Wednesday, 19 October 2016

GO Litter-less!

Just wanting to write a quick note to everyone about going litter-less for your lunches.  This concept can be applied to our own lunches as well as to our kids school lunches.  I made the decision this September, while I was back to school shopping, that I wanted to decrease the amount of trash generated on the school playground.  Here is the amount I picked up one day after school while my kids were playing.  We returned the reusable items to the lost and found and recycled or threw out the rest.  And this was just from one day of school... so you can imagine how much gets generated over the course of the school year.

I really feel that this problem has a solution and it starts with us parents.  We can make the choice to go litterless, and while it may result in a few trips to the lost and found over the school year to retrieve any forgotten containers, we can significantly reduce the amount of trash our kids carry outside with them.  Every piece of plastic wrap or baggy matters; when they pile up it can be a big mess.  So let's rethink how we do lunches and find better ways to package our all starts with you.  Instead of buying the cheese strings, buy a block of mozza and slice it into sticks that are easy to "peel".  Instead of buying sugar laden granola bars, make these yummy school-safe barefoot bars
to pop into a reusable container.  Instead of wrapping your sandwich in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, find a really nice container for keeping your sandwiches all tucked in and in one piece.  You'll be amazed to see how many different options there are for keeping things fresh and contained.

The best thing I have discovered about going litter-less is that every morning I get to play Tetris while I stuff the lunch kit with all the food, trying to get everything to fit nicely.  So far, after two months of going litter-less, I have always been able to fit everything in; and I pack a lot of healthy food as my kids are ferocious eaters!  SO what are you waiting for?  Make the change now, and reap the rewards in the years to come.  You can even set up a reward system for your child for not loosing any containers throughout the year: a special sushi dinner or a year end movie.  Explain to your kids why you are going litter-less and ask them for their help to be held accountable too.  They will feel proud knowing they are doing what they can to make a difference in our environment.  And the parks and playgrounds will be cleaner too!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Take Care of Yourself, Too!

A very good friend of mine recently told me to take care of myself, too.  I think, sometimes as Moms we are so busy taking care of everyone else around us...that we forget who is really important: WE ARE.  Without us, the whole ship would sink and people would be swimming to the surface looking for lifeboats; but where is our lifeboat?  How are we going to keep our heads above the water in today's world?  We have so many pressures by society on how our lives should "look" and we get so caught up on what our "friends" are doing that we loose track of what is important.  Our health and happiness should be paramount to everything else in our lives.  If we are healthy and happy, then we can fully enjoy the daily hum-drum of having a family while also having the patience and sanity to deal with the (sometimes enormous) bumps in the road.  So why is it that we often find ourselves depleted with nothing left to give?  The answer: we don't take care of ourselves as well as we tend to those around us.  It's a pretty sad fact indeed.  We are so focused on making others happy for so long, that over time, we have forgotten entirely how to take care of number one.  If this is a realization for you then you need to evaluate your life, you need to take count of the ways you can start nurturing yourself back to health.  Maybe plan a weekend getaway with a friend to do some yoga or go to a favorite cafe to savor a warm cup of loose leaf while you complete a sudoku in the first try.  And YES, it's ok to do these things, these things are GOOD.  So mama, the time is now to start feeling better, don't let anything stand in your way.  YOU deserve it!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Spicy Pumpkin Muffins

Back to school is always an exciting time; and for me, it means baking and making barefoot bars to stash in my freezer.  This recipe was made on-the-fly as I was thinking of the cool Autumn months to come.  Time to fish out those sweaters and moccasins, sit back and enjoy one of these scrumptious treats....or maybe two ;)

Spicy Pumpkin Muffins

Dry:  3 cups whole wheat flour
         1 cup oats
         1 tbsp baking powder
         1 tsp baking soda
         1/2 tsp salt
         1/2 cup raw sugar
         1/2 cup coconut
         1 tbsp cinnamon
         2.5 tsp ginger
         2.5 tsp nutmeg
         2.5 tsp allspice

Wet:  2 eggs
         1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
         1 cup applesauce
         1 can (796ml) E.D. Smith Pure Pumpkin or equivalent cooked pumpkin

Icing: 1 pkg (250g) cream cheese
          3 cups icing sugar
          1 tsp vanilla

Directions: measure out the dry ingredients into a large mixer bowl and gave it a stir with a whisk until mixed.  Make a "well" for your wet ingredients to be placed into and measure those into the bowl.  Now, give a good stir to incorporate wet into dry.  You may want to use a stand mixer at this point.  Scoop your batter into greased/lined muffin tins using a 1/3 cup measuring cup.  Bake at 350F for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 

Beat cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Smother the muffins once they have cooled completely, sprinkling generously with more spice mix.

