My Story

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I cannot remember a time in my life when how I looked was not a source of stress for me. I was never really “skinny” as a child so I idolized the ideals that society calls the “perfect woman”. I laugh now because I know that there is no such thing and it is heart-breaking how we believe the lies that are constantly being fed to us. It was not until I was around 16 or 17 that I realized that I was struggling with this inner turmoil. I remember around the age of 14 that I had gained a  noticeable amount of weight. So that summer I dedicated my time to dieting (eating 1 meal a day) and exercising excessively. My family, my friends, and I noticed a lot of weight loss. The praise and recognition acted as positive reinforcement for me so I continued to skip meals frequently, and exercising “too much” was normal for me. I was then exposed to “clean eating” which I now realize was just gravely cutting down my carbohydrate intake. Carbs were the enemy… So I ate a lot of vegetables and fruits that were extremely low in calories, proteins, some dairy, and a lot of healthy fats. I lost a significant amount of weight that year to the point where I began to feel sick but the fear of getting “fat” trumped my body’s warning signs. I remember a time when I had met up with a couple of my friends at a coffee shop. One of them offered me a donut, I cannot begin to tell you the anxiety that I felt. After denying it several times and them insisting that I have it, I ate the donut feeling extremely guilty and disappointed in myself, so much so that the moment I got home I started running stairs to burn off the calories that I had just so rebelliously consumed. My weight constantly controlled how I lived my life: I had to brush my teeth X amount of times or I would get fat, I had to stay standing for this long or I would get fat, I had to do such and such or I would get fat. It soon affected my social relationships as I would not want to go out to eat with friends due to the fear that I would have to eat something remotely unhealthy. I was trapped. So when I became ill, I went to the doctor with my mom and the doctor had told me that “it was okay to eat everything”. Some of my family members, including my father, spoke to me and told me I was “beautiful” something I had not heard myself say for a long time… I then began to seek healthier ways to maintain my weight, well, let’s just say I ended up eating waaay too much and I wasn’t enjoying my life ( which is what I feel like food is supposed to be about). So I was on this roller coaster and it wasn’t until university that I was able to achieve some sort of balance. And I feel like God had a lot to do with that.

For those who don’t know, I am a Christian so yes I go to church, yes, I read my bible, but most importantly, I have a relationship with God. I don’t  believe that it was a coincidence that once I got closer to Him my stress and anxiety around food, the belief that I was not beautiful, the belief that I was not good enough began to diminish. I had a healthier relationship surrounding food, it was more about community, enjoying what God has given me, and nourishing my bodies (and soul). In Genesis 1:27 it says: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” I knew that the bible said that but it wasn’t until after I had to fight my inner demons that this piece of scripture became a sword for me. If I have never been exposed to that truth I don’t know where I would have been today possibly deeply unsatisfied, self-destructive, and envious. As I am writing this post I am listening to the song “No Longer Slaves” by I Am They on repeat, the lyrics speak the deep truth and sums up the journey I have gone through which are: “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” My identity does not lie in my weight, it does not lie in my appearance, it lies in my identity in Christ, and because of that, the chains that I was bound in by my fear of my weight were broken.

I am not saying that all of my anxiety around food has completely vanished. I am still human, I am still stained, and I am still growing. But I have no doubt that God will be there for me to fall back on when I need it, in my highs, and in my lows, He will be there. I share this story rarely and I chose to share it now and on this platform, because it is a huge testament to my faith, it reveals God’s goodness and not only my but YOUR worth.

Where I am Now 

So over the years, I developed a deep passion for cooking nutritious,  delicious, and sometimes not so healthy treats (for the soul😉 ). I exercise regularly (but not excessively) to maintain my physical and mental health. I pick up my bible daily to remind me of the truth about myself and the world. I pick up some interesting books here and there to deepen my knowledge and unwind. I am in the process of finding that “balance” in my life hence, the name of this blog. If I find something interesting or if I have anything I feel the need to share  I’ll be updating you here!

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I honestly don’t know if I was meant to start a blog but  I want to pursue this blog with a purpose. I hope you all enjoy it and spread the love.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” -psalm 139:13

LOVE

Jasmine

 

A new chapter

Hey y’all!! It’s been a very hot minute since I last posted. I’ve been allowing myself to take some time to transition from student to young professional these past couple of months.

