Chronic pain is an interesting companion 

What happens when you choose to let chronic pain go?


Chronic pain becomes a part of you. You identify with it. So what happens to that part of your identity when you choose to let that pain go?

I’m referring to some small, annoying shoulder pain. For the most part, it’s just there; sometimes it flares up, but it’s never debilitating.

It might not be physical pain, it might be emotional pain that you’ve been carrying around for so long, you don’t know what would be left of your identity if you were to release it.

We hold on to pain (emotional/physical) because it is known, it is familiar, it is safer than the unknown of our life without that pain. The thing is, we aren’t even aware that we’re holding onto it.

I’m not saying that you can just “let it go”, but I am suggesting that by working with educated practitioners, intention, and awareness you can help to release stubborn pain. The key is, if you want to.

What are you holding onto that you are ready to let go of? Who can you talk to/work with to help you release that pain? How can you nurture yourself to acknowledge your pain and free yourself from its grasp?

Wishing you love and health,
~Alannah

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Dream Salad

There’s a cafe here in Vancouver, Eternal Abundance, that is amazing! They have this Super Salad that I love and will buy on occasion; however, I can’t buy it every day so I’ve made a few attempts at recreating it on my own. I think I did a pretty good job with this one.

Super Salad

Salad:
Short grain brown rice (cooked as you see fit – I kept it simple with just water)
Kale-slaw mix from Whole Foods (Kale, carrots, red and green cabbage)
Red and Green Peppers
Avocado
Sprouts
*I would have also added cucumber and celery, but I kept them separate for an afternoon snack.
**Obviously add any other veggies you want!

Dressing:
Olive Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar
Orange Juice (I cut about 1/3 of an orange off and squeezed it)
Miso (about a table spoon??)
Garlic (1 clove, crushed)
Ginger (1 inch, crushed/chopped)
*Sorry, I have no idea how much of everything I put in, just work it around until it tastes right to you 🙂

Kale & Beet Salad

Sometimes (most of the time), I’m a bad grocery shopper. I love grocery shopping so much, I’ll actually “window shop” at the grocery store! Anyway, the other day I was on my way home from visiting my grandma and found myself at Whole Foods (aka my favourite store). It was actually time to stock up for the week, but I found myself unprepared, as in, I had no idea what I wanted to be eating for lunches this week, never mind breakfast and dinner! As I stared, bright-eyed, at the produce, I thought: “BEETS! Oooh, and KALE!” Ok, I had a path… “Oh, and goat feta!” Done!

Image

Kale & Beet Salad
1 Bunch Kale
3 Medium Beets (roasted)
Quinoa
Goat Feta
Lemon Juice
Apple Cider Vinegar (optional)

*I learned how to strip kale from its icky (and wonderful, life-giving) stalk this weekend: hold the stem in one hand and the base of the green leaves with the other hand, pull the hand holding the green leaves away from the hand holding the stalk and voila! let there be stalk-less kale leaves!

Once my kale was stripped, I chopped it up and put it into a bowl. Instead of massaging each piece (like I’ve done for kale chips), I grabbed handfuls and squished it (like balling dough).

I roasted my beets (with their skins and stems) in a 450 degree oven, covered, for about 1 hour, rotating every 15 minutes or so or until I could poke them with a chopstick. After letting the beets cool, I peeled the skins off and chopped them up.

I made quinoa (with avocado, cucumber and Spike, wrapped in nori sheets) for dinner so it was an afterthought addition to the salad.

I mixed the kale and beets with a little lemon juice then added some quinoa, apple cider vinegar, and the goat feta in the morning; shake-shake-shake and yum!

Blender Green “Juice”

Recently, juicing has become uber popular! As much as I’d like a juicer, I know that realistically I don’t have the time to use it enough to justify the cost and space 😦 I’m extremely lucky that I live in a city that has cold pressed, fresh, organic juices readily available; however, they are expensive! So, I’ve put my $50 blender to use and created my own “juice”.

MindBodyGreen recently posted a beauty infographic about juices vs smoothies. Both have their benefits and are yummy!

The first green smoothie came about because I had eaten too much meat over the previous days and was talking to my mum about feeling “blah” and uninterested in food. Our conversation turned to what I had in my fridge and the below Vegetable Drawer Juice came about.

Apple Banana Green Juice

These are all water-based.

