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Owner, "MAP Wellness" - a culinary nutrition and wellness company. Writer. Passionate cook, raw food chef, reiki practitioner, yoga teacher, and LIVE WELL educator. ​do yoga. enjoy good food. run. plant food. cook. savour wine. read books. buy good food. love. grow your energy. find peace. enjoy food. have passion. skip. eat food. do yoga. listen to jazz. have presence. be present. bike. read. see. hear. be. live. love.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March Madness (& Miracles)

Single is not a status. It is a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.”

Inspiration can be found anywhere.  This week was one of those weeks in which my scattered focus almost left me drained.  However, it only took a few deep breathes, and several big jugs of green juice smoothie (with Maca!) to keep me in line and on target.  Along the way, I also kept coming across various words, ideas, and images that really inspired, and also guided me to reflect.  

The above quote was one I came across on a blog about being happily single, and it resonated.  I have been single for a huge portion of my adult life, but I can say with honesty that I was never really strong and single until this most recent stretch (post failed-engagement I suppose).  I think there have been a lot of variables at play in the last few years, (obviously with all that has gone on!) but I am actually really okay with it being just me.  I have always been really independent in most areas; I have lived solo since age 22 in Toronto, enjoy my alone time, can hold my own when it comes to home repairs, car issues, and just getting by every day (my finances? well that's another story).  But it was not until recently that I really felt happy to be single.  I am actually thrilled to be free to do all the wonderful things I want to do, on my schedule, in my own time, with no one questioning any of it.  I feel love now more for myself than ever, but I also feel myself giving out love to others more freely as well.  Not the same romantic love you give and receive in a "coupled" relationship, but love none the less.  And it's because I am content enough to be able to let down some of the protective walls I had built up, and allow others in; friends, co-workers, strangers...

This is not to say that I am not open to romantic love.  No, quite the opposite.  I think that now that I have established a wholeness on my own, I am more ready than ever for intimacy; when the timing is right, and the right person rolls along...

But I'm vibing on where I am now.  It's neat, feels good, and makes my life a happier place to be, single or not.  It's just a groovy way to live.

I like this above image a lot (I poached it from my gal Gabby Berstein's Pinterest page), for it gets me thinking about where love is of the utmost importance in my world; the love of self, and the love of food!  It also brings me to my next wee bit of stimulus from the week.

I came across this article by Jack Norris, RD, in which he briefly discusses the prevalence of disordered eating and various restrictive food diets (ie. veganism).  He states that recent studies have found that semi-vegetarians scored higher on restrictive eating behavior tests, but that vegetarians did not show signs of disordered eating.  Further, the researchers stated that the vegans had the most healthy scores, healthier even than omnivores, and even wondered if becoming vegan “could actually serve as a protective factor against developing disordered eating.”

I don't know why this made me feel so happy to read, but I suppose it helped to quiet that part of my mind that still constantly worries about my food decisions, and whether I am being too strict with my eating; if I am crossing that very fine line...anyway, I thought it a neat-o read.

Next up, was a blog I found on the Huffington Post Canada website.  Here's an excerpt:
Yet I never forget. I am always alert and vigilant because I know I can never be entirely safe from myself. Sometimes -- and this can happen; beware all of you out there who have gone through similar situations, or who have loved ones who have done so -- you slip. A treacherous crack opens inside you, inside your soul. The void gapes through. When this moment may arrive, is unknown. If you are going through a rough period you may be tempted to fall back into old habits. So you have to deal with it, decisively.

But I have done so -- and I have won! My mother, my yaya and I won that night when I ate the bun: the three of us. In Greek, the word for winning is "Nike." In our mythology, she is a woman -- and boy, is she gorgeous! Radiant, full of curves, and "normal." (Cindy Sherman even made her pregnant in a statue now showing at MoMa.) Yet there is nothing "normal" about her: Nike is a goddess. Like every woman: endowed with the power to overcome anything.

Just another great read for the simple reason that it is yet another writer putting it all out there.  In this case, the author is a recovered anorexic, and she, just like me, is well aware that it doesn't take much to relapse if you are not constantly conscious.  I am loving that there have been so many open, honest, and raw articles published recently about eating disorders, and how they not only affect the individual suffering, but also the impact on family and friends.  It is a shame that society was silent so long on the subject; I know first hand how tough it was to open my own mouth and talk candidly about my ordeal.  But with every shared story I learn.  With every honest admittance I grow.  With every relate-able detail, I am able to move forward and further away from my past with ED, and I think if we keep the momentum up, we can start turning things around, ditch the stigma, and save lives.  Let's keep it up!!!

