to the general joy o’ the table” – William Shakespeare Macbeth

Thank you for coming I loved having you here!

Please visit the other blogs by clicking the links below. Have fun!

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Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance is one of the most important cornerstones of emotional and physical health. If we don’t accept ourselves and value our needs and emotions, it will stress our body and deeply affect our well-being.

It’s so easy to find beauty in other people, to honor them and be kind to them. But to do the very same thing to ourselves, can be very difficult. Few people have learned how to accept and appreciate oneself and for the most we are not even aware of how unkind and hard we can be to ourselves.

Compassion and kindness starts within ourselves – the more compassionate and kind we are towards ourselves the more caring and loving we can be to others.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Buddha

I came across an amazing series and I would love to share it with you.

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Sounds True is a multimedia company that among many things offers free podcasts – with amazing teachers. It was founded by Tami Simon. She is a wonderful woman and an amazing interviewer, it’s a real pleasure to see her at work.

This particular series is called the “Self-Acceptance Project”.

Tami Simon explores the important questions: “How can we befriend ourselves?” and “How can we be kind to ourselves?”. She interviews experts and people renown within psychology and neuroscience, for example, capacities like Kristin Neff, Harville Hendrix, Geneen Roth, Brene Brown and many more.

It’s a 12 week video program, it has already started, but it’s possible to sign up and enjoy the previous episodes.

It’s such an amazing opportunity and it’s FREE.

Check it out and sign up here 

Enjoy!

Love love love

I am actually not really into Valentine’s Day – why wait for Valentine’s day to say “I love you” or buy flowers and chocolates?

I believe in Valentine moments – every day! 

So I loved an idea that came to me last night – turn Valentine’s Day into Generosity Day. Simply put, instead of just thinking of your Sweetheart, extend the opportunity –  give flowers to someone unexpectedly (your dentist?), compliment the mail man, tell your colleagues why they are special, give a total stranger a compliment or a hug. Instead of thinking “what a pretty face” or “brilliant smile” – say it.

Spread unexpected love and kindness more than ever, today 🙂

Check this out and share the love:

“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving” Paulo Coelho

HAPPY GENEROSITY DAY!

Be the change

Our children are stressed more than ever. They are on a non-stoppable – high – speed treadmill. Demands from school, parents, extra curricular and a never ending intrusive connection to social media and cell phones. Our children are on 24/7, always on the go.

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As a tragic result, we see anxious, depressed and stressed out children like never before. Nearly 7% of Canadian teens suffer from some serious and/or disabling anxiety.

According to an article in Globe & Mail ” School study paints a picture of teens under pressure” – this is a serious problem.

The article reveals the Canadian study of 103.000 grade 7-12 students. It  shows that teenagers are under so much stress that they are losing sleep, being driven to tears and experiencing greater levels of stress than parents and teachers expected.

Read the statistics of the study here

Dr. Atkinson, a clinical psychologist working in Toronto, sees children who are confused and overwhelmed, who are not able to experience life in a natural way, because they have to do more and move faster.

I see stress and anxiety as symptoms, a serious wake up call to all of us. Something needs to change.

Underneath stress and anxiety there are needs and suppressed emotions – stress and anxiety are natural reactions to what the children are experiencing, they are signs of overload, but the children have nowhere to go. This way of living has become the norm, we are all stressed. While this unhealthy environment goes on and on, we are creating children who are worn out, burned out before they even begin, maybe for life.

This means that children today need us more than ever.

The good news is that we by pulling the emergency brake can help our children deal with stress and burnout. Not by telling them and staying on the treadmill ourselves, but by slowing down and dealing with our own stress.

They need to see us:

  • get off our own treadmill
  • say “no” and mean it
  • say “yes” and mean it
  • meditate
  • go for walks
  • be mindful and present
  • be in the moment
  • do nothing
  • take a nap
  • have time to chat
  • have time to listen
  • have fun
  • take a long bath
  • do yoga
  • read a book
  • bake a cake
  • take care of ourselves
  • say what we mean
  • listen to our bodies
  • follow our hearts
  • take deep breath
  • have no plans

They need us more than ever: to support them, encourage them and spend time with them. 

