Every New Year’s Eve I join the millions of people around the globe who set new goals for the new year. Goal setting is an active part of my daily life and this time of the year is no exception! I’m looking forward to the year ahead and working hard to make sure I set myself up for success in every way possible. Over the years I’ve noticed a few things that help me stick to my goals and resolutions.
1. BE SPECIFIC
It’s easy to come up with lofty plans for what we want to accomplish in a year, but I find the more broad I am, the less likely I am to get the results I really want. Instead of aiming: “To get in better shape” I narrow it down and resolve to “Run 10km in less than 1 hour.” It gives you something more specific to work toward and a more measurable success.
2. SET DEADLINES
It’s easy to launch off full force in January with the best of intentions, but staying motivated is another story. Set weekly or monthly deadlines to track your success all year. If you want to run 10km in less than 1 hour by the end of the year, consider aiming to run 1 km without stopping by the end of January, 2 km in February, 3 by March, and so on. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t meet a deadline; it’s never to late to adjust your plan and refocus.
3. KEEP IT VISIBLE
Tape it to your bathroom mirror, make it your desktop background or lock screen, or set a reminder alarm every day or every week. Keeping your goals visible helps to keep them at the forefront of your mind. If you find you’re overlooking the reminders you set, change them up every month. After the first week you may start to ignore the alarm reminders. If that happens find something else you can do that’s more effective. Keep changing it up!
I love granola! I would eat it every single day if I could. Before my diet changed I would eat it piled on a bowl of yogourt, but now I cover it with cashew milk and devour it by the bowl full! I’ve played around with a lot of granola recipes, but this is my favourite by far!
This granola recipe not only tastes amazing, but it will fill your kitchen with the most delicious banana smell! It’s amazing as a cereal or on top of ice cream or yogourt, or you can eat it right out of the container. I love it!
It’s also packed full of nutritious goodness! Hemp hearts, chia seeds, nuts, and flax seed make it the perfect protein-rich breakfast to start your day!
Simply mix together all of the dry ingredients in one big bowl. Melt the coconut oil with the maple syrup and vanilla, and stir in the mashed banana. Then combine everything together, spread it all out on a baking tray and bake!
Let it cool then break a part and store for up to 2 weeks!
Enjoy! Let me know how your banana granola turns out!
Periodically throughout the day I need a little boost! I will often grab a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts, but when I have little energy bites I feel like I’m getting a treat! With only 6 ingredients, this recipe is so easy! And to make it even better, no baking required!
If you’ve never used Hemp Hearts before it’s time to start! There are major health benefits and many of them target my specific dietary needs with MS. They have a delicious slight nutty taste and a soft, crunchy texture.
1. Energy Boost
Hemp Hearts are high in protein with 10g of protein in only 30g (2 Tablespoons). Protein is necessary for healthy muscle development and weight maintenance and when you are eat a vegan, or mostly-vegan (like me) diet, it can be difficult to get the recommended amount of daily protein! Why not add some in with a snack!
2. Reduces Muscle Cramps
Hemp Hearts are a very rich source of magnesium, which can help to reduce muscle cramps, which is a fairly common symptom of MS. I experienced a few of these severe muscle cramps in my legs back in the summer and they have been the most painful part of MS for me so far. They are like an incredibly intense Charlie Horse that last about 30-45 seconds causing muscles to seize up for hours or days after (that’s my experience anyway). Since I started taking a magnesium supplement I haven’t experienced these spasms again!
3. Fights Inflammation
Hemp Hearts are also high in Omega oils, containing 8g of Omega 6 and 2.5g of Omega 3 in 30g. Omegas are natural anti-inflammatories and are composed of healthy fats that our bodies need!
I buy my hemp hearts at Costco, but you should be able to find them at most grocery stores and you can order them online here. Manitoba Harvest is a great Canadian brand choice!
To make these little energy bites you simply need to process the dates, almond butter and coconut oil in a food processor until its a think creamy paste. Then mix in the coconut, hemp hearts and chocolate chips. Roll them in little balls and freeze until set!
These are easy to grab on the go and make for a great boost in the middle of the afternoon!
Enjoy! Let me know how your hemp heart energy bites turn out!