Okay, so enough of my quoting from the internets.  This week was super cool because I also received a copy of Douglas McNish's new raw recipe book.  I am pretty stoked to try out a few recipes, and after flipping through it last night, it seems I am going to be spending A LOT of time in my kitchen with my food processor and mom's dehydrator.  So many yummy recipes to choose from!!  I am also pretty stoked to be heading to the official book launch next weekend at "EcoExistence", in celebration of "Eat Raw, Eat Well", as well as Earth Hour.  Oh, and watch for Doug's appearance on Global's "The Morning Show" this coming Thursday as well!

And finally, I thought I would share a couple of cheese-ball photos with you all.  As I have mentioned, I took part in an audition this past week to be a part of Booty Camp Fitness's next home DVD video shoot (in PANAMA!).  My audition was on Thursday night, and I was required to supply an essay about my connection with Booty Camp Fit, as well as 2 photos of head shot, and one full body shot.  Of course, I do not have any sort of portfolio as many professional fitness folks might, so I had to improvise...

After the show that day, I recruited cameraman Nick to be my photog, and we had a mini photo shoot right in the studio.  I am sure he felt awkward and uncomfortable during the whole session, poor guy.  But, the following images were what transpired, and I hope my goofiness in the first shot wasn't taken as a lack of professionalism!

As for the actual audition, well it was awesome!  I got to work directly with Sammie Kennedy, CEO and founder of the camps, and Megan the VP was the other "judge".  They were both totally sweet and friendly, and put both myself and the other potential recruit in the room with me right at ease from the start.  After a short Q & A, Sammie put us through a vigorous mini workout to test our abilities when it comes to burpies (ouch!), push-ups, high knees, and squats.  You name, we did it; it was like squeezing an hour long booty camp into a 5 minute session!  Good times!  I left feeling invigorated, excited, and thrilled to even just have the chance to give it my all.  Now we play the waiting game...I should hear by early April if I made the cut.  FINGERS CROSSED!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

One thought.

On this sunny Friday evening, after a quiet afternoon of reflecting on the week that was, I have one simple thought to share.

Simple, yet so profound.  These words, if acted upon, will change how you perceive others and the world around you.  A mantra to remember with every step you take, soul you meet, & smile you send out. 

We are ALL sorting out conflict, we all have demons, we all can choose love.

Happy week-end!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring has Sprung!

Sun Sign: Scorpio
Your horoscope for March 19, 2012

You should be feeling especially confident today, meg. You have been working especially hard lately, and the recognition you have received goes a long way to reinforce your feelings of self-worth. Your life goals suddenly seem more attainable and you pursue them with renewed vigor. Your confidence is grounded in reality. You will surely succeed

WOW! Life has been just non-stop since my return from my Florida vacation; so crazy busy that I have barely had a breath to myself, and obviously not a moment to sit down and really write out my thoughts in this here blog!  My apologies for being absent. 

Well, the biggest news is that I am super excited to have finally started my Culinary Nutrition Course with Meg Telpner!  I am 3 classes and 2.5 assignments in, and totally vibing on it thus far!  Meg is a superb teacher, entertaining speaker, and obviously an outstanding talent in the kitchen.  I so look forward to my Monday and Wednesday night meals at her loft-style cooking academy, and also having the chance to hang out for a few hours with a group of vibrantly sweet and health conscious individuals just like me.  The in-class time is invaluable to say the least, but I do think that I am going to learn vastly more than I ever expected through the well thought out homework plan that Meghan has devised.  Over the course of the next 12 weeks, we will be phasing through 2 writing projects/week, each one building on the last. We will look at everything from our own food "philosophy", to where the professional nutrition market is headed, cover all the cooking basics, and eventually will design full meal plans including all our own recipes.  The "at-home" commitment is also extensive, with much required cooking, reading and documentary screening to complete, BUT it's so all good; for once in my life, my "schoolwork" is FUN-work!


