Wednesday, July 25, 2012


This blog post is going to be a shorter one, as I’m on holidays.  But I’ll be back and at the longer posts next week!


The lovely thing about chilli is that there are so many different kinds and a variety of spices and ingredients you can experiment with.  When I was a kid, nothing was better than a hot homemade bowl of chilli.  Most people associate chilli with winter, but chilli can be a lovely summer meal with the right ingredients.

Chipotle and Chocolate Chilli (try saying that 5X over) is my absolute favourite.  I mean, who doesn’t love a little sweet and a little spice?!

Chipotle Chocolate Chilli

-2 tbsp olive oil
-2 cups onion, diced
-1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
-1 ¼ pounds ground turkey/chicken
-2 tbsp chilli powder
-1 tbsp cocoa
-1 tsp ground cumin
-Salt and pepper
-2 15 ounce cans pinto beans
-2 large tomatoes, diced
-14 ounces gluten free chicken broth
-2 chipotle chillies
-2 ounces chocolate (if you’re eating gluten free, check out the ingredients in the chocolate.  Some chocolate has gluten, while others don’t.  I use Hershey’s kisses, as they don’t have gluten.)

  1. Heat dutch oven and cover bottom with 2 tbsp olive oil
  2. Fry onion, red pepper, garlic, and turkey/chicken.  Saute until turkey/chicken is cooked throughout.
  3. Add chilli powder, cocoa, cumin, salt & pepper, pinto beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, and chillies.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  5. Add chocolate and stir until melted

Yum yum yum!!!!!!!!!!  You can’t go wrong with a little chocolate in anything.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can take away or add any other vegetables you like, and it will still be delish.

The ingredients in this recipe are full of all different kinds of health benefits.  If you’ve been reading my blog, you already know the amazing benefits of red pepper – full of tons of vitamins and anti-oxidants!  Pinto beans are full of protein and healthy carbohydrates.  They also offer many different vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B9, magnesium, zinc, copper, and selenium.  These minerals help strengthen the immune system.  There are a lot of benefits to onions but there are specific health advantages to people with stomach or bowel problems.  Onions are known as a healing vegetable.  They are very rich in the antioxidant, quercitin,   Quercitin is an anti-infammatory and is known to inhibit stomach cancers.  Who can argue with these great benefits?


Thursday, July 19, 2012


Over the past couple months, I’ve had such great support with my blog and a lot of questions regarding my health, how I deal with certain things, and why I am where I am.  The purpose of this blog has never been to vent to the world about my illnesses or attract some sort of attention. .  It is about sharing the methods I use (mostly with food) to hopefully inspire or assist others that are maybe going through the same things as I, or that are just simply looking for new recipes and nutritional information.  I’m still at the beginning of my journey with my physical illness, but have spent my whole life dealing with the mental illness I carry and have learned so much in the past 4-ish years since my diagnosis.

I’ve been there.  I’ve been the crazy and I’ve been the depressed.  I’ve done the wanting to die thing, the sleeping for days thing, the throwing up because I’m so anxious thing, the crazy crying/don’t care anymore panic attack thing.  And I’m not sure at what point, but at some point, I gave life the middle finger and told it to go screw itself.  I decided no matter how hard it was, I was going to figure out what the hell was wrong and I was going to fix it.  And it’s been a journey, but here I am now, living a stable and absolutely fabulous life. 

I am in no way suggesting that I am a superstar that has it all figured out.  I definitely have my bad days.  But these are the things I have learned over the past few years that have really helped me out.

1.  Working hard pays off
I wrote this as the first point because it is the most important.  Like anything in life, you must take big chances to get big results.  Anyone who has ever felt depressed knows it’s hard as eff to even get off the couch sometimes.  But you must push yourself.  Push yourself to do things you wouldn’t normally do – one day at a time.  Keep those plans you have with friends, fill your schedule up and keep busy, go to that social event that scares you, and above all, SHOVE those negative thoughts out of your head and replace them with positive ones.  Most people think self talk is a bunch of bullshit, but I challenge them to do it for a week.

If you are feeling off or need something, don’t be afraid to deal with it.  You know your body and mind better than anyone so don’t let anyone tell you differently.  Go to your doctor if you feel you need a psychiatrist.  Go to your psychiatrist if you feel your meds aren’t working.  Trust yourself and your gut feelings.

