Superfood Breakfast Cookies

Superfoods Breakfast Cookies

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

It gives our body the fuel it needs to conquer the day, so it’s important to choose foods that will nourish the body so that we’re provided with enough energy until the next meal.  One of the best nutritional pieces of advice I’ve ever received was from an old boss, who told me that her father always believed the first meal of the day should consist of healthy carbohydrates and proteins. After all, you’re breaking the fast that your body endured after dinner and during sleep, so chances are it’s been 12 hours since you last ate.

I’ve always believed that breakfast should be the largest meal of the day, as you’re able to spend the rest of the day expending the energy you’ve consumed. That being said, I know plenty of people who opt not to eat anything at all for breakfast, which would explain why they’re starving when lunch time finally rolls around, and they end up gorging on unhealthier food choices. This in turn of course, usually leads to a slower metabolism, and the need for these people to continually yo-yo diet…and unfortunately perhaps choosing weight-loss supplements or diet meal replacement shakes in search of a quick fix to losing the weight.

Luckily for those people, I’ve discovered a simple way to eat breakfast — in the form of cookies! Everyone enjoys a warm ooey-gooey cookie, and the convenience of these healthy treats means there won’t be any excuse for not eating breakfast.

These cookies were actually somewhat of an accidental discovery when I realised I’d cooked too much porridge on the stove. Curiosity and ingenuity led to me dumping all of my superfoods into the food processor, and then mixing the concoction into the warm oats in the pot. After playing with oven cooking times and temperatures, I took the guess-work out for you, and lo and behold: my Superfood Breakfast Cookies!

 

INGREDIENTS

Porridge:

  • 1 ½ cups Rolled Oats
  • 1 cup  Almond Mylk
  • 2 Tbsp Cacao
  • 2 Tbsp Maca Powder
  • 2 Bananas, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tsp Organic Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Tbsp Honey

Superfoods Blend:

  • 1 Tbsp Flax Seeds
  • ½ cup of Bran Flakes
  • ¼ cup Raisins
  • ¼ cup Goji Berries
  • 1 Tbsp Bee Pollen
  • 1 Tsp Chlorella
  • 1/3 cup mixture of Brazil Nuts, Pecans & Cashews
  • 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 5 Prunes (can be substituted for dates to use as sweetener)
  • ¼ cup Hemp Hearts
  • 1 Tbsp Acai Powder
  • * Coconut Water (use sparingly)

 

DIRECTIONS

Combine the oats, almond mylk, cacao, maca powder, bananas, vanilla extract and honey in a medium sized sauce pan, thoroughly mixing everything together. Cover pot with lid, and leave on medium heat until mixture begins to thicken and oats are soft, about 10 minutes.

While oat mixture is cooking, combine the remaining ingredients into a food processor or blender. To keep the mixture from sticking, add small amounts of the coconut water until the mixture has the consistency of crunchy peanut butter.

Once oats have finished cooking, remove from heat and add the blended nutty superfood mixture to the pot, and stir. The batter should resemble that of oatmeal cookies. If the result is too runny, add more chia seeds and allow the mix to sit while the seeds gel. If the mixture is too thick, add small amounts of coconut water.

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Space cookies far apart from each other, and be sure to flatten

Preheat the oven to 175*c / 345*f and line 2 baking pans with parchment paper. Form the sticky batter into balls, then place on the baking pans, flattening them out into a cookie shape. The cookies will rise and taste more like a muffin if the batter isn’t spread flat enough on the sheets.  Ensure that cookies are not touching each other.

Once oven is hot enough, place the cookies on the middle rack and bake for 10 minutes. When the edges begin to look slightly browned, remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Next, you’ll need to flip the cookies so that they can get crunchy on the underside.

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For optimum chewiness, flip the cookies mid-bake

Place back in oven for an additional 7-10 minutes, or until cookies begin to look hard. Remove from heat, and let cool.

As the cookies may still retain some of their moisture inside, they store best in the fridge, uncovered in a container and are best consumed within 5 days. If you can’t eat 36 cookies in 5 days though, they also freeze well.

