Home Brew Kombucha

Summer has finally arrived in the NWT! The warm weather has also been accompanied by a large number of forest fires. For most of last week our little city was enveloped in a haze of smoke and ashes were literally falling from the sky. Besides being a tad bit creepy is has been putting a bit of a damper on my running – I’m not keen on breathing in any more smoke than I absolutely have to . . . Today is a bit better so I’m hoping to get back in the swing of things next week.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a while you’ll know about my love affair with Kombucha! I have to admit that up until last winter I had no idea what it was but I kept seeing photos and reading about it. For those of you who still don’t know about Kombucha, it is a naturally fizzy fermented drink of sweetened black tea that is used as a functional food. It is produced by fermenting the tea using a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, or “SCOBY”. Health benefits associated with Kombucha include everything from detoxification, joint care, improved digestion and gut health to being the magic cure for a hangover.

It can sometimes be difficult to get specialty food items here so it wasn’t until we went to San Diego last February that I was finally able to try some. C was skeptical and said he thought it “smelt like the recycling bottle depot”. Haha he wasn’t wrong about the smell but honestly it tastes delicious. Even Chris is amongst the converted. When our local specialty store started bringing them in he talked to them about ordering more flavors and they more than tripled their selection.🙂
My favourite GT Kombucha flavors are multi-green and third-eye chai and raspberry chia.

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As happy as I was to be able to purchase these delicious treats in our home town, they are expensive and I had read that you could make your own. I looked into ordering a scoby online to get myself started but the shipping costs to Canada seemed a bit ridiculous. Then I came across some posts on Kathleen’s blog Becoming Peculiar: Adventures in a Backwards Kingdom about how to grow your own scoby from an bottle of GT Kombucha. So off I went to purchase an original flavor GT Kombucha. I’ll briefly outline the steps here for you but for more detailed information head over to Kathleen’s blog on how to grown your own scoby.

1. Grow your own scoby:
The first step is very simple. Just pour the bottle of unflavored GT Kombucha into a jar (it must be glass) and cover with either a coffee filter and an elastic or a tea towel and elastic – this is just to keep dirt or bugs out. The first time I tried I got a small little sphere seemed to balloon but within a couple of days it collapsed. The second time I made sure to buy a bottle of unflavored GT Kombucha with lots of sediment at the bottom and instead of just pouring it into the larger jar I made sure to swish around the Kombucha in the bottle to gently distribute the sediment throughout the liquid. Then I let it sit out of direct sunlight. Try not to touch or move the jar as you do not want your delicate scoby to sink to the bottom. After about three weeks a thin white film (call the scoby) grew over the top of the kombucha.

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2. Brew your first batch of Kombucha:
Make 10 cups of black/green tea and add 3/4 cup of sugar. The bacteria will eat up all that sugar so don’t worry your drink will not be too sugary. Let it cool down completely. This is really important because you don’t want to kill the scoby you spent three weeks growing.

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Once the sweetened tea has cooled pour it into a large jar. I used a family size vlasic pickle jar. Then with clean hands gently remove the scoby from your other jar. Hold it carefully while you pour the rest of the contents of your original Kombucha into the pickle jar. Then carefully place your scoby on top and cover with a coffee filter or tea towel. If it sinks that’s fine you’ll just grow another scoby on top that you can either use yourself or give away to a friend. Let sit for a week.

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3. Second Fermentation and flavouring:
The second fermentation adds to the fizziness and allows you to flavor your kombucha. Gently remove the scoby from the jar and put in a bowl for safe keeping. Pour the kombucha into individual bottles taking care to leave about an inch at the top. Also make sure to leave about a cup of the kombucha in the large jar if you want to continuously brew more kombucha. Then add your flavouring to the bottles. This time I used a piece of ginger and mashed up raspberries. Put the lids on the bottles and let sit for 2-7 days. My first batch was super fizzy before I even got to the second fermentation and flavouring so I think I’ll only let it sit for two days. Ensure that it sits out of direct sunlight. Once your done with the second fermentation place your bottles in the refrigerator and enjoy🙂

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If you want to continuously brew more kombucha go back to step two. Brew more sweetened tea, let cool, add to the large pickle jar, place your scoby on top and let sit for a week. This continuous method will allow you to brew more kombucha each week.

