Sin-less Cinnamon Buns


raw cinnamon bun3Eating dessert just became healthy! My recipe for raw cinnamon buns give you a gluten-free alternative pastry, with no added sugar. This recipe is quick to make, but will require a food processor or blender to break down the nuts. Here’s what you will need:

  • 2 cups of Cashews, raw
  • 9 – 11 pieces of Dates, pits removed
  • 1 t. Maca Powder
  • 1 t. Vanilla
  • 1 t. Coconut Oil
  • Cinnamon Powder
  • Parchment Paper

raw cinnamon bunBlend your nuts down to the consistency of flour.

In a large bowl, combine your cashew flour, dates, maca powder, vanilla, coconut oil, and 1 t. of cinnamon powder.

By hand, mix together the ingredients, breaking apart the dates until everything is fully incorporated and you are left with a “dough”.

raw cinnamon bun1Lay out the “dough” onto a piece of parchment paper. Either by hand or using a rolling pin, spread the “dough” to an even thickness to form a square, roughly one centimetre to half an inch thick.

Coat the “dough” with cinnamon powder, and press the cinnamon in.

raw cinnamon bun2Using the parchment paper (like making sushi), begin to roll the “dough” into a spiral. Don’t worry if it starts coming apart on you, you can always press the “dough” back together as you roll.

Roll your “dough” into a log and press together. Allow the pastry to rest a couple minutes to set into the shape.

With a sharp knife, remove the ends and slice the log into 1 1/2 inch slices. Be careful not to slice the cinnamon buns too small or else they will fall apart!


Raw Pecan Pie


Recently I have started getting into raw desserts. These healthy alternatives will satisfy your sweet tooth without any added sugar, and they are gluten free and vegan! My first attempt as raw desserts was making a raw pecan pie. Here is the delicious recipe I came up with:

For the crust, you will need:

  • 2-1/2 cups of Dates,organic, pits removed
  • 2 cups of Walnuts, raw organic
  • 1 cup of Coconut Flakes, raw organic unsweetened

For the filling, you will need:

  • 1 cup of Pecans, raw organic
  • 1 cup of Raising, organic, soaked in warm water for at least 1hr
  • 1/3 cup of Coconut Oil, organic
  • 1 t Maca Powder, raw
  • 1 t Cinnamon
  • 1/2 t Nutmeg
  • 1 t Sea Salt

raw pecan pieTo begin, you will need a 9-in pie plate and either a food processor, blender, or hand blender. First start with the crust.

Blend the dates, walnuts, and coconut flakes until they are well broken down and stick together. Empty the ingredients into the pie plate and press the crust into the mould.

Blend all your ingredients for the filling together, slowly adding the raisin water to reach your desired consistency. The filling should be looser than the crust but still solid. If you forget to reserve the raisin soaking water or don’t want your pie too sweet, you can just use filtered water instead.

Scoop out the filling into the crust and spread it evenly. Garnish the pie with pecans, coconut flakes, and raisins.

Place your pie in the freezer for minimum 2 hours, to allow it to set. You can leave the pie over night in the freezer if you want. Let the pie rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

I find with raw desserts they are very satisfying yet don’t leave you feeling heavy, fatigued, or guilty like most conventional desserts. They offer a great way to get more essential minerals and vitamins into your diet, and you don’t need to spend any time cooking or baking. By using all raw ingredients, no proteins or enzymes are denatured, giving you the full benefit of the ingredients used. Stay tuned for more raw recipes as I explore more exciting alternatives to classic favourites!

Gluten-Free Mac N Cheese, with a Twist


Although I did not use actual macaroni noodles, it’s the same idea as making mac and cheese, but with a twist! As a kid, you may have enjoyed the box “Kraft Dinner”, which we all know is absolutely horrible for you. This recipe will allow you ti revisit those old memories, while providing a much higher nutritional content.

mac and cheese1The cheese sauce we will make is called a Mornay, which is a derivative from the mother sauce known as Bechamel. The bechamel sauce is a classical French white sauce, which can be used as a base for preparing many other sauces. By adding cheese, the bechamel becomes a mornay, which can then be customized to your liking. I chose to flavour my mornay with cilantro, to give it a lively fragrance and flavour boost.

The noodles I recommend are gluten-free, which will not upset your digestive tract and will in turn provide the body with more nutrients. At Essence of Life Organics in Kensington Market, I came across a fusilli noodle made up solely of ground romano beans. This not only gives a more earthy and full flavour, but the protein content is much higher than other gluten-free options such as brown rice pasta. If you are unable to find bean noodles, you can always use spelt pasta, kamut pasta, or brown rice pasta as a substitute.

