Motivation Monday

Happy Monday Everyone,

I’m so excited it’s finally starting to warm up and that the sun has been out more because it definitely makes the days so much happier. Last week I stepped outside of my comfort zone in two ways: I sang a song at a little Jazz bar and FINALLY got the IgG Allergy test (results coming in two weeks), all of which I’ve documented as Episode Two from my Bikini Series Vlogs! So here’s to Monday, week 2 of the Tone It Up Bikini Series and trying new things!

AND… Incase you missed them here’s a few of my favourite moments from last week:

Happy #BIKINISERIES #beachbabe #tiuteam !!! I'm so excited today is the beginning of an incredible 8 weeks and with all you ladies beside me, my #bikiniseriespartner s @lauramsacco and @amymckee_tiu we are ready to have OH so much fun! Here's my morning so far. Took my #BIKINISERIESbefore pics last night NO it wasn't easy or fun but YES I smiled anyhow because hey this is my beautiful body and where I'm at! Nothing goes better with a bikini then a smile and some confidence 😘💗 no matter your shape or size, no judgment here! Over the next 8weeks I'm excited to help heal my body, gut, clear up allergic reactions and to run again! Goals coming later today now go Get that bikini on and #HIIT it! Xoxo 😘💗 @karenakatrina @perfectfit @toneitup #tiutransformation

A video posted by Amberlea (@amberleak) on

 

Xoxo

Amberlea

 

Bikini Series 2015 – Episode 1 – Reflect and Prep

Happy Saturday Everyone!

I finally had some time to finish editing the vlog I made while prepping for the first week of the Tone It Up Bikini Series last Sunday. I hope you all are having a fabulous day and enjoy coming along with me out in the sunshine, back into the kitchen and then finally as I take my before pics.

xoxo

Amberlea

 

Nutritional Stigmas

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After writing about overall balance about two weeks ago I felt inspired to dive a little deeper into Nutritional balance and the stigmas associated with trying new or different nutritional approaches. I so often hear flash judgments about an individual’s food choices. I get it at the office from co-workers, or people who don’t know me well, I hear it in the gym, or out and about walking around as people debate where to go for dinner. With developing allergies and other biochemical changes in my body throughout the past 6-8 years, I’m no stranger to various nutritional approaches. Chances are of the healthy wholesome (no shortcuts, cookie, or self deprivation diets here) approaches out there I’ve tried most of them. Unfortunately, we are hard on each other about what or how we eat, failing in some cases, to recognize the power of unique approaches to nutrition. Truth is as long as we are fuelling our bodies with what they need to feel strong, energized and healthy, then who are we to judge one another on what or how we eat?

After giving up certain things over the past few years I noticed that every time I tried something new at least someone had something to say about it, either criticism, praise or thinking they too would be cured by the same solutions. All of which has made me wonder if anyone’s focus for changing his or her nutritional approach is anything but jumping into a miracle nutrition solution, of which there is no one answer.

I really do hope that individuals are starting to recognize the power of nutrition to help their bodies to thrive, the ability of nutrition to heal and are looking to see if they have more energy or are able to eliminate any allergic symptoms like gas and bloating, find better sleep, or reduce anxiety. I’ll be first to admit I’ve been guilty of jumping on the new “it” nutritional approach hoping for miraculous changes, but I’ve learned that I always end up adapting whatever approach I’m trying to get my body to fully benefit. This leaves me to wonder how many of us know what our own bodies really need, and with the exception of some healthcare professionals what other individual’s bodies need? Probably not, case in point I’m going for allergy testing (YES FINALLY) over the next few weeks. So then knowing everyone needs a unique nutritional approach for their unique bodies why are we so quick to judge others nutritional approaches? What if we were to change the dialogue around food, how and what we eat. Lets release the nutrition judgment and start to support the opportunity to find the fuel and approach to consuming said fuel that works for our own bodies,  goals and lifestyles.

Some of you might say but I don’t agree with a nutritional approach I see. I know, I hear you, there are approaches I myself don’t agree with and I’ve guiltily judged those approaches myself. I’ve thought of the individuals trying them: they eat too much, too little or have such an unbalanced diet. I’ve come to realize though, that I don’t know their reasons or intentions for eating the way they do unless I ask. And aside from the sensitive nature of nutritional approaches, I also don’t know if they have supervision of a healthcare professional. If you know the person well and you see them struggling or better yet thriving with a new nutritional approach it may be worthy to ask them about their experience and intentions. Let’s encourage each other seek wholesome healthy nutritional approaches that work best for THEIR own body.

