Sunday, January 8, 2017

On minimalism


                  

For the past few months I've been trying to transition into a minimalist. Why minimalism, why not?

My experience of working in retail has turned me into a minimalist early on, but I didn't make anything of it until I did one day. Seeing the same customer come to the store every week to purchase the newest thing on the shelve makes you question what is that's missing in their life that material possession seems to be the logical answer to fill the void. While I critiqued and criticized these customer(s) and questioned their happiness, little did I know I was just like them. Like them their happiness seems to be depended on material possession, the more they consumed the happier they seem, but that happiness only lasted for a certain period of time and the cycle starts over again. 

I would not say that I have a lot of things per se (clothes in particular), or at least that's what I thought. While I hate shopping and spending money on clothes the process of becoming a minimalist has showed me that I am no matter than the customer(s) who come to the store every week and purchase the latest item. While they did their shopping every week I did my shopping once a month, and over the course of the year my 'minimalist' closet was full of clothes that I did not wore for months. Like them my material possession have come to define me and my identity seems to be interlinked with my material possession, the stack of clothes in my closet to the bookshelf full of books that I refuse to allow others barrow.

 Letting go of material possession seems to the least of my worry, with clutter of books and clothes I am also hoarding shitty relationship and friends because like my material possession they seems to be a part of my identity, individuals who my happiness seems to be depended on. 

Becoming a minimalist seems like a logical answer to my stress, but also personal value and believe. Being a vegan and a health advocate I am always trying to lead a simple healthy life, my diet is very simple and things that I know don't add value to my diet I always let of, i.e. eating meat or diary. Yet, the other aspect of my life has not caught on to this "simple living." Letting go of material things and friendship that do not add value to my life has been the hardest thing. But I am half way there. While my closet is still full of clothes, now I have clothes in my closet that I wear at least twice a month depending on how busy the month is.

So what is a minimalism?  

Depending on who ask the question of what is  varies, however an agreed upon definition is that a minimalist or minimalism is the idea of living with things that one really needs, or adds values to one's life.
 - "At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distract us from it. It is a life that forces intentionality ...... Minimalism brings freedom from the all-consuming passion to possess" - Josh Becker


" It’s a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value."  - Leo Babauta’s


I really like these definition because they sum minimalism perfectly, which makes the decision to become a minimalist seems like a logical answer for everyone irrespective of their life style. If something does not bring you joy or add any value to your life, why hold on it to it? The simple answer is to just "Let go"

Monday, June 6, 2016

Vegan and Gluten Free Pancake

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There is something about a fluffy stack pancakes covered in syrup with blueberries and strawberries that makes getting up just a little bit early easier. Pancakes have always been of my favourite food  or breakfast, if it was up to me I’d have pancake everyday. But let’s be honest spending 5-10 minutes every morning dedicated to making pancake is impossible when you have work, and school. But given the chance to do it, I usually take the opportunity to make myself a fluffy stack of pancakes for breakfast. 
While I am not gluten intolerance, I do enjoy making gluten free goods and experiment with different gluten free products. That being said, I took the opportunity today to make a fluffy stack of vegan/gluten free pancake with one of my favourite toppings, strawberry. While my previous experiment with pancake usually turns into a disaster, this was not one of those cases. The pancake turned just how I wanted it to be fluffy and just perfect. 
Finding gluten free pancake mix is not hard to find these days, you can enter into any wholes food store or even your local Walmart and you will find a gluten free pancake mix. For this recipe I used President Choice Gluten-Free Original Pancake Mix. To make the pancake vegan friendly I’ve used almond milk and flax seeds egg. 
Ingredients: 
  • 1 cup PC gluten-free pancake mix 
  • 1 tbsp ground flax (How to make flax egg) or ( 1 egg)
  •  1 1/2 cups of almond milk 
Steps
  1. Preheat  non-stick frying pan to medium-high, or nonstick electric griddle to 400°F (200 °C)
  2. In a mixing bowl add all ingredients and whisk until well combined, or until the lumps disappear. Let it stand 1-2 minutes to thicken
  3. Pour less than 1/4 batter for each pancake onto hot, lightly greased pan/griddle. Turn pancakes when bubbles appear on surface, bottom are golden brown and the pancakes feels firms when slightly pressed with spatula. 
  4. Serve immediately with syrup and fruit topping.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

First Half-Marathon

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This weekend I did something I never thought I’d cross off my bucket list, or be able to do, which is to do a half-marathon. As some of you know I regularly run marathons during the summer, but mostly 5k. I’ve ran about five 5k, and last year I ran  my first  10k. The 10k was an absolute success and my timing was just perfect, so this year I thought I’d challenge myself and run a half-marathon. By far this has been the most challenging and rewarding race I’ve done. 