After just the first week of "schooling" I was already fully inspired.  I did a huge re-vamp of my grocery list, and made a few big shops at Whole Foods and my local health food shop to stock up on a few of the staples needed for my new creative cuisine.  I have tossed out my usual rice cake and nut butter breakie, in favour of a new "green smoothie" AM routine.  Armed with my shiny new high powered blender (one day I hope to be able to afford a precious Vitamix!), I have been mixing up yummy protein shakes each day to bring to work and power me through my long morning in studio.  I have tried quite a few combinations, and this morning was one of my faves, by far.  Packed with protein and savoury sweetness, this is what I included:

- 2 Tbsp Nut Butter
- 1 medium apple
- 1 cup kale
- 1.5 Tbsp. Chia
- 1 scoop chocolate vegan protein powder
- ¾ C. almond milk
- 1 scoop greens powder
- 3 dried dates
- Water to thin

Another way to get bliss from a blender? 
- 1 scoop SunWarrior raw vegan chocolate protein powder
- 1 scoop GreenSuperfood
- 1 capsule Maca root
- 1/2 avocado (silky smoothness!)
- 1 Tbsp. goji berries
- 1/2 C. frozen fruit of your choice
- Handful kale, spinach or other leafy green
- Almond milk to liquefy

...cuteness pause...

Chef David Rocco hits the Global Morning Shaw's Bloor street dreamy.

Between my course, work schedule, and keeping life interesting and fulfilling with friends and fun-having, gym time has been at a minimum. In order to keep feeling strong and powerful, I know I need to keep up with my training, and if I plan to run a 10K this Spring, I need to keep on my feet too!  A couple of weeks ago I implemented a new regime, and am now up at 3:30am for a run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning.  I am still loving my BootyCamp DVD set (there are so many vids to choose from that I haven't gotten even slightly bored yet!) and this past weekend I also invested a tad of money in some more home-gym gear and am now also adding in a few simple dumbbell routines in the comfort of my own living room as well. 

Oh - and in 2 days, I am finally off to audition to be a part of the next BootyCamp DVD - stay tuned for more on that; even if I don't get selected, I am sure the process will be fun, and yet another notch on my belt of building more and more self confidence!

Well, as my horoscope for this past Monday predicts (see top of post), I think things are really finally starting to fall in to place.  I have a couple of other neat-o things in the works, but I am going to keep those under wraps until I have more details to divulge.  For now, I am feeling confident, positive and determined, and believe that the universe is backing me in my plans for change.  I am not sure how much of this "high" I am feeling is simply from my new green smoothie habit, or how much is simply a result of life really flowing....but either way, I am stoked.  I am feeling a shift, and it feels good.

Oh!  I almost forgot - Happy 1st day of Spring everyone!! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Road Trip! Florida Bliss

Vacation Week: February 28 - March 6, 2012
Here, just a few stories, highlights, and simple thoughts about my Florida vacation with my ma.

8am – Tuesday, February 28 2012
This was it!  Our long awaited, much anticipated vacation down South was finally upon us.   It was last summer when my mother and I decided that we would make the long drive to Florida together in dad’s convertible, this one last time before she sells it later in the spring.  My now widowed mother (it is SO weird to type that) has no need for 2 vehicles, after all; she finds it strange enough to think that she'd outright own one, let alone two cars, PLUS a 5 bedroom house on her own for crying out loud!

Mom and dad had been taking up residence in Sebring Florida for the past nine years, heading down each winter for the entire month of March, each time cruising the I-75 interstate as the means to get there, never flying, always eager.  This pleasure always made possible by my loving Uncle John, mom’s brother, and his amazingly sweet and generous wife Anne, who brought the Florida home into my family and has so kindly offered it to my folks each year since.

We knew that March 2011 was to be my father’s last trip; his health fast deteriorating by that point, mom having to pack up both his walker and wheelchair for that final journey.  After dad’s passing, mom made the pledge to keep up tradition, and made plans to come back this year, as strange as it may feel without her husband.  We all knew it would be difficult for her to bear alone, and the idea of my mother driving that long route solo was just as unimaginable.  So I decided to accompany her on the trip down, my sisters will visit over March Break, and many of my aunts and uncles will also be making the trip down at various points throughout the month as well; never a quiet house for long, much love and support to my mom when she will need it most. 

So, back to the road trip.

We left our hometown with fresh coffee in hand by 8am (I decided to end my coffee detox that day in celebration of vacation!) and managed to make it all the way to Knoxville Tennessee on that first day of travel.  Now this probably doesn’t seem like all that a miraculous feat to some, but consider that my mother was the soul driver (I don’t have my license anymore!) and that’s a whole lot of miles to cover without any switch-offs behind the wheel! 

