One of my most popular food posts from the past year is my recipe for Hemp Heart Energy Bites. You can find it here. I am a huge hemp heart fan and I use them all the time! They are not only packed with protein (with 10 grams per 3 Tbsp), but they are a rich source of magnesium (which can help to reduce muscle cramps common in diseases like MS) and their high Omega content can help to reduce inflammations (also great for autoimmune diseases!). Can you tell I’m a Hemp Heart fan?
If you’ve never used hemp hearts before, they’re pretty easy to find. I purchase my hemp hearts from Costco. They sell an 800g bag for $14.99, but you can find them, usually in 227g size, at most grocery stores. Or you can buy them here and get them shipped right to your door!
Like I said, I’ve made hemp heart energy bites before, but I wanted a recipe without dates. I started experimenting and the result was these delicious protein packed Dark Chocolate Hemp Heart Energy Bites! No baking required, just measure, mix, roll, chill and enjoy!
Once you’ve mixed everything together, wet your hands to roll the balls so the mixture doesn’t stick. I found I had to re-wet my hands about every 6 balls.
Once you’ve rolled your balls (you should get about 24), chill them for at least 30 minutes. I like to completely freeze mine and eat them cold, but you can do whatever you prefer! Cooling them in the fridge hardens them just enough to make sure they stay held together.
I’m also really excited that Manitoba Harvest is giving away a bag of Hemp Hearts to one lucky reader! All you have to do is comment below and tell us why you want to try hemp hearts in your own kitchen! Contest closes at 12 midnight PST on Tuesday, Novmeber 3rd. Good luck!
Every Sunday as part of my meal prep for the week, I make soup. At least in the cooler months. I love soup, and it’s a great way to get to get vegetables and nutrients! This fall I’ve been playing around with butternut squash soup recipes, trying to find my favourite combination of flavours; and friends, we have a winner!
I am obsessed with this Coconut Curry Butternut Squash soup! Just ask Clark. Every time I make it I probably say 20 times, “I could eat this every day.” And honestly, I could. It’s packed with flavour and it’s the perfect combination of Canadian fall warmth and a slightly spicy global influence. I’m obsessed.
My only problem when it comes to butternut squash is the cutting and peeling process. Anyone else with me? It’s such a pain! So I was elated when I stumbled across a pin on Pinterest that suggested cooking your squash in the slow cooker first. I simply put the whole butternut squash in the slow cooker, put in on high for 2.5 hours, and came back to a soft squash that slid out of its skin almost the moment I picked it up! I am forever changed! This is the way to do it!
Once my squash was cooked, I heated the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot big enough to fit all of the ingredients listed below. I slowly added in the onion, ginger, turmeric, curry paste, stock and squash and then transferred over to the blender. Once it was blended smooth, I added coconut milk and added the garnishes!
If you haven’t cooked with curry paste before, you can pick it up in the international foods aisle in most grocery stores. It comes in a jar and is available in a number of varieties. I personally use a medium heat paste because I like a little kick, but no too much heat!
For the garnish, I suggest lime juice, coconut milk, thai basil and roasted chickpeas. These aren’t necessary, but the lime juice does bring a nice level of acidity, the chickpeas add a nice texture, and the rest just makes it look pretty! I buy the Good Bean roasted chickpeas and use them in salads and soups all the time! You can find them here, but I get mine at Costco.
I’ll be taking this in my lunch a couple days this week, but you better believe I downed a bowl before packing it away in the fridge!
Any other butternut squash recipes I need to try? I’m motivated now that I know I can cook them so easily!
This past week I’ve been absolutely blown away at the support and encouragement I’ve received as I underwent a series of steroid infusions to treat a recent MS relapse (you can read more about it here). I can’t say thank you enough to those who sent notes, cards and gifts! It’s amazing how simple words and gestures can bring such life to someone!
These incredibly kind gestures got me thinking; Giving, whether it’s our time, a note, gifts, or whatever, can have a huge impact on everyone involved. As I’m looking around at the love that’s been poured out on me this week, all I can think about is how I need to make it more of a priority in my life to give to the people around me.
1. Giving Reminds Us That We Need Each Other
I’ve said it a million times over the last year, I’m sure, but I’m learning more and more everyday that we need each other. Sure, we can try to do it on our own, but the truth is, we often need people to come alongside us. We need community. When you give it reminds you that you have a part to play in the lives of the people around you. Whether you’re meeting a need in someone else’s life, or they’re meeting one in yours, we need each other.
