Charmed Chatter

The musings of a Personal Trainer/Foodie, en route to adding Yoga Teacher to the mix!

In the spirit of continuity, I have decided to continue adding some great recipes here in my blog that are excellent multiple meal plans! After all without a plan, we are less likely to be successful in maintaining our healthy eating endeavors. Today I'm going to share a great way to make multiple meals using a whole turkey, and coincidently I'm just in time for Thanksgiving!

Here we go, I hope that you and your bellies enjoy these healthy, time, and wallet friendly recipes.

Roasting a Turkey:
If you have never roasted a turkey before, it can seem like a daunting task, but in reality it is really incredibly simple! Basically, you need a couple things to really make it easy: A roaster, (like mine shown below) which has a baking rack with handles inside at the bottom, and a meat thermometer, (again - like mine shown below). Both are fairly inexpensive, and you can buy even less expensive versions than these ones! (I got my newbies as gifts, thanks family!)

Now on to the prep! When you buy a turkey, it will be frozen solid, and the weight will usually be listed on it. For a turkey that is approximately 10-14 lbs, I recommend letting it defrost in the sink for about 12 hours at room temperature, then move it into the fridge on a dishtowel (you don't want turkey juices in your fridge, ew!) until you are ready to get it in the oven.

I like to stuff my turkey, which some people aren't all for but I just love it - it's soooo delicious! You just have to make sure to take the temperature in the middle to ensure that it has been sufficiently cooked, and there are no worries! Here is a mouth-watering and healthy stuffing recipe:

Wild and Fruity Stuffing:

Watcha need:
1.5 cups of mixed wild rice
1/2 a white onion, diced
1 green apple, peeled and diced
1/2 a bottle of beer (yeah, just drink the rest if you like...)
1/2 cup of craisins
1/2 cup of diced carrots
1/2 cup of diced celery
1 Teaspoon of Sage
1 Teaspoon of Rosemary
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 Teaspoon of Salt

In a pot, cover the rice with one inch of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every so often. Shut of heat and drain.
In a frying pan, sauté the onions in the butter with the carrots, the sage , the rosemary, and the salt and pepper until the onions are clear.
Then take the the rice, the sautéed mixture, and all the remaining ingredients and combine well in a mixing bowl. (Hopefully you didn't already drink all the beer.) Stuffing is ready!

Now on to the Turkey! (If you already know how to roast a turkey then just skip ahead to the *)
PS. This recipe also works for chicken, it's no different!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring the bird back over to your sink, remove the plastic wrapping, and undo the legs which will be folded under a flap of skin. Then reach inside the bird and pull out the gizzards and the neck which will usually be in a bag inside. (I don't use these parts myself, so unless you discover how you would like to, just chuck 'em.) Then, turn on the tap and wash the bird thoroughly inside and out for a minute or so. Drain it, and place it breasts up in the roaster on the rack. 

Now that you have the bird upside down in the roaster, you can bring your stuffing over and gently fill the inside with it. Don't pack it down or it won't cook properly and it'll get kinda gooey. If you have have too much stuffing you can freeze it in a zip-lock bag and use it to stuff a couple of chicken breasts later! 

Once you have stuffed the turkey fold the legs back under the flap of skin. Then, rub olive oil all over the outer skin, and sprinkle it lightly with rosemary. Do not turn the bird over, leave it on it's back to cook.

Finally, add water into the bottom of the roaster to about a quarter of an inch. This will keep the bird moist. Cover and place in the oven carefully (don't tip it!). 


  • For a 10lb bird roast at 350 degrees for 2 hours, uncover and roast at 325 degrees for 1 hour to brown the skin. 

  • For a 12lb bird roast at 350 degrees for 3 hours, uncover and roast at 325 degrees for 1 hour to brown the skin. 

  • For a 14lb bird roast at 350 degrees for 4 hours, uncover and roast at 325 degrees for 1 hour to brown the skin.
At the end you will use the thermometer to ensure that the meat has reached 180 degrees in the middle and deep in the thigh. If it hasn't yet, recover and cook until it has!

*Now all you have to do spoon out all the stuffing into a dish, carve the meat in slices off the turkey, and enjoy! You will likely have a lot of leftovers which can be used for days in sandwiches and salads, or frozen for future meals... And you will of course use the carcass to make "recipe number 2" tomorrow!

Recipe #2:
Turkey Soup du Next 3 Jours! (that means you will have turkey soup for one dinner and two lunches)  

Whatcha need:

Okay so here is where recipe number 2 ties into recipes above. While I am cutting all the carrots and celery etc up for the stuffing, I also simultaneously cut up all the veggies for the following soup at the same time and I put them in a big tupperware bowl in the fridge. This way when I go to make the soup the next day, I basically cut out a tonne of prepwork and I also cut out a lot of the cleaning too. 

1 turkey carcass
1 cup of sliced celery
1 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of chopped mushrooms
1 medium potato peeled and cubed
1 small yam peeled and cubed
1 onion diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup of pearl barley
1 can of corn
1 tablespoon of chile powder
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon of celery seeds
1 tablespoon of pepper
1 teaspoon of cumin (if you like)

First, cook the turkey on medium heat in a large pot filled to about two inches from the top with water, for about an hour and a half. It should come to a slow boil for most of the time. Remove. Then, strain all the stock (the liquid) from the pot into a bowl, and put the turkey bones etc back in the pot.  Using a fork take the meat off the bones to put into the stock bowl and toss the bones. Keep on going til all the bones are cleaned and in the garbage.

