A Coffee Smoothie…yes!

warm capuccino-saidaonlineThere’s nothing like a good cup of coffee. That fragrant aroma wafting through the air, the warmth of your mug as you gently lift it up and breathe, pause, then take a sip. Ahhh…I love coffee. And lately I have been drinking a lot of it. Well a lot for me, comparatively to other people I really don’t drink much at all. I drink maybe a cup a day, and there are some days none at all, but for a girl who used to drink one cup of decaf maybe once a week, a full caffeinated brew every day is a lot!

It’s all those fantastic flavored coffees that have done me in, toasted coconut, cinnamon pastry. But they don’t come in decaf and it is the caffeine that sends me flying, high on energy and sometimes a little shaky, probably not so good for me. Yet when the german chocolate cake is calling…

IMG_4721Luckily there’s a smoothie for that 🙂 Yes a way to still get my coffee fix, cause really I think what I am looking for is the flavor, and make it a more healthy choice and experience. It consists of all kinds of good things, like flax seed, cacao, honey and almond milk, with that little splash of coffee to finish it off.

It is quite yummy and satisfying. In fact, I made it for a friend of mine a couple of years ago, an avid coffee drinker and an avid smoothie avoider, and he loved it! He now enjoys them regularly. I also shared it with my mother this past weekend who is very much a smoothie drinker and loves her coffee, so it wasn’t really a hard sell, but she loved it and immediately asked for the recipe.

The recipe is quite simple, combining all the ingredients in the blender, mix and ready to serve. It can easily be made ahead and drunk later in the day, or right away, as I am sure you will not be able to wait.

Chocolate Mocha Smoothie

3/4 c. unsweetend almond milk

2 tbsp. cacao powder

1-2 oz. coffee (you can use decaf if you prefer, or any flavored coffee that you feel goes well with chocolate)

1 tbsp. flax seed oil

1 tbsp. vegan protein powder

1 tsp. honey

optional: 2 ice cubes (this thickens up your smoothie if prefered)

Put all ingredients into a Vitamix blender. Mix until smooth. Enjoy!

A Warm Drink on a Cold Day

warm capuccino-saidaonlineThere’s nothing like coming in on a cold day and enjoying a nice warm drink. Cuddling up on the couch, your hands surrounding the mug for warmth as the steam floats up and you inhale the beautiful scent of coffee, hot chocolate, tea or hot apple cider, to name a few.

It doesn’t matter what you have been doing, if you’ve been enjoying some time outside doing outdoor activities, toboganning, skating, skiing or even just shoveling the walk, there is something about that warm beverage that offers you comfort like nothing else.

My kids love cuddling up on the couch with their drinks and maybe some cookies or other treat and watching a movie, tucked up under blankets. Nice and cozy and relaxing.

warm-drinksOf course when we decided to eliminate sugar at our house we could no longer default to the hot chocolate mix we bought at the store (and we used to buy the big can, you know that one that is super tall and would last for months). I know in the good old days hot chocolate was simply milk heated with cocoa mixed into it, but it had been a long time since I’d done that. In fact I remember one time when I was little and my aunt was looking after us, she did just that, and my sisters and I looked at her like she had 3 heads and asked her what the heck she was doing. In the end she ended up making the instant stuff but I know now what I missed out on.

I really like the milk heated version as I find it to be richer and creamier, even though it does take a little bit more time and work to do so. What I do now for the kids is actually a little fancier than that (something I discovered in my Raw Chocolate Making class), but it is soooo yummy and also very good for you.

Now I use a mix of almond milk, cacao powder (considered a superfood and high in minerals such protein, zinc, and iron), natural sweetener of choice and depending on the day some added spices. It’s actually quite easy to do and tastes delicious! I also like that I can make it different every time depending on what I am feeling like that day.

Dairy Free Hot Chocolate

4 c. almond milk (or your choice of dairy free milk)HBC-DJ12-hot-chocolate-shrstock-48722137

3-4 tbsp. cacao powder

3-4 tbsp. natural sweetener (I usually use pure maple syrup, but you can use honey, stevia, etc.) *amount of sweetener depends on sweetener used and personal preference

spices – sprinkle of to taste cinnamon and cayenne, or lucuma powder and mesquite powder

Place all ingredients into blender. Turn on low, then turn up to high, blend well. Pour mixture into pot. Heat on medium to desired temperature. Pour into mugs and serve.

Serves 4

What other delectable hot drink recipes do you enjoy?

Date Night

On Friday night I stepped out of my comfort zone and expanded my horizons. I had no kids, no date and it being Friday night I decided to take myself out. I went up to the local coffee shop here in Bridlewood, Cafe Crema. They have live open mic music on Fridays and I wanted to check it out.

So I dressed myself up, put on make up, did my hair and out the door I went. Why not dress up for me, why not take myself out? Why should I hole up and stay in when there is a whole world out there? I cannot meet new people and make new friends and maybe even dates, if I stay in all the time. Yes I could have put on my pyjamas, picked up a nice movie and curled up on the couch waiting for maybe something exciting to happen but why? Life doesn’t happen to you while waiting on the couch, it passes you by, you miss it.