Vegetable Drawer
Broccoli Slaw
Leaf Lettuce
Celery
Frozen Blueberries
1/2 Frozen Banana
Lemon Juice

Strawberry Banana
Kale
Celery
Ginger
Frozen Strawberries
1/2 Frozen Banana
Lemon Juice

Apple Banana
Kale
Celery
Ginger
1/2 Jazz Apple
1/2 Frozen Banana
Lemon Juice

Not So Green
Celery
1/2 Jazz Apple
1/2 Frozen Banana
Ginger
Lemon Juice

Raspberry and Romaine Green
Celery
Romaine Lettuce
Raspberries
1/2 Frozen Banana
Lemon Juice
Mint Leaf
Date *added as a sweetener*

Minty Green Goodness – this one surprised me
Romaine Lettuce
Frozen Kale
1/4 Jazz Apple
1/2 Frozen Banana
Frozen Strawberries
Lemon Juice
2 Mint Leaves
Date
Hemp Hearts

Apple & Lettuce – Pre Wanderlust Power
Romaine Lettuce
1/2 Jazz Apple
1/2 Frozen Banana
2 Mint Leaves
1/2 Scoop Vega One French Vanilla
Hemp Hearts

Honeydew
Romaine Lettuce
Honeydew Melon pieces
1/4 Jazz Apple
1/2 Frozen Banana
Celery
1/2 Manjool Date
2 Mint Leaves
Ginger
Lemon Juice

For the Love of Food!

I’m lucky, I know, I’ve been blessed with good genetics and brought up by a mum who taught me to eat because I needed to. This meant small, clean, simple meals using olive oil and spices for the flavours instead of butter and cream. This upbringing has instilled a love of healthy foods with some treats thrown in the mix (I have a nasty sweet tooth and minimal willpower) and the ability to make healthy food that (I think) tastes good!

It saddens me when people aren’t excited to eat a “healthy” meal – a bed of lettuce with fresh veggies, lean protein and some lemon juice dressing – because they feel they’re limited to the boring and mundane. I know we all get into food ruts, but these ruts shouldn’t be caused by limiting your food options due to a diet! That, my friends, leads to a very viscous cycle of deprivation followed by indulgence, followed by…

It’s hard to reverse cravings you’ve spent a lifetime developing, but there are ways to minimize them, and I’m not going to tell you to drink water and wait 15 minutes, because, although wonderful in theory, does not work when my brain latches onto a Blizzard craving! My three craving-busting tips are:

  1. Work out! When a craving hits, work it off before you eat it, this does two things 1) gives you a workout, which leads to 2) raises your endorphin levels and lowers your desire for crap food
  2. Think about your craving and ask yourself if it’s really worth it, if the answer is “yes, if I don’t give into this craving I’m going to eat far more”, then
  3. Give in! Make the conscious decision to enjoy whatever it is you’re craving, and maybe order the smallest, pre-portioned size (not the family-sized bag of M&M’s because they’re on sale)

A point about number 2 up there; a lot of times, we try to replace the real thing with a “more healthy” substitution, these substitutions are usually chemical sh*t storms developed in a lab as an attempt to fool your body, they don’t work. If you’re craving sugar, don’t try to replace it with an artificial sweetener! However, if you’ve thought about your craving and have decided you can do better, a little honey won’t hurt.

Be conscious of your cravings and, as I’ve said before, add so many wonderful, healthy, clean, natural FOODS that you don’t have space for the junk anymore.

So onto the healthy tips:

  1. Use onions, garlic, spices, chili flakes… Chili flakes have become my go-to when a dish is lacking a little je ne sais quoi.
  2. Use millet (just bought some and excited to experiment!), quiona, zucchini, squash, rice noodles, rice, tofu noodles… there are so many options these days, play with them!
  3. Know your comfort foods. I LOVE spaghetti, maybe because we ate a lot of it when I was growing up, but, good golly, do I ever love it! But here’s the thing, my spaghetti sauce is loaded with spinach (or Kale), onions, garlic and organic tofu (or extra lean meat).
  4. Play with methods of preparing your food. Bored with baked chicken breast? Try stir-frying it for a salad topper.
  5. Did I mention spices!? Play! Get creative!
  6. Jump onto Pintrest to see what others are doing. When I was getting back into shrimp, I searched Pintrest for shrimp recipes and was amazed with all the options.
  7. Try to know what you’re eating. If you can’t/don’t know how/don’t have time to make it yourself, do your best to find a product as close to how you would make it if you could.
  8. In the words of Michael Pollan: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”

There is no magic pill, no magic workout, no replacement for eating good (tasty) food and sweating once a day.

One pan wonder!