2. Things are going to be okay and it’s not your fault
Seriously though, they are.  Even in your darkest days or most anxious days or most messed up days, remember – things are going to be okay.  Everyone has ups and downs, and maybe yours are worse than others, but there is always someone worse off.  Work on yourself and work on getting better/staying better because I swear to God, it is totally worth it in the end.

Do not be embarrassed.  There is such a stigma around mental health.  No one wants to talk about it, as if it’s some secret.  Many go through life denying it or keeping it a secret like they did something wrong.  Having a chemical imbalance in your brain isn’t who you are and admitting it only makes you stronger.

3. You are the only one who can help yourself, but don’t be afraid to let people help you.
In the end, you are the one who is responsible for your actions and your happiness.  You can’t rely on anyone else to make you happy and it is no ones job but your own.  It is okay to be selfish and to take charge of your life.  But, on the other hand, do not be afraid to let people in.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  This is key.  Although your happiness is always in your own hands, you can’t do it alone.  Whether it is a doctor, a friend, a family member, a therapist, whoever.  Do not be afraid.  Everyone copes with things differently, but talking to someone – anyone - allows you to admit to the issue and to deal with it. 

4. Know your limits, and be okay with them.
It took me a few years to know the things I can and cannot do.  And it took about another year to be okay with them.  Things like sleep, light, proper food, exercise, and routine are important to mental health.  For example, I know that I could never be a nurse because night shifts would screw me up all together. I love to travel and I need to stay away from  redeye flights.  I’d love to be the type of person who can stay up till 1am and get up at 6am and be totally fine, but I know the consequences, so I always make sure to get enough sleep.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  I’m not missing out.  I’m taking care of myself.  Make changes, maintain the changes, and be fine with them.  It doesn’t mean you have to play it safe; it means you have to find a healthy balance.

5. Don’t be scared of psychiatrists and medications
They are there to help you.  Talk to doctors and find the right medications that work for you.  Even though you can’t see it, there is a real imbalance in your brain and the medications are there to help even that out.  Half of it is medication and half of it is personal growth, such as breathing exercise, positive thinking, and education.  Which leads me to my next point…

6. Educate yourself
Continually educating yourself about your health gives you the power to move forward step by step in the right direction.  There are tons of resources including conferences, classes, support groups, books, videos etc.  Push yourself to do these things.  The more you learn, the more you become aware of your actions & feelings and how to deal with them.  It is also a great way to meet people or become aware of people who are going through the same things you are.

The McKerracher Center in Saskatoon was my saving grace.  It is a facility that provides day programs and night groups/classes to those with a variety of mental illnesses.  After getting a referral from my psychiatrist, I attended a Bipolar education group.  It was one day a week for six weeks and we learned everything from the different types of medications to alternative coping methods for highs, lows & anxiety to why the brain is the way it is (etc. etc…).  It was a wonderful way to meet other people who are in the same situation, as well as learn about the illness.  Attendees were also invited to bring a loved one, so that they can learn from a family/friends point of view what Bipolar is all about.

The biggest thing I’ve realized over the years is that my illness is my power, not my weakness.  Embracing it and working with it has made me a stronger and happier person.

Love, hard work, and a little crazy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Substitutes - Spaghetti Squash!

Part of eating healthy is all about substituting the bad for the good.  You like French fries?  Make it sweet potato fries.  You like Ice Cream?  Make it frozen yogurt.  You like pasta?  Make it spaghetti squash. 

