Colour & Kale, Two Things I could Never Live Without

Seriously though, how awesome is kale?

Kale and its offspring, the kale salad, pop up in the blog world all the time and it brings me so much joy. I knew that my kale from the farmer’s market on Thursday was just crying out to made into a salad, so, inspired by my favourite salad at Live Organic Food Bar, I created this baby.

SANY4246 Salad
1 bunch kale, washed and torn/chopped into small pieces
salt
1 beet, scrubbed
1 carrot, scrubbed
2 tbsp walnuts
sundried tomatoes, soaked in warm water

Dressing
1/4 avocado
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp flax oil
2 tsp wheat-free tamari
salt, to taste
agave, to taste

Place washed kale in a bowl. Add a few dashes of salt and let it sit until kale wilts and softens. Read this trick this morning and it definitely worked!

Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl and mash together to get a creamy consistency. Measurements can be adjusted to suit your tastes. I added the agave at the end for a hint of sweetness and it was perfect.

Massage the dressing into the kale. Give it some love! Resist urge to lick dressing off your fingers once kale massage is over.

Shred beets and carrot in food processor using the grater/shredder attachment. Chop softened sundried tomatoes.

SANY4241

Place shredded beets and carrot on top of greens. Add walnuts & sundried tomatoes and enjoy!

It was the best lunch I’ve had in a long time. So satisfying and full of flavour!

What is your favourite salad?

I Love Rainbows, Especially Vegetable Ones

This month at Weight Watchers, we’ve been talking about working towards at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. We did a similar challenge last year with much success and last week we (once again) discussed incorporating a rainbow of colour into our meals.

 RainbowBriteStarlitepic[source]

I love colour and making meals pretty by using a variety of colour is a lot of fun and tends to make food much more interesting. Summer is an amazing time for colour in the produce section with tonnes of amazing fruits and veggies that are just bursting with colour!! With this in mind, I headed to the East Lynn Farmer’s Market on Thursday to pick up some goodies. SANY4221 SANY4224 SANY4225 I was super impressed with the organization and the number of booths. I also learned later that members of the community take turns feeding the farmers and ensuring that they are well taken care of. Love that! SANY4223 SANY4229 SANY4232 I picked up some carrots, cauliflower, swiss chard, kale, peaches, eggplant and one of the farmers threw in some complimentary lemon basil – amazing!!

I had Lindsay over for dinner last night and made the cauliflower lentil curry from Veganomicon over some quinoa SANY4234 I left out the jalapeño and the parsnip and added in some Swiss chard in the last 5 minutes of cooking. It was such a yummy meal and a great use for the cauliflower and the chard! Later in the week I’ll be putting the kale to use in a salad (inspired by the one at Live) and the eggplants will be used in a dish inspired by Noelle at an Opera in the Kitchen.

How do you incorporate a rainbow of colour into your meals? What are your tips for getting in at least five servings of fruits & veggies each day?

Enough is Enough

SANY4214On Sunday night I found myself sitting down overlooking the beautiful Toronto skyline reflecting on my feelings. I had just had a great catch-up with the beautiful and insightful Lindsay, had enjoyed an amazing weekend and had spent some time journaling whilst reading Love Your Body, Love Your Life.SANY4212This week has been the first week in months where I have actually had a bit of down time and I guess that has led to my self reflection and in some cases self deprecation. While rationally, I’m incredibly proud of how far I’ve come and the great life I’ve created for myself, I still find myself struggling to be at peace with the body I’m inhabiting.

But Ashley, weren’t you finding your way through these feelings a few months ago? Aren’t you feeling good and defining yourself by more than just the number on the scale?

Well, yes. And no.

There are moments when I don’t feel at peace. I feel like there’s a part of me that can never be “enough”. A big part of me just wants to feel adequate and lately I’ve been struggling to find that for myself.

I was reading through an old journal from last year and found an entry I had written around the time I was finishing boot camp. Even though I was in amazing shape, it wasn’t enough somehow. I still wanted to lose a few more lbs and couldn’t be happy with the way I looked, despite feeling physically strong, toned and really proud of all that I had accomplished.

I found another journal from earlier this year when I had lost some weight following my break up. I was at the lowest weight of my life, but still didn’t feel good about it because I wasn’t happy with how I had gotten there and recognized that I was too thin. While I already knew it deep inside, I learned that a low number on the scale didn’t mean instant happiness. Imagine that.

On the flip side of things, there are moments when I feel amazing:

During/after a really great workout
When I plan my meals and make great food choices
Wearing a bikini at the pool on Saturday
During my
belly dance recital or even just in class
Most days.

I’ve realized that I start to freak out a little when I’m stressed about other things, upset about a certain situation or just generally overwhelmed. I have started to see a pattern in Ashley-meltdown land and know that if I’m overworked and under-rested and without groceries or a meal plan in sight, I will probably freak out within a few days.

