I’ve got nothing to do today but smile

It’s already April, yay! It seems like not too long ago, I was complaining about snow and posting happy pictures of my best February moments to get over the winter blues. It’s still so cold, it feels like winter, but at least now, the snow is melting!

Today, I’m home sick, so I thought I would post some of my favourite moments from March as well. Maybe this will become an every month thing, but I’m not comitting to it just yet, in case I forget to do it next month!

Yoga in my happy place with some of my favourite people.

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Doing yoga in the snow.

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Spending time with my friend Suzanne and her new baby Stella, a.k.a., the mini muffin.

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Funky ashtanga flow to the music of Madonna with Natalie, most awesome yoga teacher.

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Making a cake for my little sister’s birthday.

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Sisterly love.

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Deciding to stop eating sugar. I still really, really want a chocolate bar, but it’s been a few weeks and I don’t feel tired as much. I guess it’s working! (Confession: I had a Luna bar yesterday. I was sick and grumpy and couldn’t help myself!)

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This salad. Oh.My.God. Bulgar and quinoa mixed with almonds, cucumbers and tomatoes, drizzled with lemon juice and lemon infused olive oil. So simple, so delicious!

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Learning how to get into a new yoga pose. Fallen angel. Amazing.

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Making sugar free cookies. Delicious!

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New books! This always makes me happy. I actually got more than three. This is just a sample.

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Learning a new way to get into an arm balance. Something fun to work on.

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What made you happy lately?

All I want is a cookie!

I’ve been eating sugar-free for a couple of weeks. It’s not as hard as I thought and also way more difficult than I imagined.

Let me explain.

When I’m at work, I bring a lunch and snacks, so I just eat what I have with me. When I pack my lunch, I’m super motivated, so it makes for a well balanced, no sugar-added day. Until the school day is done. Then, it’s a little harder. If I run errands, I have to use all my willpower not to buy a chocolate bar. If I go to the health food store to get some gluten free flour, I have to avoid the aisle with the power bars. Then there’s the kid who made me chocolates for Easter and the kid who brought cupcakes for his birthday. (So even at school, I’m not safe.) So much sugar, everywhere!

I’ve been craving something sweet this week. I knew I had to do something about it, or risk inhaling a kit kat bar. I looked up recipes for sugar free cookies, but most used artificial sweeteners. Then I found one for raw cookies and raw brownies using dates. I don’t like dates, but I figured I would give it a try.

I adapted to recipes because I didn’t have all of the ingredients.

First, get all your healthy sugar free ingredients together.

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Dates are not pretty.

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The brownies were pretty simple. Dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, ground almonds.

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The cookies, which I have named “raw apple pie” have a few more ingredients. One of them was raisins. I don’t like raisins, so I decided to use dried apples instead (I know I don’t like dates either, but they’re my cookies, and I can do whatever I want to.)

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Turns out, these cookies are amazing! And not just as a healthy, sugar free option. No, they’re good. I promise.

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I adapted this recipe. They’re vegan, gluten free and sugar free. Also delicious. They’re raw, meaning they’re not cooked, but I’m not sure if they would be raw-diet approved.

Enjoy!

Raw Brownies

1 1/2 cups ground almonds

3/4 cup dates

1/3 cup cocoa

1 tsp vanilla extract

Blend in food processor. Add a a teaspoon or two of water so the mixture sticks together. Roll into balls. Eat.

Raw apple pie

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup dates

1/2 cup dried apples

2 tbs cashew butter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

Blend oats in food processor until finely ground. Add the rest and blend. Add a teaspoon or two of water. Roll into balls. Try not to eat all at once.

C is for Cookie

I’ve just had a weekend that Cookie Monster would approve of. Cookies, cookies and more cookies!

My friend Suzanne and I have a cookie day every year before Christmas. The first time, we really went for it and made tons of cookies. We were also exhausted by the end of the day! Now, we just make one or two batches and enjoy the day. Yesterday was a perfect day for cookies. It was cold and snowing, making it wonderful to be indoors looking out.

We started with some chocolate and vanilla sugar cookies. They turned out pretty, but the dough was horrible to work with. It was sticky and dry at the same time. It tore and stuck to the rolling pin. Not a recipe worth sharing.

Here I am having a moment with my butter, while Suzanne tries to get her chocolate dough to cooperate.

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We also posed with our rolling pins. They kind of look like weapons.