2. Giving Changes Your Perspective
I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful, when life get’s stressful or difficult, I can become so consumed with simply trying to survive, that I miss what I was really put on this earth to do. I don’t ever want to get distracted by my own problems that I fail to remember why I’m really here. When you choose to give, it shifts your perspective from yourself to how you can help someone else. We all need a good perspective change sometimes. At least I do!
3. Giving Inspires Change.
Receiving a gift or a note is such a special thing. It makes you feel loved, thought of, and cared about. It’s amazing really. Every time I receive any kind of gift or note from someone it makes me want to pass on the same feeling to someone else. When we give, we inspire others to do the same thing. Giving inspires change.
This is why I love the idea behind the Sendtiment Card Box! This brand new Canadian Card Box company is on to something! You get this killer box full of amazing cards and gift tags, then you get to pass on the love until your cards are all used up! I love it! I’m always on the look out for things that can inspire, empower and motivate me to be better in everything I do, and when I heard about Sendtiment Card Boxes, I knew I had to share!
I was overjoyed to receive this box from Sendtiment! I couldn’t wait to rip into it! But as soon as I opened the lovely pastel pink box, I shifted from a frantic “let me in there” to a deep breathe in, and an “oh that’s so nice” as I opened the handwritten card and slowly unfolded the tissue paper wrap. I was so blown away at the great content in this box!
The featured cards this month were from Sea & Lake Paper Co. They’re cards are fun and quirky and will, without a doubt, brighten someones day! The boxed contains 5 fun cards, a cute “Feeling Super Productive” notepad, and my favourite part, 4 fabulous gift tags! I love them!
I can’t wait to share these goodies! I’ve already begun planning how to I want to give each of these these cards and gift tags! I can’t wait!
I know there are tons of different subscription boxes out there, but the thing I love about this one is that it’s not just about consuming more stuff. It’s really about getting a box of products that you can use to make someone else’s life better. That’s what I’m all about.
And you know I love a good tech download! You can get this wallpaper (below) for your tech on their website, right here!
Now go! Order your November Cardbox now! There are a limited number of boxes, so don’t miss out! You can order one month at a time for $20, or save cash when you order a 6 or 12 month subscription. This is a GREAT gift for someone who “hates gifts” because you can just tell them, “I know you don’t like stuff, so I got you something you can giveaway!”
My journey towards learning how to “be still” began well before my diagnosis with MS (you can read more about my MS story here). As a classic over-worker, I knew I needed to take time away from the chaos and accelerated rhythms I had created. My mind was constantly racing and I need to learn how to let go and rest.
After my diagnosis, things I’d been trying to implement for years were no longer optional, they were necessary. It was time to step back and let God fight for me. I simply needed to be still.
But, as you know, that’s a lot easier said than done! It doesn’t just happen! But the more I studied one of my favourite verses about “being still,” the more I realized that I’m just like Israel. I make excuses. I blame others. I often fixate on the problem instead of the solution.
Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
When the nation of Israel is freed to leave Egypt after over 400 years as slaves, they are ecstatic! But when they find themselves on the banks of the sea, with the Egyptian army coming after them, they begin to panic and their tone of excitement and celebration transitions to one of resentment and fear.
In Exodus 14:14, Moses says to them, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Some versions actually say, “You need only to be silent,” indicating that the Israelites may have been freaking out a little. When you look a few verses earlier in Exodus 14:11-12, you can see that a full-blown freak out was pretty much in the works as they turn to Moses and say, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bring us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians that to die in the desert!
They are so fixated on their approaching problem, they forget about the faithfulness of the one who lead them out in the first place.
It made me think; how often to I just start running my mouth instead of passing my situations over to God and letting Him deal with it?
What’s going to happen? What if everything doesn’t work out? This isn’t what I thought things were going to look like. When am I going to get a break? Can’t I just give up?
“The Lord will fight for you. BE STILL.”
But God, I don’t know what to do. I’m at the edge of the water and I don’t know where to go next.
“I’ll fight for you. BE STILL.”
But what if I can’t handle the adversity that’s coming towards me?
It’s pretty hard to be still when you’re looking at the obstacles and adversities you’re facing. Israel simply needed to stop talking and let God take care of it. And He did. He split the sea so they could walk right through it. (Reminds me of a line in a pretty powerful song by Bethel – No Longer Slaves – you can listen to the song here.)
I know what my adversity is. And today I’m choosing to take my hands off, look away from what appears to be trying to take me out, and Let Him fight for me. I’m choosing to Be Still. Anyone else in?
You can download this free Be Still graphic right here:
I’ve been struggling with how to write this post. This blog began as a way for me to share my journey to find joy and purpose in the hardest season of my life, and I don’t want to lose that.