Then put the stock with the turkey meat back into the pot and add in all the remaining ingredients. Cook on medium low for another hour. Taste the soup, and see what you would like to taste a little more of! I usually add in some more salt and more chile powder and a little cumin to get the flavor I love. Then let the flavors blend for another 10 minutes and "Voila!" a delicious hearty dinner that you can have for lunches and/or freeze any leftovers from for a rainy day!

Come back and comment to let me know how you like these recipes!!
Happy eating!

Being a Personal Trainer/Fitness Instructor and having dabbled in gymnastics and dance, fitness competitions and figure skating for a number of years I thought I was pretty fit, and pretty flexible, and pretty strong. But I noticed when I started yoga, that things I thought I knew had a funny way of turning into “sh!t I didn’t know that I didn’t know”... Pardon my Francais.

Here are some of the things that Yoga taught me in month 1 of practicing:
1)      When I took off my shoes, I wasn’t so good at balancing.
2)      My hips have a way of pulling and pushing themselves wherever the easiest place is to “not” have to stretch. Even if that place causes me to overstretch something else.
3)      Feeling frustration does not make it any more possible to accomplish something; in fact it makes it harder.
4)      Trying to compete with someone else, or the irrational ‘lil voice inside my head, will likely lead to physical injury. At the very least it leads to spiritual injury.
5)      Faster is not better.
6)      Being still and quiet is not as easy as it sounds.
7)      Remembering to breathe should be automatic, but it isn’t.
8)      It’s totally possible to be amazing at doing one thing, and then be incapable of doing something very, very similar.
9)      Time goes by very slowly when in a deep stretch.
10)   The mind wanders, and it is very difficult to rein it in.
And, now, here are some of the things that Yoga has taught me at month 6 of almost daily practice:
1)      I didn’t need those shoes, obviously, and now they throw me off balance.
2)      My hips are phenomenal things that completely express most of my favourite poses, and if I gently and politely ask them, they will slowly start to give in a bit.
3)      Feeling frustration is natural, but it should simply be noted and then let go with a big sigh to make room for other things. It still does nothing to help anything.
4)      Competition is great, but is not required on the yoga mat.
5)      Speed is very important in a race, but yoga does not have a finish line. If I move slowly, it’s much easier to spot the place and space that needs attention.
6)      Being still and quiet is still not as easy as it sounds.
7)      Remembering where to breathe in Yoga for me is like remembering when to breathe when singing a very lyrical song. You need to practice the same tune over and over, and then where the breath belongs becomes second nature.
8)      Challenging poses are now my favourite poses.
9)      When the time feels like it is going the slowest, I use it to maximize how much gratitude I feel for myself, my abilities, and all the good in my life. Then it feels like it flies by.
10)   My mind is still on one side, and really rambunctious on the other. If I give the rambunctious side something to do, like say a mantra, the still side can stop for a moment and take a rest.
Through all this time, one other of my favourite things I’ve learned about yoga, is that unlike so many other activities that you cannot really jump into at a later age, you can undertake this practice and make it’s expression beautiful at any age – and any skill level.
Live, Love, Laugh, and Do Yoga...

Everyone wants to be healthier, to be fitter, and to live their best life. Why is it then that so few people actually attain their fitness goals, and the health that they so want and deserve?! The short answer is that “wanting it” simply is not enough. It’s easy to want something, but knowing how to get there is another story altogether.

Picture this; you have decided that you are going to go to the gym every day on your lunch hour, it just makes sense and so you are going to make this part of your day and your routine. You have plenty of time to make it there and back, and it all fits beautifully into your health plans. So, each morning you wake up, eat your breakfast, and pack your gym bag for the day... And there you have the fatal flaw – because one morning, inevitably, you are going to wake up late, or you won’t be able to find your gym shoes, or you will have forgotten to move your gym clothes from the washer to the dryer and this will prohibit you from continuing with your goal of going to the gym every day... Which in turn sets off a chain reaction of continuing to not attend the gym.

Right in the beginning when you are setting a new goal, the most important thing of all is identifying and implementing strategies to facilitate achieving that goal. For instance, in the story I just told you, it is as simple as always packing your gym bag the night before and setting it by the door, so that no matter what you are set up for success.  With Nutrition and Diet, planning literally is EVERYTHING, and pre-preparation is the be all and end all of attaining health, diet, and nutrition goals.

Now I’m going to give you a list of my five favourite strategies for staying prepared and achieving your nutrition goals. Follow these steps, and I guarantee you success. Seriously, it is this easy. .. Almost as easy as “Wanting It”!