So here’s to finding what works for our own bodies, and to recognizing that this may fit into a label for example the recently popular Paleo,or it may not. I think its important to remember that we are human and fluctuation in nutrition will change as we do. Let’s remember the 80/20 rule of thumb too, for example continuing on with the Palaeolithic approach, Diane Sanfilippo didn’t deem her Paleo book Practically Paleo for no reason! At some point in your life there will likely be changes in what or how you eat. If you are currently having tummy troubles or just want to give a different nutritional approach a try go for it! Just make sure you’re doing so for the right reasons and be sure you’re not missing out on valuable nutrients that your body needs.

Remember  EveryBODY is different, a unique ecosystem that needs specific nutrients depending on where you live, how you live, any autoimmune, hormonal abnormalities, diseases and or otherwise abnormal tendencies (goodness knows we all have something our bodies need a little help with). Let’s shift our focus to eating for what makes our bodies run balanced, energized and full of life by recognizing that what works for me might or might not work for you. Your body has its own thing going on, so lets honor it and its needs. If your body isn’t thriving that switch it up!

What nutritional approach works for you? Let me know in the comments below, on Twitter, or Instagram (@AmberleaK).

xoxo

Amberlea

Becoming One With Balance

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It is in the contrast, or time without balance, we learn to appreciate and relish in the divine moments of balance.

There’s much to be said about balance. Be it work life balance, balanced diet/nutrition, a balanced, body, mind, and or soul. The balanced moments when everything feels good, we are healthy, strong and full of energy, when we can be calm and at peace with all that is. With every moment we approach, we have opportunity to lose and to gain balance. Sometimes we can see when we lose balance and other times it isn’t until we literally fall flat on our face that we see just how imbalanced we really are. Creating balance is different for everyone. Finding balance is also a never ending journey that takes both time, and from experience, a lot of patience to navigate through. At certain points we may also happily be rid of balance for a moment or two all together. But for the day to day, I’ve experienced relative balance is often offset because of the ease of an old pattern, too many commitments, over indulgence in what we love, or our ever-present I want it here and now mentality. Balance isn’t achieved overnight, and it’s almost never perfect for more than a fleeting moment. Life happens, changes occur, and on we go. However, even given all of the inevitable surprises that come with the day to day, brining even a hint of balance throughout our lives can really help us to feel all that much more grounded, healthier and happier.

I wanted to dive into two parts of balance in particular. A balanced body and a balanced mind. May these thoughts give you something to think about and maybe even try.

A Balanced Body

Balance in the body is often one of places we don’t notice imbalance until its to late. When we pay too little attention to how we move, or what we put in our bodies workouts and nutrition can be more draining then energizing . Loosing sight of how our muscles miraculously contract, how our lungs bring each breath that allows us to move forward, and how energy from food derived pure and straight from nature allows us to be our best. A balanced body is multifaceted, it requires focus and attention to where you are right here and now.

I’ve lost balance of my body many times through either nutrition or exercise, creating digestive issues, weight gain and or injuries. Learning to have a balanced body, for me, has meant understanding my unique body. From its PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) to over dominant quads I’ve had to learn what balance physically and nutritionally means for my body. Thus I’ve learned; before we balance we must observe. Often when I’m feeling out of balance with my body I consider: whats changed in my body, feels uncomfortable, or has started to lag? Physically speaking, imbalance leads to injury, over development of muscle groups, fatigue, physical stress and overall discomfort, so its important to take the time to observe your body.

Nutritionally speaking, imbalance can lead to food sensitivities, unhealthy gut flora (my recent problem), weight gain, fatigue, stress, anxiety and oh so much more. Given allergies and hormonal imbalances, nutritional balance has been a bit of a trial and error journey for me. I have a great appreciation for reaching a point where with nutritional balance we can give our bodies the nutrition to thrive, strive and still enjoy a few treats here and there. My goal currently is to find the balance nutritionally where my body can thrive off of wholesome foods, yet, I am still able to enjoy a treat or two each week. One of my favourite things to say is that everyBODY is different but the important thing is to find balance with what works for your and your body.

Some other thoughts for finding a place of balance within your body are to try:

 A) Consult with a nutritionist, Naturopath, Doctor, a nutritionist/medically approved meal guide, or tracking your nutrition through a food diary/app like My Fitness Pal or LoseIt. Don’t focus just on Calories but also have a look at your protein, sugar, healthy fat, fibre and daily vitamin intakes. What are you missing? What are you overdoing it on? Consulting a professional on this is a great way to bring your body back into balance.