Yesterday I went to see my gastroenterologist for a check up. It has been a year since I last saw him, and I can’t tell you how amazing it was to hear the words “You seem to be doing fine without me, I’ll see you in a year unless there is a problem”. I have worked so hard to be as healthy as I am and it felt so good to be sitting in that room on the other side of this disease. The side filled with energy, vitality, strength and without pain, anger or a need for hardcore medication or surgery.

It made me grateful for where I am today, regardless of how I feel about my body. This is what I believe in: achieving great health and being my best me. The other stuff is frivolous and I know I need to work past it.

I’m beginning to realize that my definition of “enough” is changing. I am more than enough and I’m tired of treating my body with such disrespect and anger when I’ve really achieved an ultimate goal, so much more important than the number on the scale or the size of the skirt I’m wearing. I know that I believe that there is so much more to this journey than just the eating right, the exercise and the number on the scale, it just sometimes takes a bit of time to put that into perspective and really live it.

It’s been four years since I started my weight loss journey and looking back I can see how far I have come. I see the small victories I have had and the milestones I have hit along the way. Despite a Crohn’s diagnosis, I feel healthier than I ever have before. I am so happy in the life that I am living and am surrounded by some pretty amazing people. I have so many things to feel joyous about in this life and I know that as I continue to work through this aspect, I will find peace here too. Enough is enough; I am ready to move forward.

Part of the book includes a section on setting intentions and as a result I made a list of intentions for myself. A second part of the exercise is to flip the list around so that it is stated in the present. Here goes nothing:

I am beautiful.
I am comfortable in my skin.
I am healthy.
I am loved.
I am happy.
I am at peace.
I am stable.
I am strong and toned.
I am a role model.
I nourish my body.
I am getting the most out of life.

I am enough.

The Day The Universe Wanted Me To Slow Down

Last week the universe sent me signs that I needed to slow down and I was happy to take them!

While absolutely amazing, Fringe was incredibly busy and hectic. I spent a lot of time seeing other shows (11 in fact!) and spent a lot of time with old (and new) friends at the beer tent. In the midst of all this I was still going to work and school and trying to eat, sleep and breathe!

On Wednesday I headed up to school to start my new class, Sports & Fitness nutrition. I had just finished an assignment for our previous class and was looking forward to starting something fresh for the summer. I arrived in class right at 10 and there was no teacher in sight. 5 minutes went by and still nothing. 10:10, 10:15 passed and we all started to get a little anxious. Someone finally went to speak with our administrator and a phone call to our teacher revealed he had gotten the dates for our class wrong! There were a lot of groans in the class, but I was happy to take advantage of the beautiful, sunny, day!!

So I did. With a picnic in the park with the lovely Ashley. SANY4190Super fresh salad with spinach, romaine, avocado, green beans, cucumber, red pepper, sunflower seeds and marinated tofu cubes (tamari & apple cider vinegar) topped with flax oil and balsamic. SANY4191 We followed the salad with some amazing watermelon, raspberries, strawberries & blueberries.

It was a gorgeous day and Ashley and I had a lot of fun laughing and eating and taking advantage of the sunshine!

Later in the day I was supposed to work, but that ended up getting cancelled too. Once again, I was angry or upset, just happy to enjoy the day! I checked out the Farmer’s Market at Queen’s Quay and picked up some amazing rainbow chard and summer squashes which I turned into a stir fry  SANY4193 Simple sautéed summer squash and rainbow chard with millet and tempeh. Once fuelled I headed back to Fringe madness where I spent time with some amazing people including another lovely Ashley. SANY4175 Now some people would have been frustrated that everything had been cancelled in their day – not me!! I took the hint from the universe and I loved having the opportunity to see some beautiful friends, eat delightful food and take advantage of a free day!

Have you had any free time to frolick in the sunshine? Have you found anything delightful at a farmer’s market this season?

World Cup – Then And Now

Then – June 2006world cup (Melly & I - Hannover, Germany)

  • On 3 week whirlwind Euro-trip through England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany with best friends
  • Had taken all of my 3 weeks of vacation time from my job as a receptionist to take the trip. Meant no time off at Christmas or other holidays until the following year.
  • Watched a preliminary World Cup match (Italy vs. Ghana) in Hannover and saw many other games broadcasted throughout Europe
  • Living at home with my dad and brother.
  • Good support network of friends and family.
  • Not feeling so great about my body. A director had asked me to lose 15 lbs for a role in the fall and I nearly told him where to shove it… while starting to doubt myself all the same.
  • Finding a balance between working full time and doing shows
  • Eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was not one to deprive myself of anything and Europe was a great example of that as I enjoyed the spicy fries in the grease-laden transparent paper cone and dessert at restaurants practically every night.