To begin, you will need:

  • 400 g of Romano Bean Fusilli (dry)
  • 500-600 mL of Organic Whole Milk
  • 2.5 oz of Cheese, grated (I used a combo of white cheddar and gruyere)
  • 3 Tbsp of Butter, unsalted
  • 3-4 Tbsp of Flour, all purpose unbleached
  • 1/4 bunch of fresh Cilantro, fine chiffonade
  • Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
  • Olive Oil, extra virgin
  • Salt, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with salt and olive oil. Add the noodles, bring back to a boil then reduce to a medium heat. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until al dente.

Make a blonde roux:

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and combine using a whisk. Lightly cook out the flour, a few minutes, without browning. Remove the roux from the pan to prevent further cooking, and allow to cool.

In the mean time, chiffonade your cilantro and grate your cheeses. Keep the parmesan separate from the cheddar and gruyere.

Heat the milk in a pot. Bring the roux back to the original saucepan over a medium heat. Slowly add milk to the roux, one ladle at a time, whisking it all together. Once all the milk has been added, season the bechamel with a small amount of salt.

mac and cheeseIn order to turn your bechamel sauce into a mornay, take the pot off the heat and slowly add the cheddar and gruyere cheese. Once all the cheese has been whisked in and melted, add your cilantro and correct the seasoning with salt.

In a bowl, combine your noodles with the mornay sauce, making sure it is mixed together well. Transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish, and top with the grated parmesan cheese.

Broil in the oven until the parmesan begins to colour. Remove and let sit a few minutes before serving.

Healing with the Power of Crystals


crystalsCrystal healing is a powerful alternative therapy which uses crystals for their energetic properties to bring about healing of the physical and energy bodies. In similar ways to Reiki, energy is used to relieve energetic blockages of the aura and the energy channels of the body, in order for our Prana to flow freely to all the areas of the body. Negative emotions, behaviours, thoughts, and memories if not released, sit in the body and build up. Whether we are consciously aware of the negative energy, it becomes destructive to our health by creating blockages in the flow of Prana.

By using the vibrational energy of crystals, the energetic blockages is interfered, allowing the natural flow of energy to be restored. Crystals can be placed directly on the body at certain points, or surrounding the body to create an energy field. Once activated, the crystals emit a resonance of 3 cycles per second, which resonates much slower than the human beta brainwave, allowing for an interference to occur. If the Prana energy is flowing smoothly, the crystals will not disturb the energy. Since crystals and our bodies are both pure natural products of the earth, the crystal energy will only interfere with anything that is out of balance. Once the interference takes place, the body naturally balances the energy to regain harmony with nature.

crystals1Crystals are made up of various elements, which give them their distinct colours and properties. The chemical structure of the crystal is perfect, in that the atoms are arranged in specific lattice-work forms, which have been moulded by heat and pressure in the earth over time. Their ability to refract light comes into play with their ability to transform energy. The colours of crystals can be utilized to resonate with the chakras, in order to activate specific energies of the body. Pointed crystals help to direct the energy to a specific location.

Crystal energy can also be harnessed for data storage. A great example of this is the use of quartz crystal in electronics is a technology being rediscovered in modern times. Computers, cell phones, and even watches all use the great power of quartz energy for advancements in technology. The legendary crystal skulls are said to potentially hold vast amounts of knowledge about humanity, life, and the universe. The crystal skulls are essentially a very large version of a memory stick that you would plug into your USB drive.

Crystals are a great resource provided by the earth, which have amazing capabilities for the advancement of humanity. From technological improvements to alternative therapy, these eye-capturing gems provide us with marvellous tools for our overall wellbeing.

Omnivorous Dilemmas


Eating meat raises many ethical and moral issues, which hits heart to many individuals whether they are hard core vegans, vegetarians, or even omnivorous meat eaters with a conscience. I practiced vegetarianism for about 3-4 years, and I have to admit, I never felt better. My body felt very clean and well functioning, I felt lighter and never experienced any bloating feelings in my gut.