Just a quick update: I now work as a registered nurse full time in what is basically my dream job! I have a super supportive team and team lead (who may or may not be reading this. Hey!👋🏾), a stable learning environment, and several opportunities before me. But despite all that I still feel, for lack of better words, unsettled. It’s not uncommon for new grads or new professionals to feel anxious about their futures, especially when there is a lot of (unintentional) pressure coming from family and friends -“What’s your next career move? Where do you see this taking you? When are you getting your own place? When are you getting married? Are you seeing anyone?”

As you can probably already tell, these looming questions make me feel like I am being pulled in several directions at once. Which, I believe, all contributes to that unsettled feeling.

I have some unmet expectations of myself as well. Once I started working I thought that I would be able to create new recipes and blog more frequently. I thought that I would be able to hang out with my family more often, volunteer more often, take on new projects, etc., etc., etc. But here’s the catch guys: Working life is TIRING. Sometimes you need to allow life to be slow for a moment and find your rhythm. Now that I’m not having to study with my spare time I actually need to ask myself “is this a priority?” before I actually go ahead and commit to anything (even writing this blog post).

Because, as some of you have already figured out, real life is not like university where it’s easy to build connections and find opportunities. You have to put in an intentional effort to do the things you want to do. And I’m no physicist but effort equals energy and we only have so much of it. It’s silly to burn yourself out doing things that don’t move you in the right direction. I’ve been learning not to do things simply because our culture says “busy is good, busy is productive”.

The reason I ask myself this question is because I often find myself wanting to do things just to fill up my time -because I feel like I should be doing something. But if it’s not going to get me where God has called me to be then what’s the point 🤷🏾‍♀️.

To counter that “busy is good” mentality I have written a personal mission statement. Which highlights, who I want to be, where I hope to be, my values, and my beliefs. So the next time I ask myself “is this a priority?” I know exactly where my priorities lie.

Another thing I wanted to share is that I have been learning (very slowly) to cultivate a heart of gratitude.

Have you ever thought about how easy it is to be discontented? All you have to do is decide you want something else. Seriously. You could be the world’s greatest mathematician but then decide you want to be a chef. You could have a very healthy family then tell yourself that you wish you weren’t a middle child because middle children generally get less attention. If you want to be ungrateful, you can be ungrateful, just go on social media, there will always be someone with a better car, more money, or a cooler job than you.

Conversely, if you want to be grateful you can choose to submit to a posture of gratitude and contentment. I am smiling as I write this because as I intentionally choose gratitude, I realize more and more what I have been blessed with. I find that so refreshing!

Initially, this post was meant to be on self-care but it kind of turned into a life update/ what I’ve been learning post. I guess I had a lot to say 🙈

Wishing you all the best friends!

With gratitude and kindness,

Jasmine ❤️

Bridal Shower 101

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Hey hey, guys! I don’t know if you’ve heard the news yet but my sister is getting married! And fortunately (or unfortunately lol), she has appointed me to be her maid of honor! As you probably already know, the maid of honor has a lot of responsibilities on her plate including planning a bridal shower. Luckily, I had some friends who have been in a similar position to help me out. To pay it forward, I would like to share with you some tips on how to plan a bridal shower and of course, there will be food!

The Invitations

First things first. Send out your invitations faaaaarrrr in advance (I think this tip pertains to anything wedding related).  I sent mine out at the end of May and the shower wasn’t until August 11th. I did that partly because I wanted to get it out of the way and partly because I wanted people to be able to clear their schedules. I used a website called Paperless Post to send out my invitations, which is a more formal platform. I chose this method because the invitations are visually appealing, you can set an automated reminder email (because ain’t nobody got time for that), and there’s a comment board where people can share their kind messages about the couple. I liked that everything was in one place so I didn’t have to worry about keeping track of whether people could come or not, etc. The only downside (other than having to pay) is that you have to get everyone’s email address; some people have several so you have to figure out which one works best for them. I paid about $15 for the invitations in total. If you want to go super simple you could use Facebook or Evite. Another option I considered was creating an invitation using Canva.

Honestly, the invitations are probably the part where you can afford to be a little lackadaisical if you really need to.