Now – July, 2010SANY4198(Melly & I – Toronto, Ontario) 

  • In the midst of Fringe, enjoying school and work and spending time with friends. Every afternoon at 2pm kinda feels like a vacation because nothing really feels like work and I love everything that I’m doing when I’m supposedly “working”. Such a drastic change from being at a desk 9-5..
  • Watched the World Cup final with Melly and her old roommates after catching a Fringe show
  • Living with 3 awesome roommates in a house that I love.
  • Amazing support network of friends, classmates, mentors and people who inspire me.
  • Feeling better about my body. The last few months have definitely been a big transition for me but I’m starting to find that groove again and almost feel back to where I would like to be. Have worked over the last 4 years to lose 30 lbs and keep it off.
  • Have struck an amazing balance between work and play. Truly thriving in my life as a student, Weight Watchers Leader and actor, and feel like I have a great synergy between the three. Now that things have slowed down even more so, there is even more “me” time in sight and look forward to what’s to come this summer.
  • Eating mindfully as a gluten-free vegan Weight-Watchin’ gal. This summer I want to re-evaluate my diet based on some things that I’ve been learning in school and ensure that I’m getting a good balance of foods and macronutrients. I feel so healthy eating this way, and am still able to make room for treats (like delightful mango-raspberry gelato from Summers)

At that World Cup game four years ago, I never would have imagined that I would end up here in 2010. I was reminded of this experience by Meghan’s post on “Becoming Who I Needed to Meet” last week and evaluating my greatest life changes from four years ago.

Someone mentioned to me yesterday that they had felt inspired by my actions of late and that I was just doing what I wanted to be doing without worrying about the “5 year plan”. I responded by saying that five years from now I just want to be happy. I think that’s probably what I wanted for myself back in 2006 as well, but at the time I didn’t know what the source of that happiness was going to be nor what it was going to look like.  I never would have dreamed it would be living this life that I currently lead and that’s fine by me.

Isn’t it wonderful to be where you are, when you imagine where you’ve come from? ~Byron Katie

How has life changed for you over the last four years? Where do you see yourself in the future?

Oh How I Love The Fringe

Fringe has been dominating my life and I kinda love it. SANY4139 Breadwinner opened on Thursday and fittingly my Yogi tea reminded me of what I needed to do:SANY4150 We had a great opening and have been having a lot of fun doing the show since then. It’s been interesting to read people’s opinions of the show, but the general consensus has been that people dig it – which is amazing!!

Between hanging out with the castSANY4166 Riding my bike to and from the AnnexSANY4168 And eating yummy food to keep me fuelled SANY4185SANY4137SANY4147and cooled off from this incredible heat!SANY4177I’ve been catching some great shows (like Fairy Tale Ending, Step, and The Whores) with some of my favourite peopleSANY4175 SANY4188 This week has also made me realize how much I need a break. I’ve been a little on edge and I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I’ve been going non-stop for, oh, the last 6 months? Once Fringe is over I’ll have some more time on my hands and in August I’ll even have the month off from school and I’m really looking forward to some ME time! I want to read books, journal, drink iced tea, go to the gym, swim and spend time with friends. I can’t wait!

Until then, I’ll probably either be on stage, in an audience or having a lot of fun with friends in the beer tent! Oh how I love the Fringe!

Have you been Fringing? Any shows to recommend? Still on my list: The Killing Game, Bosco & Jones, Joe White & The Seven Divorcees and Die Roten Punkte.

10 Reasons You Should Come See Breadwinner At the Toronto Fringe

Happy Canada Day!! I hope my Canadian readers and members are having a lovely day off! Not only is today a holiday, but it’s opening night for my new show!! I’ve been hard at work over the last month working on a new musical called Breadwinner by Megan Benjafield as a part of the Toronto Fringe Festival and the time has finally come for us to have an audience. I’m so excited!!

Our amazing director Megan (who also wrote the show) put together a top 10 list of reasons to see it and I loved it so much that I’m posting it here!

breadwinner cheers [Photo Credit: Eric Shepherd]

Top 10 Reasons to Come See Breadwinner at the Toronto Fringe

10. You've read one of the dozens of articles in the current media about "The End of Men", or "The Alpha Woman" and want to know what all the fuss is about.
9. You are the female breadwinner in your relationship, and you want to see yourself reflected on stage.
8. You miss your girlfriends and don't want to wait for your next annual girls' weekend to feel that bond!
7. Your wife makes more than you do and you don't understand her.
6. You know someone in the cast, band or crew! (You know you owe it to them to see their work, they've come and seen yours!)
5. You try to catch
all of the Fringe Musicals every year.
4. You want to hear some funky music, some contemporary ballads, a comedic group song and a character song, from some killer singers.
3. You want to see lively discussions from dishes to boners.
2. You want to be one of the first people talking about it at the Fringe tent.
1. There will definitely be things to talk about
after you leave the theatre!

Show Times:
Thursday, July 1, 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 3, 1:45 p.m.
Sunday, July 4, 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, July 6, 4:45 p.m.
Thursday, July 8, 5:45 p.m.
Friday, July 9, 2:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 10. 9:45 p.m.

At The Annex Theatre, 1 block south of Bloor, on Bathurst.
Tickets are $10 at the door, or available through
The Toronto Fringe Festival through various methods.

Have an amazing day off and I hope to see you at the theatre!! I’ve also got some exciting posts up my sleeve for July now that I’m going to have some time to sit down and write so stay tuned!