Kindness Part II

I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness since our little study of Cinderella last week.  It’s a theme that came up again Peter Pan over the weekend, and it’s a theme that seems to pop up in a number of the stories we’ll be looking at over the next few weeks.

Earlier today, a friend commented on my post saying that if he “had to choose one character trait to instil in (his) children, it would be kindness”.

I agree completely.

But how do we do that in this day and age where it seems that the more competitive you are at something, the better you are as a human; if you’re out to win at all costs, what room is there for kindness?

For now, the Husband and I can model kindness to our kids in how we treat each other, how we treat them, and how we treat others.  And I can only hope that the lessons the kids learn from watching us now, and from our talks about the power that can flow from being a kind person, will last them into their teen years . . . . and beyond.

Now, while I’m on the subject of kindness, I practiced some kindness towards myself yesterday.  As much as I wanted a less hectic after-school schedule this year, it seems like we’re getting home even later from programs and lessons than ever before.  Family dinners are important to the Husband and I – we both grew up eating as a family each night – and prepared meals from the grocery store don’t exactly fit into our health-ier eating plan.  Which means I’m finding myself having to get more delft at menu planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation.

This week, I accepted that we don’t get home from the little one’s dance classes until about 5:45.  We generally eat at 6.  Which leaves me 15 minutes to get a meal on the table . . . So, thanks to a little inspiration from a friend, yesterday morning saw me bringing out the crockpot and “making” dinner at 7 in the morning.  When we ran in the door at 5:45, all I had to do was get the broccoli steaming (I had it prepped and ready on the stove) and we were ready to eat at 6.  Perfection!!!

Everyone enjoyed this dish.  It is basically pork tenderloin with homemade applesauce all cooked in one pot!  I served it with a side of broccoli – next time I might serve it over pureed cauliflower.  It would be good with mashed sweet potato too!

Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin with Apples

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 pork tenderloins of approximately the same size

2 cups bone broth (aka chicken stock – I use my own, but you could use a low-sodium store bought stock)

4 apples peeled and cored (you could leave the peels on if you are short on time)

1 onion sliced

Salt and Pepper

Directions

  1. Use a bit of butter/olive oil/coconut oil to grease the bottom of the crockpot
  2. Put the sliced onions in the bottom of the crockpot
  3. Lay the 2 pork tenderloins on top of the onions.
  4. Throw the apples in over top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the broth over the pork.
  6. Put the lid on and simmer the pork for about 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

Have Courage and Be Kind

Everything has been going so well this week, and with the Husband out for a work dinner on Wednesday night, I decided to do something a little crazy, and let the kids stay up a little later than normal and watch a movie with me.

Specifically, I let them stay up to watch the live-action version of Cinderella.  We had been reading about the cartoon version of Cinderella that morning (Salvador Dali inspired Cinderella’s pink dress in that movie, and Dior was the inspiration for her blue ball gown.  Who knew!).  And I thought it would be fun to see the movie “come to life”.

For those of you that aren’t as familiar with Cinderella in any of it’s forms (and by that I mean for those of you without little girls under the age of 5 in your house!), on her deathbed, Cinderella’s mother tells her to “Have courage and be kind”.  And so, despite the horrific treatment she is subjected to by her stepmother and stepsisters, Cinderella tries to remain kind to them and bravely does whatever is asked of her.  In this new movie, this line is repeated several times throughout the movie; which is perhaps why it made such an impression on me.

Whatever issue you might have with the story of Cinderella, I think this is a pretty powerful message.  Think of the people you most admire in your life . . . I’m going to bet one of the first things you’ll say about them is how amazingly kind they are; and that that sentiment will likely be followed by how they have faced some sort of trial with a tremendous amount of courage.  I know that I can say with certainty that the people that have had the most impact on my life have been both amazingly kind even in the face of some pretty horrible circumstances.

And so, it’s likely I’ll be printing this out later and hanging it up in my office (although that might require another trip to Michael’s. . .).  And if you have a spare moment, check out the site I got it from, Petite Lemon, she’s got some amazing printable stuff!!