Happy Brewing🙂

No Excuse Mom

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Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the first local No Excuse Mom Meet-up. It was initiated by a local mom who after the birth of her second child decided that she wanted to get fit and strong. She has documented her journey here for those of you who are interested. The class was set up so that moms could bring their little ones out while also getting a workout. It was truly wonderful to see so many moms, of all fitness levels, come out and make their health a priority while also modeling an active lifestyle for their little ones.

As moms there are so many competing priorities and MUCH less time so most of us put taking care of ourselves on the backburner. I have struggled and continue to struggle to find time to take care of myself and to figure out how I will continue my training with my more limited schedule. Whenever I doubt myself I try to remind myself why I do it “Fit so I can be Mom“. It reminds me that taking care of myself and doing what I love is not selfish. That my physical, mental and spiritual health are key ingredients in ensuring that I’m the best mom and wife that I can be. I’ve learned that a little creativity, flexibility and planning go a long way and that it doesn’t always have to be complicated. What this looks like will be different for everyone – there is not one ‘right’ way to take care of yourself. It won’t always be easy but it will be worth it!

While I will continue my more intensive individual training I plan to attend the No Excuses meet-ups over the next couple of months. Not only is it exciting to be a part of something that is motivating others to do something positive for themselves, it’s also a great opportunity for Henry to step out of his comfort zone and be around a large group of new people. It’s a growth opportunity for everyone🙂

Thanks I and S for taking this on! I’m looking forward to future meet-ups🙂

Digging Deep

I know this is typically a place where I share random musings, family updates, recipes etc. but bare with me this may get a little deep. I came across an instagram photo posted by a fellow blogger regarding something she heard from her hot yoga instructor that really had an impact on her. The instruction was simple and was intended in a much different context (ie. don’t fidget or reach for water) but they application in terms of bad habits or destructive thought patterns have also stuck with me all week.

“. . . .it doesn’t serve you, so don’t do it.”

It is so easy to get caught up in these fear based thoughts. Choosing to see things differently or to give up these negative thoughts/habits is challenging and sometimes scary because while they may be destructive it’s easier to turn to what we already know. They maybe small negative thoughts that we can’t do something or larger more obvious destructive behaviors but end result is the same – they act like a cancer infecting our mind and hearts and making it difficult for us to reach our full potential.

I don’t have any real answers or suggestions. Just a few random thoughts and a hope that uncovering these destructive behaviors and thoughts and being mindful is the first step in making a change. There is no better time than now to start.

“When the time is on you, START, and the pressure will be off.” Yogi Bhajan

What words of wisdom have inspired you lately?

Grilled Chicken Antipasto Salad

Hope everyone is having a great weekend! Little Mr. H has been up bright and early all weekend. I’m lucky if he sleeps until 5:30am these days. . . .Much too early in my opinion but on the up side we get lots done.

How was everyone’s week? Ours was good busy but good. Thought I was coming down with a cold but after one day of much needed mommy rest and copious amounts of vitamins, coldfx and tea I think I managed to avoid it. Fingers crossed!! I have no time to be sick – the next two weeks are booked solid!

Friday night I had a wine night with some fabulous ladies and for the first time I got a ‘real’ babysitter. It recently dawned on me how housebound I’ve become on weekend evenings when Chris is away. I’ve just become so accustomed to assuming that I’m out of commission on the weekend evenings that I kind of forgot that I could get a babysitter. I’ve left H a couple of times with friends when Chris and I have gone to a work Christmas party or something of the like but this is the first time I’ve use a teenage babysitter and the first time I’ve got a babysitter so I could do something while Chris was gone. It was a big leap for me even though as per usual I made sure he was all tucked in before I left. It was nice to have an opportunity to visit with the girls and for me to get over the hurdle of hiring a babysitter. It’s not something I think I’ll do often but it’s kind of freeing to know that I can do it.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently about eating Paleo and I’ve become interested in trying it out. I already know that my body and my mood is better when I have a high volume of healthy fats in my diet and am curious to see how it feels when I cut out carbs, sugar and dairy. In preparation for my 30 day Paleo challenge I’ve been searching out recipes. The recipe below was a hit for lunches last week. It was super quick and easy to make which, these days, is the defining quality of most meals in this house.