 B) Modify your movement. As our body can be muscularly or skeletally imbalanced from time to time its good to have a Chiropractor, physiotherapist or other qualified professional assess the imbalances in your body. Someone like a physiotherapist or a sports therapist can help to make suggestions on approaching fitness as a way to balance your body, muscles and skeletal structure. But as always its just as important for you to pay attention to your body. Notice for example: where your weight goes in a lunge or a squat, where your weight is when you run, do you run lopsided? Be sure to also incorporate a rest day into your week. Rest is crucial to rebuilding your body as is stretching! So incorporate both into your daily routine. Again a fitness or healthcare professional could give you customized stretches to help balance out your body but in general gentle stretching or foam rolling is a great start. Having a balanced body will aid in keeping you energized and strong, avoiding injury for many years to come.

Finding the right balance of what your body can tolerate both physically and nutritionally is tricky, takes some experimentation, and A LOT of patience. But its also fun being on the journey of seeing your body reap the benefits of giving it exactly what it needs. When our bodies are physically & nutritionally balanced we are stronger, more energetic, and in a sense more durable to go about daily lifting, carrying, running, walking, playing and goofing off or just doing the active things we love!

A Balanced Mind

Again this will be different for everyone but for me balancing the mind is sometimes harder then balancing the body, but is often necessary before attaining success with a balanced body. When we begin to balance the mind we may find the need to spend some extra time focusing on what we feel. For example: I can certainly feel when my thoughts drift off into worry world, anxieties keep me up at night, or I cant seem to focus because I’m so distracted by my judgmental thoughts. For me a balanced mind is one that isn’t inundated with negativity. It is a mind that has,

space

to

breathe

A balanced mind is one that can relish in the peace of being present and is forever intently listening to its soul. When my mind is balanced I find judgments fade away and I can be present in the learning and love that surrounds me. Of course this also includes being able to express emotions rather then holding them in or stuffing them down. There was a time were I let my mind run on fear, placing myself in a box where feelings weren’t allowed to exist. Then there have also been the times where I can’t seem to stop emotion. Neither of which is a balanced approach.

So what is a balanced mind? For me my mind is balanced when I’m able to let go of judging my emotions and just to be as I am, weather that means jumping for joy or having an off day, I can accept not only myself but also others. A balanced mind can recognize that when we judge others we judge ourselves. All of which can create unrealistic expectations. Whenever I feel my mind is unbalanced with judgment, fear, anxiety or expectation its just another reminder to bring my thoughts back to my truth, back to love, and back to faith. A balanced mind can find the love in all that is whether it be something comfortably familiar, or miraculously different.

These are some of the approaches I’ve found help when trying to balance my mind and find a little peace:

A) Counter judgment with a smile – Instead of comparing yourself to someone smile at them, acknowledge that the light in them is also in you. Show them love as you would an old friend (perhaps they might even become a new friend). What I’ve come to learn is that often we compare ourselves to others when we see the potential of ourselves in them. The comparison is just our little self going HEYYY WAIT A MINUTE I could do that, be there, go there, or see that, why am I not? So take the little judgments as a signal to instead appreciate that person for who they are, what they are doing and use it as inspiration for taking steps towards dusting off the dreams you have!

B) Find your happy place, a little time in the day thats just for you. Time to: sing, dance or move it out, craft, or watch one of your favourite movies.  Just find a way to boost your energy into where you can let your mind wander into a happy place where you do and want to feel your best!

C) Make plans with friends – Practice a balanced mind by talking out (not taking out haha VERY different things!), your emotions with each other. Realizing you are not alone in your feelings and having that loving encouragement to just be you goes a long way to balancing your mind. I’m incredibly blessed with so many amazing friends and I’ve found friends will also call you out on your self-criticism helping to bring you back into balance of realizing all that you do have to offer. Good friends always seem to help me acknowledge what I’ve been resisting, or even help me to see my current struggles in a different way. The idea here is to bring what the mind is criticizing into the light so you can work through it in a loving environment, and maybe even see things from a different perspective.

D) Have a Soul Session –  Whether its church,  Journaling, or spending some time with a spiritual book like ACIM, a spiritual practice of any kind will refuel your soul and help you to clear your mind to focus on where your heart and emotions are. Some of our favourite spiritual teachers or gurus can also help us to learn better ways to bring balance to our life through the teachings they often provide. Keeping your spiritual practice both fresh and apart of your routine will help your to be constantly aware of where your at. I often check in with my spiritual balance by journaling, meditating or finding some quiet time to be with my thoughts. Sometimes IF your thoughts seem to consuming try a guided meditation or some yoga to move through your emotions. But all in all noticing where your souls at an hearing about spiritual practices or ideas can invigorate a balanced mind and help inspire you.