The crowd at Cafe Crema was ecclectic, a mix of young and old, well more actually like a lot of young and a few older couples. There were some very cute men there, sadly all with someone else 🙁 but I enjoyed looking at them. There was one fellow in particular, dark hair, gorgeous, way too young… There was even a couple there sitting on the side reading their books, while the musicians on stage sang their songs and played their tunes. I wondered how they could read while all this was going on but to each his own.

I grabbed my latte, sat down on the comfy couch and enjoyed the music. The first fellow was from Nova Scotia, where I grew up and it made me feel nostalgic for the east coast. The next fellow was young and missed a few verses in his songs but was entertaining to say the least (also nice to look at). The last couple, before I left, was a male and female pair who did mostly original songs, which were quite unique, melodic and even a bit out of tune, yet we were all still tapping our toes to the music.

There were more musicians after that but by that time I decided to take myself home. That short time out inspired me to come home and write to share my experience and tell everyone how empowering it is! Yes I have gone out on my own before to a movie or stopped for coffee, but not like this. Not on a Friday night where everyone is on dates or out with friends. It felt really good not to be sitting at home waiting for someone to call, to just go out and enjoy myself and be with others in the world, even if it was just simply sharing a coffee and listening to some music.

Now I don’t think that I would go out to the bar by myself as for some reason that does not seem like a good idea to me, but the coffee house was ok and it felt great! Besides like I said if I don’t get out how will I meet people? And you never know, maybe one night some nice single man will come in and notice me and we’ll strike up a conversation – you never know.

Being newly separated, it’s good for me to get out. It is also very important for me to take care of myself and know what that means for me. It’s ok to do things on my own, and we all need to, whether we are married or single. When we feed our spirits and expand our comfort zones, we grow, we learn and we become more attractive to others in general; because our eyes sparkle with excitement and fun, we’re happy and content with ourselves. And then we come home and are inspired to do other things, whatever that may be. It left me with a great buzz! and it was not from the coffee 🙂


How to Take Time for Yourself (even with the kids at home this Summer)

Summer is a busy time with the kids at home, activities and outings, camping, hiking, vacations and road trips. You are going from one place to the next getting in as much as you can in our short season. (Well I do, I like to pack it all in in about 8 weeks as I know we only have so much time to do all the things we love. And you have to take advantage of the warm and sunny days cause you never know when the rain is going to come and sock you in for a few days and the temperature drops)

The problem is still taking time for yourself with all this increased activity and time with the kids at home. We all know how important it is for Mom (or Dad) to take time for ourselves. A happy parent equals a happy family. We are better able to manage our day, handle challenges and stress and just enjoy life more!

So here are some tips and things that I do so that I get ‘my time’ throughout the day and am still present and ready for my children.

Get up half an hour early, before the kids do and do something for yourself. You might argue that you need your sleep but trust me this is worth it. Do whatever feeds your spirit, whether it be a quiet cup of coffee or tea, meditate, yoga, stretching, something that you enjoy and puts you in a peaceful, calm and happy mind state.

Have quiet time after lunch My little ones still nap so I get a 2 hour window in the afternoon to do what I want; but with my older son home from school that changes. I know you’re saying my kids don’t nap at all! What we have done is set up quiet time after lunch for 30 minutes. All the children go to their rooms at the same time and do a quiet activity such as reading, drawing, etc. The babies still nap so they go to sleep but this works well with Matthew; and I will continue to do it once the babies no longer nap. Then you have time to yourself to do something for you, without the kids, and is a nice break for everyone during the day.

Make a cup of tea, coffee, lemonade, etc. You notice that the kids are playing nicely, take that 5 or 10 minutes and sit down and enjoy your favorite drink. I often find that having just those few minutes is a great way to recharge.

Breathe I am sure you have heard this one before, a few deep breaths can do a world of wonders and I mean in through the nose and out through the mouth, filling up and expanding the stomach. You don’t need a block of time to do this, you can do it on the spot, kids or not for just a few minutes.

Set up some scheduled breaks Whether it be a playdate or you hire a babysitter, this provides the opportunity to take a break and do what you would like for a bit. Whether it be to go for coffee with a friend or by yourself, a massage, a little shopping. You can even take advantage of registering your child(ren) in a day camp program. This will not only provide a break for you but some variety for the kids.

I have found the key is purposely scheduling some time for you, while making sure that the kids are occupied and safe. If I do not schedule time during my day I find I get to the end of the day and am just exhausted. Once you have the time it is easy to find things to do! and  even short breaks can make a world of difference.

The important thing is to do things that truly feed your spirit and rejuvenate you, don’t use that time to do housework or prepare dinner! Things like going outside, even if just in the backyard if you can’t leave the house, go for a walk, a massage, coffee, read or even an uninterrupted phone conversation with a friend! You know what feeds you best, do it and everyone will be better off for it.