Have Courage

In my own VERY tongue in cheek way, I got to practice this tonight, as this was the first of our weekly “kids choose the dinner” dinners.  I gave the older one a cookbook last week and told him he could pick anything he wanted out of it to make for dinner (as I had pre-selected the cookbook, I knew it couldn’t be anything too removed from what we normally eat for dinner).  Shockingly, (and I say that with a heavy dose of sarcasm), he chose to make burgers.  Specifically, we made Martha Stewart’s Best Beef Burgers.  They were good; kids ate them, they have next to no ingredients, and the kids LOVED mixing the meat and forming it into patties.  In case you’re wondering – I thought myself quite courageous for letting them get in there and mix the meat themselves and kind for remaining perfectly calm when little bits of beef ended up scattered around the kitchen counter, floor, kids…

And yes, we did ALL end up eating these with buns . . . with a side of roasted corn on the cob and kale chips.

IMG_4763

Well That Was Awesome!

I’m no stranger to planning ahead.  But the little bit of extra prep work I did yesterday (pre-packing all the activity backpacks) seemed to make a MASSIVE difference to the cadence of our morning this morning.  I initially thought that perhaps I was just more relaxed knowing that I didn’t have to run around the house searching for an errant ballet slipper or tap shoe, or because we had those few extra minutes together because I wasn’t engaged in the aforementioned running around.  Regardless though, I was just so happy because the kids and I had a truly magical morning this morning.

After both kids were dropped off at their respective schools, I raced over to my new favourite gym, All In One, for an awesome WOD (workout of the day) with the fantastic Chris.  The cool down today after the workout was a 500m row . . . Chris told me to go slow.  I nodded, like I knew what he was saying, but in my head was thinking . . . yeah right . . . go slow . . .that doesn’t happen in my world.

And so, I started to row.  And for the first 150m, I was pulling at about 3/4 of my top speed.  Then Chris said “If I were doing this, I’d be drinking coffee while I did it”.  So I slowed down a bit – to about 1/2 my top speed.  And as I got into my last 100m, it struck me . . . He really did mean for me to go slow . . . and there was no reason why I couldn’t slow down.  I wasn’t chasing anyone . . . and no one was chasing me.  I could just row for the sake of rowing (and cooling down).  I could make each stroke deliberate and intentional.  I could focus on my form, my breath, my movement.  And I could enjoy it!

And after I left the gym, and started to go about my day, the lightbulb slowly started to turn on . . . maybe this morning went so well because we were all moving at a slower, more intentional pace.  I could focus on the kids; on what was important to them this morning; and I could even do a little of our “mommy school” work with them (more on that later) in a way that got them truly engaged.

So there it is; I was just handed another life lesson thanks to Crossfit (and Chris)!

And now to veer off on a totally different tangent, today is Monday, which mean’s it’s ladies’ night.  A few years ago, a few of the moms on my street started meeting up on a Monday night – it was summertime, and we’d have a glass of wine on someone’s porch after the kids had gone to bed.  Over the years, it’s morphed into a set weekly event; there’s some wine, a few treats, and we often have the Bachelor on in the background.  Since discovering Crossfit, and the effect that proper nutrition has on my ability to train (and quite frankly, on my ability to function in everyday life), I’m not so into wine and treats on a Monday night (I save that for Fridays).  So I’ve been working in some paleo treats.  The hands-down favourite so far has been peanut butter cups; and in honour of our first Monday of the fall season, I’ll be making them later this afternoon!

Peanut Butter Cups

  • Servings: 48 mini cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 jar (500g) of organic peanut butter (I use crunchy)

3/4 to 1 cup of shredded coconut

2 tbs raw organic honey (optional)

2 tbs melted coconut oil (optional)