Above all don’t forget to give yourself time! Let go, find balance and find love right where you are. Acknowledge the perfection in imperfection. Balance of the mind and body are a small part in balancing the many components of life, but all in all it’s a fun adventure.

xoxo

Love and light,

Amberlea

The Coffee Break

As you may have seen via my Instagram posts, I’ve been on the road to being coffee free again. Although I do LOVE my coffee, especially in winter, somewhere about mid November 2014 I started to notice that I had become really anxious, couldn’t sleep and was having an afternoon energy crash. Thus I decided to enact a little Coffee Break.  After making a post about it on Instagram I found it interesting to see how so many of you thought this was something that you could never give up. I know coffee is considered an addictive substance by many medical professionals, and that as such it is harder to stop drinking it (whether you think your addicted or not). But, take it from someone who drinks coffee not for the energy or other benefits but for the taste, it is possible, quite enjoyable, and not as hard as you might think to take a Coffee Break.

Going into the coffee break this time I already knew what the light at the end of the tunnel was. I knew how I had once before found renewed energy, felt lighter and brighter throughout the day all without caffeine or coffee. Since my last coffee break I’ve also learned a few helpful ways to make the transition an easier experience, rather than an ultimatum. I too recognize that coffee is more than coffee, for most it is a ritual. I anticipate because of this, for many of you giving up your coffee ritual is like giving up a reason to get up on Monday mornings. Given a Coffee Break isn’t everyones idea of fun, and many of you might reject the idea of a Coffee Break, I encourage you to try it anyway. Take a Coffee Break with the following thoughts below in mind, see what happens, and most importantly how you feel!

One note to mention before we dive in is that I am not a health care professional and this is merely from my own experience so depending on how much and how often you have consumed coffee over the years you may want to consult with a health care practitioner if you have any concerns about transitioning off , or taking a break from coffee.

First things first, lets get the excuses out of the way. Aside from trying to escape the symptoms I experienced: anxiety, lack of sleep, and the mid day crash, fellow coffee consumers often asked why would anyone want to take a Coffee Break ? Then there’s the ever present:  “It doesn’t seem to harm me and I feel worse without it”, or better yet the creative “its just too hard” (just a hint of sarcasm there). As you’ll see in the video below, although a daily coffee doesn’t exactly cause severe harm, and yes due to the chemical changes in your brain and body you may initially feel worse, a Coffee Break will eventually feel better! Watch this fun little video about what happens to your body when you drink coffee:

Now do you see why it will take time for your body to recalibrate?  Once you stop drinking coffee or caffine your body learns to stop over producing the Adenosine Receptors. As we saw initially the additional Adenosine Receptors are why a caffeine free day or week might not be so much fun. But we can make this easier! From my experience taking a Coffee Break and getting back to your body’s own energy is a slow and steady process rather then an abrupt halt into the land of fatigue and deprivation. If you take it slow and let your body adjust a Caffeine Break can actually feel good, help you sleep better and recalibrate your body’s natural hormones and rhythms.

So, are you ready to take a Coffee Break? Below is the process as well as some tips and tricks I’ve come to use when going on a Coffee Break:

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Here’s a little bit more about the Coffee Swaps and Substitutes that I make when on a Coffee Break:

These are some of my personal favourites to resort to when I’m going caffeine free or coffee free.

Green Tea: Although it has caffeine, the caffeine releases in your system differently as a more steady stream so you don’t get the spike and dip of energy like you do with coffee. I find I can have Green Tea with out any problems so generally I keep my coffee breaks in phase 3 of the above plan. For more Green Tea benefits visit WebMD.com .

Crio Bru: One of my new favourite things. After a winter obsessed with hot Cocoa I found Crio Brew, basically its cacao beans ground up like coffee grinds and when brewed is somewhere between a coffee and a hot cocoa flavour. So far i’ve only tried the original, but can’t wait to order different ones to try. Its super yummy if you want a more earthy taste. For more benefits of Crio Bru check out their website!

Dandelion Tea: This one took me some getting used too. You can get Coffee substitutes that are Dandelion based, however they often have a lot of filler (including gluten) in them so I had to go right for the tea version. Be careful as some of the Dandelion blends still contain caffeine, so look out for one like the Traditional Medicine’s Herbal blend which you can find here.

Yerba Mate Tea: I found Yerba Mate tea over the summer at a whole foods during my trip to California. Somewhere in between a coffee and a Green tea blend this Tea still has some caffeine but yet not quite the same effects as coffee so its a good one to use when transitioning in between coffee and coffee free.  This stuff is AHMAZING! I love how clean it tastes and that it still felt like it gave me some energy. The one I like best is the Yerba Mate. You can find it here or at your local whole foods.

Hot Lemon water: I call this one Ye ol Classic. You can add in some cinnamon, ginger or turmeric if your looking for a little morning detox, but plain hot lemon water is also awesome. This one gets things moving much like coffee when you use half a lemon squeeze out all the juice and let it sit for a min or two.

