This is Tiana’s personal favourite. It’s a fair bit of prep work, but darn delicious. I usually set this meal up as a salad bar so everyone can customize their salads. Any leftovers I combine to eat for lunch the next day, reserving the dressing on the side or else the noodles will absorb it all. Amazing served with hot fresh crispy tofu!

 

Ingredients

4-6 GF ramen noodle cakes (I use Lotus millet and brown rice brand from Costco)

olive or grapeseed oil

sea salt and fresh ground pepper

1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds (roasted)

3/4 cup grated or julienned carrots 

1 cup edamame 

1 sweet bell peppers, sliced or diced however you want it

1-3 Green onions, finely sliced on a diagonal for aesthetics 🙂

Fresh chopped cilantro, if desired

 

Dressing

4 Tbsp. olive or grapeseed oil

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

4 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 small-medium cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger (or to taste)

1-2 Tbsp. natural smooth peanut butter (optional, if you like peanut flavour)

2 tsp. sugar or maple syrup (or to taste)

 

Directions

Cook noodles according to instructions, just until al dente. Then rinse with cold water and put aside.

Meanwhile, roast the sweet potato. Preheat oven to 400°F. Put the sweet potato rounds in a bowl, drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper. Place them on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, then flip them and roast for 5 minutes more, until lightly browned.

To make the dressing, put all ingredients into a small jar with a lid and shake well. (If you have a mini food processor, use that). Adjust for saltiness, acid and sweetness as you wish. Note: garlic flavour will develop as the dressing sits! 

Heat and drain Edamame beans if you like them warm, or simply thaw and rinse them if you like them cold. Set aside.

Before serving, rinse and drain the noodles again. Put into a bowl and drizzle with some of the dressing and a bit more oil if needed so noodles don’t stick together. Let the family make their own creations with whichever veggies they prefer, or toss the noodles with all the fresh veggies. Top with green onions, cilantro and additional dressing.

“Negative thoughts and tensions are like birds: We cannot stop them from flying near us, but we can certainly stop them from making a nest in our mind.”  Rishika Jain

 

You’re probably scratching your head at the title of this conversation. We know that dwelling on problems doesn’t help.

But knowing that ruminating is unproductive doesn’t mean we don’t do it anyway. It’s hard to stop, especially when we’re going through difficult circumstances. Even when life is relatively fine, we soul-searchers tend to fixate on our thoughts. Whether our issues are trivial or legitimately painful, obsessing about them interferes with our ability to enjoy the present moment. So how can we stop?

The answer is, we can’t. So if we can’t stop entirely, we can at least give our worry time some parameters. Like designating time each day to ruminate. Read more

“Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.”  Author unknown

 

One of the fringe benefits of this pandemic is that it has significantly reduced the frenzy that ruled our pre-pandemic lives. One of the downsides? An increase in screen-time!

Online video meetings have replaced many of our previous in-person gatherings: doctor’s appointments, family events, birthday parties, book clubs, dance and sports classes, playdates for our kids, and even school continues to be at least partly on-line.

Ya’ll know my opinions on screen-time. Of course our devices aren’t inherently evil, but the overwhelming majority of apps and software ARE designed with the intent to get us seriously hooked. One line from The Social Dilemma sums this up perfectly: “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.” So it’s not a stretch when I say to my kids, in exasperation, that they’re acting like they’re on crack when I threaten to take away their iPad or phone.

The vast majority of our family’s conflicts revolve around devices. At times I think it would be so much easier if I just let them gorge on their addiction. My mom even gently questioned me recently, “What’s the harm? At least they’re at home and you know they’re safe.”

Except they’re not safe, and there is a lot of harm. Let’s skip the whole issue of dangerous online predators, and consider how detrimental the digital world can be. Time ON our devices means time AWAY from rich, meaningful activities. This means less time to exercise, invest in our relationships, read, engage in rich conversations, give undivided attention to our loved ones or to be outdoors.

Which is why I went on a quiet retreat with my girls last weekend. Tiana and Chelsea knew there would be no screen time, and WOW did I meet some powerful resistance. But the result of our 47-hour retreat? Sweet, simple success!!!

We went for walks, played games, enjoyed creative time journaling and painting, read by the fire (they even asked me to read my book aloud to them!), roasted marshmallows, listened to our favourite Christmas music, and had lots of cuddles. We ate simple, delicious yet nourishing meals. When they saw that I brought a string of Christmas lights to drape over the mantle, they both actually squealed with joy. We enjoyed every beautiful present moment for the whole weekend, since we weren’t waiting for the next digital fix.