1)      Plan your meals for the week before you grocery shop, and do not grocery shop when you are hungry (this is a double strategy)!
Think about it, most people go to the grocery store and wander around the aisles eyes wide, not knowing altogether what they are going to buy - or what they feel like making or eating in the days to come. All that uncertainty coupled with all those delicious foods taunting you, calling your name... EAT ME... makes it very hard to wield any willpower, or to know what you truly should be buying in order to set yourself up for success (this effect increases if you are hungry!).  Instead of going that route - which is really no route at all - sit down and think about what meals you want to be eating in order to fulfill your nutritional goals this week. Then, write down what you will need in order to make those meals and snacks and do not veer from your list no matter how tempting those cinnarolls are.

2)      When you get home, pre-prepare all your produce.
This is my fridge!
If you are on a healthy eating plan, I am going to assume that it includes a lot of fruits and veggies. Now, the thing with fruits and veggies is that although they are nutritious and delicious, preparing many of them is a pain in the ass. All that washing, peeling, slicing and dicing... When you get the need to feed and you go over to the fridge and then you see food that is a lot of work, when in your cupboard you know there is food that is fast, hand-to-mouth simple and so-what-it’s-not-as-healthy-I’m-hungry-NOW. Well, you get the idea. It’s a recipe for disaster – again pardon my bad pun.

Instead of leaving this up to chance, what I prefer to do is upon getting home from the grocery store I wash and pre-prepare all my produce. Grapes are pulled of the vines, washed, dried and put into a Tupperware container... Lettuce is washed and shredded and dried as well. Everything!!! Peppers, washed and diced,  strawberries, washed and sliced, all produce prepared for use in cooking or ready to eat as a snack. Now on top of all the ease of use, by doing this your fruits and vegetables will last much longer in the fridge than they would in those dinky grocery store plastic bags and also, you are less likely to be throwing out rotten produce because it didn’t get eaten. So you are saving money while getting healthy! Even better.

3)      Pre-Cook Your Breakfast.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Consequently, it is also the hardest meal to prepare in a healthy way and then actually eat because of time constraints (never mind motivation constraints) in the morning. But what you probably don’t know it that it is incredibly easy to pre-make delicious breakfasts that will last up to five days in your fridge. I am going to give you two types here:

Breakfast 1: Dice up a half a cup of green onions and leave separate. Then pan fry a cup of diced ham, and a cup of sliced mushrooms, with 1 tsp of olive oil ‘til they are all browned. Hard-boil a dozen eggs, peel the shells off, and throw out half the yolks by splitting the egg in half and popping the yolk out. Mix the whole shebang together with a fork chopping the egg all up, maybe add some pepper if you like. Separate into 6 small containers with lids. These will last up to 5 days in the fridge, you just microwave for 45 seconds and eat in the a.m. So easy.

Breakfast 2: Peel, core and dice two regular size apples. Separate into 5 little containers. Add 1/3 of a cup of stone ground oats (not the minute kind, that stuff is no good!), one teaspoon of brown-sugar splenda, as well as a half teaspoon of cinnamon to each container. Shake them well and store in the fridge. When you are ready to eat simply add enough water to almost cover the mixture and microwave for one minute. Voila... Tastes like apple cobbler or apple crisp but is healthy, nutritious, and delicious. You can also substitute any other fruits with regular splenda... Try banana and coconut shreds, or strawberry and peach... Mmmmmm...

4)      Make Big Dinners and Plate and Freeze Leftovers.
Since you have worked so hard to make a delicious meal why not enjoy it twice?? You actually could if you just doubled up how much you made. It hardly takes any time to prepare extra when you are doing it already, and if you buy some “covered plate” style containers you can literally freeze a perfect plate of food to eat later when you are in a rush! Think of it as a healthier, home-made, TV dinner.

5)       As you use up certain items, add them back on to a grocery list.
Nothing thwarts a healthy eating plan like not having healthy food available to eat. It’s easy once you get into devouring all that pre-prepared, fast, and easy healthy food you made to forget that someone needs to be replacing it! Tack a pen and pad onto the fridge (you can get a magnetic one from the dollar store!) and jot down what you use up as you go. This also gets you used to buying and making the same things, and habits like these are what set you up long term for success.

Hope that you enjoyed my tips...

Happy planning!!  

This week, here in the prairies, we had a brief flashback to summer. It was well above 20 degrees Celsius outside, sunny, and gorgeous. So, I took the opportunity to soak up the fall beauty and headed out to take some pictures of the visibly changing season, (yes these are a couple of my pics from the day!), choosing a near by closed-down campground that is treed and just gorgeous. Of course, I opted to avoid the sad frostbitten sights in my own backyard...

I may have mentioned in a past post that I love to garden. I think that planting a garden, tending to it, caring for it - about it - and then watching it flourish before your eyes is amazing... But every fall there is a sort of sadness to seeing the effects of the first frost on all my little green babies. Instead of worrying about it, (since it would be futile to do so), I remember "This is life, it's a part of the whole cycle, it's all beautiful, it's all meaningful, and all absolutely necessary". I also instead turn inwards to what inside needs nurturing, and what has room for growth.

Like flowers, we are born, we are nurtured and we begin to grow... Then one day, figuratively, we start to bud. And, just like in nature, when a flower first begins to bud you can not tell what colour it is going to be, or how big or symmetrical it will be... Similarly, as we start to bud there is no way of knowing how we are going to turn out... But what is sure, is that along the way how well we provide all the necessities of life and health and love to ourselves determines how well we will be able to blossom, and truly flourish into our true potential bloom.