Alas like all coffee lovers you may find a day comes when you want to return to coffee or caffeine, so here are a few simple tricks to keep it from minimizing the effects it has on interrupting your body’s natural rhythms:

– avoid caffeine or coffee after 12pm/Lunch, this will give your system enough time to process enough of the coffee that your body can still produce the necessary hormones for sleep.

– Start slow back into it. Don’t go for the XL or Venti right following a coffee break, you’ll find your body will have reset itself and so less will be more.

– If you put anything in your coffee remember to keep it clean! Whole milk (or a unsweetened Coconut Milk) and no sugar is best. Stevia, Honey, or Maple Syrup are better then Sucralose, Aspartame or Splenda.

Let me know if you decide to take a Coffee Break, and if you notice any differences in how you feel when you do!

xoxo

Amberlea

Dreams for 2015

Dreaming for 2015

As you may recall I’m not one for resolutions, more just constant growth and acceptance for doing our best where we’re at. Resolutions fade but effort from loving all that you are and dreaming about where you could go or what you could become never do.

I have heard nothing but “Dream” over the past few weeks. This I’ve devised is the universe, as usual, trying to get my attention. As if this year hasn’t been enough of an experiment from a dislocated knee, trying to figure out what exactly I DO want to do for work, to weight gain and learning how to apply the tools and treatments that help me deal with my PCOS, I feel I am coming out of the dark tunnel. Oh HELLO there really is a light, haha, for the last few months and still a few days here and there I wasn’t so sure. Now more then ever I feel called to Dream bigger and to live beyond the fear and doubts. Trusting that when I put my dreams out there with a little work on my behalf they will meet me halfway.

Coming from a realistic family, who aside from telling me to follow my heart is also first to remind me that I also need to pay the bills and support myself, my brain is a trained realist. Needless to say putting trust and faith in my dreams, and myself is something new for me.

Earlier this year I was thinking about why I wasn’t happy and came to the conclusion that I thought being happy with aspects of my life I didn’t like would mean that I would scare those very things away. The catch 22 is that the fear or anger we put out there from not loving where we are at and our inability to see beyond our current circumstance only brings us more of the things we least desire.

Lets travel back to last January. There I sat in tears, off of a horrible holiday season of ice storms and power outages. I also learned that my brother was going to travel a lot in 2015, and cross off a lot of his big dreams thus far in his life. Feeling, left out and left behind like I hadn’t got to go anywhere in a while or even begun to follow my dreams (I know grass is greener syndrome ha-ha), I felt stuck in my job and my life.

My mom and dad (as well as many other friends and family) were quick to remind me of all that I have got to do with my own dreams and assured me that indeed I would not only pursue them further but yes, I too would get my turn to travel. After some coaxing (I’m quite stubborn), I focused my energy on feeling what it was like to travel to places like NYC, somewhere ocean side and to California where I could visit and meet all of the wonderful women apart of the TIU team. I dreamed about finishing my first song, and sharing my song with my family (most of whom didn’t even know I’ve been taking lessons for the past 6 years). Although I had no Idea how all this would happen, I began to dream. I also somehow knew I had to have faith that I would travel, sing, dance, love and have fun, that my dreams would bit by bit start to come true. Weather they actually would or not, at this point I realized, what did I have to loose. Then, inch by inch I loosened by grip, cast my dreams out there and let them go to faith. With this I began to counter my questioning and doubtful mind with a series of what if’s and why not’s?

Even after what I thought was giving up slightly mid 2014, I now realize the puzzle pieces were still falling into place as, just last week I listened to Joel Osteen speak about letting the dreams take over the facts. Something I now see I was able to do. In reflection I realize if I can just focus on the faith in feeling my truth, the facts of how fade into the creative ability of the universe. I know thats a mouthful so here it is again:

“By feeling my truth the facts of how fade into the creative abilities of the universe”

Just as Joel was saying, don’t worry about the facts just feel what it might be like to live that dream and if its your truth, if you can feel it right down to your very core, the universe with bring it to you in the most surprising of ways.

Now if you know me you know I love to make vision boards. I made one at the beginning of 2014. I carefully placed visuals of trips and places along with many other pictures of inspiration on my board and just spent a little time each day dreaming about what it would feel like to experience each thing I had placed there. I let go of the facts and sometimes even the very thing and just felt the feeling. Then throughout this year one by one in creative ways each of those places and so much more came into my life. On a side note I still find it funny how one week I found myself with money spent elsewhere daydreaming about the feeling of clean clothes as a result of having laundry detergent. I then got invited to a fashion show (not of the norm for me) and ended up with 16 loads worth of laundry detergent. Thank you Universe for clean clothes haha.