Not gonna lie, I’m horrible at making dinners at home; well, here’s the way I see it: I work, then teach Monday-Friday so I’m not usually home until after 6pm anyway, then I try to make it to yoga most nights of the week, plus I’m single…so I eat at the Whole Foods salad bar A LOT! And I’m ok with that; however, I actually like to cook! And my recent discovery of Pinterest has only increased this love. Unfortunately, eating out has become a habit, so even when I have the time to make food, I don’t. So tonight I took it upon myself to make a quick, simple, one pan meal…SO GOOD (and easy)!

Shrimp, Veggies and Rice Noodles

That’s right, all that came out of one pan!

Another quick story, when I was young, my mum would buy me a bag of shrimp meat, and I would eat at least half of it…before we got home! This happened for a few months. Needless to say, I overdosed and I hadn’t eaten shrimp since. Over Christmas this year, I was at my sister’s house and she made shrimp for dinner, and I was hungry, so I went for it…and liked it! Which is good, because the nutritional content of shrimp is amazing! And they’re pretty inexpensive, in the scheme of meats.

Chilli Garlic Shrimp and Veggies

Butter
Chilli flakes
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 C Broccoli – maybe it was more
1/2 C Cauliflower – maybe it was more
10 pre-cooked Shrimp
Bundle Rice Noodles
Water

In a frying pan on medium heat, I melted some (a lot of) butter, threw in two cloves of chopped garlic, a sprinkle of chilli flakes, broccoli and cauliflower (my other new favourite ingredient). I added some water and covered until the broccoli and cauliflower started to become tender. Then I added some cooked shrimp (I was able to get them pre-cooked from Whole Foods) and rice noodles, a little more water, and covered again.

Once the noodles were looking done, I took the lid off to crisp everything up. And done!

Monkey Mind…time to get honest

Recently I’ve felt my mind is scattered — too much to do and absolutely no focus on anything! So this post will be an attempt at focusing in preparation for the beginning of 2013. 2012 has been a year of goal crushing, but with the year coming to a close (much faster than I had expected), I’m finding myself spinning trying to wrap up loose ends, and getting nowhere fast.

With the holiday season upon us, my teaching schedule is winding down, leaving me with more time in the week to work on my goal “homework”. Ok, I put that in quotes, but really, it’s real homework.

There are two key things left on my 2012 goal list:

  • Start dating someone with the potential to become my husband (it’s been an intention, but I haven’t made any steps to actually meet anyone)
  • Complete my Personal Training certification (this is where Monkey Mind is coming into play)

Also, I will be in Aruba January 19 to complete my Yoga Teacher Training and have A LOT of homework to do BEFORE I leave!

So…the plan…as always, dating is being pushed to the back-burner (much to my family’s dismay).

Here is my commitment: I spend a minimum of 1 hour per night AND 2 hours per weekend day on work related to attaining my Yoga and/or Personal Training certification until December 31, 2012.

This can include:

  • Observing a yoga class
  • Teaching a yoga class
  • Watching an online lecture
  • Taking notes on human anatomy and systems
  • Reading a book related to either of these goals (I have to do a book report as part of my YTT)
  • Creating personal training programs
  • Doing a Home Practice

Outcome: by committing to the above, I will be confident in my abilities to write and pass both my Personal Training and Yoga tests in January 2013.

This is my pre New Years Resolution.

What do you want to get accomplished before 2013 begins? Maybe we can encourage each other to finish 2012 even stronger than we started it!

Amazing things happen when you don’t turn on the TV

On weekdays I set two alarms, the radio goes off at 6:05 and my cell kicks me out of bed (or tries to) at 6:15. Apparently I forgot to turn off my radio alarm last night so instead of rolling over and uselessly dozing for two hours, or crawling onto my couch and watching TV, I made myself a cup of tea, started studying the muscles of the shoulder and made a playlist for my yoga class tomorrow.

Then I felt like I had been productive enough so I turned on the TV, flicked through the guide and decided I could better spend my time writing a quick blog…stranger things have happened, but it’s always nice when you are aware of the choices you make! Many weekend mornings have seen my aware choice be watching TV, but I love being aware of making the conscious choice to not!

All that being said, I’ve been awake for three hours and I desperately want coffee before yoga!

I will tell you all about my Yoga Teacher Training shortly 🙂

A Labour Day in the Kitchen

After an exciting three nights in Whistler competing in the Meet Your Maker 50 relay, I got home EARLY this morning and emerged from my kitchen many hours later!