As I write this, my girls’ screen-time has returned to business as usual. Sigh. But I’ve booked our next retreat in 9 weeks, and my goal is to reserve one day a week to device-free-family-time, starting next Sunday.

I look forward to forgetting to check our phones again.

 

Purely Practical

Watch The Social Dilemma. It’s disheartening, enlightening and empowering all at once, and I bet you’ll be inspired to make changes to your and your family’s current consumption of screen-time.

Want to go on your own family retreat? Rivendell Retreat Centre on Bowen Island generously lets guests pay by donation. It is Christian-based yet open to all, regardless of faith.

Join the Conversation

What screen-time issues or solutions have you experienced? What works, and what doesn’t? If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently about your or your kids’ use of devices?

“I’m at that stage in life where I keep myself out of unnecessary arguments.

Even if you tell 1+1=5, you’re absolutely correct. Enjoy.”  Author unknown

 

There’s so much potential for conflict right now.

Even though we’re in Canada, the recent Trump vs. Biden election continues to be a hot topic. Almost inseparable from the elections are regular hot-topics like religion, abortion and Covid. As measures increase to slow down the influx of Covid, we’re seeing our spectrum of freedoms being compromised, leading to more dissent. There seem to be vigilante sentries everywhere: on hiking trails, in malls, in the media. One extreme complains that we’re recklessly compromising public safety, while the other side complains that we’re being too paranoid and passive about our rights being eroded by a pseudo-communist regime.

I’ve had some interesting conversations with some of you about these hot topics. We don’t always share the same opinions, but at least we remain respectful and curious enough to hear each other’s points of view.

This isn’t the case with everyone. And in those situations, when I sense a wall of rigid ignorance being mounted before an honest conversation takes off, I try to think of today’s quote. I’d rather stay out of the argument, perhaps gently encourage some fact checking, and deftly redirect the conversation to more neutral territory.

One of my dearest friends recently said that she’s “going to pray for these things more than talk about them.” I think that’s a great option. We don’t need to prove to our egos that we’re “right.” What do we win, anyway, if we “win” a fight with a friend or loved one: Resistance, conflict, humiliation on one or both sides? Doesn’t sound like victory to me.

Here’s hoping we have a week of peace, laughter and gratitude amidst the heaviness out there. There is much to smile and laugh about. Let’s attract it!

 

Purely Practical Tip

For peace of mind, check out your own facts on reputable fact checking sites. I found this list helpful.

 

Join the Conversation

How are you staying peaceful and sane these days? What brings you laughter and joy amidst all the Covid restrictions?

If we let our minds go to all the potential horrors of Covid-19, it’s enough to feel utterly overwhelmed and anxious.

There are the disheartening numbers of increased deaths and cases, at home and globally. Financial ramifications are widespread and worrisome. We hear of Covidiots (yup: Covid + Idiot = Covidiot 🙂 ) buying more than their fair share of supplies and exploiting the situation to profit from such hoarding.

I’m drawn daily into this media vortex, and have to make myself come up for air. Being informed is one thing. Being inundated is another! I need to stay grounded so I can provide the emotional leadership my family needs, and for my own sanity’s sake.

That said, we don’t have to look too hard for some of Covid’s silver linings. Here’s what I’ve noticed:

Read more

Whether our kids are big or little, in primary school or getting married, our intentions are the same: We want to have loving, connected relationships with them.

And if you’re part of this Inner Circle, chances are we’ve talked about Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate’s book, Hold Onto Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers. We know it’s critical for our kids to be securely attached to us and other caring adults, and that peers must never replace us.

But what happens if they do?

Read more

OMG this is amazing, and I’ve never even been a huge fan of key lime pie. But when I tasted a slice of this I HAD to make my own as one slice wasn’t enough.

This recipe requires a food processor; it’s totally worth borrowing if you don’t have one. And you don’t have to make this as a pie. My last batch I put the filling on the bottom of a dish and sprinkled crust ingredients as a crumbly topping.

I confess to having and serving this for breakfast, too! Lovely with some vegan vanilla yogurt on top. Mmm.