It wasn’t what I expected; it was so much more, and there were so much emotions experienced. This is something I think you can’t describe, but only feel. Perhaps it’s what people call a runner’s high or perhaps it’s the realization that you’ve just ran 20 miles and you have less than 2 miles left. Perhaps it’s the sense of vulnerability that you experience, the sense of knowing that in that very moment you are in your most vulnerable state; anything is possible and anything could happen. In that very moment you’re body could just give up, and that will be the end of it, the end of the long training, and preparation. Nonetheless, it was an amazing experience. 

Looking back I think there are many things I wish I did different, going into the race I’ve had enough training, but not enough. First thing I would’ve put more effort into training outside, and in different temperature. Most of training’s done indoor, in controlled temperature with no sun. This  had a significant impact on me on the day of the marathon. Apart from having to run the marathon early in the morning, my body was forced to run in hot an humid temperature which I’ve never done before. This led to me having to walk more than I would’ve liked. The other thing was my failure to  pace myself while running. There are many things that I can outlined that I wish I would’ve done to improve my time and my overall experience. But like life, you can’t go back and fix thing. The one thing you can do is look forward to the future and figure a way to make things better next time. The past is the past, what matter, is here right now. 

Nonetheless, in doing this marathon I was able to learn key lessons that I will keep in mind while training for the next marathon: 

1. Train before running: 
You know the saying ‘practice makes perfect’, well the same concept applies to running a half-marathon. If you’re planning on running a half marathon, or full marathon make sure you train. In order to achieve the goal you set yourself, you have to train your body. There is no way of succeed without training. 
2. Set a goal: 
Regardless if it’s your first time running marathon, or you’ve done this many times I strongly recommend setting yourself a goal. Goal setting is something everyone does in their life because it gives you a long-term vision and short term motivation. Having an idea of the BIG PICTURE is a strong motivation. My motivation for this marathon was to run just under three hours given that this is my first time, and I was able to achieve such goal. This was a strong motivation for me that kept me moving when I felt physically tired and just wanted to stop. 

3. It’s about the journey and not the destination
I think one the thing you should always remind yourself when running is that it’s not about the destination, but rather the journey. The journey is far more amazing than destination itself. Let me start by saying that running marathon or even just 5k is amazing, it’s amazing because for those few minutes you and a  thousands group of people come together from different region of the world with the one goal of running this marathon. In those few hours you are one with each other, and your differences are insignificant. What matter is that you’re all trying to finish this marathon. This sense of unity, and community created by this  marathon makes the destination a secondary reward. 

4. Their friends and partners, not competition
Marathon runners are known for offering encouragement and helping others given the chance. I think because they understanding that its less about winning or losing, but the experience itself and finishing the race together. As a result the entire race was filled with encouragement from bystanders to other runners. This was able to experience this first hand, every time i stopped to walk I always had someone asked me if I am okay, and had another runner who made sure I didn’t stop to walk. Every time I started to walk he would encourage to start running. This is why I love running these marathon, this sense of unity and community that’s established by runners makes me think that the world would be a better place if we competed less with each other and encourage each other. 

5. Find your motivation and keep going
While running it’s normal to struggle to finish, as you run more distance you become tried and lose all motivation. The desperation to find inner strength becomes difficult the more distance you run. But remember that you alone can finish this marathon, regardless of how many people cheer you on, at the end of the day it is up to you to finish the race. The same lesson applies to life decision, you’re friends and family will always support, but regardless of how many friends and families you support you, you will have to face important life decision by yourself and carry your own weight. It is it up to you to either give up, or keep going. 

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Rolled Oat with Almond Butter



As a lot of you know based on my previous blog post when it comes to breakfast I tend to be the most boring person ever. When I find something I like I stick with it and try as much as possible not to change it. As a result of this mundane outlook my breakfast has been the same for the last two to threes years with little departure every now and then
Given my love and strong obsession with oatmeal as a fuel to start the day I found a way to make it less dull and tasteless by adding my favorite fruits. This has resulted in the most amazing breakfast. I read somewhere that one way to make yourself wake up early was to have to plan an awesome breakfast that you could have the next morning. This allows you to have something to look forward to the next day but also acts a good motivation to get up either 5am or 6 am. This awesome breakfast has been my motivation for those days when I had work 6 am and I had to wake up by 5 am.
This almond butter oatmeal is full of nutritious you need to start the day, starting with fig which is a great source of fiber and full of vitamins and mineral. For those who have sweet tooth fig is not only a healthy and versatile ingredient but it can add a burst of sweetness. To top it with walnut which is known to be a great source of antioxidants and an excellent brain food.