Yep, that’s right, spaghetti squash.  Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to pasta because you can use it in any pasta dish that you would normally make.  Instead of a load of carbs and starch, you get a “pasta dish” packed with vitamins and fatty acids.
Fun Facts:
    1. Spaghetti squash is very low in calories (one cup is about 40 calories), very low in fat, and has no cholesterol. 
    2. It also contains omega-3 essential fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, which are great for preventing heart disease, cancers, and inflammation.  The omega-6 is particularly good for brain function, but you don’t want to overdue it, as too much omega-6 can cause inflammation.
    3. Spaghetti squash is very rich in Vitamin A and C, which are anti-oxidants and can prevent cell damage.
    4. Technically, squash is a fruit.  But c’mon, to normal people, it’s a vegetable.
Here are my 2 favourite spaghetti squash recipes.
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
-1 large spaghetti squash 
-1 package ground turkey or chicken 
-1 jar of Ragu sauce 
-1 garlic clove 
-Grated cheese 
1. There are many different ways to cook a spaghetti squash – boil it, bake it, microwave it, steam it etc.  I usually stick it in the oven on 350 for 45 min-1 hour. 
2. Fry up the ground meat, garlic, and ragu sauce. 
3. After it has baked, take it out of the oven and cut it in half.  Grab a fork and scoop out the seeds.  Slide the fork along the sides and middle to string the squash.
4. Mix the spaghetti squash in a bowl with the meat sauce.  After it is all mixed, put the insides back into the spaghetti squash halves.  Sprinkle with cheese and parmesan.
5. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese has melted.  DELISH!

Hell Yeah Spaghetti Squash 
I certainly did make up this name, as it is my favourite recipe to make using squash!\
-Olive Oil 
-Black Olives 
1. Bake the squash the same as in step 1 of the first recipe. 
2. Fry together shrimp, black olives, onion, garlic and tomatoes. 
3. Once the spaghetti squash is done and has been gutted, place the squash in a bowl and stir it in with the fried up mixture.
4. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of olive oil and parmesan.
Sounds good, eh?
Another thing you can do is bake the seeds in the middle, like you are baking pumpkin seeds.  Throw a little spice on them and bake them for 15 minutes.  It’s mmm mmm good!
My favourite spice:
3-4 teaspoons chili powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lime juice
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1-2 teaspoons cumin
YUM YUM! Give it a shot!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Date Night

“Oh hey babe”
“Oh hey”
“Let’s have date night in tomorrow night”
“Okay sounds great”
“I’ll make supper and then we can watch a movie”


“Hey there hottie, would you like to go out sometime?”
“Sure here is my number.”
“Or would you like to come over and I’ll make us dinner?”
“Even better.  See you tomorrow.”

And there you go, you have a date – so, what are you going to cook?

Appetizer – Tomato Bocconcini skewers
Salad – Beet and Goat cheese salad
Main Course – Mango salsa salmon 
Dessert – Grilled Pineapple
Alcohol – Red wine or gluten free beer

Tomato Bocconcini Skewers

-Grape tomatoes
-Fresh basil
-Olive Oil
-Balsamic Vinegar

1. Put a tomato, a bocconcini ball, and a leaf of basil on a small skewer (see picture)
2. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

-4 Beets
-Goat Cheese
-Balsamic Vinegar
-Olive Oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Cut up beets into bite sized pieces and drizzle with Olive Oil.  Put on baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.
2. Mix beets, spinach, goat cheese, and pecans together into a salad.  Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and pepper.

Mango Salsa Salmon

-Salt and Pepper
-Lime juice
-1 mango
-1/2 red onion
-1 jalapeno
-1 small cucumber

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Sprinkle salmon with lemon, salt, and pepper.  When oven is hot, bake in oven for about 20 minutes or when you think it's done.
2. Cut the mango and cucumber into cubes.  Dice the red onion and jalapeno.  Mix all ingredients together including lime juice and salt/pepper.
3. Once the salmon is done, serve with mango salsa.

Grilled Pineapple 

-1 Pineapple
-1 tbsp Rum
-1 tsp Cinnamon 
-2 tbsp Honey

1. Cut pineapple into rings.
2. Glaze with rum, cinnamon, and honey mixture.
3. Grill on BBQ for about 3-4 minutes each side

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol is a touchy subject when it comes to gluten free.  There are some drinks to avoid, and some that are okay.  The trick is to be careful and read labels.  Red wines, tequila, and gin are generally gluten free.  Some vodkas and rums are free of gluten, but most contain it because of the ingredients added for flavour.  Definitely stay away from liquors, coolers, and anything else that isn't pure.  Also, be careful you don't overdo it with the alcohol because it can cause inflammation.  

I ran to the liquor store last week and found that they had 3 types of gluten free beer.  Below is a picture of the one I tried.  It's an Italian gluten-free beer that has won many awards.  I would recommend checking it out!

And there you go - date night prepared like a boss!