Dreaming is the best case of manifesting. Manifesting fear can, however also happen as I saw with the things that I put fear energy into this past year. These things showed up bigger than I anticipated throughout the year. As I don’t want to put any more energy into those things I’ll leave them be and move on to dream and make a conscious choice to be happy no matter my circumstances (I’ll take any tips on this as it’s a little trickier then I thought!). But just know that both good and bad energy can create things in your life too.

What it all comes down to though, dreams, manifesting or other wise, is knowing this: “Ask and it is given”, for better or for worse you can draw more of what ever your energy or frequency gives into the universe. So given this simple law of attraction, here I go on another path along my journey, adding yet another layer. This time its one full of magical, love, joy happiness and dreams. How will you dream for 2015? What will you call into your life?

Challenge your ego, doubts and minds with a little what if, or why not. Again what have you got to lose?

Love and Light,
Amberlea

Sugar Plums Dancing

With Christmas this week I’ve already got visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. So this week we’re taking a look at the traditional sugar plum as seen in the likes of stories like ‘Twas Night before Christmas, and The Nutcracker . At first I thought maybe these were just prunes rolled in sugar, but, it turns out a sugar plum is a fruit and nut ball (much like the snack power balls or protein balls I usually make) infused with an assortment of spices. Historically (in the 17th century) creating sugar plums was a lengthy process of drying fruit in a syrup or sugar but with the advance of dried fruit you can easily just start with the dried fruit and take a few short cuts (1).  Now the spices are a little different and after a couple of try’s I actually liked them but might omit the caraway in the future. On that note if you’re sharing these with guests you may want to keep the spices a little simpler by omitting, the caraway , cardamom, fennel and anise seeds. This recipe is based of ones from Alton Brown and the Nourished Kitchen, as always with a little of my own infusion. I had a lot of fun plating these up with some of my classic gingerbread (find the recipe here).

1. Pre-heat your oven to 450/475′ convect bake if you have it.

2. Mix, then toast, the following in the oven:

6 ounces slivered almonds

6 ounces Pecans &Walnuts

1/4 teaspoon anise seeds,

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

This will not take long so keep your eyes on them!!! I burned mine a bit, so check them almost every min, just a peek to see when the almonds are turning golden.

3. In your food processor pulse and chop the following into little diced pieces about the size of your fingertip:

Use unsweetened, unsulfered and sun dried where you can

4 ounces dried plums

4 ounces dried apricots

4 ounces dried figs

4 ounces pitted dates

4. Pulse in until combined :

Pinch kosher salt

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar

Zest of one Orange

 5. Take a little over a TBSP of the sugar plum dough and ball it with your hands, roll it in some coconut palm sugar and almond meal, then keep in the fridge, freezer or on the counter in an airtight container. Most other recipes recommend on the counter for a week or in an airtight container on the counter for a month. I keep mine in the freezer though.

Love and Light,

Amberlea

xoxoxo

 

 

Sources:

1- http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/menus/homemade-sugar-plums.htm

2- http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/sugarplums-recipe.html?oc=linkback

3- http://nourishedkitchen.com/sugar-plums-recipe/

Movie Magic

Officially counting down to Christmas! I’m so excited for some more family time and with 10 days left until christmas this is my favourite time to catch up on some holiday movies, new and old. Here are some of my favourites, what are yours?

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From the Hallmark Channel:

Christmas Under Wraps – After losing her boyfriend and her dream internship, Lauren (Bruré’s character) finds herself in Garland Alaska caring for patients and discovering there’s more to the town and what she really wants in life then she first thought. This is quite possibly one of my new favorites. Not only do I love Candace Cameron, but, seeing her in Christmas rom-com was awesome. This movie is cute and charming without too much sappy factor perfect for a girl’s night in.

Northpole – Tiffany Thaisen, another one of my favorite 80’s sitcom actresses, stars as a single mom in this perfect for the young family flick. Clearly Hallmark Channel knows their holiday’s haha. Without many friends and in a new town, Thaisens son in the movie, starts conversing with an Elf named Clementine. Clementine and reluctantly Theisen then work together with her son to try and save the town’s park and re-kindle the holiday spirit of the town.

Classics:

The Christmas Classics Set

Rudolph, Frosty and Santa Clause is coming to town! These classics are ones that without fail get me into the holiday spirit each year. There is nothing like Burl Ives singing Holy Jolly Christmas to get one in the Christmas mood. The stop animation also has such a cozy vibe to it. These ones are for the kid in all of us!

The Santa Clause

Tim Allen is one of my favorite comedians who stars in this film as a non-believer career focused Dad turned Santa Clause. I still remember instantly falling in love with this movie as a kid. It always made me feel so warm and cozy inside, reminding me of the power to believe in love and the Christmas Spirit. Defiantly a great family film full of magical and funny moments.