Squirrels in Love!
In the past few months I have been watching my yoga practice truly begin to blossom, along with my new marriage, and my personal happiness. Lately, more than ever before in my life, I have been nurturing all the aspects of my life in a balanced and sensible way... And so, with this healthy base and strong roots set, I finally knew that it was time to stretch out a petal or two from my proverbial blossom. This particular petal is an extension of what has really started a new chapter in my personal development, yoga, and more specifically, it is attaining my 200Hr Yoga Teacher Training.

After much research, and much thought, I finally found the teacher training retreat that sounds like the perfect fit for me... And I have now registered for the May 2011 Yoga Teacher Training at Anamaya Resort in Costa Rica. First off, the thing that caught me was the headline on the page that said "Yoga Teacher Training in the Happiest Place on Earth"... Turns out that Costa Rica was named top of the list of happiest nations by CNN in July 2009. I love happy, and I love beach, and I love nature, and I love that this course takes place right before I need to get back to plant my garden after the first moon in June. (A Manitoba/Ukrainian saying to avoid frost, lol).

From the Anamaya Resort website.
The next thing that I love is that the instructor, Sasha Dae, is from Vancouver so I have a fellow Canuck in my midst while staying in this new strange place (which is comforting as this will be really be my very first experience heading anywhere all on my own, to stay on my own for four weeks. EEEKS!) And finally, after checking out the resort and the resort reviews I have to say it all looks amazing and surreal. Right down to the fact that it is not a full vegetarian diet as most teacher training retreats are - there is chicken and fish along with all the amazing veggie dishes which sounds great to me!

So now my mission and goal is to strengthen my yoga practice and continue living my best life as much as possible before I embark to broaden my knowledge and perspectives, and then return to share what I learned by leading yoga practices for others.

I will definitely be blogging frequently up until my training, and then daily to share my experience while I'm away... And I invite you to follow along while I do!

Thanks for stopping by...
...and Namaste!

Before I even get started on this article, I want to say first and foremost that this little ditty is solely directed at all of us non-vegetarian-non-vegan folks out there. If you are already a vegan, or vegetarian (out of health, ecological, or ethical reasons) and you are successfully enjoying living this lifestyle I applaud you and think it’s fabulous.  My aim with this article is to educate myself and my fellow omnivores about some of the facts and figures out there, so that we can maybe apply some...  well let’s call it “restraint and reason”...  with regards to consuming meats.

It’s been some time that I’ve really wanted to learn more about the truths regarding the consumption of meats and by meats I mean red meat, poultry, pork, fish and anything else out there that is “meaty”. What I hope to uncover are some of the facts about how the animal products we are consuming are affecting the economy, the ecology, and our health. I’m going to skip over the ethical reasons not to eat meat, because honestly I am not ashamed that I eat animals – and I don’t feel guilty about that. I think it is natural for people to eat meat, because frankly it is natural, and I think that we all deserve to choose for ourselves without punishment.  

To give you a little bit about my meat eating background, I come from a family with farming and fishing and hunting in its history. My dad and brother both love to hunt, and so there was nothing out of the ordinary for me to see geese being brought into the garage to be plucked and readied for our Thanksgiving dinner. My parents have also raised ducks from being little babies in a kiddie pool splashing around in the backyard, to being adults living the life in a lovely pond at the farm, to being served for dinner. They currently raise the most delicious, and most spoiled, chickens in the world – that have the run of a huge pen and eat the best feed, supplemented by every apple or veggie that doesn’t get eaten by us. These chickens are massively meaty –growing to be between 10 and 15 pounds of healthy happy chicken. The whole operation is quite ecological actually... And there is nothing like knowing exactly where your food is coming from.

In addition to all the above, my husband’s family has a cattle farm in Manitoba, where they have been in the business of raising delicious beef for decades. Again, to not eat beef in our family would practically be a sin... After all there are a lot of Canadian livelihoods “at stake” if everyone gave “up steak”. Pardon the bad joke.  So here I go diving, or should I say dining, into unknown territory. My aim? To discover how is it possible to continue to eat meat, but have less of a negative impact on our ecology... And to have a favourable impact on our health, as well as a favourable impact on our economy. I’ve decided to call it being “un-vegetarian”, a more socially and health conscious way to enjoy being an omnivore.

Here are the first 5 ways to becoming an “un-vegetarian”!

1)      Eat local beef.
There has been plenty of press about the horrible deforestation of the Amazon by Amazon cattle ranchers, as well as the land degradation, top soil erosion and other problems that are caused by the livestock industry in arid areas. But, in Canada, the grazing based production of cattle in our prairies is a much more ecologically friendly way to raise cattle than in other areas.  As for your health, cattle that are grass fed are higher in omega 3 fats (good for you!), and have less saturated fat (bad for you!). Now this is a bad thing in the “grading” of the meat, as higher fat marbling means a higher grade of steak, so look or ask for leaner cuts of Canadian Beef from your local butcher or farmer. Follow this step and you also are helping our economy by buying local and supporting your local farmers.

