Thursday, 19 June 2014

I am outta here!

Well friends, that is it. I am outta here for the next few weeks. I hopped on a plane Tuesday night and I am current in France today for our long awaited vacation. I will be ditching all tech and the virtual world while I am away. I will be busy eating all the food, seeing all the things, drinking all the wine, and relaxing! So I will see you all again when we reach St. Andrews.

Sending you all lots of Love and Sparkles!

Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

#WIAW - Cashew Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake

I posted this picture a couple weeks back on Instagram, and I received a lot of recipe requests. I can't take any credit for this one, because the recipe came from Brendan Brazier's Thrive Energy Cookbook. But I can tell you that it was delicious and share the details.

My sister-in-law Kelly had requested that I make her something nutritious and delicious for her birthday this year. And I immediately thought of this cake. I had been coveting this dessert since I got my copy of Brendan's Book in February, but I don't often have an excuse to make a full cake. The rest of the family was kind of skeptical about it. (*A vegan cake made primarily with avocados and nuts...this is going to be gross*). But it was actually extremely delicious! Even I was impressed with how well it came out.

It was really easy to put together. You basically just stick everything in a food processor and layer accordingly. The most difficult part was stocking all of the ingredients - I don't usually have a pantry full of 3 different kinds of nuts, dates, cacao nibs, and cacao powder (*although perhaps I should...*).

Cashew Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake
Tools Required: Food Processor

1 cup cashews
1 cup pecans
3 tbsp cacao nibs
1/4 cup cacao power
3 tbsp vegan chocolate chips
1 Medjool Dates (pitted, chopped, and soaked)
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp coconut oil

Cashew Cake Layer:
1 cup raw cashews soaked for at least 6 hours
1/2 cup hazelnuts soaked for at least 6 hours
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup of maple syrup

Mousse Layer
3 small avocados pitted and peeled (firm is better, not too ripe)
1/2 cup cacao powder
2 tbsp almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Chocolate Sauce (to garnish)
1 cup cacao powder
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tbsp water

1. For the Crust, in the food processor, process the cashews and pecans, cacao nibs, cacao powder, and chocolate chips until finely ground. Add the dates, vanilla, salt, maple syrups, and coconut oil. Process until sticky to the touch. Press firmly into the bottom of a lightly greased springfoam pan.
2. For the Cake, blend the cashews and hazelnuts. Add remaining ingredients and process until desired consistency is reached (approx 3-5 minutes). Scoop the mixture over the crust and smooth out the top. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until firm.
3. For the mouse layer, combine avocados, cacao power, almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in a clean food processor. Add the coconut oil and chocolate chips while processor is running. Blend until creamy. Spread this mixture over the Cake layer and refrigerate for 1hour.
4. For the Chocolate Sauce, blend all ingredients in a blender, until smooth
5. Carefully remove the sides of pan and drizzle the chocolate sauce over over the cake.
6. Garnish however you like. I used Brookside Dark Chocolate Acia and Blueberries for the boarder (which I suppose technically means it is no longer vegan) and put a mint sprig in the center.

Hope you guys enjoy!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Friday, 13 June 2014

Pass on the Mizuno Baton

In case you need a little extra kick in the pants this week, I thought I would share Mizuno's new project The Mizuno Baton. Mizuno is going to donate $1 for every mile that your run to Back On My Feet, a non-for-profit organization that helps those experiencing homelessness turn their lives around through running. This is open to Us resident and Canadians (yay!).

How it works...
  1. Download the App on your smart phone and activate the baton when you are ready to run
  2. You have one week to log as many miles as you can
  3. Mizuno with donate $1 for every mile that you run
  4. Pass the Baton along to increase your impact
When I last checked Mizuno had already donated $23 714! AMAZING!

It is a great way to get motivated this weekend and add extra meaning to your miles.
Happy Running!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

#WIAW - Goji Berry and Blueberry Pancakes

Its WIAW with Peas and Crayons and as part of my prep for September's Half Ironman I have been experimenting with different fuel sources. I have been looking for new ways to add nutrients and help my body recover in between training sessions. I have also been trying to figure out what I am going to eat on race day. Everyone has been telling me that Muskoka is an extremely tough race, so I am expecting to spend 6:30-7:00 hours on the course pushing my body to limit - and that is going to require some calories.