MAKES: 36 cookies

PREP TIME: 10 minutes

TOTAL COOKING TIME: 30 minutes

Nutritional info per cookie:

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Managing Stress: Regaining your Mental & Physical Health

Stress

Take a deep breath, and relax.

We’ve all heard it before: stress plays an important role in our health. Obviously, it can wreak havoc on our mental health, but did you know that it can also impact our physical health?

During our fight or flight state, our adrenal glands go into overtime and start pumping out a slew of hormones including cortisol and adrenaline. Before we evolved into the human beings that we are now, our bodies relied on these hormones produced during stressful times. Cortisol aided us by raising our blood pressure, and prolonging blood loss in the event if we were about to go into battle with an enemy (fight), and adrenaline began to course through our veins preparing us to run away from our attacker (flight).

These hormones are synthesized in the central nervous system, and if not exerted and balanced, numerous health issues can arise including imbalanced blood sugars resulting in depleted energy levels, vitamin C deficiency, digestive upsets and ulcers, sleep quality, hair loss, unpleasant complexion, mood swings, decreased libido, irregular periods & fertility issues, extreme increase or decrease in appetite thereby affecting weight gain or loss, deterioration of thyroid health, motivation to perform common tasks and your general vitality and lust for life.

Being in a constant state of fear that something bad will happen to us is obviously quite detrimental to our health. It doesn’t help that over the past few decades, the norm has been for us to live a 24/7 lifestyle of being attached to our phones and slaves to our jobs, with no time for play or rest. In turn, our fast-paced mentality has carried over to our grab-and-go eating habits through fast-food and commercially prepared snacks and meals, which as we know is just creating even further damage to our health. It’s a domino effect.  

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A tranquil walk my not only clear your head, but can also assist in helping to exert the excess energy created by your adrenal glands

There are a number of steps we can take to assist in keeping calm, cool and collected — such as improving our nutrition, exercising more, and practising meditation and pranayama. However, just like with nutrition, the trick is to get down to the root of the issue and prevent these health ailments from arising, rather than treat them long after the damage has been done.

Think of the human body as a seed.

In order to flower, we require proper nutrition, a healthy amount of sunlight, clean water, and time to rest for growth, rejuvenation and transformation. If a budding flower were to constantly endure environmental stresses, how would it bloom?

If your job is causing your hair to fall out, can you find a different position? If you’ve developed ulcers from worrying about your relationships with others, can you distance yourself from them? If you’re turning to food when faced with a heavy course load at school, can you find better ways to manage your time? 

If what you’re doing doesn’t bring you joy, either find an alternative way to cope with it, or cut it out of your life.

Address your stresses so that you can further bloom.

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Don’t Look Back – You’re Not Going That Way

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I had a moment of self-realization recently.

I really enjoy solo road trips. There’s something so freeing and liberating about being alone in the car for long periods of time with nothing but you and the open road. I’ve always been shy when it comes to singing in front of people, yet when I’m alone in the car, I’m free to belt out the lyrics to my favourite songs on my car’s stereo. Singing makes me happy, and gives me a sense of finding myself more…so it’s any wonder I’m able to reflect and meditate best on long car trips alone.

A few weeks ago, I was driving along a desolate highway from Phillip Island back to Melbourne. The sun had long set, and the sky was pitch black. There were barely any other cars on the road and aside from the radio, my open windows revealed that there weren’t any surrounding noises outside. Yet, I unintentionally kept checking my rear view mirror.

Finally, for some reason I said to myself: Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.  

I immediately knew that this was my subconscious bringing clarity to not only the present moment whilst driving, but also to life in general. For years, I can remember telling my friends during their tough times not to dwell on the past. And once, after getting into and argument with a family member and then reconciling, I was told it was water under the bridge and we never brought up the incident again. So why then, when facing my own struggles, do I have so much trouble with letting go of the past? Sure, you can forgive and forget, but the heart can’t instantly repair itself. And granted, time heals all wounds, but you’re only going in circles if you keep trudging up the past.