1 bag Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a bowl set over simmering (boiling) water, melt the chocolate chips.
  2. While the chocolate is melting, add the peanut butter, coconut, and honey & coconut oil (if you’re using it – realistically, I don’t add these in any more) to a food processor and blend until the mixture is combined.
  3. Prepare 2 mini muffin pans (this will make a total of 48 cups) by lining each cup with a mini muffin liner.
  4. Using a spoon or a really tiny ice cream scoop, put about 1tbs of the peanut butter mixture into each cup.  Try to flatten it out a bit so that it fills up the cup – but no need to be exact about this.
  5. Once the chocolate is melted, using a spoon, pour about 2tsp of chocolate over the peanut butter mixture in each cup.
  6. Place the muffin trays in the freezer for about 1/2 an hour to harden it all . . . and then . . .enjoy!!!  I keep these in the freezer for those times that I’m craving an after-dinner sweet.  They keep really well!  Just beware that they will get melty if you leave them out for too long – this is not the best recipe to make for an outdoor picnic!

An Experiment Gone . . . Right????

Happy Friday!!  I had an awesome morning this morning for a few reasons . . . but mostly because of my experiment gone right in the kitchen.

Here’s the backstory: I have 2 paleo muffin recipes that I rely on – one is the “White Muffins” recipe I posted back at the start of this blog.  It’s the one paleo baking item the Husband will actually eat willingly.  The other is also by the amazing Juli Bauer – Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins.  While I’m the only one in the family that likes these ones, they get rave reviews whenever I bring them out when others are around.  BUT, as I may have mentioned before, a few of the  most talented and awesome people I know are opening their VERY OWN crossfit gym tomorrow – All In One Strength and Conditioning (you should seriously check it out).  So, a few of us are making a few treats to celebrate this momentous occasion.  Since we’ll be at the gym bright and early, I wanted to make something yummy, not too sweet (as in palatable as a breakfast item), and that will hold up in this crazy hot weather we’ve been having.  What I wanted was a cross between my two favourite muffins.

Risking yet another epic paleo baking failure (my 2nd this week alone . . .but more on homemade fruit roll ups made in the oven at a later date), I took out a few ingredients and got to work.  The result – a muffin that even the Husband said was “not bad”.  Which for him, when it comes to paleo baking, is pretty much a 10/10, 2 thumbs up and solid high five rolled into one.  So here goes . . .  my very own recipe!!!!

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

  • Servings: 24 regular muffins, 48 mini muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

4 bananas

4 large eggs

1 jar (500g) of organic crunchy peanut butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp vanilla

scant 1/2 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare your muffin tins (this time round, I greased my mini muffin pan and didn’t use cupcake liners – either will work fine)
  2. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl with a good spoon or whisk, mash up the bananas.  Add in the eggs and mix really well so it is a giant almost creamy looking mass.
  3. Add in the peanut butter and mix/whisk well to combine.  And do the same with the maple syrup and vanilla.
  4. Add in the baking soda, baking powder and coconut flour and mix really well.
  5. If using, add in the chocolate chips and anything else you might want in there (I use crunch peanut butter so that I don’t have to add in extra nuts – feel free to add more nuts though).
  6. Scoop the batter into your muffin tins (I use an ice cream scoop) and bake for about 25 minutes – if you’re making regular sized muffins, they may take longer, and if you’re making mini muffins, they may take a bit less time.

Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!!!!

Hello Fall!!

The first week back to school has always felt like the true start of a new year to me, and this year is no different.

As the kids head back into their classrooms today, they’re not the only ones with a few butterflies fluttering around in their tummies.  I’m a little bit nervous too.  Not for them – they both attend wonderful schools and have the most amazing, fantastic, wonderful teachers this year.  I’m a little bit apprehensive about the changes that will be happening in my life.  Things that have been daily routine for me for the last few years won’t be this fall.  Ok . . . it may sound trivial, but the crossfit class that got me started on my path of healing and transformation, is no longer.  I may have mentioned before that I don’t like not being in control; I don’t like change too much either.  So the prospect of changing where, when, and with whom that I crossfit . . . well, it’s not the most comfortable prospect for me.

And so for the remainder of this week, and as I head into next week, I’ll be reminding myself of how amazing change can be . . . and the magical things that can come from change.

Perhaps this will allow me to transition the kids back into the school routine with a little more softness and compassion – they may not like change so much either!!!