Ingredients

  • 1/2  cup rolled oats (Option: gluten free, or ancient grain organic oatmeal)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk 
  • 2 tablespoon Almond butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or sub coconut sugar, organic brown sugar, or stevia to taste)

Toppings

  • Fig, mango, pepitas seeds, dried cherries, and walnut 
  • Granola

 Direction:

  • Stovetop: Bring the water, add the rolled oats, reduce heat, and cook 10-20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Cover and remove from heat and let stand a few minutes. 
  • Microwave: In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup rolled oats and 1/1 cup of unsweetened almond milk. Microwave for one minute and 30 seconds. Stir oats and microwave another 30 seconds. Cover and let stand 3 minutes.
  •  Sprinkle honey and decorate with your choice of toppings. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Almond Milk Millet with Strawberry


Continuing with the breakfast theme for this month, exploring different types of breakfast aside from plain old oatmeal. With the cold season hot grainy breakfast is the perfect morning meal.  So this week I am experimenting with millet seeds. This grainy seeds is more than just an interesting alternative to the more common grains, or bird food. Millet is a delicious grain that can accompany many types of food and bean excellent source for breakfast. On its own, millet is a little mundane and it's a little nutty, but easily takes on the flavor of whatever you decided to top it with. The topping can make a significant difference. The topping is full of sweetness to enhance the millet and you’re left with a sweet and hearty breakfast




Ingredients: 
  • ½ cup dry millet 
  • 1 cup of chia seeds 
  • ½ cupof light brown sugar 
  • 2 tablespoon of cinnamon 
  • ½ tablespoon of lemon juice 
  • ½ tablespoon of fresh lemon zest 
  • ½ cup of almond or soymilk 
  • 1 tablespoon of honey, and additional for serving 
  • 1-2 strawberry – chopped
Additional Topping: 
  • Fruits Coconut Milk 
  • Cherry Compote 
  • Coconut flakes 
  • Linseeds 
  • Pistachios 



Instructions: 

  1. Rinse millet in a small strainer until water runs clear. In a medium pot place millet and add 1 cups of water. Set the millet to medium high heat and when it starts boiling turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. 
  2. After 10-15 minute all the water should be absorbed and the millet will be cooked
  3. Meanwhile chop strawberry and set it aside 
  4. To Serve, spoon millet into a large bowl, add brown sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, lemon zest and milk (soy, coconut or almond). Mix everything together. Top with fresh  strawberry, honey and fresh mint. 



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Morning Routine


I believe that every morning has so much potential; early morning is a powerful and sacred time for personal ritual and practice that can carry you through your whole day. But also, a good nigh sleep makes for the best mornings; when I am well rested I feel that I am more in tuned with the start of the day, more grounded and connected. 
Establishing a morning ritual, or routine can make each morning less unpleasant and more exciting, over time and slowly these practices can become ingrain. Every morning I like to dedicate at least 6 10 minutes to yoga, depending on the day I am leaving the house be it at 5:30 am or 7am, I modify the sequence to accommodate for the day. On days where my morning starts at 4:50 am I dedicate at least 5-6 minutes of morning to a Surya Namaskara A and B, or a simple flow that integrates it simple sun salutation. Whereas, on days where I have leave late in the morning I dedicate at least 20 to 30 of my morning to simple flow. 
So here is my go to routine that only takes 6 minutes of my morning, this routine is great for the morning to start to open up your whole body, from your spine to hamstring. I love doing this routine especially when it’s freezing cold because it allows me to build up heat in my body. A simple sun salutation or sequences of asanas can open the chest, and throat and remove congestion in the respiratory organs. As always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program, regardless of the intensity of the practice.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Vegan French Toast



I’ve recently had a conversation with a friend, which then turned into a conversation about breakfast, I don't know how, but  reflecting on the conversation later I realize how dull my daily breakfast is. When I find something I like I tend to stick with it, hence my breakfasts have been very simple and I’ve been having the same things for the last years without ever changing it. The usual breakfasts are, yogurt with different topping such as, granola, fruits, and chia seeds sided with a green smoothie, and tea or lemon or water. My other go to breakfast is simple oatmeal; I can eat oatmeal for the rest of my life and be completely content. But then again I am creature of habit, I have strict routine that I follow and have difficulty with challenging them. Following my conversation with my friend I thought perhaps I should change things up a little and try something new. So today I’ve decided to make my favourite breakfast, which I haven’t had in years now, French toast. As I am trying to keep everything that I eat dairy free as much as possible I’ve decided to make my own variation of the classical French toast by making vegan.