Since further studying yoga and moving to Australia, I’ve done a lot of self-discovery. I feel as though mentally, I’ve grown a lot and gained so much wisdom. People have come in and out of my life, and I feel as though each person has been vital in my mental development — even if I only knew them for a short period of time.

We have to keep in mind that we’re constantly evolving. Each new day can offer a life lesson, whether big in the form of death or heartbreak, or small through learning a new skill or brightening someone’s day.

Yes, it’s okay to look back on the past as a reminder of how far you’ve come. But continually picking at the scab and resenting or dwelling on a moment long past isn’t helping you grow.  

Keep your eye on the prize, and try to move forward… because that’s the direction in which you’re headed.

London, England

A Hop Across the Pond to Kick off a 3 Week Tour of Europe

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Less than 24 hours after arriving back home in Canada from my summer spent in Nicaraguamy friend Meghan had convinced me to re-pack my bags and accompany her on a 3 week-long tour of Europe. Surprisingly, my boss was very supportive of my new travel plans, and also urged me to get out and explore more of the world.

34 days later, Meghan and I would be running through the JFK International Airport in New York with our luggage as we struggled to make our connecting flight to London, England’s Heathrow Airport.

I had been to Europe before when I was 17 as part of a high school Latin class trip to Italy and Greece, but now I was more mature and able to appreciate the history, architecture and culture of my foreign surroundings. And of course, what I looked forward to most of all for this trip would be the varied cuisines between countries — my last trip to Europe resulted in a trip to the hospital when I’d arrived back home, as my then “vegan diet” included an abundance of sweets in place of any animal products, which lead to an unhappy gallbladder. But now I knew better, and understood the importance of a healthy lifestyle that included  lots of vegetables but treats in moderation.

We arrived in London, slightly disoriented and jet-lagged from our 6 hour flight across the Atlantic ocean. Weeks of carefully planning what to pack  and sharing clothes and other necessities between our bags, we were certain that we hadn’t overpacked. But, already exhausted and having to haul our heavy luggage from the airport to the Underground rail systems and then through the streets until we finally found our hotel, we were starting to second-guess our need for certain items in our suitcases. To make matters worse, we became further irritated once we arrived at the hotel, and were told we wouldn’t be able to check in for another 3 hours.

Desperate to make the most out of a less than ideal situation, we decided to duck into an authentic British pub, and indulge in some fish & chips and wash it all down with a pint of English lager (despite the fact that back home in Canada, it would have only been 5:00am our time)!

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Eager to “sample” every country’s traditional dish, I made a simple promise to myself: not to overindulge in unhealthy foods — whether it be fried, dairy, red meat, or savoury sweets. I knew my digestive tract and my inflammatory trigger foods, and didn’t want to waste any time sitting in my hotel room with gastric cramping and nausea. It’s funny how after over 10 years of not really being able to go near certain foods, I’ve pretty much lost interest in junk food and anything that at one point in time had a heart beat. It was somewhat of a chore for me to eat half of my fish & chips, but I happily inhaled my side salad (or was that a garnish?) along with what Meghan left behind.

Once our bellies were full, we sleepily tried to make our way back outside to marvel at the city streets of London. Everything was so foreign: cars driving on the opposite side of the road, double decker buses whizzing by, the different noises the sirens of emergency vehicles made, fruit vendors on every corner, the currency (and sadly, our measly dollar comparison), the friendly locals,  the gorgeous architecture and  building character…it was all so much to take in, yet we could barely keep our eyes open. We realised that we had spent a fair amount of time in the pub, and as it was finally time to check into our hotel, we would go back to our room for a short cat nap. We would be able to appreciate more of our surroundings once we were better rested, had clearer heads, and were no longer carrying our various heavy suitcases.

Of course, our bodies craved more than a 45 minute nap, and we somehow both managed to sleep through the alarms we’d set to wake up at 2:00pm. Instead, we woke up several hours later and it was already dinner time, the sky pitch black and daily sight-seeing tours ended. We hurriedly got dressed, and made our way back to the streets to try to find something “British” to do before the day had ended and the shops had closed. Out of luck, we settled for a nighttime stroll through one of the beautiful city parks to  appreciate its gardens, and then we made our way to a tea shop to partake in some scones, bikkies and sweets.