 

Ingredients

For crust:

2 cups nuts (I used pecans & cashews but almonds work well too)

1/8 – 1/4 cup coconut oil

1/3 – 1/2 cup pitted dates

pinch of salt

For filling:

3 avocados

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup cashews, soaked overnight (or minimum 4 hours), rinsed and drained

1/2 cup sweetener (maple syrup, agave nectar or honey all work)

5-6 limes, zested and juiced

 

Directions

To make the crust, pulse the crust ingredients together until it forms a coarse meal. If you’re using as a crumble topping, it can be coarser. If pressing down as a pie crust, make it finer so that it doesn’t fall apart. Press into a 9″ pie/tart pan or 8″ cake pan.

Wipe food processor clean. To make the filling, blend cashews, coconut oil and sweetener in food processor until smooth. Then add avocados, lime juice and lime zest, and blend until smooth.

Spoon the filling onto crust (or bottom of dish and sprinkle crust ingredients on top). Refrigerate at least an hour, or until firm.

Tip: Eat within two days. The lime juice slows down the browning process of the avocados, but after a couple days the pie filling loses its pretty green colour.

“Today I will live in the moment. Unless it’s unpleasant, in which case

I will have a cookie.”  Cookie Monster

 

It’s been one of those months. Despite my best intentions, I’ve been MIA from my blog and any other personal goal.

Thankfully I’m not dealing with anything earth-shattering, like a horrendous medical diagnosis. It just started with last month’s Christmas chaos, followed by a family holiday. Interspersed with a few bouts of stomach flu, colds, and snow days. Oh, and dealing with some surprising and scary issues that come with parenting a teen.

Read more

“Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than

a successful present moment.”  Eckhart Tolle

 

Success can be a tricky concept. We all have definitions of what constitutes a “success,” and I bet most of us feel like we fall short. 

Read more

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become

by achieving your goals.”  Henry David Thoreau

 

Last week I went to an adult/teen gymnastics class. No joke.

There was a seventeen-year old, two university students in their early twenties, and me: an old(ish) mom more than twice their age. Thank God I was able to dismiss my ego, because you know what? I had FUN. I played on all the trampolines and equipment like I was a kid, flipping into the foam pit, taking some risks, and feeling utterly alive and present the whole time.

Why was I there?

I needed to get out of a slump. Nothing serious. Life is going well; I have no major problems and plenty of blessings, which I’m grateful for. But in the absence of misfortune, I’ve started to feel apathetic.

I’d way rather be energized and inspired, like when I’m working toward a goal or acing a metaphorical life test. I want a shiny gold star for my win, even if I have to give it to myself. 

Question is: What’s the win?

Since becoming a mom thirteen years ago, I’ve grappled with how can I feel “successful” as the homemaker who gave up her career. I often go in circles thinking about deep existential life goals. On the other hand, setting and meeting physical goals are simpler and immediately accessible. Physical goals are easily tailored to be anybody’s win.

It could be as simple as setting a number of pushups. Or running a certain distance or time. Maybe cycling, juggling, horseback riding, kickboxing, or swimming a number of laps. All that matters is that goals are specific, measurable and attainable.

When these goals are met, it feels awesome. Like “YAH, I did it!” Doing that gymnastics class last week earned me a gold star. And that winning energy triggered a positive chain reaction, fuelling me for days. All those rumours about exercise appear to be true: moving our bodies feels good. It uplifts and energizes, making us more optimistic and creative, which primes us for meeting and creating new goals and opportunities. 

There is a ton of research that shows how regular exercise helps us feel better, have less stress, be more productive and focussed, and even think more creatively. If you need more convincing, read this article on mental and health benefits of exercise.

Going to that gymnastics class has inspired me to set new goals. Simply trying it empowered me almost as much as if I actually learned how to do a back walkover again.

This week, I hope you feel the power of setting a physical goal and moving your body. Go ahead and Push-Up Your Way to Power—or cartwheel, bounce, run, swim, bike, juggle, trapeze… 🙂

 

Purely Practical Fitness Tips

We can get stronger and more flexible with inexcusably little effort. Try two of my easy favourites: Calf raises while doing just about anything, and squats while brushing teeth. 

Another good one? Earning treats. Whether it’s our morning coffee, dessert, or bowl of buttery popcorn, we can set a small physical-exercise payment before indulging. Do some crunches, lunges, tricep dips on the coffee table, or even a few simple stretches.

 

Join the Conversation

How do you get motivated to exercise?

Exercise helps me move out of apathy. What does exercise help you with? 

What are your favourite tricks to sneak physical activity into your day? 

This week my goal is to do a handstand against the wall every day, beating my time each day. What’s your physical goal?