The Family Man

A modern day Christmas Story of sorts, Jack a Single and wealthy New York man in finance, gets sent back to see what his life would have been like if he hadn’t have left Kate, the love of his life, for a dream job. The story reminds us that its always who your with not what you have that makes life so beautiful and magical. This ones probably more of a romantic date night film than a family movie (also makes for a great mother and daughter night in too though).

Christmas Vacation

We have watched the Griswold’s attempts at Christmas for 16 years now. I’m not really sure what I love more, the fact that my dad recites all the lines and laughs so hard or the actual movie itself. This one can’t really be explained, you just have to watch it! It’s not that I wouldn’t recommend it for small children as they won’t get all the jokes anyhow, however I defiantly recommend watching it before you watch it with your kids so you know if its something your comfortable having them watch too. Part of the fun with this movie in particular is that each year I get a new joke in it or laugh at something new.

Miracle on 34th Street (1995 ed.) 

When a department store Santa gets fired the day of the thanksgiving day parade a Mr.Kris Kringle takes his place and enters the lives of a non-believing little girl and her, frankly uptight mother. Mr.Kringle comes into their lives creating all sorts of holiday miracles through the movie. Beautiful and heartwarming this classic shows just how having a little faith and a whole lot of courage to be true to your-self always stands the test of time.

Check out the list below for some other great holiday movies:

The Santa Clause 2 & 3

Elf

The Family Stone

New In Town

Mrs. Miracle

Holiday in Handcuffs

Jack Frost (With Michael Keaton)

Santa Baby & Santa Baby 2

Fred Clause

Disney’s A Christmas Carol (The Jim Carrey Version’s animation is absolutely spectacular)

Christmas with the Cranks

The Polar Express

The Holiday

The Perfect Holiday

The Grinch (Jim Carey Version)

Love Actually

Let me know what movie gets you into the holiday spirit,

xoxo

Amberlea

 

O Tannenbaum

There’s nothing I love more than a real Christmas Tree. The beautiful smell, pretty boughs and needles. I can’t wait for the day I have a house I can have a real tree in. For now I am grateful for our beautiful trees at home and the little one I set up at my place for the extra cheer throughout the season. This week I thought we could dive into the history of the Christmas tree. I found a great link to a video that sums up the following history of the Christmas tree so read along (below) or head over to History.com to check out the video! Below are some pictures from my mom and I’s decorating spree yesterday. While we both love white lights on the tree, we make a compromise with the family. White up the middle and coloured and bubbles all around. Picky as we are, the coloured ones are the vintage ones not the new purple and pink odd balls you see sold today (I’ve never understood the new neon coloured strands but no judgment if thats what you love, go for it!!) .

 

Originally a German Pagan tradition, Martin Luther was believed to be one of the first to bring a Christmas tree into the house. During the medieval times, as Christianity spread so did the evergreen decorations. Apples adorned Christmas trees to represent the garden of Eden, these trees were called Paradise Trees and were kept up through Germans Christian holiday’s. Overtime other edible decorations were added like nuts and wafers. (1)

As Germans emigrated to other parts of the world so did their traditions. In 1846 Queen Victoria offered her German Husband, Prince Albert, the opportunity to decorate the palace with a traditional tree. The Victorian tree was complete with the traditional sweet treat decorations, candles and complete with an angel on top.(1)

Initially a baby Jesus was placed atop the tree. This later changed to be an angel or fairy that were apart of the Christmas story, guiding the shepherds to Jesus or a star like the Wise men saw. (2)

After being featured through illustration in the London News Elite Londoners began to adopt the Christmas Tree as a decoration in their own homes and the Christmas tree tradition spread across the pond to America.  Christmas trees have been sold in the United States and Canada since 1850. Among them the most popular varieties include Scotch pine, Douglas Fir, Fraser fir, Balsam Fir and White pine.  (1)

In 1870  decorations became more akin to what we see today when German Artisans began to export delicate glass ornaments. Then Thomas Edison’s associate Edward Johnson,  created the first version of Christmas lights for the tree. By 1900, 1 in 5 American families had their own Christmas tree. Today more than 100 million are on display and with 77 million Christmas trees planted each year, a Christmas tree takes between 6 and 8 years before it is ready for Christmas decorating.  (1)

Happy decorating!

xoxo

Amberlea

Sources

1- History of a Christmas Trees. History.com. 2009. Web. 6 Dec. 2014. <http://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas-trees>.