It can be hard to do these things, but lets do it, for ourselves, our children and the future.

Be the change you want to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Happy New Year

Around the globe, people are opening the door to 2013. For me, here in BC, New Years Eve is just around the corner and I have my own special set of traditions. I always like to spend the last day of the year with close friends and family. I like to light candles and create a space for reminiscing. I like to go within and think about the year that just passed, the good and the bad. I like to reflect and digest, to think about what has been important this year. I like to say goodbye and thank you, to the year that went and to celebrate that we have a brand new, crisp and untouched year laying ahead of us.

That is exciting – new dreams, new hopes and new plans for 2013.

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How to get kids to eat healthily

Many people have asked me “How do I get my kids to eat healthy?”

It can be a real challenge. Many children are picky and there are many foods they don’t like. It can be really hard to get them to try new things too. And, of course, there is a reason for all of that. Studies from the University of Copenhagen show that there is a significant change in taste perception as a child develops into a teenager. The research shows that first, as teenagers, can distinguish between different flavours and that there is a decreased preference for sweet flavors.

So, until the teenage years, their taste buds are not fully developed. The research also showed that girls taste buds are more sensitive than boys. This means that there are a reason why kids can be picky and boys eat differently than girls and like different things.

Taste buds and flavor preferences change as the child grows.

See a great article by Christine Bude Nyhom here

Without considering this, dinner time can turn into a battle and a power struggle. We want to be good parents, we know the importance of healthy eating. And we get scared and worried if they don’t like to eat the carrots.

Knowing that kids have a legitimate reasons for their food choices helps. They are not just being picky and difficult. Their bodies are growing, their minds and spirits are developing and so are their taste buds.

It is now they build the foundation for a healthy life.

My tips to help encourage kids to eat healthily and establish healthy eating habits

  • Never force them – I remember when I started eating more healthy food, I felt So Great and I wanted the whole entire world to know about it so that they could feel the same! But, I was too pushy, and it had quite the opposite effect. Especially my son made a point of NOT wanting to eat that healthy stuff. So, I had to change the strategy. I actually apologized to him and told him I was really sorry that I had been so pushy. Then I cooked the usual food but I also cooked the new more healthy options – and I allowed everyone choose. To my surprise, one night I had made lasagne, but also raw food “healthy” lasagne instead of a salad. My husband and I took big portions of the raw food plant-based lasagne and we munched away while smiling and saying – “yum, yum, yum – oh, how good this is”. And, the kids looked at us and without saying anything joined in and started to eat the healthy lasagne. By the end of the meal, the raw food lasagne had been devoured and the normal lasagne was hardly touched!
  • Always have fruits and veggies easily available –  Having a fruit basket and plate of cut vegetables available, perhaps with some great dip, or freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices are a great way to get more healthy food. Often, if delicious fresh fruits and veggies are available, and cut into bites or as a fruit salad, kids will snack on it rather then the usual chips and sweets. And setting a good example is a great convincer, if you do it perhaps they’ll follow too. Maybe not at first, maybe even months, but one day they will – in the meantime give them a multivitamin and trust that it will happen and that they will not die of hunger.

  • Make green smoothies. This is such a fantastic way to get some greens and fruits down and it taste SO good! In the beginning make them more fruity and the kids will love them. Then over time add more of the leafy greens that are so good for us. In the beginning my kids did not even want to try it, so I poured some for myself and sat down while I slowly drank it and did a when Sally met Harry stunt”. First, they shook their heads and walked away. But one day my daughter said, “hmmm, can I try that green stuff?” – I wanted to pour her a huge drink in the biggest tumbler I could find in the house, but I restrained myself and poured her a tiny one. “Yum this is quite good, can I have another one?” Victory! My arms were high in the air (metaphorically) !! My son eventually said “Mom, it’s unfair that you always make the green smoothies when I’m in school because then I can’t have one”. As they started drinking the green smoothies they automatically started to crave more greens – so I often see them choose fruits over chips or ask if they can have 1/2 cucumber or an avocado. They make more healthy choices naturally and that is awesome! It took time and patience, but it was well worth it.