  

The Plan  

Planning is probably one of my least favorite things to do but in order to ensure all goes well, you must be organized. I typed out my plan on a Google Doc with several sub-categories such as Timeline, Theme, Meals/ groceries, and Other.  Under certain events or items, I also created a to-do list so I could remember what specific tasks need to be completed for each item. It’s basically like you’re writing out your vision on a piece of paper then jotting down feasible steps to obtain it. The goal is to make your ideas a reality.

Regardless of how much I planned I still had to change a few things around. For example, I omitted one of the games to make sure we were on time, I opted for some cheaper mini-activities, and I changed a few things on the menu. I even ended up changing the time from 1100 to 1400 which gave me more time to prep.

The host’s job is to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves (especially the bride). So feel out the situation and allow yourself to go with the flow.

Theme/ decor

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For the theme try to stick with two to three Colours. More than that will make it look messy. Our colours were mint, white and gold. We had no problem finding white decorations but mint and gold were a bit of a challenge. Pro tip: if you want to save a bit of time, order your decor off of Amazon. To ensure that the theme is outstanding, have an “Instagram table”. This is a center table that has a lot of decor on and around it -very picturesque or should I say Insta worthy 😏.

We also added little accents of the theme colours around the house -rose petals, streamers, calligraphy (done by my amazing cousin), and even flowers.

Games/ Activities

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So the games were super simple. They literally took me about 10 minutes to put together (thanks to my awesome friend who helped me out).

One game we played was “how well do you know the bride?”. For this game, I created three teams of 5-6 that would work in collaboration to correctly answer as many questions about the bride as possible. The team that gets the most questions right wins! Easy peasy!

How well does the bride know the groom- I asked my sister’s fiance around 20 questions and wrote down his answers (so he wouldn’t change them). Then during the shower, we FaceTimed him and asked the bride the same questions. Don’t ask simple questions for this game. You want to stump the bride and get a few laughs in the process.

Side activity one– Who doesn’t like a little guessing game? We played the classic “guess how many jelly beans are in a jar”.

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PS make sure there are prizes.

Side activity two- This was probably one of my favorite side activities. We hung a string from a couple of hooks and placed clothespins on it. On a small table, I had three sections of cue cards -date ideas, words of wisdom, and prayers. I paired each category with a different colored marker. Throughout the shower, the ladies wrote down their thoughts that aligned with the category they chose.

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Words of wisdom– Before the shower ended, I opened up the floor for any words of wisdom or encouragement the ladies wanted to say to the bride. On that note, I would like to share with you some wise words from my mother:

“There is no correlation between conflict and divorce, there is, however; a correlation between divorce and habitual avoidance of conflict.”

After speeches were given, we popped the champagne and I proposed a toast to the bride!

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Dance dance dance- ain’t a party without dancing right? Make sure you got an on and poppin’ playlist for this part!

I had another game ready for us but so I could avoid going over time and give people a chance to mingle/ take pictures, I decided to scratch it. Like I said, sometimes you need to improvise!

The food

This is probably what you have all been waiting for. Of course, I went ALL out for food. We had the shower later in the afternoon; if you do the same finger foods will suffice. But cooking is kind of my thing so I had to make it special. For this event, I abandoned my vegan recipes #sorrynotsorry.

Appetizers

– Tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole (guacamole was homemade, salsa was store-bought).

-Kabobs! I wanted to make meat kabobs but to save money and time I opted for sausage kabobs instead. I placed these bad boys in a pan, drizzled some olive oil over top, popped them in the oven at 350 Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Then drizzled them with some balsamic reduction and BAM! You got yourself a delicious appetizer.

Mains

We had risotto, roasted vegetables, jollof rice (a West African rice), kale salad, two types of chicken (sweet basil chicken and spicy rosemary) salmon, and some bread. Except for the jollof and bread, all of the recipes were created by yours truly!

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Desserts

Apple crumble and whipped cream. You can find my gluten-free apple crumble recipe here.

The cake was made by my wonderful friend Chidera from AzaryaLifestyle. You can find her recipe here.

We also had some watermelon and chocolate cake!