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And here is Suzanne with the final product. Pretty and tasty, but not worth the trouble! If you want to make these, just use your favourite sugar cookie recipe, divide it in half, and add cacao to part of it.

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After that, we made lemon cookies. These are my favourite “cheat” cookies. Super easy and fast, but so delicious! After they cooled, I drizzled them with lemon icing. Little clouds of lemon bliss.

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We then proceeded to eat the cookies we made while watching corny made-for-tv Christmas movies. Perfect day!

Today, after a long-overdue yoga class, I put my apron back on and make two more kinds of cookies.

The first ones were orange cookies. These have a cake-like texture and it is very difficult to eat just one! Once they’ve cooled, I frost them with a melted chocolate orange. Tastes like Christmas to me!

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And finally, I made shortbread cookies. This dough was a dream to work with! The complete opposite of yesterday’s terrible sticky mess. I always make my shortbread cookies small, because they’re so rich. A small bite is perfect. For some reason, they came out yellow-looking in the picture, but they’re nice and white!

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I’m not done with my Christmas baking, but it’s a good start. I like to make several kinds of cookies and give them as gifts. I still want to make sugar cookies, gingerbread cookies, chocolate chip cookies and maybe one more kind, if I have time!

Lemon cookies

1 lemon cake mix

1 egg

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 8 ounce package cream cheese

Mix softened cream cheese, butter and egg. Add cake mix. Drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 6-10 minutes, depending on size. For icing, mix lemon juice with powdered sugar and drizzle over cooled cookies. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Orange cookies

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup buttermilk

Grated rind and juice of two oranges (1/2 cup of juice)

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

5 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, then juice and rinds. Add baking soda to milk. Combine dry ingredients. Add flour mixture to the cream mixture alternately with the milk. Drop on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on size. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Shortbread cookies

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1/2 cup icing sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 egg yolk

Mix icing sugar with softened butter. Add egg yolg. Combine dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick onto floured surface, adding flour as needed (dough might be sticky). Cut out shapes and place on parchement-lines cookie sheet. Bake 4-8 minutes at 350.

How to say thank you with cookies

For all of September, I had free yoga classes. Everyone who does yoga knows, that while it’s definitely worth it, it’s not usually free. Since the challenge I was participating in was to raise money for charity, Jen and Amber at Pure Yoga Ottawa gave all of us challenge people free yoga for the month. Most people went a few time, some even 10 or 12 times. I went to 30 classes. That’s a lot of free yoga.

I wanted to make something for the girls to say thank you. I decided to make cookies. I love to bake, but I didn’t do it much in September, since I was busy getting blissed out on daily yoga.

I made the sugar cookies from the Five Rose cookbook, since those are the ones my mom always makes, and also because I’ve made them so often, I barely have to look at the recipe!

I like to fill  a cookie sheet with all the same shape of cookie. That way, they bake evenly. Also, I use thin, cheap, aluminum cookie sheets. I have “better” cookie sheets, but these cheap ones make the best cookies!

After they cooled, I covered them in fondant. I make my fondant in large batches and freeze it, so I always have some on hand. This time, I had white and yellow, so that’s what I used!

I made royal icing in two colours to pipe some designs on the cookies. My piping skills are not excellent, I’m much better with fondant, but I think they came out pretty cute!

I put them in a pretty little box with some tissue paper and voilà, a cookie thank you!

Lemon cake and Pedicures

My friend Julie is getting married this weekend. Along with the big day comes lots of little get-togethers and happy times.

I’m making Julie’s wedding cake, and she wants lemon, so for the wedding shower, I decided to make three kinds and have people vote on their favourite. I had set them up on cake plates, with little cards that had the kind of cake written on them. There were flowers and the table was beautiful. I wanted to take a picture, but I only thought of it once everyone was already eating! So this is what I got. You get the idea.

There was lemon raspberry, lemon poppy seed and lemon vanilla. Lemon vanilla was the favourite.

After the cake tasting, we went out for dinner. Yes, I know that’s backwards, but hey, we like to keep things interesting. Julie’s wedding colours are yellow and white, so we all dressed in yellow.

Then this afternoon, we went out for a spa day and got manicures and pedicures. They had those amazing chairs that massage your back. We didn’t want to leave! We all had pretty toes when we finally dragged ourselves out of there.

Mine are the pink ones. Surprise, surprise!

Afterwards, we went to a great tea house next door for some tea and cookies. No massaging chairs, but still lovely!

And now, the big day is almost here and I’ll get to wear my awesome hat!