We absolutely love condo living. And really, we’re the kind of people condos are made for! Small family, no need for a yard, and maintenance done for us when we’re on the road for weeks at time. We would totally be those neighbours who neglect to cut their grass for an entire month!
We love our space, but our tiny condo bedroom is 10 x 12 feet (+ closet and ensuite) barely leaving room for much more than a bed. When we moved to BC from Ontario we brought with us our solid wood bedroom set, complete with Queen sized bed, 2 bedside tables and a six drawer dresser. When we set up our new room it was dark, crowded and dysfunctional. We knew we needed a solution! In our efforts to make the space work better we discovered a few things that made a huge difference!
1. REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF FURNITURE
We sold our entire dark wood, 4-piece bedroom set on Craig’s List for $750 and replaced it with 1 item, a white Queen sized bed from IKEA. It actually saved us money to redo our bedroom! Who knew! Ideally choose something light and minimal. In small spaces footboards are not usually a good idea as they add extra bulk that’s not needed.
2. OPT FOR UNDER-THE-BED STORAGE
We never thought in a million years we would be able to live without a dresser, but the truth is the 4 large drawers (2 on each side) that we have beneath our bed fit more than our 6 drawer dresser! They are very large deep drawers that fit tons of clothes. The square footage of your space is already taken up by your bed anyway, so you may as well maximize the footprint!
3. GO WHITE
Dark colours often make things feel closed in. To make your space look bright, fresh and airy add in white! Paint the walls if you want, but even something simple like a crisp white duvet cover will make a huge difference!
4. KEEP EVERYTHING OFF THE FLOOR
When you have such a small amount floor space to begin with, allow as much as possible to be visible! We added storage by hanging hooks on either side of our closet for bags, hats and scarves we use regularly, and we also mounted shelves on the wall to replace our bedside tables. They easily hold our books, a lamp, and other necessities.
These are just a few things that worked for us! I’d love to hear any tips you have for maximize your small spaces!
I scanned the waiting room full of people and my heart sank. I watched a woman in her 40’s struggle to shuffle across the room with her walker and another woman who I later found out was 41 limp towards the washroom as she leaned on her teenage daughter for support. My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a motorized scooter carrying a woman who couldn’t have been much older than me. Across the room I noticed a young girl in her early 20’s who was soon called into her appointment and moved much more slowly than a girl her age should. I could feel my heart getting heavy.
This is the unwelcome reality of MS.
On Tuesday I had an appointment at the MS Clinic at UBC in Vancouver. My neurologist, a specialist in MS, sees only patients with the disease so I knew that each of these women were suffering from the multiple sclerosis.
Maybe I’ve been too optimistic since I was diagnosed, but I hadn’t really prepared myself for the reality that MS is often a disabling disease. I mean, I knew the prognosis and I’ve had terrible dreams that I was wheelchair bound, but I wasn’t really ready for this. Was this my future? If so, how long did I have?
I recognize that there is small percentage of people with MS who go on to live very normal, active lives, but there are also many who suffer greatly from the disease. I guess I always thought that I would be one of the lucky ones. I wish I could predict that.
So, what am I supposed to do? Fear was creeping in and for a moment I began to let my mind wander. I can’t lose hope.
“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain” Hebrews 6:19 ESV
I believe in God and I trust in Him. My hope doesn’t emerge from wishful thinking or failure to face my present realities; It comes from the truth that God is unchanging, immovable and constant in my life regardless of my circumstances. This hope is an anchor for my soul. Even in the midst of the wind and waves from the biggest storm I’ve ever experienced, my hope keeps me from drifting away into fear of the unknown.
I am hopeful. Not because of the potential of new treatments or because I’ve mustered up enough positive thoughts to keep me going. I am hopeful because I know that no matter what my future looks like, I look forward to the hope that one day the world will like God originally designed it to be. My hope is built on nothing less.
In everything, I put my hope in the one who anchors me.
(This “Hope Anchors My Soul” Print is now available for pre-order in the print shop!)
There’s nothing about MS I like. It’s an unwanted, unwelcome disease that I’d rather live without if I could choose. It’s robbed me of my energy and reminds me constantly, every single day, that my body is failing me. I hate it.