There’s part of me that wants to be honest and transparent about my health, especially to help those who may be in similar situations; but there’s another part of me that just wants to celebrate the victories in life and withhold the harder, more difficult moments. I’m not sure exactly why that is. Maybe it’s partly because I like to try to be positive and encouraging. Maybe it’s because admitting weakness makes me vulnerable. Part of it is I don’t want to seem like a victim. Regardless of the reason, after processing this last season, I’ve decided to be as honest as I can in this update, because life isn’t always as easy as it can appear on the surface.
If you’ve been following my journey you know that last year I was diagnosed with MS. (You can read the story here in part 1, part 2 and part 3.) it’s been a truly transformative year for me, changing me in ways I never could have imagined. I’m more open; more willing to reach out; I slow down and rest more often; I enjoy the people and things I love more; I’m a different, and, in my opinion, a better person.
A huge part of my journey has also been the treatment I received this past March, a new MS treatment drug called Lemtrada. I underwent 5 long days of treatment to infuse the drug into my system (you can read about each day of treatment here on day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, and day 5). Essentially the drug completely wiped out my immune system, forcing my body to rebuild a new immune system by regenerating new white blood cells. Initially it seemed like the treatment worked really well. My post-treatment appointment with my neurologist was positive and just a few weeks later I was able to run substantial distances, run stairs again, and much of the energy and strength I had been lacking seemed to return (you can read my post-treatment updates here and here).
The hope was that this treatment would halt the progression of the disease by preventing any future attacks or relapses. It couldn’t heal the damage that was already done, but it would prevent any new lesions from developing on my brain and spine. Patients get two rounds of this treatment, 12 months apart, but many people are relapse free after their first round. Thats most people.
Near the beginning of September this all-too-familiar fatigue and weakness began to return. I was struggling to sit up straight, I could barely run, I could hardly stand to teach a whole class, and some strange new symptoms began to show up. First I noticed that my left foot could no longer feel temperature properly, then I began to feel numbness in left side of my face, almost like it was frozen. I really thought I was done with this.
I tried not to panic, but my fears were confirmed when I saw my medical team at UBC last Thursday. I had relapsed. Again.
I was so disappointed. I was frustrated. Honestly, I was so sad. I knew there was a small chance of relapse between treatment courses, but I truly, with all my heart, never thought it would happen. My neurologist explained that based the frequency of my attacks over the last 18 months, my MS seemed to be fairly aggressive. When MS is so active and aggressive it’s not totally uncommon for patients to relapse before their second dose.
My medical team agreed that the best course of action for me would be do a three day steroid infusion to help my body recover from the relapse and reduce the current inflammation in my brain. I was a little reluctant, but I trust my team, and tomorrow I begin 3 days of steroids as a day care patient at the Abbotsford hospital. Yay for the taste of metal and ridiculous swelling.
I’m desperately hoping that I don’t relapse again before my next round of Lemtrada in February, but if I’ve already relapsed once, it means my immune system didn’t come back the way it was supposed to. Instead of attacking viruses and infections like it’s supposed to, it’s still attacking my Central Nervous System.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the treatment won’t work. This is why people have two rounds 12 months apart, just in case something like this happens. My doctor also said on Thursday that if it’s still not working after round 2, they can do a third round, which He is confident will be enough.
I know it’s not a celebratory or encouraging post, but I don’t want to give the illusion that this process is going better than it actually is. I’m still full of joy and hope, but that doesn’t completely erase the disappointment and frustration I feel. Please pray for me if you think of it! I could use a little extra strength these days!
I’m on the road again! My bags are packed and I’m headed to Winnipeg, Manitoba for the weekend. I love that what I do gives me the opportunity to travel, but there are definitely seasons I feel like I’m living out of a suitcase! As I’ve travelled domestically and internationally over the years, I’ve learned the things I need and don’t need when I’m in the air. After years of trial and error, I’ve complied a list of 13 carry on essentials that keep me feeling fresh, comfortable and stress-free when I’m travelling.
1. Healthy Snacks
While airports and airlines are getting better at offering healthy snack options, there are still very few selections for people with special dietary needs. I highly recommend Lara Bars, as they have so many great tasting gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free options. I also usually travel with a bag of nuts to munch on, and when I’m flying domestic ,I always bring a fruit that travels well, like an apple.
Especially when you’re traveling internationally, a pen is a must in your carry on bag! There’s nothing worse than being caught without a writing utensil when you need to fill out a customs form!