Enter Giddy Yoyo. I stumbled upon them a few months ago at the Toronto Yoga Show, and immediately fell in love with their company and their chocolate. I actually started taking half a bar with me on my long rides as a sugar-boost and a little pick-me-up. It is a local company and all of their chocolate is organic, vegan, and fair-trade. So I found myself looking into all of their other products. They carry a whole line of Superfoods, and immediately thought they would be ideal for my training and for fueling me on race day. And I have been in the kitchen experimenting this week with their Goji Berries.

Goji Berries are....
  • common in traditional Chinese medicine, and some claim they are natural remedies for diabetes, hypertension, malaria or even fever
  • loaded with beta-carotene which helps promote healthy skin and tissue regeneration.
  • have also been known to help boost the immune system and protect the eyes 
  • an excellent source of antioxidants because of their oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) value
That all sounds good to me! So I came up with 2 different recipes to incorporate these berries into my diet this week - a trail mix and pancakes! The trail mix has been perfect to take with me while I am on the go. And the pancakes were a great way to refuel after my long run on Sunday.

Cacao Berry Trail Mix:
2 cups Roasted Almonds
1 cup Goji Berry
2 tbsp Cacao Nibs 

- Just mix ingredients together and then portion out as required. I got 4 serving sizes out of this mix.

Gogi Berry and Blueberry Pancakes:
**Make 8 good size pancakes**
2 cup Bob's Red Mill Buttermilk Pancake Mix
2 eggs (or vegan egg replacer 2 tbsp flax seeds and 6 tbsp water blended)
1.5 cup of almond milk
1/2 cup Blueberries
1/2 cup goji berries
2 tbsp of coconut oil.

1. Mix together the Pancake mix (I used Bob's last weekend, but I also really like Pamela's Gluten-Free mix as well), eggs, and almond milk until batter in smooth
2. Preheat the pan to medium heat and place 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil in the pan (replace oil after each pancake batch)
3. Stir berries into the batter.
3. Portion out the batter and cook until edges are brown. Flip and allow the other side to cook.
4. Top with additional berries and maple syrup!

Hope you guys enjoy!
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Learning How to Say "No"

So back in January I wrote a post about my 14 goals for 2014, and the overriding theme (at least in my mind) was choosing to simplify and focus on the things that matter. Now that we are half way through the year, I find myself questioning how successful I have been.

I think I have been making progress in certain areas. But I still very much struggle with the word "No".

Saying "No" does not come naturally to me. My knee-jerk reaction always "Yes. Yes. Yes." And it is often "Yes" without thinking through the ramifications of said agreement. If an opportunity arises, I always want to jump on board. If there is a chance for a new experience, I want to try it. (**What if this chance doesn't come around again?**) If someone needs something, I want to help. If I can do something to make someone happy, I always will. (**What if next time they need something they don't call?**) And as a result I often end up overextended.

Then there are all these events, expectations, work, commitments, and I find myself barely squeezing in the things I really want. And thus, the cycle of guilt begins - I feel guilty for saying "No", so I say "Yes". But inevitably the things I want to focus on get pushed aside, and then I feel guilty for saying "Yes". So here I am overextended, guilt-riddled, and stressed.

Slowly, but surely, I am learning that is impossible to do-all and be-all things. But this is not a reflection of your weakness, as I once thought. Instead it is a reflection of your priorities. And it is okay to prioritize yourself.

So that is what prompted my little blogging hiatus last week. Things had been hectic, and I found myself feeling overwhelmed, and questioning how I would fit everything in. So I opted to take a step back. I lived my priorities - as the lovely Carla Birnberg would say. I chose to slow down. I spent extra time with my family. I rearranged my work schedule so I could head home to Niagara for a couple of days and stay at my Mom's. I met a girlfriend for coffee and girl-time rather than going to the gym. I watched the entire second season of VEEP. I went to the baseball game with my husband rather than writing a blog post. I worked. I prepped for my vacation. I ran. I rested. I restored the balance.

Sometimes we need to step back and say "No", and chose to prioritize ourselves.
In fact I think it may be necessary.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,