But I have to tell you, even though it makes my days harder, MS is changing my life for the better. I realize it might sound a little strange, but I’m grateful for the things MS has helped me to see that I may have otherwise ignored.
1. IT’S SHOWING ME HOW MUCH I NEED OTHERS
I’ve always been an independent, I-can-do-it-myself kind of person. It’s not that I didn’t want help, I just felt that if I put my mind to something I could do it on my own. It wasn’t something I thought much about, but I carried with me this mindset that I could do things without the help of others. A big part of it was that I didn’t want to bother them by asking for help. Honestly, I’ve been this way as long as I can remember; Miss Independent.
Since MS came onto my radar this past summer I have been overwhelmed by the people who have rallied around me. It’s funny because in the moment I didn’t know I needed them, but having them there to hold me up in prayer, sit on the couch and cry with me, and encourage me on the days I feel defeated has helped me in ways I can’t express. I need people around me who can fight with me when I’m ready to throw in the towel.
Life is better in community.
2. IT’S HELPING ME PRIORITIZE
I’m a self-diagnosed “recovering perfectionist” and ashamedly also a “recovering workaholic.” I am proud of my strong work ethic and desire for excellence and have worked hard to integrate these principles into my life. It wasn’t uncommon for me to work a full work week, dive in to ministry on the weekends and sit behind my computer every evening. I love what I do, so extra hours of work came easily. I kind of liked it.
But being diagnosed with a life-altering illness makes you reevaluate everything. Was work really the most important thing to me? Could I invest more into my friends? Did Clark deserve more of my undivided time? These are questions I likely should have asked myself a long time ago, but sometimes our circumstances force us to look at things differently.
I still want to do things with excellence and use my time and energy to make a difference, but at the end of my life, I want to be known for my relationships, not my accomplishments.
3. IT’S TEACHING ME TO TRUST
I always thought that I knew what it meant to trust God. I had given Him my life and I really believed that I was doing the best I could to trust Him. Let me tell you, I now know that I had no idea what it really meant to trust God. No sweet clue.
I quickly realized that I had absolutely no control over how my body would feel when I had to preach. I couldn’t make $80 000 appear from nowhere when my insurance denied my treatment. I couldn’t do life on my own anymore. I needed to trust that He had everything I needed when I was lacking.
I don’t always have the answers, but I’m learning that He does.
We can’t control our circumstances. Often we find ourselves in the midst of things we’d rather not face. I know the feeling. It’s in those dark moments that we can sometimes learn the most life-changing things, but we have to choose to allow ourselves to be transformed. I don’t have all the answers and I’m sure there’s still some serious transformation that needs to happen in me! But, I’m grateful that in this uncertain season, I am changing for the better. At least I think I am.
Don’t get me wrong, I love salad, but if I’m being honest, I sometimes get a little bored of a bowl of veggies with dressing on it.
In search of a healthy, fresh meal option, Clark and I were inspired by our favourite local Vietnamese restaurant and created these delicious little salad rolls! They do take a little time (about 30-45 minutes to prepare), but the preparation is part of the fun for us. We usually don’t make these when we’re in a starving rush to get dinner ready, but they’re a weekend staple, and we’ll probably make them at least once over the holidays!
My specialized diet allows me to have most seafood and lean chicken, so we usually add shrimp to ours. You could totally do it without shrimp and they still taste great!
These salad rolls are packed with veggies and we like to add mango to ours. You could easily leave out the mango if you’re not a fan! I love the fresh taste of lime in both the shrimp and the sauce. I realized once we had devoured the almond lime sauce that I didn’t get a single picture of it. Opps! It’s pretty simple, so hopefully no photos needed!
If you’ve never used rice paper, don’t be afraid! Most grocery stores now have an international foods section; we get ours at the Real Canadian Superstore. They are really easy to use! Just fill a large frying pan with warm water (don’t heat it on the stove) and let the rice paper soak for about 20 seconds. Once they have softened remove them from the water and place on a clean surface.
To build your salad rolls, simply pile everything on in whatever order you wish! The more full you make it, the harder it is to roll, but go crazy if you want! The amount pictured below is a great amount for an easy, full roll.
It may take you a little practice to get the roll right but keep practicing! Fold away from you, tuck in the sides and roll away to finish it off!
It should all tuck in like a little envelope!