But to go back to that idea that magical things can come from change for just a second . . . as I rushed out to the grocery store last night to pick up a few things for the kids lunches, the Husband, asked me to pick up some bacon while I was there.  That stopped me in my tracks.  Not because we’re not a bacon-loving family, but I couldn’t conceive of a reason why we needed bacon (nothing on my meal plan for the rest of the week included bacon).  He looked at me, sensed my confusion, and with a twinkle in his eye said “I’m making the kids pancakes and bacon for breakfast tomorrow.  Special breakfast for the first day of school.  And if you can just drop me at the subway after we drop the Little Miss off at school, that would be great.”.  Yup – the man can cook – but he also, without a word from me, took the morning off to take the kids to school with me.  Magic.

And so . . . in honor of the magical Husband, here’s the recipe we (he) uses for the kids totally NON PALEO pancakes (or as the kids call them . . . the “NOT the coconut ones”).  It is based on the recipe for “pancakes, griddle cakes or batter cakes” in the Joy of Cooking Cookbook and they really are good and fluffy (although some of the secret to a fluffy pancake is to make sure you have fresh baking powder and not to over-beat the batter).

Kids Favourite Pancakes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

3 tbs sugar

2 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

3 tbs melted butter

1 to 1 1/4 cups milk

Directions

  1. Put the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl and combine with a whisk.
  2. Melt the butter (I usually do this in the pan that I’m going to cook the pancakes in so I have one less pot to clean).
  3. While the butter is melting, beat the eggs and measure out the milk.
  4. Once the butter is melted, add it, the eggs and 1 cup of the milk to the flour mixture.  Whisk thoroughly to combine everything.  The batter should be runny (it should fall from a spoon into the pan easily and have almost the consistency of regular yogurt).  If the batter is too thick, add in the remaining 1/4 cup milk and a little bit more if you think it needs it.  There will be lumps in the batter.  Leave them . . . they’re fine!!!
  5. Spoon the batter into a pan that is set on medium heat and is well oiled with melted butter – I usually use the 1/4 cup measuring cup to do this.
  6. Cook the pancakes until you see bubbles forming on the top, then flip them, cook until they are nice and toasty brown on the other side, and serve with (lots) of maple syrup!

Delay

Every Tuesday, I meet with this diabolical amazing Coach to work one-on-one on my weightlifting skills and other assorted Crossfit movements.  While the work we do on Tuesdays is usually pretty intense, as a former figure skater, spending a few hours perfecting movement patterns is pretty much right up my ally.  The fact that my Coach is absolutely fantastic at what he does and has a way of motivating me / making our sessions rewarding (fun) doesn’t hurt either.  But I digress.

A busy weekend, too little sleep, and possibly a drink or two more than I would normally consume, left me a little lacking in the energy department for my session with the Coach today. Despite that, we did get in some good work . . . all of which seemed to keep coming back to the concept of “Delay”.

A while ago, I read a really good blog post about The Power of Delay that has stuck with me ever since (actually, a lot of the posts on Zen Habits are fantastic and have stuck with me; you should definitely check out his blog).  And as I worked on the concept of delaying my movements in the gym in order to obtain maximal power, I was reminded of aforementioned post (sorry Coach, I was thinking about things other than just my lifts).  Yes, forcing ourselves to delay the thrill of instant gratification can be a wonderful way to break bad habits and cement new ones.  But as mulled it over, it came to me:  We do not gain power in/over our lives when we allow ourselves to respond with knee-jerk reactions.  Rather, it is in the delay and mindful approach to the situations life throws at us, that we can achieve maximal power in our lives.

So, while I could run out and avoid dealing with my feelings of disappointment over not being 100% “there” in the gym, and distract myself by trying to maniacally tick things off my to-do list, I’m going to delay.  And spend some time in my happy place . . . the kitchen.

Up first, I’m going to make some kale chips as a snack for the kids for when the get home from camp.  Yeah, I realize how ridiculous that sounds.  What kid actually likes kale chips; and good god, what mother makes them as a TREAT for their kids?????  Fact is, my kids can be picky eaters but for whatever reason, they love these chips.  I love that they eat them but don’t necessarily love the green dust that gets left on my kitchen floor when they’re done eating.  Anyway, see if your little ones like them . . . or maybe, if you like them.  I think they’re pretty good myself and even the Husband can’t seem to get enough of them . . .

