It seems like just yesterday we started the 2020/2021 school year under some very different and difficult circumstances than ever before. To say that the current school year has been a challenge is an understatement. I've been teaching for 17 years, yet this year it feels like it did when I was just starting off.
I took on the role of teaching one of the blended/hybrid cohorts for my district this year. I'm spending ½ the day teaching Grade 6/7 online and students attend school for in person instruction 3 afternoons each week. The Grade 6/7 curriculum is not new to me; having to redesign it for an online version is. I was also under the impression that the blended program would expire in December and all students would return back to the classroom full-time after our winter break. It turns out this current system will now continue until June.
I'm having to maneuver so many obstacles, whether it be technology issues, recreating new ways to teach in order to meet the various needs of my learners, or keeping the students engaged and on task, especially in the virtual world. The days feel long and exhausting, yet I choose to find the positive in everything I do. No day is perfect, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
I feel blessed to be able to teach a wonderful community of learners, which has been validated by their touching comments and gestures this week alone. Teaching during a pandemic is not easy, but it makes everything worth it when I think of how far my students have come this year. From my autistic student who has been come so far as to ask for help on her own, to the girl who left in tears because she was moving schools, to the young boy who's parent told me he excitedly talks about his various projects when they had to pry it out of him in the past, my heart is overcome with joy and pride. It's moments like these that I am reminded that I love what I do!
As we begin the winter break, I will definitely take the time to enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation. I'll be spending time cooking delicious treats, sharing my passion for cooking with the world, getting back into my workout routine and of course spending time with the four legged members of my family. Christmas will look much different this year, as I will be joining my family virtually, but I am at peace as I know this is not a permanent change. It's what must happen to keep the people I love safe and healthy for many years to come.
When all is said and done, we will emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever! I encourage you to embrace this challenging time and try to find the positive each and every day.
From my family to yours, we wish you a very merry Holiday season.
About a month ago, I was approached by my branch manager and was asked to answer a few questions about Thermomix and my role as an independent consultant. I was told I may be given the opportunity to be featured in an online lifestyle magazine. The more exposure I can get, the better, so I jumped on the opportunity to do so. Plus, more people need to learn about this amazing kitchen appliance that is changing lives!
Well, weeks went by and I still hadn't heard who was selected to be featured. When I inquired with my branch manager, I was informed that another consultant was selected to work with the magazine. No big deal! It's just one opportunity that didn't pan out, but that doesn't mean there won't be many more.
I'm not entirely sure what happened, but to my utter amazement and total shock, I was forwarded a link to an online article - I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that it was my interview that they had published - WHAT???????
"VITA is Canada’s premiere online lifestyle magazine, with a group of seven free, savvy, online e-newsletters in major Canadian cities that target educated, affluent women who are starved for time and hungry for information."
I still cannot believe that I was chosen as THE consultant to represent our entire company on a national level. I am proud to represent this amazing company - not only because I believe strongly in the quality and versatility that our appliance offers, but I get to share my passion for cooking with all of Canada! The TM6 really has changed my life.
As I say in the article, "In today’s ever changing world, more and more people are working from home, eating in and cooking meals with families, and looking for ways to save money and time. ...The TM6 is bringing families together once again—kids will enjoy helping in the kitchen and can even take pride in the meals they make themselves with the help of guided cooking. This amazing kitchen appliance will turn any amateur and home cook into a professional chef!"
You can check out my interview by clicking here.
So where do I go from here? My wish is for more people to discover the amazing features of the TM6! And of course, I will continue to cook delicious mouthwatering meals and share my passion with my free weekly virtual cooking classes* and cooking experiences. I'm confident that we will start to see more TM6's in kitchens across North America - it's just a matter of time!
So with that said, email me for your very own virtual cooking experience. Let's enjoy some laughter, smiles and a fun night in, and let my sous-chef Rémy do most of the work!
*Free virtual cooking classes can be found on Eventbrite. (Search for "The Magic of Thermomix").
Sunny-side up... poached... hard boiled... soft boiled...easy over... scrambled... steamed... baked.... How do you like your eggs?
Did you know that eggs are often referred to as "nature's multivitamin"? I absolutely love eggs, especially when they are sourced from farm-fresh and free-range chickens. I used to worry about consuming too many of these gems and raising my cholesterol levels.