You could eat these as a side dish, a snack, an appetizer, or you can enjoy them as a light meal! That’s what we do! Dip in the almond lime sauce and enjoy!
If using frozen raw peeled shrimp, defrost by bathing in a bowl of cold water. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Prepare vegetables while shrimp is defrosting.
Cut cucumbers, carrots, peppers, mango into long thin slices (about 4 inches long).
Cut lettuce into 3 inch x 3 inches pieces.
Cut mint leaves into small pieces.
Whisk together lime zest, cumin, salt, pepper lime juice and olive oil in a small bowl.
Add defrosted shrimp to mixture.
Let sit for 10 minutes to marinade.
Heat a small flying pan on medium heat.
Add shrimp to hot pan.
Cook for 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are pink.
Remove from pan and let cool slightly.
Butterfly cut shrimp in half.
Whisk together almond butter, agave nectar, rice vinegar, cayenne pepper and salt.
Add water until sauce is desired consistency.
Prepare vermicelli noodles according to package directions (place noodles in boiling water for 3-5 minutes and strain when noodles become soft). Set strained noodles aside in small bowl.
Fill large frying paper with hot water.
Soak one piece of rice paper for 20 second in hot water.
Remove from water and place on a clean surface.
Add 1 3 inch piece of lettuce, a small pile of rice noodles and 2 pieces of shrimp.
Add a couple pieces each of cucumber, peppers, carrots and mango.
Sprinkle on mint leaves.
Fold the rice paper away from you until it just covers the pile of filling.
Fold each side in like an envelope.
Roll the remainder away from you until the roll is enclosed. Try to roll it as tight as you can. This part takes a little practice, but don't give up! Paper should be sticky enough to hold itself together.
A vegan, gluten-free brownie with avocado ganache? Really? I know, I know, I was a little skeptical too, but trust me! These are the best vegan, gluten and refined sugar free brownies I’ve ever had!
Last week one of my students sent us this recipe and I’m so glad he did! After a few simple modifications, we now have a new go-to brownie recipe that fits my dietary restrictions.
Brownies are usually laden with refined sugar and unhealthy fats, but these little guys have healthy fats from coconut oil and avocado and are naturally sweetened with banana and maple syrup. Amazing! And with the substitution of a flax egg, they were perfect! (If you’ve never used a flax egg before, I explained this in my Vegan Oatmeal Banana Cookie post. You simply have to mix together ground flaxseed and water together – 1 Tbsp of flax + 3 Tbsp of water = one egg – and let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes to thicken. Flax eggs work the best as an egg replacement in baking.)
This recipe does call for chocolate chips. You could use dark chocolate or semi-sweet but if you’re intolerant to milk and soy ingredients like I am, you may need to search for a good vegan chocolate chip. We use Enjoy Life brand, which we buy in mini chips and chunks from the Real Canadian Superstore (look in the health food aisle, not the baking supplies aisle).
Once they’ve finished in the oven, make sure you let them cool completely before frosting or the brownie will crumble. Once they’re frosted you can simply lift the parchment paper out of the pan and they are incredibly easy to cut!
I dusted mine with a crushed cashews to finish them off! They are so moist and smooth, with a dark chocolate flavour from the cocoa powder.
If you’re looking for a full-fat, sugary brownie, these are not for you! But if you like a lighter, smoother, dark chocolatey taste, try these now!
Enjoy! And let me know how they turn out!
VEGAN & GLUTEN-FREE BROWNIES WITH CHOCLATE GANACHE
: having a strong feeling that you are going to do something and that you will not allow anyone or anything to stop you : not weak or uncertain : having or showing determination to do something
One thing I know about myself for sure is that if I feel strongly that I need to do something, I won’t let anyone or anything get in my way. At least I try not to. This may occasionally rear itself as a childlike temper tantrum, but most of the time I refrain from stomping my feet and pouting my lip. My goal is to make intentional decisions on a daily basis to not quit something I feel deeply convicted about.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life it’s that there are always things that will try and get in the way of my dreams, ambitions, calling and future. We have the choice to face them with fear, and apprehension, or to face them with boldness and courage.
There will always be set backs, obstacles, and uncertainties, but I challenge you to adopt this simple phrase today: Try And Stop Me!