Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Let's Talk About Depression

image from: The Organic Prepper
As I'm sure you have heard, Robin Williams died yesterday in an apparent suicide. Everyone was shocked. Not only did we loose an amazing entertainer, people couldn't come to terms with the fact that someone who spent his life making other people laugh, was so low, he felt that suicide was his only option.

That totally shakes up our impression of depression. When "we" think depression, we think sad, forlorn, can't leave the house, etc. We definitely don't think a seemingly happy, funny & outgoing person would/could EVER fall that low.

In light of his death, I think there are two VERY important lessons to be learned. The first, depression & mental health issues are not specific to gender, age, race or social class. They are not always bound to a life event (like a death). Depression can hit at any time, when you least suspect it.

Secondly, knowing that no one is immune, it is important that we remove the stigma & that everyone to feel safe to come forward and acknowledge this pain in their life. Unfortunately, most people don't feel safe to do so. They feel it is a weakness to be depressed, that they should feel ashamed. To admit to being depressed is to admit that there is something "wrong" with them. This can lead people to start drinking, doing drugs, excessively overeat and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

If you're reading this & feeling depressed please know: Do NOT be ashamed. Being depressed is not a weakness, just like having cancer is not a weakness. There is absolutely NOTHING and I mean NOTHING wrong with reaching out to a friend, family member or professional. You may need to take medication. There is nothing wrong with needing medication to HELP you. Diabetics need insulin so they can live. Depression is the same way & while medication isn't the only answer, it can help get you on the right track.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I too, struggle with depression (see here ) and it took me some time to come to terms with it. I'm still dealing with the fact that it comes and goes & is a part of my life. I still struggle greatly with my drug of choice (food). However, I'm lucky to have a wonderful husband, friends & family that I can talk to, will listen to me & will be there for me when I need it, just like I will be to them. I'm also lucky to have supportive people in my life who encourage me to find help, which I am now.

Reach out, there is ALWAYS someone who will be there to help you, friend or otherwise. Suicide is never the answer, ever. There is so much to live for on this beautiful planet, don't take that away from yourself.

Useful Links for Getting Help

Ontario & Canada


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well. I may have found my new favourite cookie. I know, I know, I've written that before, but this time...I *think* I mean it. Mostly because it's all of 6 ingredients, takes about 3 minutes to whip together and 12 minutes to bake and makes about 20 cookies. Also, there is minimal clean up involved (mostly because anything that had peanut butter on it was given to the dog).

They may not be the healthiest cookie out there, but they ARE gluten free and lactose free which is perfect for the variety of food needs in my family!

Also, after baking these, my house smelled like peanut butter all night (which is one of my favourite smells). So try these out, they are DERRRRN good!

On a side note, I've had a couple of  people ask me why I haven't been posting as often and wanted to share the answer here as well: I've been going through a lot of stuff recently (emotionally, that is) and have been trying really hard to focus on that. The good news is: I've taken a lot of positive steps to take me to where I need to go and because of that, I feel like I'm back in a place where I can start posting more often. I love this blog SO much and I won't give it up for anything, but I DID need to take a step back for a little while.

Anyway, to those of you who asked: Thank you. I really appreciate you reaching out <3

OKAY, now, on to the good stuff!

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 16-20 cookies
1 cup super smooth, low-fat peanut butter
1 cup (packed) golden yellow sugar (I used Redpath, my fave sugar!)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand in a medium bowl), combine peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda and vanilla. Mix until everything is completely blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon. 

Wet your hands, ever so slightly, with water and roll dough into 1 inch balls (about a tablespoon worth of dough). Place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Using your fingers (or a fork) press down on the balls you formed.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes (mine took 15 minutes) or until a nice golden brown but still soft in the center of the cookie.

Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack! These go AMAZINGLY well with a glass of milk, coffee, tea, red wine, whatever :)



Thursday, 31 July 2014

Homemade Granola Bars {a Running to Bake FAVE}

I can't believe I haven't told you guys about these. I've been making these bad boys for over 4 years now. They are my absolute FAVOURITE granola bar, they are SO easy to make & they're perfect for putting in your purse, tucking in a lunch bag and having on hand for when hunger attacks! They aren't the healthiest thing, but they're a lot better than the stuff you buy at the grocery store!

I came across this recipe 4 years ago when I was really, really struggling with my eating (more so than I am now, if you can believe it). My boyfriend (now husband) and I had just moved out together and the food we were making often came from a can, a box or the freezer. I knew this wasn't the way I wanted to eat, but I didn't really know where to start.

Enter my friend: her family was in the middle of doing the 100 mile diet and she had to be VERY creative with what they ate. Her kids were also VERY active and got hungry a lot, so she had to have homemade snacks on hand all the time. She said one of her favourite things to make was granola bars!

GRANOLA BARS! What hadn't I thought of that? Of course you can make your own granola bars. The next day, I googled "homemade granola bars" and found the recipe I'm going to tell you about. The result? Ah-mazing! So good in fact, my husband requested them all the time, along with his friends when they came over. The best part is you can add almost anything you like to this recipe to make them healthier or more chocolate-y or more nutty, etc.

Looking back on it now, I think it is safe to say, this recipe really re-ignited by love for baking. Before this, I had pretty much stopped baking entirely, but once I made these, I remembered how much I loved it. So here you have it folks, the granola bars that changed my life!

Homemade Granola Bars

4 & 1/2 cups large flake oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate)
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan & set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter, honey & brown sugar with a wooden spoon. Stir in the chocolate chips (and any other mixin's you might have) until everything is evenly combined.

Press the mixture into your prepared pan. You want to make sure it is packed in, nice and tight. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until the top is a golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes. NOTE: this is the ONE time I actually wait the full time to allow to cool, it is very important with these to wait, otherwise they will crumble

Cut into bars & allow to completely cool before you remove (see note above, same applied here).

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, in the freezer for a couple months!