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Grilled Chicken Antipasto Salad (from Make Ahead Paelo by Tammy Credicott)

Salad Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups pitted kalamata olives
2 cups of artichoke hearts (be sure to squeeze out excess water)
1 cup julienne-cut sun-dried tomatoes
8 ounces salami sliced into wedges
1 1/2 cups diced grilled chicken
3 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Dressing Ingredients:
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine
2 tbsp. minced shallot
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp honey
1/ tsp salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste.

Combine all of the salad ingredients in a bowl. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar. Combine the salad and dressing and refrigerate until needed.

Have you every tried eating Paleo? How did you feel?

When does your body feel it’s best?

Happy New Year

I’m more than a little late but Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Chris was at work over Christmas so we celebrated a little late. Camp life certainly makes you flexible. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas a little late or a little early. . . but you celebrate none the less.

Henry and I were lucky to have my mom fly up on Boxing Day and my dad and Chris came home New Years Day. We had a fantastic visit and Henry loved having them here. Our normally shy little man went to them right away and immediately asked them to read him a story.

This also happened. . . burger, egg, apple fritter. Word to the wise, don’t watch You’ve Gotta Eat Here with your dad. . .

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I’m not really into New Years resolutions mostly because I think any time is a good time to make a positive change in your life. That being said I have a few goals for 2014:
1. Take my training scheduling up a notch.
2. Run at least 2 races and at least one of these will be an away race.
3. Read 50 books (25 of which will be non-fiction).
5. Do a 30 day Paleo challenge.
6. Go to bed earlier.

What are your goals for 2014?

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More Wonderful Guests!

After four days with just our little family we got our second round of company. Last Friday our good friend Ryan made the trek up North with his girlfriend Jenna to celebrate his 32nd birthday. Since we’ve returned north after University Ryan has been awesome about coming up to see us on a regular basis! It felt like the good ol’ Lethbridge days with the addition of a baby (dude, we’re getting old) and Ryan’s fave gal Jenna (She’s awesome I must say :)).

Friday afternoon we lured them out to Cameron Falls for a little hike. We probably left out the part about the rocky hike into the falls but I hope they felt the view and a whisky jack sitting on Ryan’s finger was worth braving the cold. There had been reports earlier this week of a muskox being seeing out there but sadly we didn’t see anything larger than a bird.

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Ryand and the bird

We got some super tasty bacon cupcakes from Where Picture this Productions – Where Ideas Come to Life.

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Henry and Ryan bonded while watching the duck song.

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Saturday we did hit the obligatory Yellowknife tourist spots: the Legislative Assembly, Visitor’s Center, Old Town etc. Then we went out for a wonderful birthday dinner at Thorton’s. Jenna and I had the white fish – it was AMAZING!! Excuse my terrible iphone photo – it doesn’t do the meal justice.

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Then out for a fun night out🙂 I seriously can’t believe Chris and I didn’t fall asleep on the table. These days 11pm is super late for us. Haha we’re old. . .

Love these guys!
Chris and Ryan

Thanks for coming Ryan and Jenna we had a blast. Can’t wait to see you both again soon! And Happy Birthday Ryan hope you had a great one🙂

Peppered Salmon with Creamy Chickpea Dressing

After a long but wonderful visit with Chris’s parents we savored four days with just our little family of three🙂

When I’m cooking these days I’m always thinking about what will work well for Henry. Thankfully Henry has a fairly extensive palate and even eats stuff that doesn’t exactly seem like toddler food including black olives, green olives stuffed with garlic, goat cheese with truffles etc. One thing that Henry loves is fish! Last week I dusted off one of our favorite salmon recipes. I’ve been hesitant to make this since the salmon is crusted with peppercorns and coriander seeds and I worried that it would be too pepper for Henry. Much to my surprise he gobbled it up🙂 Foodie baby in the making over here!