2)      Plain and Simply, Eat Less Beef.
Beef, although delicious, is not exactly the “healthiest” piece of meat around.  Although beef does have protein, and iron, vitamin B12 and zinc, frequent, and/or too much consumption of beef is linked to the occurrence of breast and colorectal cancers, due to its high saturated fat content, as well as cardiovascular disease. By cutting down your intake to 4-8 ounces of beef (depending on your size) once a week you will still be getting those important nutrients, and you will still be enjoying the experience of beef - but you will be saving yourself long-term from many health problems. Additionally, consuming less beef has a strong beneficial impact on the ecology and you can still support your local farmers (when in season) by buying their chickens, eggs, fruits and vegetables.

3)      Eat Free-Range Organic chicken.
“Organic” means that the chicken isn’t genetically modified, has not been treated with anti-biotics or synthetic hormones, and that it has been fed 100 % organic feed.  “Free-Range” basically means that the chickens have been allowed to run free rather than be caged in close quarters (a more humane way to treat these birds), but in order for it to truly have an effect on the flavour and health of the meat it also should include the chickens having access to grass, greens, and bugs to eat.
By eating Free-Range Organic chicken, you are cutting out a lot of chemicals and you are also supporting the farmers that run a more ecological and ethical operation.  

4)      Meat, it’s what’s for dinner.
There are plenty of ways besides eating meat to get your daily intake of protein, if this is a concern to you, whether you are an athlete or just the average person. You can get oodles of protein from beans and lentils, nuts, dairy products, and delicious grains like Quinoa, as well as supplementation via protein shakes if you so wish. That said, an easy way to cut down on your overall intake of meat is to restrict eating meat to dinner times only. The rest of the day you can focus on obtaining your protein from other scrumptious sources!

5)      Fruits and Veggies and Grains: When You Take Out All That Meat...
Let’s face it, if we are eating a tonne of meat how can there possibly be room left in our bellies to be getting (optimally) 10 servings of fruits and vegetables and 5 servings of grains a day. One serving is considered to be between ½ and 1 cup of volume, so honestly, how can we stuff that much good stuff on top of that 6oz pork chop we just inhaled?! To be our very best; we should be having 5 meals a day that all include 2 servings of fruits or vegetables, and 1 serving of grains. We are only supposed to be eating 2-3 servings of meat, (including fish and eggs), per day (One serving weighing only 100 grams)! So if we have an egg with breakfast, and then a chicken breast at dinner – that’s all that is recommended we have (and this, according to our “meat advocating” government)! Now I’m not even saying to go that far right away if you are really used to meatier meals, but a step in that direction is definitely a good thing, for the Earth and for our waistlines.

All in all, I truly believe that having a balance in life is essential. Going overboard on anything is generally never a good thing (and hard to maintain, never mind) so why not try to make a small change that if we all make together will equal really big results. I like the idea of leaving a tinier footprint on the world... How about you?!

Until my next edition... Have a green, I mean good, night!

More and more, we hear about the sad and unhappy state of the world.  Watch TV, and you are guaranteed to see an incredible amount of advertising for “this drug” and “that drug” to treat the effects of depression, and if you listen to the news eventually you are going to hear someone talk about the rising rates of depression in our society.  Coincidentally, the obesity rate, and the “just plain overweight” rates in Canada are also rising at an alarming rate, and this too gets a lot of media attention.
On the topic of both, want to hear a couple of crazy stats? According to the Statistics Canada website, depression currently affects 4-6% of our population, and if you think that sounds like a lot, the Canadian obesity rate is around 25%! With two factors like that, one can’t help but wonder if the two are somehow correlated... I did, and this is what I found:
If you type into a search engine on the Internet “Depression Rates in Obese People” you will get over 2 million results.  Some of these results say “depression rate 50% higher in obese people”, and then some say “obesity 50% higher in depressed people”. Some say a lot on both. Either way, there is definitely a link between depression and being overweight.
Ever wondered whether or not what YOU are eating is having a direct effect on your mood? To answer that question simply, think about a time when you ate something really greasy, really unhealthy, or really sugary. It’s not hard to notice that within minutes of finishing those types of foods you definitely feel... Different. And not in a good way. So if it is true that being overweight, and/or frequently eating bad foods makes a large percentage of people depressed, or unhappy, then it must be true that having a healthy diet and being fit will make a large percentage of people happier! Great news I say! 
Now, there have been plenty of studies, and plenty of media coverage on the uplifting mood benefits of exercising, but are there certain foods that can uplift you more than others?! I set out to find the answer... And I have to say things are looking up... Right from the plate in front of you!
It turns out that what we eat has a huge effect on our brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters largely associated with our “good moods” are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine... They are responsible for us feeling happy, calm, alert, and energetic. Eating “junk food” (simple carb laden, high in trans and saturated fats, low nutrient food) is shown to lower our levels of these chemicals, making us more stressed, tense, and reducing our alertness.
Here are some foods that are being proven to make you smile, inside and out:
Skim milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs: These are all high in Vitamin B – which can help to improve your mood by stabilizing your emotions. These foods can also help boost the immune system! Who isn’t happier without a cold?!
Edamame Beans: These high protein little veggies are shown to regulate blood sugar, and even blood sugar is shown to help keep a stable mood. Never mind, they are delicious!!
Ground Flax Seed, Beans, Omega 3 Eggs, and Flax Seed Oil: Omega 3 fats are shown to increase serotonin levels and serotonin is the chemical that really makes us calm and happy. Omega 3’s can help you be sharp, since serotonin also makes you feel less stressed. Less stress = more focus.  
Turkey, Red Meat, Lean Meat: Meat, and especially turkey, is high in Tryptophan. You know after that fabulous thanksgiving turkey dinner, when you hit the couch with a big grin on your face and a soul full of holiday spirit? You can thank Tryptophan for contributing! Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, and also is converted to vitamin B3 (niacin) in the liver... So you have a double whammy of get happy! If you are vegan, or vegetarian, you can also get your Tryptophan from bananas, nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or red or brown rice!
Blueberries, Blackberries, and Mostly All Berries: Berries are normally rich in Vitamin C and Antioxidants, which are known to be stress busters. They are also high in fibre, and fibre helps to regulate blood sugar which in turn regulates mood.  Additionally, antioxidants are shown to help anti-aging , and who isn’t happier when they are looking and feeling younger?!
All in all, there is a definite link to being healthy, and being happy, and with so many ways to achieve better health you owe it to yourself to try and be your very best, loving self – to yourself! An easy way to start is to research the “Mediterranean Diet”, which includes all of the things above as well as is a balanced healthy way to eat in general. This type of diet is being shown to be the most nutritionally sound, as well as vast in the variety of foods you get to eat! (Variety is the spice of life). I know I thoroughly enjoy eating this way!
I plan to write about the "Mediterranean Diet" on another day, but in the meantime, here are a few links to some good “Mediterranean Diet” sites:
Happy eating!!!