What came out of my experimentation…

  • Steel-Cut Oat Muffins — adapted from Busy But Healthy (adapted from sugarfreemom.com)
  • Raw Cinnamon Buns — from Health Damy
  • Potato Salad

Steel-Cut Oat Muffins

My typical breakfast has been home-made granola and plain greek yogurt for the past…MANY years. So in a quest to switch it up a little, I found this beauty, which I altered slightly in an attempt to make a half batch and not use applesauce (mine had been sitting in  my cupboards for longer than I care to remember).

1 1/4 C Steel Cut Oats
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 Tbsp Ground Flax
1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
Pinch Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1 Mashed Banana
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 C Milk (I used Rice Milk)
1/2 C Water
1 Egg White

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 Minutes
Combine dry ingredients, combine wet ingredients; mix together
Fill muffin cups — I put Strawberry Jam in the middles; to do this, fill 1/3 muffin cup, add dollop of jam, add more batter

Raw Cinnamon Buns

My wheat-weakness is Cinnamon Buns so this recipe has been on my “to-try” list for a while now and I finally got around to it…and…although good, they won’t be replacing the real deal any time soon! But they ARE good. 

I followed this recipe pretty closely so I’m not going to write it out; however, the change I’d suggest is to cut down on the sugar!! I don’t think I’ll use any Agave next time as the dates are sweat enough.

 

 

 

Potato Salad

I always forget how much I LOVE red potatoes! Potatoes aren’t a staple in my diet, but I definitely have a soft spot for them and summer, although it’s nearing an end, just screams red potatoes!

3 Hard Boiled Eggs
6 Cooked Red Potatoes
1 Small Red Onion
3 Green Onions
1/2 Bunch Kale

Place chopped Eggs and Red Onion into a bowl
Mix in HOT cubed Potatoes — adding them hot soften the Red Onion just enough and really helps the flavours
Add Green Onion and chopped Kale

An Evening at Home

I’ve been running around, a lot, recently and tonight, instead of going to a yoga class (as I had hoped to), I made the decision to spend some time at home; making some food I keep meaning to make — zucchini pasta with home made pesto followed up with a blueberry-strawberry crisp 🙂 I feel like I made a good decision!

Pesto
1 Large Garlic Clove
3 Tbsp Shaved Parmesan
1 Bunch Basil — I used one of the packages from Safeway
3 Tbsp Toasted Walnuts —I wanted to use the traditional Pine Nuts, but my local Safeway didn’t have any and I didn’t want to go to another store
5 Tbsp Olive Oil

Place Garlic, Parmesan, Basil, Toasted Walnuts into food processor and let it run
Scrap down the edges
Drizzle Olive Oil into the bowl while the food processor is running
**Adapted from the Cuisinart Food Processor Guide

Zucchini Pasta
Peel skin
Using a peeler, peel one area until you get close to the seeds, then work your way onto the next side
Place “pasta” into lightly oiled frying pan and soften
Add 1 Tbsp of Pesto and warm —stir a few times
**I wouldn’t suggest this as a full meal, but definitely an amazing side dish for some white fish or something

Blueberry-Strawberry Crumble
1 C Frozen Blueberries
1/2 C Frozen Sliced Strawberries
1/2 tsp Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/3 C Earth Balance —or Butter, or whatever you use
1/3 C Brown Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 1/2 C Oats —I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free

Pour Berries into a baking dish —I use a 4×4 CorningWare one for these proportions
Sprinkle and stir in Cornstarch
Sprinkle with Pumpkin Pie Spice
Melt Earth Balance and Brown Sugar
Stir in Cinnamon and Oats
Pour Oat mixture over Berries
Cover with tinfoil and bake for approximately 15 minutes at 350
Remove tinfoil and bake until golden —approximately 10 more minutes

Hulk Shots!

As part of my morning routine, I always have a cup of hot lemon water with honey and I make a smoothie.

My typical smoothie is:
1/2 Frozen Banana
Frozen Fruit (right now I’m enjoying frozen strawberries)
1 Scoop Whey Gourmet Naturelle Vanilla Bean Protein Powder
1 Scoop Amazing Grass Green SuperFood
Original Unsweetened Rice Milk – to cover the above ingredients

I blend this all up with my hand blender and enjoy and it’s wonderful!

As amazing and clean as the above is, I thought I’d try to bump it up a bit! And voila the Hulk Shot was born!

My first attempt includes:
Whole Foods Unpasteurized Carrot, Apple, Celery juice
Bunch of Kale
1 Avocado
1 Kiwi
Splash of Lemon Juice

It all went into my blender and I put it on the “crush ice” setting. They don’t look good, but I think (hope) when mixed with my 1/2 Banana, Protein Powder and Rice Milk!