Little did I know that one egg contains an amazing range of nutrients. We're talking vitamins, minerals, high quality protein, good fats, nutrients essential for the brain and eyes, and the list goes on.
So what about the dreaded cholesterol? Just because food contains this important component doesn't mean that your bad cholesterol will increase. Cholesterol is actually created by our own liver and when you eat cholesterol, your liver produces less of it; and when you don't eat it, your liver produces more. Crazy, hey? There have been a ton of studies that show eggs to improve your cholesterol profile - raising the so-called good "HDL" levels and lowering the supposed bad "LDL" levels. ** Who would have thunk?
And don't dismiss the importance of the yolk either, since the majority of these nutrients are found in the golden middle - the white only contains protein.
But are all eggs created equal? Just line in the picture above, not at all! If you're buying eggs sourced from hens that are raised in factories, caged and fed grain-based feed, this affects the nutrient composition your eggs. It's best to buy free-range or free-run, pasture raised, farm fresh eggs whenever possible. You can even look for eggs that are Omega-3 enriched to get your best value.
I tried a new recipe today and I couldn't be happier! In all my years in the kitchen, never once have I attempted to put together a quiche. I'm not sure why because it really was not that difficult.
It was even easier with Rémy doing all the hard work - he started off by weighing the ingredients needed for my crust, then mixed them up to create the dough. The only job I had was rolling out the dough and putting it into my pan, then into the fridge to rest while Rémy made the filling.
To make the filing, he first chopped the herbs and then combined them with the eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Time for me to take over.
I layered the crust with some wild smoked sockeye salmon and some very ripe and creamy brie cheese. The egg mixture got poured evenly on top and into the hot 400˙F oven for 15 minutes. The temperature was reduced to 350˙F and baked for another 30 minutes.
I definitely enjoyed a slice or two of warm quiche with a bowl of hot creamy tomato soup - a perfect combination for a cold autumn night.
"Chocolate is cheaper than therapy, and you don't need an appointment." ~ author unknown.
How true is that? And it gets even cheaper and better when you get the satisfaction of making the most decadent and delicious chocolate creations yourself! Thankfully, with the magic of my sous chef Rémy, making these amazing show stopper creations is a synch.
This weekend I had the pleasure of hosting a virtual cooking experience and I showed my guests how easy it is to make Chocolate Coconut Caramel Custard and Chocolate Syrup. Would you believe me if I said that both desserts were made in under an hour? That includes the clean up at the end. I particularly enjoy eating both the custard and the syrup on top of goat's milk yogurt. I also shared some tried and true tips for making these dishes low carb and some of my favourite ways to enjoy them as well.
Check out some other mouth watering desserts made using my Thermomix TM6!
I'd love to share the magic that is Thermomix and host a virtual cooking class for as many of you as possible. We can customize the menu to you and your party's needs and desires. With the holidays coming up, we need more reasons for social interactions. So, let's get together virtually and have some fun, laughs and share a glass of wine or two together.
Even if we're not in the same room, we can still make the most of it. You can message me for more info! And feel free to share with all of your friends as well.
You can also click here for more information about Thermomix.
I still remember the day I wrote this:
"Sometimes, things don't go as planned. You may be aiming for two birds in a bush, and end up with not even one in your hand. There will always be times when things don't go your way. You toil hard, give it your best and end up crying. In the end you think maybe it was just because you didn't pray. But after all is said and done, and you grow older, and you find yourself in a place that is happier, you realize the universe never gave you a cold shoulder!" (Despicable Me).
I had just spent 5 weeks suffering through the most excruciating time of my life ~ Kidney Stones! Don't let those itty bitty little stones fool you. Think of them as little pebbles covered in minuscule razor blades, sitting comfortably in your kidney(s) until the day they decide to dislodge and take an unwelcome trip down your ureter and to your bladder, and then out! I have no idea how long my little mining operation of 10 stones had been forming, but the day they dislodged themselves will never be forgotten!
I will spare you the details, but it started with pee the colour of coca cola and lower back pain that was so debilitating, it felt like I tried to lift a 1 ton truck without success.
