Clockwise, from bottom left: fig and olive tapenade, blue cheese and caramelized onion dip, oat and seed Raincoast Oat Crisps, and oat and rosemary raisin Raincoast Oat Crisps
I am so blessed to have the most beautiful, brilliant girlfriends, and many of them live in the same city as I do. Once a month, one group of gals I lovingly refer to as the GNOs (for Girls Night Out) gets together somewhere around town or at one of our residences for some good-old-girl-talk over food and drinks.
October’s event was at my place and I made a signature cocktail and two fabulous appetizers.
For the cocktail, I tried to replicate one I had at an event at Reflections in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. It was amazing, a revelation – Disaronno amaretto, pear nectar, lemon juice and cardamom. The cardamom was surprising and totally delicious.
Since then, the hotel has kindly shared the real recipe (I used ground cardamom, which I don’t recommend because although still very tasty, it’s a bit gritty), which you’ll find below.
I read cookbooks in bed like they were fiction. I also love trying new recipes (and eating them) and regularly contribute to BCLiving.ca’s What I made for dinner blog. Here’s a list of some of the cookbooks I’ve enjoyed nibbling my way through:
I love books, that's no secret! Often, when I hear about books I'd like to read, I put them on hold at the library and they usually trickle in at a reasonable pace.
But sometimes they pile up, as they've done now. If only I could steal away to a deserted cabin in the woods – with good lighting – and spend a few days disconnected from the world and surrounded by books.
My wonderful friend Caralyn gave me this book after learning that I wanted to go to Italy for my tenth wedding anniversary this summer.
Sadly, it looks like that might not pan out, but at least I can plan my dream trip so I'll be ready to jump into action when the time comes. For now, just keeping this book by my bed makes Italy feel a little bit closer.
Eagle Walz is one of those people who leaves his mark on your heart. He's a gentle and passionate wilderness crusader and, through the Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society (an organization he founded), has saved countless acres of old growth trees by building the 180-kilometre-long Sunshine Coast Trail.
This is a beautiful and inspiring picture book that "tells the fascinating story of the land the Sunshine Coast Trail passes through, as well as that of the people who have worked to protect the giants of our forests for future generations."
From left to right: Brian Mullins, Catherine Roscoe Barr, Lisa Oz, and Corin Mullins.
I got to meet Lisa Oz, co-author of You: The Owner's Manual along with her husband Dr Mehmet Oz, at a press conference following her keynote address at CHFA West (the annual Canadian Health Food Association conference), where she was promoting her new book, which I got a signed copy of.
I haven't dug into this one yet and can't remember who recommended it but it sounds like a good story and I like the cover. Here's a snippet from the publisher's synopsis:
"Stuck in a dead-end relationship, this fearless narrator leaves her metaphorical baggage behind and finds a comfort zone in the air, feeling safest with one plane ticket in her hand and another in her underwear drawer."
This is another one I haven't started reading yet but it sounded totally up my alley – I love self-help stuff. It's written in the form of a 12-week guide and activity book. Here's a snippet from the publisher's synopsis:
"The Artist's Way is the seminal book on the subject of creativity. An international bestseller, millions of readers have found it to be an invaluable guide to living the artist's life."
This is a book that absolutely everyone should read. Here's what the publisher says: "Foundation training shifts the focus from the front of your body to the back. By strengthening the full posterior chain and correcting poor movement patterns, you will maximize power, flexibility, and endurance and say goodbye to back pain."
The video above is co-author Eric Goodman talking about Foundation Training and the video below is co-author Peter Park (Lance Armstrong's strength and conditioning coach) showing four awesome core exercises.
I test drove this book at the library and loved it so much that I bought it. Kris Carr is one heck of an inspiring woman! Here's what Carr's website says about the book:
"Crazy Sexy Diet comes on the heels of Kris Carr’s best-selling cancer survival guidebooks and her acclaimed TLC documentary. Infused with her signature sass, wit and advice-from-the-trenches style, Crazy Sexy Diet is a beautifully illustrated resource that puts you on the fast track to vibrant health, happiness and a great ass!
"Along with help from her posse of experts, Carr lays out the fundamentals of her Crazy Sexy Diet: a low-glycemic, vegetarian program that emphasizes balancing the pH of the body with lush whole and raw foods, nourishing organic green drinks, and scrumptious smoothies. Plus, she shares the steps of her own twenty-one-day cleanse, and simple but delectable sample recipes."
This is another book that everyone should read. I have this out from the library but have already ordered my own copy because it's so darn good. Seriously, who doesn't want to know how they can exercise better, train smarter and live long? And in only 20 minutes? Awesome!
Here's a snippet from the publisher's synopsis:
"With the latest findings about the mental and physical benefits of exercise, personal stories from scientists and laypeople alike, as well as researched-based prescriptions for readers, Gretchen Reynolds shows what kind of exercise – and how much – is necessary to stay healthy, get fit, and attain a smaller jeans size.
"Inspired by Reynolds's wildly popular 'Phys Ed' column for The New York Times, this book explains how exercise affects the body in distinct ways and provides the tools readers need to achieve their fitness goals, whether that's a faster 5K or staying trim."