2- The History of Christmas. WhyChristmas.com n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2014. <http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/trees.shtml>

Stir it up Sunday

Sliced3

I remember years of christmas pudding making throughout our holiday celebrations growing up (see picture below of me helping our and making my wish a few years back). My Great Grandmother, who’s from Wales , and now my Grandmother would make the christmas pudding for our holiday celebrations each year. I had never really taken to it much, given that our family recipe is soaked (ok more like bathed) for quite a period of time in Sherry then coated with a thick Rum sauce, which as a child, did not sound appealing. I also thought something had to be wrong with it given that often we would eat a cake that was made the year (or years) before. I clearly didn’t know about the preservation qualities in alcohol haha. This year when I was looking at traditional Christmas fare it seemed obvious to me that I had to try my hand at Christmas Pudding.

Stir It up Sunday in 2009

Christmas pudding is an English tradition that is made the first Sunday (which happens to be today!) before advent. This is called “Stir it up Sunday” because each member of the family gets the opportunity to stir the pudding and make a wish and or throw in a coin (something I remember fondly from when I was growing up)(1)! Originally it was composed of mutton or beef as well as onions, wine, spices and dried fruit, now its mainly just dried fruit, suet (a type of fat), and bread crumbs(2). The pudding is then left to soak in the alcohol (Rum, Brandy, Sherry) until Christmas. It is the high alcohol content is what preserves the cake for so long (1). Looking a the recipes for Christmas pudding you will see this is a fairly time consuming endeavour (between weighing out the ingredients and steaming the pudding), but I assure you its easier then it looks and its certainly worth it!

Being the health conscious, sugar intolerant individual that I am, as always, I found numerous recipes online and adapted them to create this one!Hoping that next year I can find our family recipe to modify, but this creation here is still extremely delectable. About as close to paleo as you can get for something of this nature, you will still want to be sure to  have people to share it with (that’s my way of saying its VERY rich and calorie dense so sharing is caring haha). The original recipe I adapted from was Jamie Oliver’s Nan’s Christmas pud with Vin santo. “Pud” is another common name for Christmas pudding in England (1). For this version I even made my own paleo bread from Danielle Walkers Against all Grain blog, but you can use whatever breadcrumbs work for you (gluten free, vegan, regular). Be sure to give yourself lots of time to have fun with this one and Happy Stir It up Sunday!

TheProcess

You will need:

A 1.5L ceramic pudding bowl (heat proof) or Stainless steel bowl (mine looks funny after steaming it the finish is off so I’d avoid using a fancy one and getting a ceramic pudding bowl instead!)

String

Aluminum foil

Ingredients:

500g of Mixed Dried Fruit (I used organic and unsweetened: raisins, sultans, golden raisins, cranberries, currents, and apricots)

100g fresh pitted dates, chopped

3 TBS chopped crystallized ginger

125g Coconut oil

Zest of one Orange

75g of Arrowroot Starch

75g of Coconut Flour

125g Coconut Palm sugar

150g Grain free white Paleo Bread from Against All Grain (make this up a day ahead)

2 TBSP Brandy, Sherry, or Rum

1 Handful of chopped nuts (I used pecans)

1 Egg

150ml Almond Milk

1) Crumble the bread

2) Make your wish as you mix in all the dried fruit, and other ingredients in order above. IF you decide to place in coins for good luck, wealth and prosperity, DON’T for get about them when you go to eat it!

2) Grease (I used a thick layer of cooking spray) your 1.5L baking bowl (ceramic or stainless steel) and place mixture in it. Cover the pudding with two layers of tinfoil then tie a string (I used strong craft string)  securely around the rim.

3) Place Pudding bowl into a pot where the lid can still be placed to seal tight on top and bring water (enough to go half way up the pudding dish) to a boil then cover the pot and let the pudding simmer for 3 hours. Make sure to check your pudding throughout the three hours to make sure that you have enough water so you don’t crack the pudding bowl, or burn your pudding!

4) Remove from the pot and place a plate or flat serving platter over the bowl then flip upside down so the pudding can transfer straight to the plate.

6) For further soaking as per tradition. Place in an airtight container in a cool dark place with desired liquor and continue to marinate with the liquor over the next we weeks. Alternatively, you can serve it warm or Chill and slice then serve with a Rum Sauce or a syrup!

Love and light,

Amberlea

1- Christmas Pudding. Wikipedia, 17 Oct 2014. Web. 29 Nov 2014.                                  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_pudding>

2- Lemm, Elaine. Stir it Up Sunday and Christmas Pudding Traditions. About Food, n.d. Web, 28 Nov. 2014.        <http://britishfood.about.com/od/christmas/a/xmaspud.htm>

3 – Oliver, Jamie. My Nan’s Christmas Pud with vin santo. jamieoliver.com, n.d. Web, 20 Nov. 2014.< http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fruit-recipes/my-nan-s-christmas-pud-with-vin-santo/>

4- Walker, Danielle. Grain-Free, Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread (Paleo and SCD). 21 May 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://againstallgrain.com/2012/05/21/grain-free-white-bread-paleo-and-scd/>