I love to make this recipe in the colder months when I feel the need for a little kick of summery freshness. Fresh mint, dill and the lemony vinaigrette do just the trick and are a wonderful contrast to the peppery, crispy salmon.

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creamy chickpea

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Peppered Salmon with Creamy Chickpea Dressing and Fresh Greens (Tyler’s Ultimate)

Salmon
1/4 cup black peppercorns
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1 pound salmon fillet, skin on
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt

Vinaigrette
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
Juice of 1 lemon
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 bag (10 ounces) baby spinach
1 bunch of fresh mint
1 bunch of fresh dill

lemon wedges for serving

Put the peppercorns and coriander in a clean spice grinder and pulse to a coarse grind. Pour the mixture out onto a large plate. Roll the salmon in the spices until coated all over.

Heat a 2-count of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is smoking. Sprinkle the salmon with salt, add it to the pan and sear for 4 to 5 minutes to develop a good crust. Turn the fillet and cook 4 to 5 minutes on the other side, until the salmon begins to flake apart when gently prodded with a fork. Put the salmon on a plate, cover with foil and set aside at room temperature.

For the vinaigrette, open the can of chickpeas and dump it straight into a bowl, without draining. Add the olive oil, cumin, paprika, lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper and stir that up. Spoon about half of the vinaigrette into a blender and puree; stir the puree back into the rest of the vinaigrette to thicken.

Toss spinach, mint, and dill in a bowl.

To serve, spoon the chickpea sauce over a mound of the spinach mixture and top with a piece of salmon and serve with a lemon wedge.

Enjoy!

Family, Babies and Cooking Oh My!

We were fortunate enough to have Chris’s parents with us for 6 weeks. They drove up to do some work on their rental property which lucky for us meant that we got in lots of visiting and they were able to do some bonding with Henry. It was amazing to see that connection between them grow over the course of their visit. He is a far cry from the baby they saw only a few months ago. Now he’s almost walking, wanting to know what everything is and is in to EVERYTHING!! It’s busy but super fun to see him explore his world and interact more with us and his surroundings.

Chilling with Grandpa
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Watching Hockey with Grandpa. Go Flames! Chris is a die hard Leafs fan but I dress Henry up in Flames gear whenever he’s out of town. Haha sorry Chris. . .
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Second breakfast aka stealing Grandpa’s food.
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and Grandma’s food. . .
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On the 1st of October our good friends (Life of George) welcomed a little bean of their own to the world. We were beyond excited to see them become parents and to meet sweet baby N. Congratulations guys we couldn’t be happier for you!

It seems like only yesterday we were bringing Henry home from the hospital and adjusting to life as new parents. It’s a challenging but wonderful transition. To hopefully help ease the transition in some small way we brought over some meals when we went over for a visit. Our friends were gluten free through the course of the pregnancy so in keeping with that I made a muffin recipe she had recently posted on her blog. She made hers with peaches but I chose to use apples and cinnamon in keeping with fall flavors. Gluten free muffins can often feel dense and heavy but these muffins were light, moist with a delicious nutty flavor.

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I also brought one of my favorite bean soups and butter chicken. The more food new parents can access easily and quickly the more time there is for sleeping and cuddling.

Giada’s Tuscan White Bean and Garlic soup is a quick go to in our house. This recipe has very few ingredients and can be whipped up in 20 minutes flat.

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Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup (from Giada’s kitchen)

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 tbsp. dried powdered sage or 1 sage leaf
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, cut in 1/2
1/2 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook butter, olive oil, and shallot stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sage and beans and stir. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the garlic and simmer until the garlic is softened, about 10 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender. Once all the soup is blended, add the cream and the pepper . Continue to heat on low for 5 minutes.

You can serve it up with a nice piece of crusty bread or with cut up veggies and hummus.