There are pros and cons on both sides of the spectrum. Some say that meat is essential to our diet in order to receive adequate protein and proper nutrients. In the end it boils down to your individual body. Everyone’s body requires it own very unique needs for nutrients. Depending on your body type, lifestyle, and beliefs and values, the need for meat in your diet may vary. My best recommendation I can give is to experiment with different dietary regulations and see how your body responds. Try a cleans for a month of no meat, or a vegan diet, or a gluten-free detox, or a dairy-free detox, and see how your body reacts. Some people require certain nutrients for their vitality that others are better off without. It is silly to try and put all people into a general box since everyone is different.

As I mentioned, my body responded very well to obtaining from meat. When I first made the transition to practicing vegetarianism, I made my decision based on important ethical reasons.

Majority of meat out there is raised in very unsustainable manners. The animals are generally treated with no respect for the dignity of life, and are fed artificial diets of corn and cereal grains to fatten them up. Unfortunately a lot of the animal feed comes from genetically modified crops, which can have serious longterm health implications for the animals, the land used to grow the crops, and for us the consumers who eat the animals. Many times hormones are used to create a more efficient business out of raising animals for consumption, and antibiotics are used plentifully to avoid diseases caused by the poor living conditions.

There is also the ecological impact from the mass production of animals for consumption. Since consumers want to purchase and eat meat at the lowest cost (dollar-wise) possible, they choose to ignore the impact their decisions have on the planet. The amount of fresh water that goes in to raising the animals and to produce the genetically modified crops to feed the animals is depleting the world’s supply of fresh, healthy water at an alarming rate.

The meat we find in our grocery stores and at most restaurants has travelled great distances to reach our plate. The carbon footprint due to transporting the meat around the globe is a serious cause of the increase of pollution and harmful substances in the atmosphere.

sanagansAlthough the ethical concerns for eating meat are vastly nerve-wracking, there are alternatives available that still allow the consumer to eat their meat without such a cost to our global holistic health. Such an example can be found in Toronto’s Kensington Market. Here at the top of Kensington Street, you can find the butcher shop Sanagan’s Meat Locker. Sanagan’s offers a wide range of animal cuts; beef, pork, lamb, chicken, etc., and even products such as fresh made chicken stock and breads, which are all products of local Ontario farmers. This independent small business supports the local economy and local farmers by providing only their products to the public. Here you can find meat which has been raised in ethical ways, with the ability to reduce your own carbon footprint with its purchase. Making the switch from the big chain supermarket to the local independent butcher may seem like it will cost you more money, however I find the prices to be around par.

When given the option, I would definitely choose to support my local small businesses, especially when the ripple effect makes such a huge difference. Since I have started eating meat again due to my education and training in culinary school, I have found that shopping here makes such a difference in the quality of my cooking.

Even if you are not living in Toronto, there are always alternative options available, you just may need to do a little research. Especially come the spring time, which is just around the corner, farmers markets will be opening up in plenty, to provide the public with the local sustainable produce, and at such a more affordable cost –  both in dollars and to the planet.

Happy Cooking!

Elixir of Life


This drink, originating from ancient China, utilizes yeast and bacterial fermentation for their ability to heal the body. When you first think about bacteria, many tend to think of illness and germs, however bacteria play a very important role in the maintenance of our physical health.

kombuchaThe elixir I am referring to is kombucha. This carbonated drink is made in a similar concept to sparkling wine, using fermentation of yeast to create a carbonated beverage. Kombucha is a fermented tea, which is packed full of beneficial bacteria. This live food drink is often flavoured with other beneficial superfood extracts, such as ginger, spirulina, lemongrass, chlorophyll, and many others.

The first time I tried kombucha, I have to admit I thought it was pretty gross. The smell of the fermentation can be a little overwhelming if you’re not used to it, and an be enough to put you off it. The idea of the mother culture sitting at the bottom of the glass bottle, waiting to go down your throat, really didn’t appeal to me. However the taste is rather invigorating and there are so many flavours to choose from. Since my first attempt I have found myself hooked on the drink, and try to have some at least once a week.

So why drink kombucha?

This flavoured fermented tea offers many health benefits. Due to the beneficial bacterial content, drinking kombucha helps to strengthen the flora in the digestive tract, aiding in the body’s digestion and absorption of nutrients. It is also great for helping the body overcome candida overgrowth, supporting the body’s intestinal health. The tea is also a great detoxifier and cleanser, which is supplemented with the superfoods that are added to the drink. Kombucha is also very high in antioxidants, which help to support the immune system and prevent free radial damage to cells and tissues.

Since kombucha is carbonated, it can also be used to help ease an upset stomach and to relieve the discomfort of hangovers. This magical drink does wonders for the body, and is an important staple to have in your home or to bring to work for a quick pick-me-up.