Tina Fey talks to Google's Eric Schmidt about her new book, Bossypants.
I generally never buy a book without first test driving it through the public library. I adore the library so much, I want to write it a love song. Can you believe that you can read nearly any book for free? I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over that exciting fact, or the fact that with a little, or sometimes a lot, of patience you can get your hands on nearly any new book, and it arrives for pick-up on a special shelf and has your name on it. It gives me warm fuzzies just thinking about it. Following are a few books that I have on hold and am eagerly waiting to read.
The cover alone is enough to make me want to read this book. Currently at position 163 in the Vancouver Public Library hold queue, I’m not alone in wanting to read Tina Fey’s allegedly hilarious new memoir. Click here to read an interview with Tina Fey that appeared in the Vancouver Sun and includes a clip from her appearance on Oprah promoting the book.
This quote from a Vancouver Sun article by Randy Shore nicely sums up how I initially felt about Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook: “I was fully prepared to hate Gwyneth Paltrow's cook book, My Father's Daughter. But I can't. It's really quite good.” I’ve only flipped through it at the bookstore and heard reviews from friends but it looks beautiful and sounds good so I’m really looking forward to reading it and trying out some of her recipes. See below for a funny video of Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld talking to Paltrow about the book for Jessica’s website, Do It Delicious.
How do you get through finding out that your best friend and husband are having an affair? I have no idea, but Shania Twain shares her experience with such a scenario in her new memoir – which I know ends with marrying her best friend’s hunky husband, having her own TV show, and coming out with her first new song since releasing her 2002 album Up. See the video for Today Is Your Day below. I love this song. Go Shania!
Vegetarianism has been on my radar a lot lately. From my brother’s new adventures in veganism to my interview with vegan athlete and author Brendan Brazier, and the amount of information I’m learning about the environmental impact of animal-based food production, I am trying to make small changes towards a more plant-based diet. After reading a Globe and Mail article about this new cookbook, which calls it “one of the greatest vegetarian cookbooks of all time”, I am keen to read it and try out some of the recipes for the food blog that I contribute to at BCLiving.ca. See below for a video of the author making the recipe that appears on the cover, Aubergine with Buttermilk Sauce. Yum.
When you hear about someone twice in one day from different sources it’s enough to pique your interest. So when my husband sent me an article called Developing Your Creative Practice that mentions Lehrer, and a newsletter from Publication Coach Daphne Gray-Grant called Putting a Dollar Figure to Stories, which also mentions Lehrer, appeared in my inbox I was curious to learn more about this young neuroscientist and his new book which, according to the publisher, seeks "to answer two questions that are of interest to just about anyone, from CEOs to firefighters: How does the human mind make decisions? And how can we make those decisions better?" See below for a CBS interview with Lehrer about this book.
Sleep, or a lack of it, has been on my radar lately. And when something is at the forefront of your consciousness, your reticular activating system serves to make you aware of information relating to that something. For me, the information has come in the form of some Globe and Mail articles, a vegan cookbook, and a TED talk. It’s so interesting when different angles on the same subject come together.
Brazier mentions how numerous studies emphasize how much sleep we need, but he argues that the quality of sleep is what we should be most concerned about, and that quality of sleep is directly related to our diet. One major source of stress is nutritional stress – up to 40% of overall stress, says Brazier – brought on by a diet that includes empty calories, processed foods, and other nasties.
High stress levels result in high cortisol levels, a hormone with many effects, including disrupting our delta-phase sleep – “the phase in which growth hormone is released, naturally triggering cellular repair and regeneration.” So one major way to improve sleep is to improve diet. Read more about Brazier's take diet and nutritional stress here.
Arianna Huffington Encourages Women to Sleep Their Way to the Top
Below is a great TED talk on sleep with Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington. My favourite quote from the video:
“The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep. And we women are going to lead the way in this new revolution, this new feminist issue – we are literally going to sleep our way to the top. Literally.”
Sleep Deprivation is a National Epidemic. And It’s Killing Us, Says The Globe and Mail
“Because sleep is when the body and especially the brain regenerate and repair themselves, sleeplessness has been identified as a factor in an endless list of afflictions, including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, memory loss, bipolar disorder, reduced immunity, mood swings, impaired carbohydrate metabolism and increased heart-rate variability. Not to mention depression and substance abuse and the impairment of memory, self-expression and the ability to read emotions in others. Oh, and a hundred thousand motor-vehicle accidents a year” Read the whole Globe and Mail article here.
If you, like me, struggle with getting enough sleep, I hope you’ll find this information helpful. I’ve never been a good sleeper but there are a few rules I follow that usually have me counting more, and better quality, sheep.
Number one is not eating less than three hours before I got to bed. Sleeping is for repair and regeneration, not digestion, so it’s important that processing the food in your gut is not on your body’s night time to-do list.
Number two is reducing external stimulation as it gets closer to bed time. Bright lights, lively music, TV screens and computer monitors are things that should be avoided in at least the hour before hitting the sack.
And lastly, I like to do some easy reading once I’m all tucked in. By easy reading, I mean nothing too heavy or disturbing, and without any calls to action (I’ve restricted self-help books from my night time repertoire as they’re likely to have me itching to get out of bed and put their advice into action).