This recipe yields 2 dozen muffins so you can eat them for days while you enjoy what's left of summer :)


Monday, 29 February 2016

Extra Day, One Last Thing From The List!

I am taking advantage of our extra day this year to share a familiar but very profound picture with you all:

Yes, you guessed it!  My "To-Do" list from before Christmas time last year.  And today, I finished crossing the second to last thing off.  Can you see what remains on the list about halfway down?  Take a good look...

Yup, you're right again!  I still haven't mailed my Christmas cards (sorry Dad!).  This one thing on my list should have been crossed off weeks before Christmas.  Why did it take me so long to complete this seemingly simple task?  Well, you all know the reasons: time, convenience and money...or lack of any one of these.

OK, so you're thinking, this picture could be familiar because we all have a "To-Do" list kicking around the house somewhere; and sometimes even two or three on multiple devices!  However, what can possibly be so profound about this picture?

Let me explain: I will never have to write "mail cards" on my to-do list ever again!  No, I have not boycotted sending cards in the mail.  I love sending them to people, much more than I love sending e-cards.  When people get an envelope in the mail with their name on it, they usually open it.  And depending on the content inside, they will usually keep it.  I have saved all the letters that I have received from people in the mail over the years.  Nothing is more sentimental than a nice handwritten card or letter with someone's deepest and sincere thoughts, and adding pictures to your letter or card is an especially nice touch.

In case you are wondering about the time-, convenience-, and money-saving way that I am sending things by mail to my peeps nowadays I have provided the link HERE for you to browse and even try out the system for free.  After just a few clicks, you will see why I am so thankful now to have this included on my "Super-WAHM" tool belt!  It will bring my work-at-home businesses into the 21st century and my Dad will actually get that special card on time this year.

Speaking of sending cards...I think I will go get that last thing crossed off my list right now!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Maria's Barefoot Bars (Raw Granola Bars) *Nut-Free*

I would love to share with you this recipe I've developed for making homemade raw granola bars. These are much more cost effective and healthy than store bought granola bars, and do not contain the rain forest destroying palm oil or HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) that almost every granola bar out there is made with. We all know how important it is to read the labels but even when we do we may not understand all of what's in the food we are about to buy.

Aside from being a great source of omega 3's and iron, these bars also have loads of plant based protein and fiber!

Great snack for kids or to bring along on your hike!

Maria's Barefoot Bars

First, grind these ingredients separately and place into a stand mixing bowl:

1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup flax seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds

Then add to bowl:

1 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 cup raw cacao nibs
1 cup dried coconut
5 cups oats
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp anise

Turn to lowest speed and mix until combined.

In a food processor, chop these 3 ingredients separately:

2 cups dates plus 1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries or apricots

Then add to bowl and mix on lowest speed until crumbly; while drizzling in:

1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup honey (or vegan substitute)

- Pour mixture into a large metal rectangle baking dish and distribute evenly.
- Place a piece of wax paper over top.
- Place whole dish into clean plastic bag and seal end of bag with elastic making sure to remove air.
- Now, for the fun part: lower down onto clean floor and stomp away to compress the mixture as evenly as you can with your bare feet, making sure to get the sides compressed well. After this initial press with your body weight, you can even out any bumps on the surface with the palms of your hand.
- Remove plastic bag and place in new plastic bag and then put into freezer overnight.
- The next day, flip dish upside down onto cutting board to remove in one piece. With a large knife, slice lengthwise into thirds and then cut bars 2 cm wide. Store the bars in a large container and put back into the freezer for later consumption.
(Makes at approx 3 dozen)


*I have updated my recipe to a nut free version so that you can feel safe sending them to school. For severe nut allergies make sure your ingredients are free from possible contamination as well.*