Be warned, when brewing your own kombucha there are precautions you must take. Since you are dealing with yeast and bacterial fermentation, if this process is not done properly, ie. there are issues with cleanliness or freshness, you can get very sick from drinking it. Most health food stores offer the drink, which are produced in very safe and controlled environments. My favourite health food store: Essence of Life Organics in Kensington Market supplies a variety of brands and many flavours.

Give it a try and experience the wonders of kombucha for yourself!

Fresh & Easy Guacamole


guacamole4Avocado offers a lot of health benefits, and it is loaded with lots of those “good fats” – monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. It also provides the body with a good source of fibre, to help maintain the health of the intestines. The tricky part can be using your avocados at the perfect ripeness. If they are too ripe, they will start to oxidize and get dark brown patches on the inner green flesh, and will bruise very easily. If they are not ripe enough, the inner flesh will be very hard and will lack flavour. The best tip I can offer is to buy your avocados when they are still green and hard. Keep them outside the fridge, where they can get partial sunlight, to help them ripen. in a few days, they will turn from green to a dark greenish-black. Get in touch with the feeling of the avocado, because that will tell you when it is ripe and ready for eating. The ripe avocado will be firm with a bit of give. If it feels soft and squishes easily, it is over ripe and will be browning inside.

Once you have your ripe avocados, they are ready for eating! Here is my recipe to turn this delicious fruit into a flavourful guacamole.

guacamoleYou will need:

  • 2 Avocados**
  • 1/4 pc Red Onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 pc Tomato, core removed, finely diced
  • 1 large clove of Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 pc of Lime, juiced
  • 1/4 bunch of Cilantro, fine chiffonade
  • Tajin spice, to taste
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1 pinch of Chilli Powder

guacamole1**For processing the avocados, cut them in half. Remove the seed and reserve (do not discard!). Scoop out the flesh with a spoon, scrapping the inner darker green flesh from the sides of the skin.

Add your avocado, onion, garlic, cilantro, and tomatoes to a bowl.

Season with the lime juice and spices. Use just a pinch of pepper and a small amount of salt – you can always add more later to adjust the seasoning if needed.

guacamole3Mash the ingredients together, using a pestle, fork, or potato masher. Do not overly blend the ingredients too much, you want your guacamole to be slightly chunky with some body, not too smooth.

Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Here’s why you keep the seeds from the avocado; bury the two avocado seeds into the bowl of guacamole. This will help to keep the guacamole from oxidizing as quickly, preventing the colour change from fresh green to brown.

Enjoy your guacamole as a dip with tortilla chips and vegetables, or as a topping or filling in quesadillas, burritos, omelettes, or whatever creative ideas you come up with!

Buen Provecho :)

Feel the Love


hugA hug is much more powerful than you may think. When we give out a hug, we are sharing in very strong and concentrated love energy with another. Energy is transmitted between the two, and each person actively sends healing energy to one another. When we engage in a hug, we are left feeling good about ourselves. Due to the exchange of energy, the other person often remains in our mind and our thoughts for a time, as their energy has left an imprint.

Before we physically engage with the other, we must enter each others’ auras. In order to physically reach and embrace, the hug begins at level of the metaphysical, with the intention to exchange loving energy. The thoughts are released to one another, and the subconscious mind prepares the body for the engagement. Pure love and gratitude lead the physical bodies past each others’ auras, bringing the bodies to physical connection.

Hugging makes a direct connection between our heart centre and another person’s heart chakra. The arms and hands are an extension of the heart centre, and are a method of using our heart chakra to reach out and connect with other beings. When we hug, not only do the heart chakras connect, we wrap our arms around one another and hold the loving energy in.

The energy exchanged in the hug is that of compassion and gratitude for one another. A hug is a way of expressing your gratitude, saying “thank you for your presence in my life”. This pure loving energy is very healing, and resonates the vibrations of our molecular makeup with that of love, light, and happiness.

The heart, the major organ associated with the heart chakra and the organ responsible for circulating the physical aspect of Prana energy (blood), is located slightly on the left side of the chest. When we go in for a hug, in order to make the best possible connection, we lead with the left side of the body. This way our physical heart is leading us through the other’s aura, and we consciously lead the hug with an intention of pure love and healing. The same concept is followed in Kundalini Yoga – that with every asana we begin on the left side and inhale to the left, as the physical heart organ is more towards that hemisphere of the body.