As London was our first stop, we unfortunately were only in the UK for a mere 24 hours before we had to embark on our European tour and check into our next hotel in Amsterdam. Fortunately, England wasn’t at the top of our Travel Bucket List, so we weren’t too concerned about missing some of the major attractions. In hindsight, I do regret not at least doing the Hop On Hop Off tour on one of the many double decker busses to see Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, Big Ben and the London Eye. I suppose part of me feels guilty for not wanting to explore more, especially since I grew up in Stratford, Ontario — a community obsessed with William Shakespeare and his life.

But, I have an entire lifetime ahead of me if I so choose to go back and see what I missed out on.

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A Year of Reflection

Spending your birthday by yourself is a chance to focus on your goals and appreciate how far you’ve come

In 3 hours I’ll be 27 years old.

It’s so strange to think about where I thought I’d be by now. When I was a kid, I always imagined that I’d be married with 2 kids by the time I turned 25 years old. I suppose I had based this thought around the nuclear families I’d seen on TV, and the stories I’d heard of my grandparents marrying and having children of their own in their early 20’s.

The times however have changed. Now, it seems somewhat out of the ordinary to learn of anyone I know of or grew up with, as getting married and having babies of their own. In a sense, I still feel like so many people my age are still children themselves. Nonetheless, I feel as if for me 30 is just around the corner, and that there’s a push to start getting my life more in order…in terms of relationships, career, and responsibilities.

Looking back, I’ll consider the year I was 26 as a whirlwind adventure. I experienced what feels like a lifetime of ups and downs in a mere 365 days. I took my first solo trip and lived in Nicaragua for the summer, I became a certified Yoga instructor, I spent 3 weeks travelling through Europe, I made new friends, I spent more time with family, I left my job, I impulsively moved to Australia, I re-evaluated relationships , and most importantly I learned more about myself and how to love myself.

Although I’ll be spending my birthday this year 17,000km away from my friends and family, I look forward to turning 27 and to what this year has in store for me. I feel through this past year’s experiences, I’ve gained more wisdom and clarity to be able to truly decide on what I want in life.

Ageing is inevitable, so why not make the most of this short time we have on Earth? 

Perth Beach reflection

Preparing for Yoga Training in Nicaragua (PART II)

This post is part two of a three part series.

Continued from My Journey Towards Becoming a Certified Yoga Teacher – Part One

I have to admit, I was a bit sceptical at first about travelling all the way to Central America by myself. I had been to Nicaragua before with my boyfriend, and his family made frequent trips there several times a year, so I knew the country well enough. But this was my first solo trip anywhere and to add to my anxiety, my Spanish was no bueno.

I decided first to do some research on the yoga school in Nicaragua to make sure it was indeed a legitimate program, and to see what my accommodations would be like. Nicaragua is a third world country, and more often times than not, most people have difficulties even pointing it out on a map. Since the country gained independence in 1821, it’s seen many periods of political unrest — most recently in the 1970’s. That fact alone is usually enough to put a sour taste in one’s mouth and deter them from ever visiting the country, let alone living there.

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But the Nicaragua I knew was full of peaceful, helpful, laid-back people who you’d never think of as violent at all. In fact, quite the opposite as locals would sometimes invite gringos and complete strangers into their family homes to share a meal with them. So clearly, I wasn’t concerned for my safety at all. I think if anything, I was worried I’d be lonely and homesick.

As it turns out, the shala where I’d be learning was inside of a bed and breakfast called Casa Aromansse located at the base of an inactive volcano called Laguna de Apoyo, which over thousands of years had naturally evolved into a volcanic lake. Coincidentally I had also visited this lake in my previous travels, and I knew from memory that its tranquillity would set the perfect tone for some rest and relaxation. The research I’d done on the B&B revealed a beautiful retreat with plenty of outstanding reviews and the teaching instructor, Serge, seemed to be loved by all of his students. I promptly contacted him and as my old journalist instincts kicked in, I realised I was interviewing Serge and asking every question I could think of.