  • Freeze smoothies and make ice cream – smoothies make perfect ice cream and the green once make the coolest looking ice cream. A friend of mine who has little kids, came up with the idea of freezing the leftover green smoothies and the kids loved them!! She has promised me a photo 🙂

  • prepare food together – cooking together is so much fun. Yes, it does take longer and yes, there is more cleaning up to do but over time your kids will be little masters in cooking and cleaning up after themselves. They are more likely to try something new if they have helped prepare it and it is a great way to be together.

  • Make dinner time a shared experience – sitting down, having dinner together means so much, in so many ways – socially of course, and also when it comes to establishing healthy eating habits – for everyone.  If they see us take time for eating and enjoying our food that is what they learn. Maybe not today, maybe not right away, but over time – they will treasure that time together and the good food.
  • prepare what you know they like and add healthy sides – allow them to choose. Also try to ‘healthy-up’ old favorites, like adding grated carrots and zucchini to meat balls or add grated vegetables to sauces, or use 1/2 the amount of meat in a chili con carne  and add more veggies and beans instead.
  • Be an example – This is probably the number one most important tip. Be an example, kids look at us and what we eat and if the majority of what we eat is healthy nourishing food, they will learn to eat that way too and enjoy it.

This is a great article about kids and eating:

http://life.gaiam.com/article/10-ways-get-kids-eat-healthier

Balancing life with mindfulness

I don’t know about you – but my meditation practice went down the drain as we got into summer with the kids being home, guests arriving, dog sitting, trips away from home and things going on all the time.

Meditation is one of those things that is as important to me as brushing my teeth. It is where I reconnect with myself, find balance, tune in to my core, listen to the songs of my soul and come home.

When I get out of my life-balance rhythm, I suffer and it leads to unrest in my body. As a result, I get stressed, I feel grumpy more often, feel restless. I get distracted and feel disconnected. I may overeat, convince myself I don’t have time to run or that I really, really need that bag of chips!

When this happens, I know it’s time for me to reconnect with myself, and one of the best ways I find, is mindfulness meditation.

In an earlier post I wrote about how meditation changes the brain – how meditation keeps us clam and grounded long after we finished mediating. It helps us stay calm and focused, even in stressful situations. The situation is very much like the way that running helps us to burn fat even in between runs and while resting, because our muscles have become a fat burning furnace. The same happens in the brain when we mediate – and even after just a short period of time it is possible to see changes in the brain. The propensity for relaxation becomes larger and it becomes easier to find back into the same peaceful place within, just as we experience during meditation.

I know that in beginning meditation may very well feel inside like Times Square during rush hour! It takes a while to find the calm and it is important to remember that meditation does not mean that the mind is totally quiet. As my mediation hero, Jon Kabat-Zinn, says: “If you have a mind, it is going to wander”! When the mind wanders and you start thinking about shopping lists, who is driving the kids to soccer, what you should have said to someone or should not have said, when you start telling yourself you will never learn to meditate and you don’t need it anyway – the trick is, to return to the breath – again and again, without judgement.

I have downloaded my meditations to my phone so I can hear them whenever I need them – 5 min, 10 min, 15 min 20 or 30 minutes meditations – voila no excuses.

The latest addition to my collection is a Mindfulness Meditation App – it has 4 guided meditations 3 min, 5 min, 15 or 30 min – it also has 4 silent meditations and a guided Body Scan. You can set it so that at certain times, it reminds you that it’s time to meditate. It can even poke you at certain intervals to remind you to be more mindful and allowing yourself to be exactly as you are – not escaping life as it is, but to be mindful in the moment.

For years I have used Jon Kabat-Zinn’s  mindfulness meditations and I never get tired of them

Here is a workshop Jon Kabat- Zinn gave at Google some years ago

Passion

Are you following your passion? Doing what you do best and love the most?

Some weeks back I had the opportunity to watch an incredibly inspiring movie called “Finding Joe” – it is all about finding your passion and following your heart.

I was touched by the movie and it’s message and wanted to share it with you.

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