Get connected with those around you and share in the loving energy of our heart centre. Of the chakras, the heart chakra is the medium between the lower and upper triangles, and moderates the energy through the central channel accordingly. As we move forward in life, think and act consciously, allowing your heart to lead you with love and gratitude.

Double Double Toil & Trouble, Fire Burn & Cauldron Bubble…


witch hazelAs if it were magical, witch hazel is a must have in your first aid kit and in your bathroom. Advertised an an astringent, this product can be found not only in health food stores, but even your common pharmacy (if you know where to look).

Acting as an astringent, witch hazel is applied to the skin in order to draw the blood away from the surface, and to constrict the blood vessels near the surface of the skin. This is a great remedy to help in the healing process for bruises and skin disorders, especially for those of you who are known to “bruise like a peach”.

Not only for bruising, witch hazel is a perfect alternative for those facial care products that are full of harsh chemicals. The witch works as a skin toner, to help maintain the health of your pores through cleansing and protecting from dirt and oil buildup. The skin tissue absorbs molecules directly into the bloodstream. So, when we use harsh chemical toner and cleanser products, the chemicals go are absorbed into the body and create a toxic environment.

Witch hazel also makes for a great facial cleanser, to help remove any dirt, excess oil, and makeup. Even for the bags under your eyes, applying a little to the area will help reduce the look of fatigue. All you need to do is put a small amount on a cotton pad and apply it to your skin! Since the plant extract is infused into alcohol, it is important to follow with a gentle moisturizer, such as almond oil or coconut oil, to keep the skin from drying out and getting irritated.

The Smell of Health


Essential Oils are used for their healing properties, for the way they stimulate different aspects of the body and mind, and can influence your mood and emotional feelings. Aromatherapy uses the pure oils extracted from herbs, flowers, and seeds to release their pure fragrance.

essential oilsThe healing properties of plants are concentrated in into oils, which give off distinct aromas characteristic to the plant. Essential oils can be utilized in many ways. Like with incense, essential oils can be put in a diffuser, where fire is used to release the aromas into vapour. The fragrant vapours are emitted into the surrounding environment and inhaled. When the fragrances reach the receptors in our noses, they stimulate certain parts of the brain, and can initiate healing of the body and mind. The aromas can influence the release of neurotransmitters and hormones to help regulate the health of the body.

white sageMassage is another method of utilizing aromatherapy. Massaging with essential oils helps to release their fragrance through the friction, and spreads their scent. Essential oils can also be placed on a, eye pillow or cloth, and placed over the eyes during deep relaxation. The fragrances are easily taken in through the nasal pathway and enter the body for healing.

The same concept comes from burning incense, where fire is used to release the fragrance of plants into the surrounding atmosphere. The smoke produced from directly burning the dried plant matter helps to cleanse the areas it reaches, while emitting healing aromas. White sage is very commonly used in cleansing stagnant or negative energy. Incense is a common offering at meditation, as it uses the element of fire to help cleanse the body and mind of negativity, to find a neutral state. When a neutral state of mind is achieved, the Self is in a state of healing, being present in the moment.

Spice It Up!


The Gerrard India Bazaar is a place I go to frequently to pick up my cooking supplies. On the corner right across from the bright turquoise Punjabi clothing store, you find Kohinoor Foods. This little grocery store has the best variety in dry goods and spices, all at a very reasonable cost.

kohinoor foodsWhenever I am running low, I plan a trip out to this side of town and pick up more ghee and spices. The curry powder is very fresh and fragrant, and they have great selections of dried beans, nuts and seeds. The chilli powder is different from what you typically find in your normal grocery store. Usually chilli powder comes as a deeper crimson red colour, however at Kohinoor Foods they offer a special Kashmiri chilli powder, which is much lighter and vibrant in colour than the average chilli powder.

The dry goods you find at Kohinoor Foods are weighed out and packaged by the shop itself. This saved you the extra costs of packaging, buying in bulk.

If you are looking for some ingredients to spice up your cooking, you should definitely check out Kohinoor Foods. Whether it be for spices, herbs, oils, or even for Ayurvedic remedies, this little grocery shop has a great supply.

When you make the trip out to Gerrard between Coxwell and Greenwood, you’ll have a lovely opportunity to explore Toronto’s Indian cultural community. There are delicious restaurants, clothing stores, home stores, jewellery shops, and much more. This beautiful community has a lot to offer, and is a nice place to spend your weekend afternoon.