After weeks of intense research, email correspondence with Serge, planning, and budgeting, I had enrolled in my first 200 hour Registered Yoga Teacher Training and purchased my plane ticket. Nicaragua’s climate is hot yet dry, and our classes would be spent all day outdoors. August in Canada can see the hottest temperatures we’ll experience all summer, but I’d be arriving in Nicaragua during their wet season, invierno (winter). So although the temperature wouldn’t feel humid, I did run into the possibility of experiencing a tropical storm. This of course, meant I’d have to get creative and carefully plan out my outfits when packing for my trip.

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Leading up to my departure, my free time was spent attending Moksha’s yoga in the park, and unrolling my mat in my backyard and on the beach so that I’d be more accustomed to practising outdoors.  Outside of the office, I lived in my yoga leggings and a breezy shirt so that I could move more freely, and most of my disposable income went towards purchasing more gear to bring with me for the 6 weeks I’d be away. 

The big day finally arrived for me to fly out, and I said goodbye to my friends, family and co-workers. Everyone was extremely supportive of me going out on my own and eager for me to come back with new accomplishments (solo travel & a certificate!), so off I went on my 8 hour-long journey to Laguna de Apoyo. 

…Little did I know, I was in for a rude awakening.

Click here for the final chapter of My Journey Towards Becoming a Yoga Teacher (PART lll)

My Journey Towards Becoming A Certified Yoga Teacher (PART l)

Ashtanga Opening Mantra
Ashtanga Opening Mantra

August 2015 was an incredibly challenging month for me. I chose to trek 6000km to Laguna de Apoyo in Nicaragua to complete my Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Kriya yoga teacher certification. 13 hours of intense mental and physical yoga every day for 30 days left me exhausted, and I will admit there were a few times where I wanted to throw in the towel and book a plane ticket back home, but I’m proud of myself for sticking it out. I learned so much about myself, and the experience alone was one that I’ll never forget.

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I had first discovered my version of “yoga” when I was a teenager. My mother must have read about the “exercises” as she called them (which I would later learn to realise were called asanas), and she began to start her mornings off with a modified version of Surya Namaskara A. Intrigued, I would watch her do her stretches, then go to the privacy of my own room to practice them myself.

However, I never really practised consistently. Always curious about new exercise fads though, I remember picking up magazines and reading about different (albeit easy) asanas to try. It wasn’t until years later once I was diagnosed with stress-induced seizures that my doctor recommended I consider trying out a real yoga class.

Soon after that, I ended up picking up a job at a health club working as both the manager and a nutritionist. I quickly befriended the office administrator who coincidentally had the same passion for health as I do, and before I knew it, we were looking for other fitness classes to explore that our club wasn’t offering. She stumbled upon an introductory month-long pass to Moksha yoga and that night we excitedly drove to the studio with our yoga mats to enrol in hot yoga. I fell in love with the structured class and the way the asanas flowed together beautifully. I finally felt as if this was the yoga I’d been told of all this time: a mental practise over a physical practise — which was exactly what I needed.

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After a few years of being a regular “Mokshi,” and becoming more and more submerged in a holistic lifestyle, I decided I needed a long vacation to find myself and get out of the house for the summer. I figured that a yoga retreat would be the perfect getaway but I couldn’t find anything that lasted long enough, or for a decent price. Using my favourite Moksha instructor as my muse, I thought maybe I could just go for my teacher certification? She makes teaching look so easy! Plus getting my certification could also help my career as a nutritionist by opening some doors!

And so began my hunt for a yoga school recognized by the Canadian Yoga Alliance.

The organisation listed 15 schools in Canada which were weekend courses only and would have taken 5 months to complete. To my surprise, they listed one school outside of Canada in Nicaragua which offered free accommodations and a fast-track 6 week program which would allow me to obtain my teaching certificate at the end of the summer.

But was this a safe decision? And where exactly in the world was Nicaragua?

This post is part one of a three part series.

Click here for part 2 — Preparing for Yoga Training in Nicaragua