My Version of Kale Chips

  • Servings: ???
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1-2 bunches of Kale

Olive oil

Salt to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 and line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment paper/tin foil/silpats
  2. Wash the kale and pat dry.
  3. Cut out the big stems from the centre of each kale leaf and tear or chop the remaining part of the leaf into bit-sized pieces
  4. I throw all my kale into a big bowl and drizzle 2-3tbs of olive oil over it.  Use your hands, get messy (my kids LOVE to do this part) and mix up the kale and oil so that all the kale is nicely coated with oil.  Depending on how much kale you use, you might want to add a little more oil.
  5. Spread the kale onto the baking sheets; try to make sure that the leaves don’t overlap much and that they are all in a single layer.  Again, you may need more cookie sheets depending on how much kale you used.
  6. Sprinkle the kale with salt and put them in the oven.
  7. They are done when they are crispy to the touch.  Much like the theme of this post, it is best to delay and not try to increase the temperature of the oven to get them to cook faster if it seems like things are moving slowly.  I find it takes about 1/2 an hour in my oven, but it took about 45mins to get them nice and crispy in the oven at the cottage last week, so the cooking time may vary!

I Heart Fridays

From the start to finish, Fridays are hands down the best day of the week in our house.  They start with my favourite breakfast (more on that in a minute) and usually end with a pizza party involving a collection of friends and family.  In between there’s usually a punishing/fantastic workout at the hands of my coach/trainer, an amazing yoga class with the best yoga teacher ever, and a series of errands that have to get done to set us up for the weekend.

So, getting back to my favourite breakfast.  I used to be big.  Pituitary tumours and the hormonal chaos they can cause combined with 2 pregnancies and the stress of the brain tumour left me squarely on the heavy side of things.  It wasn’t good, and I wasn’t happy about it.  So I went back to the gym.  And I worked my heart out on the elliptical machine.  I went for walks at night.  And I tried to watch what I ate.  And I had a little bit of success.  Things were looking up.

Then, one of the trainers at my gym convinced me to try a crossfit style class.  One class in and I was hooked.  My first class happened to be in January when my now coach/trainer was starting up a real food challenge for all the ladies in the class.  And through his daily emails filled with advice, research, and ideas on the real food movement and a more paleo lifestyle, I started to make a LOT of changes in the way we eat in our family.

Fastforward to today . . . I’m much smaller, but more importantly, FAR stronger, and as an added bonus, I have WAY more energy.  Oh, and I also healed from my surgery better and faster than the doctors though possible.  But I digress.

As the people around have seen me change shape, I get asked a LOT about what I eat.  And it seems that I get asked most about breakfast.  My thoroughly unscientific research would indicate that most women don’t want to eat tons of protein every morning when they wake up.  Myself included.  So . . . Friday’s I break from my usual breakfast routine and make my favourite banana pancakes.  Maybe you’ll like them as much as I do . . . but I will say that neither the kids nor my husband particularly care for them . . . which is their loss, as far as I’m concerned.  There are a million recipes for this kind of pancake on the web . . . this just happens to be how I make them . . .

Paleo Banana Pancakes

  • Servings: 1-@
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 banana (as ripe or unripe as you like)
  • Coconut oil or butter for the pan

Directions

  1. Set the pan on medium heat and add in a generous teaspoon or so of coconut oil or butter.
  2. While the fat is melting in the pan, throw the eggs and the banana into a blender and blend until everything is combined.  If you’re feeling particularly fancy, you can add in a teaspoon of vanilla too).
  3. Pour the batter into the pan and cook just like you would a regular pancake (i.e. flip them over when the bottoms start to brown).  Practically speaking, it’s easier to make the batter into several smaller pancakes.  But, since I make these just for myself, I pour the entire thing into one giant pancake; I just divide it into 4 when it comes time to flip it.  Yup, it’s messy, but it tastes the same, so I don’t mind.

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