This recipe is a very simple and healthy that doesn't take a lot of time, with little cinnamon and vanilla, topped with my favourite fruits and maple syrup. As a substitute for eggs I’ve used flaxseeds, which is a great substitution for eggs and has similar nutrition value. Above all, it's a great source of protein and with just 37 calories - (How to make Flax eggs). I like making my breakfast as a technology free zone, or more correctly social media free zone. So, instead of checking up on social media (twitter, Facebook, instagram, etc..) I like reading my favourite magazine, or a book. This month on the reading list is Kinfolk Issue Eighteen: The Design Issue and the Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen. On the days I don't have the time to read I like listening to either my favourite podcast or radio, yes the radio I know.




Ingredient:

  • 4 slices day seedy kamut bread or ciabatta bread 
  • 1 cup Almond milk (Silk Almond Milk)
  • 1-tablespoon maple syrup, plus more for serving 
  • 2- tablespoon whole-wheat flour 
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 2 tablespoon vanilla 
  • 2 tablespoon flax seeds (ground raw flaxseeds)
  • 2 1/3 tablespoon water 
  • Pinch of salt

Topping: 

  • Maple Syrup 
  • Chia Seeds
  • Fresh fruits (banana, kiwi)



Instructions: 

  1. In a small mixing bowl whisk together flaxseeds meal and water. Set it aside for 5-10 minutes to thicken. 
  2. In a shallow dish mix the almond milk, flaxseeds eggs, vanilla, maple syrup, flour and nutmeg. 
  3. Place the break in a shallow dish, makes sure that it holds the entire bread. Pour the mixture over the break, and then flip the break over to make sure both sides are evenly coated.
  4. Using a large skillet, drizzle coconut oil over medium heat. Add the bread slices and cook for few minutes per side until golden brown on both sides
  5. Top with desired toppings; I went with banana, kiwi, chia seeds and maple syrup

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Leek and Sweet Pea Soup


There is nothing like a hot soup on a rainy or snowy day. A simple bright soup can make a significant difference in one’s mood. As the weather changes from sunny  and chilly having a soup seems like a logical answer to everything. One of my favorite thing during the winter is coming home and having a hot soup. I love making soups because I personally believe that it is the one thing that anyone can cook, there is little to no chance of messing up a simple soup, but also you can personalize it as much as possible to meet your personality or what you love. In other words there is no way of going wrong when making a simple soup. This soup recipe is from one of my favorite blogger and now author Sara Forte. This is my own take of her version of Herby Leek Pea Soup. As always my modification is made in a way to make it not only healthy, but also vegan friendly. But if you prefer the original recipe you could either get it from her site (sproutedkitchen.com) or from the book: The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon: Simple and Inspired Wholes Food Recipe to Savor and Share.



Ingredients:
  • 1 Large Leek, clean, dark green part removed (Use the green part in a salad or another soup stew)
  • 1 can or 2 cups of shelled sweet peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ tablespoon of curry powder
  • ½ tablespoon of hot curry Powder
  • ½ Tablespoon of grounded cumin
  • ½ tablespoon of coriander
  • 1 ½ tablespoon of cardamom
  • ½ tablespoon of Chinese 5 spices
  • ½ tablespoon of cloves
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Topping:
  • Parsley
  • Grated vegan Cheese (buy from local Wholes Food) 

Direction:
  1. In a large cooking pot heat olive oil over medium heat, and sliced leek and Let it saute for 5 minutes until translucent.  Once it is tender add all spices (Curry, cumin, coriander, cardamom, Chinese 5 spices, cloves,salt and pepper). Mix the spice and add vegetable broth. Once you’ve added the vegetable broth let the leek and broth bring it to boil and let it cook for another 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes turn the heat off, let the soup to cool off a little before blending it.
  3. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender. Let it blend until it reache the perfect texture or consistency. Return soup into the pot, season again with either salt and pepper, or other spices as desired. Bring to simmer, thinning soup with more broth if necessary.
  4. Ladle soup into bowl, sprinkly with parsley, grated cheese and croutons.