This girl lifts heavy weights

Some of you may remember that a few months ago I finally reached out and enlisted the services of a trainer to help me meet some of my fitness targets. She developed a 4 day intensive lifting schedule for me and to say I LOVED IT would be an understatement. I had already been lifting weights regularly but working with she gave me the push I needed to not only significantly increase my weights but also to give more structure and intensity to my lifting – especially my home workouts. I love how strong lifting makes me feel – not only physically but in all areas of my life. I’m not going to lie, I’m also loving the results.😉

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It’s still a work in progress and I want to see bigger gains but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

The one thing about that I struggled with was decreasing my running mileage. At first I thought I would be ok with it once I started seeing gains. And I was at first but as time has gone on I’m not quite ready to cut down on my mileage or stop training for races at this point. It’s not that I feel like I need to do cardio to lose weight but I do love running and am actually feeling really sad that I only did one race this summer. For the next little while I’m going to do both and see how it goes.

The trainer also provided me with an accompanying meal plan. I’m all about eating as most of you know . . . but I have to say worrying about making sure that I ate every 3 hours and knowing the macro break down of every meal made me sad. I would even go so far as to say that it actually made me not want to eat. While I think there are merits of plans like this, I think that I need to work on adjusting it slightly to ensure that I don’t get bored or overly caught up in timing or macros. Now that I’m back at work I’m planning on trying it again with a few tweaks. I’ll keep you posted😉

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Where did the time go?

I honestly had the best intentions. I had hoped to blog at least once a week when I returned to work. A month and a half later here we are. . . my first post since becoming a working mom.
So far work has been good and Henry is loving day home which made the transition much easier I had anticipated. I’m still finding it difficult to be away from him so much but we’re slowly finding our groove. I won’t lie that in some ways working in my office relatively uninterrupted feels kind of like a break but then there is the part of me that is always thinking about him and wishing I could be with him. Some nights after I’ve put him to bed I’m missing him so much I just want to go in and pick him up. I restrain myself of course but it’s hard to go from spending every moment with this little person to only having them for a few hours a day.

What is also hard is trying to fit everything I have to do at home into such a small amount of time, especially the weeks that Chris is away. I often find myself rushing around after Henry goes to bed trying to clean, cook and workout. Sometimes that means I’m finishing a lifting session at 10:30pm. It sounds crazy but I’ve got to fit it in when I can. I’ve come to the conclusion that I just can’t cook after work anymore. I either have to do it once Henry has gone to bed or do a mass cook on the weekend and freeze meals for throughout the week. I’ve mostly been opting for mass weekend cooking and with some slow cooker meals thrown in during the week. It’s still a work in progress and I definitely don’t have it down to a science. Henry is also still adjusting to all of the stimulation and excitement of day home which leaves him exhausted and sometimes a little cranky at the end of the day. Last night was the best night we’ve had in two months and I felt so happy to have my happy little boy back. It has been challenging to only have a few house with Henry and for him to be cranky at the end of the day. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this wasn’t just a fluke and that he is actually getting accustomed to our new routine!!

Since we’re talking about the little man. . . we had a birthday party for Henry mid-August. I had initially wanted to keep our celebration small but Chris was SO excited to throw Henry a party that I felt that I couldn’t rain on his excitement. In the end I was so glad that we had a party to celebrate the day Henry changed our lives forever!❤
Chris went into super daddy mode and did most of the party planning while I was at work. He made a banner, decorated, made goodie bags and even made little star sandwiches for the kiddos.

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I made the owl cupcakes🙂 They’re actually low sugar gluten and egg free black bean brownies. We’ve got some friends with sensitivities and I liked the idea of giving the kids a little bit of a healthier option.
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Don’t you love his, Lettuce Turnip The Beet T? Yet another fantastic Etsy find.
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Chris was super excited by the new toys. Henry was excited about a piece of tissue paper😉
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Checking out his new books. This boy loves his books🙂
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New bathtub toys.
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Well this post turned out to be all about the peanut which hadn’t really been my intention when I started this post but there you go. . . more recipes and workouts coming soon I promise.
Happy Saturday everyone!

What are you doing this weekend?
Any tips from working moms on managing everything?
If you have kids what did you do for your kid’s first birthday?