We settled into our hotel room shortly after 7pm that night, just south of the city, and after a brief stint of staring exhaustively at terrible hotel room TV, we were both down for the count and slept through until 6am the following morn.  The next day was another long day on the highway, but we managed to make our way right into Sebring at dusk, the sweet aroma of orange blossoms infiltrating our senses, and instilling instant calm.  We grabbed some groceries and a bottle of wine, and once at the house “cheered” our successes, and settled mom in for the month (and in my case, the week).  

Now I can’t go any further without giving a shout-out to our additional wonderful roadside companion; a true miracle worker when it came to navigating us through the big cities, a wealth of knowledge regarding all things I-75, a variable wizard of facts, and inspired storyteller to boot.  I don’t know Dave Hunter personally, but his presence on our journey along the Interstate sure did make the trip vastly more enjoyable and smooth, and really had the hours flying by.   

Dave Hunter is the author of the book “Along Interstate 75”, a step by step mapping of the entire trail from the Canada-US border, right through to the Georgia-Florida one; each page filled with lane change directions, speed trap information, geographical factoids, and where to stop for gas, food and lodging.  I spent the better part of our car time flipping through the pages, reading, researching, and guiding my mother as she weaved through the heavy traffic of Detroit, Cincinnati, Knoxville and Atlanta.  

We only hit real bumper to bumper traffic once through our entire drive, and I must say that my daddy’s big convertible was a cozy, comfy vessel to make home for 2 days whilst travelling the long journey.  Once we pulled into the lane way of the house it was a satisfying moment.  But sad all the same.  That did after all, mark the Pearson Sebring’s final southward expedition to the Sebring Florida home.  

So, what did we get up this week?  Well a whole lot of nothing!  Mom and I whiled away our days lazily, sleeping in (I never made it past 7:30am however!), leisurely grazing over breakfasts, reading, knitting, shopping, cooking, sunning, napping, shopping, eating, reading, sleeping, wining, dining…

We arrived to 28 plus degree weather, with nothing but heat, humidity, and sunshine for the entire first 3 days.  Quite a welcome change from the single digit temps of Toronto, and a delightful way to welcome my first few sessions of suntan-time.

At one point on the trip I had to comment that this way of living must be what it feels like to be a "kept woman"!  It was just so easy.  Some days involved waking up with the sun and heading out for an inspiring run along the sandy roads of ground-up seashell gravel, amongst miles and miles of orange trees, their sugary sweet smells filling my nose and heart with a peaceful happiness.  This was always followed by a drawn out breakfast outdoors in the sunshine, a far cry from my rushed 4am wake ups in Toronto.  I spent a ton of time in the kitchen, cooking up meals for mom and I to enjoy; many salads, grilled goodies, and even created a few new vegan dishes that I am excited to share on my food blog at a later date as well!  We wandered through a handful of supermarkets, exploring the vast array of food product not available in Canada, as well as made full mornings of department store shopping a regular occurrence.  We aimed for at least one “outing” a day, whether it be a trip to the strip mall, a foodie stop, a simple drive, or a movie.  

(me post-run, enjoying early sun and oranges)

Saturday March 3, 2012

This day.  This day was my parents’ 39th wedding anniversary.  For the past 8 years, they had been in Florida together to celebrate, marking the milestone with some sort of "special" treat like breakfast at IHOP, dinner at Ruby Tuesdays or Olive Garden, or a trip to the movies.  It was always a nice excuse for mom and dad to do something a little "extra" to kick off their month in the south. 

This year, it was just mom and me.  The night previous, we had quite a few tears talking about Dad.  We spoke about his illnesses and his rapid fifteen month progression downhill.  We reflected on many of our greatest memories, laughed over all the funny quirks posessed by the man that we both love and miss so dearly.  We spent a good time sitting at the kitchen table just remembering, feelings of sadness and anger boiling up, and then acceptance seeping in to calm us.  I think we both went to bed that night feeling a bit of a pain in our gut, mom more so than I, as she was crawling into a bed that was now empty, her sleeping partner of 38 years no longer there for cuddles and kisses. 

The next morning, anniversary day, I decided to get out a bucket of soapy water, the garden hose, and a rag,  and proceeded to scrub and shine up the Sebring, my gift to Pops on this special day.  Earlier in the week mom had commented that dad would have been just disgusted by the filthy state of his loved convertible with the smattering of dead bugs on the grill, the streaks of mud and grease on the body..he would never allow his vehicle to look so unkempt for very long.  I can clearly recall waking up early on Saturday mornings while growing up on our farm, seeing Dad out in the lane way, turtle wax in hand.  He would wash and shine up his cars with precision, listening to golden oldies, enjoying every satisfying minute. 