I often get asked a bunch of questions from personal training clients, friends, coworkers, people I just met like five minutes ago, whoever, on the topic of nutrition or diet... And specifically, they ask something along the lines of: "what should I be eating in order to be fit and lean?".

I'll be honest, no-one has ever asked me, "How much vitamin C should I be getting?", or "How much fibre do I need on a daily basis?"... They pretty much just want to know how to "lose weight", and I have to say, that as much as I love the questions, and I definitely have a passion for the subject of nutrition, the answer to losing weight is still and always will be completely basic. Take in less energy than you put out consistantly. The answer to being "healthy" though, is so so so complicated, and goes so far beyond being lean or thin.

That said, I have decided to branch out on the subject and to do it "Parts". This way, I don't get too boring to you, I won't get bored myself and abandon the blog-ship, and my wandering mind won't take off on a million side tangents. Cuz that happens to me! Anyhoo...Here goes Part 1, I'm going to cover the basic pieces of the nutrition pie (pardon the pun!), so we have a little foundation of what each part is before I get diving in in future blogs to tackle some hot topics like vegetarianism, cleanses, low-carb-no-carb diets, and you get the idea.

Basic Nutrition:

Our bodies are extremely complex, and depending on the person and their specific genetics and development, nutritional needs can truly vary. Scientists and doctors have only begun to touch on and understand what effects our dietary intakes truly have on us, but overall there are some specific things that together make up a healthy diet:

Carbohydrates: With the likely exception of fibre we could live without carbohydrates... But who would want to??? Carbs make up some of the best tasting foods in life, like pasta, bread, and rice. They are a big part of dairy products too, so that means cheese and milk and yogurt, and basically anything sweet will have high carbohydrates because sugar IS a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are also high in fruits and vegetables... and carbohydrates really get an undeserved bad rep! Some carb-laden items are just bad "empty calories", but many are just plain great sources of energy and taste!

Fibre: Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is not completely absorbed in humans, and the part that is not absorbed is used by our digestive tract to do many wonderful things! Currently, getting a higher intake of fibre is being promoted in the media often to lower cholesterol, improve digestion, lower the instance of colon cancer, and to aid in weight loss.

Fats: In recent history I think that fats have had it the worst with regards to the "nix-off-the diet-list", but honestly we could not live well without some types of fats! Just like carbs there are "good-fats" and "bad fats". For instance: Trans-Fat = Bad, Omega 3-6-9 Fat = Good.

Proteins: Proteins are the building blocks in many of our bodily structures - like our hair, skin, organs and muscles, and proteins are made up of amino acids. When we eat protein, our bodies use these amino acids to create new proteins in the structures in our bodies, and rebuild damaged proteins in our bodies.

Minerals: Minerals are the things like Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, and many other trace elements that are required. These are little pieces of the health puzzle.

Vitamins: Vitamins are the essential nutrients that contribute to overall health, that we are required to ingest as we can not create them ourselves within our bodies. (With the exception of Vitamin D which we actually can make ourselves from sunlight.)

Water: I do not feel I have to explain what water is, or why water is good, but in another post I will dedicate a whole rant to water! Promise!

Antioxidants: By far these little nutritional superstars have been getting the most press lately. Antioxidants basically fight free radicals, which are compounds that can be potentially damaging (mutation causing) to cells. Think about an apple left unpeeled... Oxidization = brown apple. Soak it in lemon or something high in Vitamin C, and the "antioxidants" temporarily stop/slow this oxidization process.

