RECIPE: Gluten-free/nut-free Granola

In my recent attempts to balance my hormones and introduce creative food alternatives, I made a home-made granola and it was DELISH! And, its kid approved!

Recipe from my Holistic Nutritionist, Jenn Pike

Nut-Free/Gluten-Free Granola Bars

2-Cups Organic Oats

2/3-Cups Organic Coconut Sugar

1-Cup Gluten Free Flour (I use coconut flour)

1/2-tsp Baking Soda (I made without because I didn’t have it on hand, and it turned out great!)

1/2-tsp Baking Powder

1-tsp Cinnamon

1-tsp Salt (I used 1/2 tsp because I find the pumpkin seed butter salty enough)

1-tsp Vanilla Extract

1/2-Cups Raw Organic Honey (heat to soften)

2-tablespoons Coconut Oil (heat to soften)

1/4-1/2 Cups Sunflower Seed or Pumpkin Seed Butter (I used Pumpkin Seed Butter)

1/4-Cups Sunflower Seeds

1/4-Cups Pumpkin Seeds

1/4-Cups Carob Chips (Not part of the original recipe, but I added this in order to make it look enticing to the kids…and I prefer carob to chocolate)

Mix all ingredients together.  This will appear challenging at first because the seed butters and honey are gooey, but just keep working the mixture with a fork or wooden spoon. Once mixed, press into a greased pan (I use coconut oil to grease it), approx. 9×13.  The dough will be VERY dry and crumbly, but that’s ok.  Continue to press until the dough forms with the pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for approx. 20 minutes or until the edges are browned.  Remove from oven and let sit until completely cooled.  Cut into strips or squares and store in snack sized bags or a tupperware container.  I freeze mine and remove as needed.  You may find some pieces will stick to the pan or crumble off the bars.  Keep in a separate container and use as granola (perfect for topping yoghurt!). ENJOY!

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Why feeling stuck is not always a bad thing.

I recently wrote a speech for my Toastmasters club, and in it, I described the lessons I learned from pain, feeling stuck and how its not always a bad thing.  Below is an excerpt from what I wrote:

“AH AH AH CHOO! Oh no! I think I’m stuck. But all I did was sneeze?!”

There I was, 18 years old, hunched forward in pain, and literally stuck. I had no idea what happened.  I tried to ignore it, hoping it was just a passing hiccup, but trying to ignore pain works as well as trying to bathe a cat.

I found myself a massage therapist who worked his magic on my back, getting me from 90 degrees of forward flexion to an almost upright position.  Not exactly ideal, but it was a drastic improvement from where I started.  I eventually ended up in my doctors office, and diagnosed with a herniated disc.

It took months to get better, and during that time, I became increasingly more frustrated.  One week I was fine, the next, I was stuck.

Try to imagine if you will, a single 18 year old girl, attempting to look sexy at club – only now, add in sweatpants and a cane. Not exactly the best way to find a boyfriend.  Yes, my social life was starting to suffer,and there was nothing that I could do about it.

I couldn’t go out. I didn’t want to stay in. It hurt to sit. But it also hurt to stand. I got really good at identifying people by their shoes. 

Stuck.

Ermahgerd! It was in front of me all along. If only I could have seen in front of me!

I was literally and figuratively STUCK!

They say the body mirrors what is going on inside our minds and coincidentally (or not), I was feeling stuck.

I had just graduated from ECE at Seneca college, a program that I loved thoroughly.  I loved learning about the psychology of the human mind, how we learn and the developmental stages we go through from infancy through to adulthood.  The arts and crafts weren’t bad either.  There is an art to cutting and pasting!

I was ready and excited to get this new chapter started.  I started sending out resumes to a few choice schools.  My very first interview was with a Montessori, and I was immediately hired.  Me! A teacher! I couldn’t believe it.

And then it started.

The snotty noses, screaming kids, and countless amounts of spilled milk!  Whoever said don’t cry over spilled milk obviously never worked in a daycare before. 

I was not enjoying this.  Not one little but.  It wasn’t at all what I imagined. I began to reassess, and I toggled between not wanting to be a quitter vs coming home exhausted, sore and sick.

Stuck.

I was stuck, in one of the biggest dilemmas I had ever faced.  Ok, maybe not the biggest but it was big enough to keel me over in pain from a simple sneeze. 

The days and nights I spent thinking, analyzing, over analyzing and stressing out over this, had created this huge monkey on my back. And it was weighing me down.

So, I quit.

I didn’t think twice about it. As soon as I got clear on what was happening, it was an easy decision to make. I was not where I wanted to be and my back was telling me so. I am so happy I listened, because a whole new world of opportunities opened up for me after that.

There was so much learning in that experience for me.  There were 3 main lessons that my back pain taught me.

  1. When you’re not happy with what direction you are going, you have full control to change it.
  2. When your body tries to telling you something, it’s best to pay attention. It’s giving you a clue to what is going on in your mind and heart. And, Ignoring it will only cause it to amplify its message for you.
  3. You are not stuck. Despite what you might feel, you are not stuck anywhere. Your life is yours to create. The sky is not the limit, your belief system is.

As for my back pain, unfortunately my herniated disc became a chronic issue and one that I continue to deal with, 22 years later. As much as I hate that I having chronic back pain, I have learned to be grateful for it. It is my guide in a sense. It keeps me connected to myself, my purpose and my true desires.

When I’m overtired and not taking care of myself, it screams at me to stop. And when I’m anxious or stressed about something, it is the first thing to wake me up so I can change direction.

Feeling stuck is a feeling not a fact. Use it as an indication that something needs to change, and know that when that feeling occurs, there is usually something really big waiting for you on the other side.

Don’t judge others because you sin differently: Reflections on Monica Lewinsky’s speech

I saw this video in my news feed and debated watching it.  I didn’t know what to expect, as the last images I had in my mind of Monica Lewinsky were the ones the media imprinted in my brain after the news of her affair with Clinton broke out.

Listening to her share her story, as a 22 year old girl who fell in love, my heart sank as she described her memories and experiences of the aftermath.  Twenties are hard enough without the added feelings of desperate isolation, fear, hurt and yes, shame.  Shame, the one emotion that has the potential to ruin someone’s life; the feeling that had her wishing she could just “disintegrate”.  A pretty powerful word for a young person (or any person for that matter) to have to feel.

There were so many things about her speech that impacted me, and reminded me of how important it is to be surrounded by people who love you.  To have people who, when you are so far removed from your true self, will remind you of exactly who you are.  People who mirror to you daily, your beauty, your light and your love.  Having that support is literally life-saving, because without it, shame wins.

I know I was one of those people who secretly judged her and got caught up in the drama that the media created.  I remember tuning in to the news broadcasts and reading the articles.  Having watched her speech today, I regret partaking in any of that, because the reality is, she is human.  We are all human.   And no human should be subject to humiliation, shame and hate. We are hard enough on ourselves that we don’t need others (in her case it was practically the entire the world), reinforcing the negative thoughts.

Today’s reminder:  Don’t judge others because you sin differently. We are all human.

Interested in watching the speech? Click link below.

Monica Lewinsky First Public Speech: Saying what needs to be said.