The next 10 days were spent in and out of the local ER and 2 emergency trips to the OR to blast those suckers out. It turns out I had about 10 stones in my left kidney that were ranging in size from 2 mm to 10 mm. Unfortunately the back pain would continue to linger for several months and my energy was non existant.
The year 2020 was going so well and I had plans to go on several hiking adventures this summer. I guess it's true when they say that you don't realize how much you miss things until they get taken away from you. Not being able to work out let alone being more or less housebound all summer is not what I had in mind. I love being active! Thankfully, by the time school started back in September, I was starting to feel somewhat back to normal in terms of my energy, minus the lingering back pain. Things were starting to look up! I was back to coaching and training Flying Trapeze and I eased back into my workouts.
Then came mid-September and another scare - my back pain was back with a vengeance. After spending another day at the ER and third trip through the CT Scanner, I was happy to hear I was clear of stones. It appears the back pain was more muscular and most likely residual from the stones. Just my luck! And so the next month was spent taking it slow, following up with my massage and physio therapists, and going on gentle walks with the pups.
I also had to revamp my diet and limit foods that I love, which was the hard part. People can form a variety of types of stones, the most common being what I had, calcium oxalate stones. I have since learned that oxalate is made daily by your liver or can also be absorbed from the foods you eat; foods such as spinach, nuts, rhubarb, sweet potatoes and even chocolate (not happening). My urologist also told me I need to drink at least 3 L of water a day, which has not been an easy feat for me and took some bladder training. Not only that, I am at a very high risk of developing more stones in my future, so I really do need to make sure to follow doctor's orders. We will find out in March sometime if my kidneys have decided to cooperate (fingers crossed).
Happy to report that I am finally feeling back to my old self. My next challenge is to get back into my old routines of working out almost daily so that I can get back to working on my strength and fitness goals. Through all of this, I do feel like I've done a pretty good job at sticking to my nutrition goals - sticking to a LCHF and moderate protein lifestyle has been great for my gut health. In addition, the scale hasn't budged and my clothes are still fitting great. Sure, my abs are not where they were at the beginning of summer, but I know they will come back.
For me, the most important aspect is getting my health back to normal levels so that I can come back stronger and better than ever!
It's a good thing that I'm such an optimistic person because when life throws me curveballs, I'm definitely one to throw them back and prevail!
With crisper days, stormier nights and the colours of leaves changing all around us, you definitely know that summer is behind us and winter is not far off. In my heart I am a summer girl, but there is something comforting about the sighs and smells of autumn days.
As much as I love my warm summer days, I do look forward to one of my all-time comforts: curling up under a cozy blanket with my pups to a good book and the soothing aromas of pumpkin spice wafting throughout my home. From candles to lotions to the smell of a delicious pumpkin pie baking in the oven, I can't seem to get enough.
I used to make pumpkin butter in my Instant Pot all the time and add it to my yogurt or coffees, but it never got to the consistency I wanted. Tasty, for sure, just never thick enough. So when I got my Thermomix, I found a recipe in the integrated digital cookbook for Pumpkin Butter.
Cookidoo® is probably one of my favourite features of the TM6 because it's the largest digital cookbook in the world and it's build right into the machine, easily accessible via WiFi. Not only that, I can do my weekly meal planning, create my own recipe collections, and create my own shopping list, thanks to such an easy touch screen set up. But, I digress!
Well, this Pumpkin Butter was a clear winner. It was fairly thick and smooth. Most of the butters you find elsewhere are loaded with sugar and they are high in carbs, but not this one. I replaced the regular brown sugar with Sukrin Gold, an all-natural low-calorie alternative to brown sugar with an aroma, sweetness, flavour and texture of brown sugar.
I've been making this aromatic mixture on a weekly basis and keep it in a mason jar for easy access. I love to add a spoonful to my goat milk yogurt, but it has become a regular addition to my morning coffee.
What?!? Pumpkin Spice Americano for a fraction of the cost of going to Starbucks, let alone healthier and tastier? Sign me up!
How to make my Pumpkin Spice Americano
The fact that I can use my Thermomix as a kettle, mixer, food processor and to simmer and thicken foods makes it that much more versatile and magical; and that's not all! I'd love to share more about how this amazing kitchen appliance can rock your world too. Let's chat!
What a week it's been!