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Drinks 

Raspberry sparkler. I added a few frozen raspberries into a jar (this acts as the ice), lemon slices, with lemon juice, sparkling lime water, and some sprite. I would normally add a little bit of white wine to this drink as well!

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Always make sure you ask about dietary restrictions, the last thing you want is hungry guests!

Final Tips

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Ask for advice – As a young and fresh African gal, I know how to throw a party! But wasn’t too sure what a bridal shower entailed. One of my friends was the maid of honor for her sister’s wedding last year so I picked her brain on all things bridal showers. Pinterest is also a wonderful place to find inspiration.

Play to your strengths-  What are your strong suits? Is it planning? Cooking? Baking? decorating? Whatever it is, make sure you do things to the best of your abilities in that area!

Delegate- This isn’t the part where you get to boss people around. This is the part where you acknowledge that you’re human and you need to ask for help. For example, my cousin is very creative so I asked her to write out some calligraphy for me and went to her for advice on decorations. And my friend is an excellent baker so asked her to make a cake! I wanted an awesome playlist for the dance so I asked another friend to create one for me. My aunties helped me set up, get the place prepared, and clean afterward. Remember that in order to delegate effectively you need to know what needs to be done so stay organized :).

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Remember who you are doing this for- This is the last word of advice I want to give. This shower was for my sister, and if you’re throwing a bridal shower I’m sure it is for someone very close to you as well. Keep them at the forefront of your mind amidst all of the hustle and bustle. There will be times where you want to throw in the towel but instead, think of how happy they will be when it’s all done! Besides, they only get married once, it’s your job to help make it special.

“I have found the one whom my soul loves” -Song of Solomon 3:4

LOVE,

Jasmine

GFV Apple Crumble

I hope you all have very forgiving hearts as I didn’t post this recipe when I said I would 😦 But nobody’s perfect, right? I promise that the recipe itself will make up for any broken hearts!

I Love, love, apple crumble – it’s super easy to make and tastes like fall (I know it’s summer but still 😜). I decided to make a gluten-free version because I have a friend who is celiac and I wanted her to be able to enjoy this delicious dessert too!

On a side note: if you don’t have any food allergies recognize how blessed you are to be able to eat anything – you have the freedom to try different cuisines if your heart so desires. There’s no need to have a restrictive mindset when it comes to food, which is the whole premise of my blog!

But I digress! I hope you all enjoy this recipe and share it with your friends!

GFV (gluten-free vegan) Apple crumble recipe –Gluten-free, vegan, dairy free

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees!

Apples

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium (royal or green) apples diced
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon

Directions:

  • Mix all of the ingredients together
  • Place in 8×8 pan

Crumble:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of gluten-free oats
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of softened margarine

Directions:

  • Add all ingredients to a bowl
  • Mix with hands (give it some love 😉)
  • Pour crumble over apple mixture

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

Serve warm with some berries and vegan (or not vegan) whipped cream! Enjoy!

LOVE,

Jasmine

Vegan lentil stew

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Hello friends! If you know me, you know that I like to make one- pot wonders -throw everything into a pan, let it cook from which comes a rather large meal for a dinner party or for the rest of the week.  Well, my vegan lentil stew is one of those one-pot wonders. It’s full of flavor and super versatile. You can adjust the recipe to what you have on hand/ your flavor preferences.

I also made a step-by-step recipe video. Follow the link at the bottom for details.

So without further ado, here we go!

Vegan Lentil Stew (gluten-free, vegan, refined sugar-free) 

Ingredients: 

1/4 cup of olive oil
1 small onion diced
3 garlic cloves diced
3 chili peppers diced
1 zucchini diced into quarters
1/2 red bell pepper diced
1/2 green bell pepper diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper diced
1/2 orange
1/2 bell pepper diced
2 cups of chopped kale
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of lentils rinsed and drained
1 tbsp of maple syrup

Spices:
2 tbsp of turmeric
1/2 tsp of paprika
1tsp of salt
1 tsp of chili flakes
1/2 of cinnamon
1 tbsp of nutritional yeast
1tsp coriander
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp cloves

Directions: 
Pour olive oil into a large frying pan on medium-high. Reduce heat to medium. Add in: onions. Allow it to cook until translucent (5-10 minutes). Add in garlic. Crush mustard seeds, coriander, and cloves in a pestle add to frying pan. Stir and coat onions with spices. Add in zucchini. Turn heat up to medium-high and allow zucchini to cook for 2 minutes. add in half of the tumeric, add in bell peppers and chili peppers. Let cook for 5 minutes at medium. Add lentils, diced tomatoes, maple syrup, and the rest of the spices (salt, turmeric, chili flakes, cinnamon, nutritional yeast, paprika). Stir. Let the stew sit for 15 minutes on medium-low heat. Turn off the burner, add kale, stir in, cover the stew until the kale wilts.