Phytochemicals: New studies are being done on the effects of certain trace chemicals, often found in edible fruits and vegetables collectively called Phytochemicals. It will be interesting to see where this nutritional slice of pie will lead us!

Now, I feel that we have covered the basics of what we need nutritionally in this post, but some people may feel I've missed something or am mistaken. I'm not a doctor or a registered dietitian, and I am also not writing a textbook - but, please feel free to comment if you feel you need to! I love learning! Also, if you have questions, I'll take those too... If I don't know the answer, I get to learn something new myself by finding it. Over the next few weeks I want to touch on the importance of each individual part, and how to get the recommended intake, and on some of the other topics mentioned above - and I'm also going to include a lot of links to a lot of sites and blogs I've been reading lately so it's not just "about me and my opinions"!

In the meantime...

Eat well, live well, and brush and floss your teeth! 

As a newcomer to yoga, it's really a huge task to try and be successful in achieving all the physical things you are supposed to be maintaining, (the correct breath - for Ashtanga Ujjayi, the correct posture - Asana, the correct gaze - Drishti, and the correct contraction of the interior muscles - Bandhas), at the same time as you are supposed to be clearing your mind. Honestly, it seems like a complete contradiction to be trying to do 4 things that are difficult while trying not to think! Never mind, in the beginning you are often looking around the room at your mat neighbors or at the instructor just trying to figure out how to make your limbs do what theirs are doing.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I really started to practice yoga regularly (around 5 times a week) about 5 months ago, and in the last couple weeks I've finally started to be able to carry most of the above elements in the majority of my practice. But as I go along, I realize that not all elements are as strong from day to day... And I've drawn the conclusion that, unlike other types of workouts (which normally remain pretty similar from session to session) each yoga session truly takes on a life and expression of it's own.

Some days, I feel very strong and energetic, but my mind is scattered and darts from thought to thought. Other days my limbs feel loose and pliable and my flexibility is incredible, though my balance may be completely off. Then, there are days when I'm physically tired, but mentally and emotionally balanced, and I am able to go through an entire practice with nothing but a peaceful quiet in my mind. All of these elements are essential, and all of them are equal... And I realize how special each practice is on it's own, with all elements growing and developing.

Three days ago, something new and wonderful happened. I had a practice where it seemed that all my strengths and every skill I had was at it's peak, and they all collided together, giving me the best 75 minute yoga practice I have ever experienced... At the end, as I lay in savasana, I experienced something I can liken to a "runner's high" at the ends of my practice. It was an incredible rush of endorphins, coupled with an intense sense of pride and gratitude to my body and myself. I felt completely connected, and gracious to my present. It was like I got a little peek behind the curtain at what I am ultimately trying to achieve with my practice - what the "other yogis" have been talking about!

Now, I have practiced since that day and not had the same result, but I understand that not all days will be like that, and that is okay. Each practice is essential, each failure, each success is only measurable by previous experience. I now look forward to them all, growing with each endeavor to reach my full potential. The more I do, the more I see I will have to do, and I am learning to love the journey instead of simply waiting to arrive at my destination.

I love that yoga is so much like life, each piece intersecting with the next piece of the puzzle... Discovering all the nuances, and trying to always see them all with fresh eyes is seeming more and more like the optimal way to enjoy both.


Mouah ha ha ha ha!!! Mouuuuuuahhhhh ha ha ha!

Sound evil? I sure hope so... Because now that you are looking at this post, you are probably going to have to make these unbelievably delicious and ridiculously addictive cinnamon buns and dinner rolls.

I absolutely love this recipe, for a couple reasons. One is that I've managed to cut out a lot of time -combining two really big recipes, both involving a fair bit of prep work, into two phenomenal outcomes.,, And two is that you don't have a dozen cinnamon buns sitting in front of you at the end, begging you to eat them. You only have four. You also have 6 dinner rolls.

Without further adieu...

Damn These are Good Cinnamon Buns and Dinner Rolls Recipe

Watcha need for the dough:
  • Two packages of quick rise yeast
  • 4 -5 cups of white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
Watcha need for the filling:
  • One large apple, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
To make the dough, I suggest using a handmixer - you can buy one for like $20 at Superstore or Walmart and you will get unlimited uses for it! I love mine.

In a large (12 inch or bigger) mixing bowl, combine 1.5 cups of flour, yeast, salt, and sugar.

In a separate small bowl or large measuring cup combine milk, water, and butter. Microwave for about 45 seconds. Stir well.

Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and use hand mixture on medium to combine well, using a large spoon to periodically scrape the sides down into it. Do this for about 1 minute. Once well mixed, an another cup and a half of flour and mix on high for about 2 minutes. Add in another half cup of floor and gently mix in with a large spoon til you get a smooth dough.

Lightly flour a clean countertop, and knead the dough, adding flour until it is no longer sticky and you have a smooth stretchy dough... About 4-5 minutes. Clean and lightly grease the bowl you were previously using. Place your dough inside of it and cover the top with a dish-towel. Let rise for about 20 minutes.