Later that day mom and I ventured to the far North end of town to the movie theatre, and once there decided to see “The Descendants” over “The Vow”, as we figured there would be no contest between the two had Dad been there and given the choice.  So we saw what he’d have wanted to see, and cried our way through the two hour performance.  It was a hard flick to sit through that day; a movie filled with family pain, illness, hospital rooms and death - all things we had experienced firsthand not ten months prior.  Once again, I think both mom and I walked out into the parking lot after the movie with matching pain in our guts.  Pain that we went home and quieted with a couple of sweet glasses of Muscato wine, and a wee bit of Sherry.

Sunday March 4 2012

It was cooler out, a mere 20 degrees with a light rain through the morning, and cool breeze in the afternoon.  Mom and I spent the entire morning indoors, reading, blogging, knitting.  After I did a lunch hour workout, we had a quick bite to eat and then ventured into town to shop at the mall (I managed to spend the remainder of my allowable customs limit quite easily on 2 pairs of delicious boots).  Before dinner that day we headed out for a nice long walk to the neighbouring lake, with a pit stop at the neighbour folk’s house, where we spotted Allan, a silver haired man of the south, who upon approach, I immediated related to the likes of a Munchkin a la "Wizard of Oz".  His silky hair set in a perfect kiss-curl, his cheerful eyes squinting in smile, his skin, a shade of scarlet red against his crisp white attire.  Allan and his wife Caroline have been lifelong residents of Sebring, only recently being dealt the news of Caroline’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.  We chatted for a while with Al, and then were on our merry way, making a huge loop of the quaint community on foot, exploring the neighbourhood, growing so shamefully excited by every orange, grapefruit and papaya tree we encountered along the way.

Later that evening, as mom and I sat down to our big bowls of homemade coconut curry for supper, we spotted a wee, slow moving silhouette of a person making its way up our lane way.  It was indeed Caroline the southern belle, having heard of our earlier visit with her husband, and wanting to say her own "hellos" in person.  The three of us spent a good 20 minutes chatting, and it was quickly clear to me how the Alzheimer’s was affecting sweet Caroline’s mind.  She had much trouble recalling details of her stories, not to mention her own grandchildren’s names and even her own age.  She was full of life and energy however, beautiful in her 72 years, her age slyly calculated by my mother via quick tally of the few facts we were able to discern from conversation.  I can only imagine what a knockout she must have been in her glory days, as she was a vision of pure charm and grace that night on the lane way.  And God bless the sweet woman, dementia or not, for when asked how old she figured I to be, her answer was an honest twenty years of age

After we said our farewells, and promised another coffee and catch up session very soon, mom and I made our way back inside, where we spent the remainder of the night cuddled under blankets, with my DVD copy of “Julie and Julia” to entertain us until our eyes drooped in sign for sleep.

All in all, my week in Florida was simply divine.  There really is no better way to describe it.  I departed Orlando International Airport early afternoon on Tuesday with a stopover in Atlanta, and was home in my Toronto apartment by 8pm that eve.  I have to admit, that the moment that I set down my suitcase and kicked off my boots, I was a tad let down.  I immediately felt a wave of sadness, missing my mom and the cozy environment we had created together that week in Sebring.  A dear pal of mine had picked me up at the airport upon my arrival, and she and I spent the drive to my flat discussing many things, catching up on events of the week, but the conversation that spoke most to me, was the one about mother daughter relationships.

She had just spent a weekend away with her mom as well, and was super stoked about how they "clicked" so well; how they were so comfy; how like "best friends" they were.  It is true.  That connection you can have with your mom really is the epitome of intimate closeness, if you allow it to be.  I know my relationship with my mother has been one that has had its ups and downs, and twists and turns to say the least.  But it is one that I so loved tapping into this week, and one that I can honestly say is the most important in my world; bar none.  There is a undeniable level of certainty, comfort, ease, and honesty that breeds between mother and daughter, and I am learning that as I get older, it is becoming more important, and more sacred than I ever imagined. 

The biggest takeaway from the is week, is not only to continue treasuring every moment in my life, but also to truly appreciate the people that I love, and the ones that unconditionally love me back.  I look forward to my next session of "girl time" with my new bestie, my mom, when she comes to slumber party with me at my apartment here in Toronto later on in the Spring.

I really did love my road trip, and I truly and deeply love my mom.