Serve with rice, quinoa, or whatever you want!

Yields: 6-10 servings

For a full video of the recipe follow this link

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Enjoy!

LOVE,

Jasmine

Icebox Nanaimo bars

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Hey, Y’all! It’s been a hot minute since we last chatted. And I do mean hot because I’ve been cooking up a storm!

You might be thinking: what inspired you to create a Nanaimo bar recipe? Let me tell you the story behind this recipe. Once upon a time, a young gal named Jasmine bought some V expensive vegan Nanaimo bars and she thought to herself “Instead of spending all of my income on these Nanaimo bars, how about I make my own? Then the recipe was born…

My friend helped me name them “Icebox Nanaimo bars” because they are best served cold!

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Icebox Vegan Nanaimo bars (vegan, gluten-free) 

  • Yields: 16 bars
  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 2 hours

Crust: 

  • 1 1/2 cups of almonds ground
  • Toast 3/4 cup of medium unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/tsp of vanilla
  • 3/4 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 cup of dates soaked in hot water (pulse in a blender with a little bit of water (1/4 cup) until finely minced)

Directions: Mix crust in a medium-sized bowl. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper (or greased tin foil) and leave a few inches of the parchment paper on the two ends so you can easily lift it up. Grease the bottom with coconut oil,  spread crust flat.

Freeze for 30 minutes

Middle layer:

  • 1 1/2 cup of cashews soaked (soak in hot water for 1 hr)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 lemon squeezed (1/4 cup of lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup

Directions: Mix all together. Put in the freezer as you wait for the crust to harden to let it set. Pour mixture over crust. Freeze for 1 hour.

Top layer

So there are two options for the top layer:

First option:

  • 2 cups of vegan chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp of canola oil

Directions: melt chocolate chips using double boiler method. Once melted add in canola oil and mix together.

Second option:

This one is more tart

  • 1/2 cup (softened)
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp of cocoa powder

Directions: Mix ingredients in bowl. Make sure the coconut oil is softened (not fully melted!).

Cut tray of bars into squares. Dip the squares into chocolate mixture (use a spoon if needed). Freeze for 10 minutes. Plate and serve!

I hope you all enjoy!

LOVE,

Jasmine

Photos taken by my friend @thisisrebecca follow her on Instagram!

Food, fashion, fun: ice cream and Levi’s

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Hey hey friends! I’m starting this new blog series called Food, Fashion and Fun where I feature two of my loves (food and fashion) in one post!

Food: The weather has been super nice lately which is a perfect excuse for a cold treat! So I headed over to Village Ice Cream and grabbed a banana spice coconut milk ice cream. And yes, this is a vegan-friendly flavor! It tasted a bit like pumpkin spice to me and I really enjoyed it. So I would definitely recommend it to all of you Starbucks fanatics out there.

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Fashion: I decided to go on a bit of an adventure through downtown Calgary after putting together a super cute outfit fitting for the occasion. I wore a pair of high-waisted Levi’s (which added so much length to my already long legs haha), a classic Levi’s t-shirt (can you tell I love their stuff?), and a pair of fuschia strappy block heels. It was also a bit windy so I threw on a little bomber jacket! I appreciate how a few seemingly simple pieces can come together to create a pretty classic outfit. If you want to be a little less formal, instead of wearing the block heals, throw on a pair of sneakers instead.

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Fun: So this was more like work than fun but I helped my brother film an intro to his vlogging channel and in return, he took some bomb photos of me! I spent the afternoon roaming the streets of Calgary visiting a few hotspots like the downtown mall and Stephen Avenue!

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I hope you enjoyed this post, until next time!

LOVE

Jasmine