3. Refillable Water Bottle
Many people this that because you can’t bring a full water bottle through security, you can’t travel with a water bottle at all, but that’s not the case! I always travel with an empty water bottle and as soon as I get through security I stop at a water fountain to fill it up. When you’re on a long international flight, the attendants will almost always fill your bottle for you so you can stay well hydrated. I drink a lot of water, so this is must for me when I’m travelling! I’m a huge fan of s’well water bottles like this one. They keep your water cold for hours!
4. Blanket Scarf
I often get chilly on airplanes, so I always travel with a blanket scarf that I can drape over me to keep warm. On longer flights, when you’re trying to catch some sleep, it can also serve as a pillow if you roll it up. This is a versatile, must-have item for me when I’m travelling! You can find this simple white and black plaid scarf here.
Especially in the warmer weather when I’m travelling in sandals, I always pack a pair of socks in my carry on. There’s nothing worse than wanting to remove your shoes and not having socks to put on. Airplane etiquette and hygiene says that you should never have bare feet on an airplane, and you should never, ever, ever go the bathroom on an airplane in your sock feet. I don’t where it says that, but if it doesn’t, it should. Trust me. You can find these cute Stance Socks here.
I use my iPad for everything. I use it to go online in airports. I use it for work and writing. I listen to music on it. You can load books or movies onto it. I rarely travel with my laptop anymore; I use my iPad for just about everything. Put it in a great handmade leather case like this one from Vancouver company Wilhelm and Friends, and you’re good to go!
7. Hand Sanitizer
There’s something about being in such a confined space with so many other people that makes me far more aware of germs. I never travel without hand sanitizer! This all natural one from Eminence is amazing and it smells so clean and fresh!
8. Hand Cream
Anyone who’s ever been on an airplane knows that it gets so, so dry. Make sure you’ve got a good hand cream like this all natural vanilla mint one from Eminence is my favourite!
Whether you’re plugging into the airline entertainment system or using your own tablet, phone, or MP3 player, headphones when you’re travelling are a must. Even if you don’t listen to a single thing with them, you should always have them on hand just in case you need to pretend you can’t hear the person next to you who won’t stop talking. I’m kidding. Sort of.
10. Lip Colour
Even if you gross at the end of your flight, a little colour can somehow make you feel pulled together again. It’s a good thing to keep on hand, just in case you’re feeling a little “blah.” If you’re in search of a natural lip colour, Lush has great options here.
I’m sure this one doesn’t require much of an expiation, but you should always travel with breath mints of gum. No exceptions. You can get all natural organic VerMints here.
Not only is your passport a must while travelling, but so is a great passport wallet to keep your boarding pass, passport and any other important cards you need, all together. I have a little pocket on the outside of my carry on bag that holds my passport wallet perfectly. You can pick a great handmade leather passport wallet like this one from Canadian company, Popov Leather, here.
These are things you’ll always find in my carry on bag. What’s in yours?
Thanksgiving may be over here in Canada, but I’m not giving up pumpkin flavours yet! I’m going to milk this pumpkin season at least until the end of October. I’ve already nailed a pretty decent vegan pumpkin scone (you can find the recipe here), and I’m still sitting on a pretty awesome pumpkin muffin recipe. So why not pumpkin granola I thought? Why not?
I adapted my popular “the best banana granola” recipe (you can find the recipe here), and created a delicious pumpkin granola that is both gluten-free and vegan. This granola is packed with nutrition with protein loaded hemp hearts, flax seed, and chia seeds. While it’s oh, so good for you, it doesn’t compromise in flavour! The pumpkin and cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger will fill your kitchen with the smells of fall!
This granola is really easy to make. Combine the dry ingredients, melt the the wet ingredients, combine and bake! Let it cool, then break apart and store in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks!
Let me know how it turns out! I’d love to hear your feedback!
I love coffee. At least I used to. That boost of caffeine to get me through the day. The energy shot to keep me on my A-game. I was always running to my next appointment with nice strong cup of coffee in my hands. After all, I was convinced that the only real solution to combatting a lack of sleep and an over-booked scheduled was more energy.
Last year, after I was diagnosed with MS, I was encouraged to completely cut out caffeine (you can read more about that here). My initial response was “Oh, no. Not my coffee.” How was I supposed to survive? It didn’t take me long to see that it wasn’t just my caffeinated beverages that needed to be adjusted, it was my whole approach to live. Without coffee I felt lethargic, less focused and a little grouchy. I needed more than just a beverage adjustment.
For me, cutting out coffee was a life-style change. It represented more than just what was in my cup. It represented hours of deprived sleep; months of overpacked schedules; and years of bad habits. I was a workaholic and coffee was my fuel to do more.