From work to appointments to coaching, it's been one of those weeks where it seems I was always playing catch up. The weather has actually been sunny and decently warm, and it really only took a turn to what we are more used to here on the west coast over the past 24 hours: rainy, damp and darker days. These rainy days definitely have me missing summer, especially burgers on the patio.
Fret not - Thermomix and Sous Vide to the rescue!
As a matter of fact, these were probably some of the best burgers I've had in a long time. The key to a delicious and healthy burger is the quality and type of protein you choose to use. I do love turkey burgers, but nothing beats a satisfyingly juice grass-fed grass-finished bison burger. One thing I absolutely love about my Thermomix is that I can throw the meat into the mixing bowl and with the magic of the Turbo setting, can turn chuck style meat into minced meat, to the exact consistency I desire. Not only that, all of the spices and ingredients are evenly distributed. But since I already had ground meat, I was able to skip this part.
As for the rest of the burger making process, I just threw everything into the mixing bowl: onions, garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs, egg yolks, mustard, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and ground meat. After 15 to 20 seconds of mixing, I had my burger mixture ready to form 6 patties about 160g each. They then went into a freezer ziplock bag and into the fridge to rest.
Time for Joule to heat up the water to an optimal temperature of 56ºC (133ºF)! The burgers ended up taking a 30 minute long hot bath to cook to an optimal but safe medium rare. Please note - I would only ever recommend cooking beef burgers to a medium-rare if you source the highest quality fresh protein available.
While the burgers were cooking, I also made some delicious BBQ caramelized onions, prepared my homemade truffle aioli and toasted up some delicious homemade brioche buns I had made the night before. And yes, these were also made in my Thermomix.
The patties were given a quick sear in a hot cast iron pan and basted with some sizzling hot free-range duck fat for an additional burst of flavour!
And voilà - lunch/dinner was served - the process was simple, the meal was satisfying, and the flavour bombs were exploding in my mouth, left, right and center! For less than $20 and maybe 20 minutes of hands on work, I've got myself 6 servings of delicious, clean, healthy burgers. Bye bye Skip the Dishes!
Side note - when I formed the brioche buns, I was not thinking about the size of the burger patties. So my meal ended up being more of a deconstructed burger. Less mess - same amazing taste!
For as long as I can remember, dogs have been a part of my life. My parents had an amazing German Shepherd before I was born. Years later we got a German Longhaired Pointer named Jenna. She was a bit of a crazy pup, had loads of energy but she was a big love bug. Much to my discontent, my parents decided to re-home her with family friends, as she was not well suited for the city lifestyle; she spent the rest of her days living happily on over 100 acres, lakeside, in a more remote part of our province.
It didn't take long before we welcomed another pup to the family. Fibs was our first miniature schnauzer. Having a small dog was a first for our little family, but not the last. In fact, when Fibs was 5 or 6 years old we decided to get a female miniature schnauzer. Xena was a spitfire and definitely brought the puppy energy back out of Fibs. To this day I attribute my love for this breed to these two pups.
When I moved away to begin teaching, not having a dog around was quite the adjustment. The new career, moving to a new city and living on my own for the first time definitely didn't leave time to add a fur-ball to the mix, but alas, a mystery cat named Misty joined my small little home. Cats are in a league of their own, but Misty quickly made herself a home in my bungalow. It was during this time I was also volunteering as a dog walker with our local SPCA. I loved going to our local shelter and taking the dogs for a walk around the block, although it felt more like the dogs were walking me at times, especially during the dead of winter and icy streets.
Had it not been for my time with SPCA, I'd have never adopted my first dog, Buster! Buster the Beagle was my best friend, my sidekick and he had such a gentle soul. He was stubborn and challenged me to get him through his separation anxiety. But he taught me so much more about the meaning of life, happiness, forgiveness and just enjoying the simple things in life. He came into my life when I most needed him and we went through countless adventures together, including 3 moves. When it was his time to cross the rainbow bridge, my heart shattered into a million pieces. It was difficult to comprehend just why he left me, but his time had come to live to be free and wild, chasing rabbits and who knows what else.