To make the filling, melt the butter in a small pot on medium low, once melted add in all the remaining filling ingredients and stir frequently until it starts to thinken. In about 5-8 minutes it will be very gooey. Turn heat off and let sit.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Your dough should have risen to double size by now. Punch it down. Using a lightly greased non-stick muffin pan, tear off six 3-inch round balls of dough and put them into the muffin pan. Take the remaining dough, and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 of an inch thick and about 6x8 inches, in sort of a horisontal  rectangle shape. Spread the filling all over, and roll it up so it is 8 inches wide. Cut into 2 inch pieces and place them swirl up in the muffin pan.

They should all look like this:

Put 'em in the oven for 20-25 minutes (until a little golden), then take 'em out and let 'em cool on a baking rack.


Tonight was me and my husband Dan's one month wedding anniversary... So I decided to wing a couple new recipes as a (hopefully delicious) treat for me. I mean us. I settled on whipping up a bunch of crazy things to make:

Chubalicous Cherry Stuffed Chicken with
Happily Married Ginger and Cinnamon Beets
Make Him Marry You, Again Potatoes (Aptly named because my husband asked me to marry him again after this meal).

Chubalicious Cherry Chicken
I have recently gotten really into cooking meat with fruit preserves lately; apricot preserves, raspbery preserves... Anyway, I bought this cherry kind the other day at Safeway: Wilken and Sons Ltd. Cherry Fruit Spread, and it is AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS. So I wanted to try a stuffed chicken recipe with it, and this is what I came up with... Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Whatcha Need:
•3 fresh chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thick
•1 tablespoon of Wilken and Sons Cherry Fruit Spread with 1 tablespoon of olive oil mixed well in a small bowl

•1/4 cup of Wilken and Sons Cherry Fruit Spread
•1/4 cup of light Feta cheese
•1/2 teaspoon of basil
•2 cloves of crushed garlic
•A dash of salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees f.

Mix all the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl with a fork by mashing it. Then spread equal parts on to the middle of the 1/4" thick chicken breasts. Roll them up so the stuffing is inside, and place them on a baking rack in a baking dish with the seam up. Cook for 25 minutes, then remove them from the oven and glaze the outsides with the olive oil and fruitspread mixture and a sprinkle of basil. Return to the oven on 375 degrees for another 15 minutes. Brown by turning the oven to a low broil and keeping a watchful eye!

Happily Married Ginger Cinnamon Beets
I went out to the garden and picked a bunch of fresh beets and created this yummy side dish for us, but you can use store-bought beets... No problemo!

Whatcha Need:
•8 medium small sized beets, peeled and sliced in 1/8 inch rounds
•3 tablespoons butter
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 teaspoon ground black pepper
•1 teaspoon crushed chili peppers
•1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
•1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
•2 teaspoons lemon juice

In a sauce pan, cover the beets with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil for approximately 10 minutes, until beets are tender and you can pierce with a fork fairly easily. Once ready, drain beets into a colander.

In the same sauce pan, on low heat, combine all remaining ingredients and stir until well blended. Add beets into the saucepan and bring heat up to medium high. Stir regularly until the sauce thickens into a glaze.

Make Him Marry You, Again, Potatoes

Whatcha Need:
•4 medium red potatoes, skin on, cubed to 1".
•4 cloves of crushed garlic
•1 teaspoon of rosemary
•2 teaspoons of lemon pepper seasoning
•1 tablespoon of olive oil

Mix all of the above in a small baking dish. Cover and cook in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then uncover, stir, return it to te oven and cook for 25 more minutes at 400 and finally leave uncovered at 375 for another 15 minutes. You will notice that these times and temperatures coincide perfectly with the chicken, so you can cook them together with the beets on the stove... Genius!!

I hope you enjoy these recipes, I would love your feedback!!!

I love living in the city. The convenience of having, well, every convenience available right in your vicinity?! It's awesome. Run of out dishwasher detergent in the evening and you are having friends over for breakfast first thing? Walmart is still open. Have a sushi craving at 10pm? Mikado (or insert your sushi restaurant here) is waiting for you right up the way. Whatever you want, it is somewhere in the city.

That said, if you live in the city, you must (and I mean MUST) make time to leave the city, let's say - for at least an entire day (12 hrs) every month, in order to remind yourself how unnecessary all those things I mentioned above really are. Now, it doesn't really matter which city you live in this country, if you drive for an hour or two you will be well out of your city, and into something truly beautiful... Nature. Whether it's wide open wheat fields with big skies, lakes or rivers out in the woods, beaches, you name it, spending time appreciating the simple beauty in nature opens up our minds and spirits in a way that nothing else can.

I feel incredibly lucky that for me, driving for a couple hours outside of Edmonton puts me into the mountains... Because I gotta say, I love me some mountains! This lovely long weekend me and the hubby decided to hop in the car to check out an area in the Kootenays in Alberta, Nordegg - so today we went! When you decide to leave town, it doesn't have to be a big fancy thing... All you need is a car and some gas and there is plenty to explore out there. We left this morning at 9am, and we got back in at 7... We hiked, and drove, and enjoyed the day. It was awesome. I end this night refreshed, with a million beautiful memories that make me appreciate life so much. Here's some more of what we saw!