What my life really needed was a major overhaul. Rather than a cup of caffeine to give me a jolt in the morning, I really needed a good night’s sleep. Rather than a rushed cup-to-go, what I really needed was a moment to stop and breathe. I needed to slow down.
After grieving the loss of my beloved bold brew, I decided to take up herbal tea. (And all the coffee drinkers said, “gross.” I know.) I wasn’t happy about it, but I knew I needed to make some adjustments to my health, many of which were represented with what was inside my mug.
No longer able to rely on the caffeine boost from coffee, I was forced to make different choices. I started to choose to go to bed instead of staying up to get a little more work done. Instead of grabbing a cup on the go, I started to sit and breathe while I let my tea steep. My mug began to represent a change that was happening in me that went far beyond what I was drinking. I was learning to slow down.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not an anti-coffee advocate; I’m not looking at you with “judgey eyes” as you down your favourite blend; and I’m certainly not pointing fingers in any way, shape, or form. There are many people who drink their coffee like I drink my tea, as a way to stop, relax and slow down. That just wasn’t the case for me. I know for me, coffee was a symptom of a bigger problem in my life. In many ways I didn’t have a choice to give it up, but I’m glad I was forced to. It helped to change me into someone who I know will be better in the long run. Now, I’m learning to breathe.
I thought it would be fitting for Tech Tuesday this week to celebrate my new love for tea with this cute little download!
You can download this graphic for FREE for your desktop, iphone or ipad to share with the world that you do, in fact, love hotties hot teas 😉
I’m all about fall flavours right now! We’re not huge dessert people, but when it’s this healthy, I’m in! I’m convinced these baked local pears are the perfect fall dessert! Classy enough to make for company, but fast and simple enough to easily make for a weeknight dinner! Dessert win!
They are so easy, and such a great, healthy, dessert option! You simply need to slice the pear in half, length-wise, scoop our the seeds, crumble the oat mixture on top, and bake! Make sure your pears are ripe. Your thumb should sink in slightly when squeezed. The prep is fast and easy and the cleanup is even faster!
To make the oat crumble mixture, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and spoon onto the sliced pears. The crumble is nutty and delicious, but the best part is the soft, warm, baked pear. Amazing! And so healthy, you could eat this for breakfast. Actually, that’s not a bad idea! I might add these to my next brunch menu!
I recently wrote this piece for the MS Society of Canada, so I thought I’d share it with you here! And as a bonus, here’s a fall-themed “You Are Not Alone” tech download. Enjoy!
My whole life I prided myself on my independence. I set goals. I worked hard. I accomplished them. It wasn’t like I made a conscious decision to block others out, but I did. Every time I chose to go through something on my own. Every time I refused to ask to for help. Every time I did my own thing, I sent the message, “I don’t need your help. I can do it on my own.”
One year ago my world was turned upside down as I sat nervously in a small examination room and listened to the doctor relay the words I was dreading, “Kim, you have MS.”
I was devastated. Confused. Broken. What was I supposed to do now? I braced myself for what I believed was going to be one of the hardest, darkest seasons of my life. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and I was terrified.
I recognized I had a choice to make; I could choose to live my life in independence, holding this new diagnosis close to my chest and away from the rest of the world, or I could open myself up, allowing people to walk alongside me, support me, and help carry me as I journeyed into the unknown.
One by one I began to let people in on my journey. I began to open up and tell my story, experience their support, and before I knew it I was wading through this mucky mess of a disease with people all around me. I was not alone.
I expected this last year to be one of the hardest, darkest seasons of my life, but that hasn’t been my experience at all. As I’ve opened up myself to the people around me, I’ve experienced one of the most life giving, encouraging seasons of my life so far. As a community of people has rallied around me in love and support, I am reminded that I do need help, every single day. I am reminded that I am not alone.
This past weekend I participated in Muck MS in Chilliwack, BC. I was surrounded by some of my closest friends, members of the MS community who I’ve met over the past year, and hundreds of others who united together in the fight against MS.
Our Muck MS Team – Saturday, October 3rd, 2015.
Your presence and participation in events like Muck MS impact far more than you may ever understand. It’s not solely about the money we raise for MS care and research; it extends far further than that. Long after the funds are spent, the cheers of spectators still ring in my ears. The high fives from fellow participants still bring a smile to my face; and I’m still experiencing the presence of friends, family and strangers who chose to stand alongside me and remind me that those who fight MS don’t have to do it alone.
The truth is, we all need help. We can’t do it on our own. All you have to do is take a good look around at the masses of mud-runners, volunteers and cheering squads to see it. We’re wading through this muck together, and we’re better for it.
You can download this graphic for FREE for your desktop, iphone or ipad as a daily reminder that you are not alone.