I'm a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and that the universe sends us signs all the time. Fast forward 6 months later, I had a dream of Buster playing with Xena and somehow that evening came across a Kijiji listing of the cutest little schnoodle puppy, now known as my little Tikah. She sure has been a blessing in my life and I am grateful to have jumped on the chance to bring her home in 2014. Over the past 6 years, Tikah and I have made sure to continue those traditions that Buster and I had started - beach days, hiking up mountains, road trips, park trips and a lot of couch snuggles. She makes the best adventure buddy and Buster's spirit surely lives on in Tikah.
But why have 1 adventure buddy, when you can have two? Loki is the newest addition and we couldn't be happier. It didn't take long for Tikah to accept him into our pack, although she was a little hesitant for the first couple of days. These two spend their days wrestling fiercely, stealing each other's toys and sometimes even sleeping snuggled up side by side. There are times I've most certainly forgotten what it's like having a puppy around, especially when the little monster leaves me a little puddle on the living room floor or when he thinks anything and everything is a chew toy. The last month has felt like a rollercoaster of a ride, but I wouldn't turn back the clock and I'm excited to see what this new phase of life brings.
Our special friends
A blog post about the fur-balls wouldn't be complete if some of our special four-legged friends didn't make an appearance.
Happy Saturday, folks! I'm excited to kick off my first blog post by sharing some yummy creations I've made with the help of Rémy, my sous chef! Wait, what?!? My very own personal sous chef? Enter the amazing Thermomix!
Rémy is still fairly new to my kitchen. We have gotten to know each other quite well over the past 6 weeks and he just keeps getting better and better every single time. Quite honestly, he's been an integral part of elevating my cooking. Don't get me wrong, I've loved cooking for as long as I can remember and have enjoyed experimenting and trying new things in the kitchen. But it was time for a change and that change was going to be bring my creations to the next level!
Eggs benny has become a regular weekend brunch item
I don't eat a lot of grains or wheat as I generally follow a lower carbohydrate, higher fat and moderate protein regimen. As a matter of fact, grains contain a fair amount of lectins, which have been linked to digestive distress and gastrointestinal bloat. Having said that, I do enjoy a little bit of rye sourdough on a weekly basis. The wild yeast and fermentation process of sourdough has actually proven to help my gut and digestion, as long as I don't overdo it. Actually, grains are best consumed when sprouted or fermented, and definitely not refined or processed.
Rémy has made making English muffins a breeze! Just add your ingredients step by step and watch the magic unfold in front of your eyes. He weighs out my ingredients as I add them and knows exactly how long to kneed the dough for. After letting the dough rise with the help of some unfed sourdough discard, I just have to roll it out and use my pastry cutters to make those beautiful English Muffin shapes, then pan fry them in a hot cast iron pan and voila, we have restaurant-quality English Muffins!
But what about the hollandaise sauce, you ask? I'm stoked to be able to make this delicious creamy sauce from scratch within minutes. No more packaged and chalky, artificially yellow, powdered nonsense you find on the store shelf. When I've tried making it from scratch in the past, it was either lumpy or the sauce broke - and trust me - I know my way around the kitchen. Just add the egg yolks, lemon juice, butter, salt and pepper, push the start button and in less than 15 minutes, you have 5 star thick and silky hollandaise sauce that will make any restaurant chefs come knocking on your door.
And fat is not your enemy! I'm not going to tell you to go out and eat pounds and pounds of butter and bacon, but it doesn't mean you need to avoid these foods either. Did you know that when food manufacturers market their products as being "low fat", they often replace the fat with increased amounts of sugars and other horrible food preservatives? Fat is what makes food taste good. So go ahead and eat those yummy avocados, put some grass-fed butter on your veggies, consume plenty of sustainably caught wild seafood, opt for the high quality meat like grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry and yes, even a bit of bacon from time to time. If you can source your dairy and meat from a local farm, you're well on your way to nourishing your body with the best nutrients available to you. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by some amazing family-run farms that pride themselves in providing ethical and sustainable food sources - it might cost me a little bit more than going to the conventional supermarket, but my health is worth the extra pennies!
I'd love to know what you love to indulge in for your weekend brunches? Are you an eggs benny fan?
Stay tuned for more delicious creations coming your way soon!
This is me
Just a simple gal living on the West Coast of Canada, sharing her love and passion for food and fitness... and her puppy dogs.