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

 

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

Seasons

Hi friends!

Thanks for tuning in. Apologies for my absence, I’ve been going through a really rough season. I needed a break from unnecessary stimuli and instead, channel my energy into my close relationships and myself. I’m not going to get into the details of what I have been going through but I am going to share with you what I have learned/ am learning.

If your winter was anything like mine, you can attest to the fact that it has been a long one! And now we are finally getting some sun! Can you say dress and sandals weather?!

On that note, I think this winter is a fitting metaphor for the current state of my life -hardship, after hardship, and one thing causes another- will it ever end?! I’m generally a happy person who puts on a brave face most of the time but the consequences of doing so can literally be fatal. I hope that sharing what I have learned can serve as a tool for some.

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But before I jump in, I would like to open with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote:

“One illusion is the myth of time… “And time will work that out.” You’ve heard that I’m sure. These people fail to see that time is neutral and it can be used positively or negatively. The fact is that segregation horns have made a much more effective use of time than some other sources of good will, even the federal government.  I’m afraid that we may have to repent, not only for the blatant, vitriolic words of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” 

I know what you’re thinking, “Jasmine, Martin Luther King Jr. is great and all but what does his American Dream speech have to do with seasons?” I think, in this speech, he highlights an irrevocable fact about time- that it maintains a neutral position, therefore each individual has the freedom to choose how they will use it and merely doing nothing with will not suffice. So with each difficult season don’t just say to yourself “it will pass”, consider what you will do amidst it.

So here are a few of my reflective points during this heavy period.

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Get supported

One of the best things that I ever did was get a mentor. She has supported, advised, and celebrated with me during my setbacks and milestones. If you don’t already have a mentor or two (or three), get one! When you’re going through a difficult time the last thing you want to be doing is figuring out who you can talk to. You need to be able to talk to someone who is intentionally invested in your life, familiar with your situation, and detached enough to give you sound advice. Another huge source of support, besides my family, has been my friends. There are quite a few people that I know will be there for me when I am in need of some emergency TLC.

Sometimes getting support looks like seeing a professional. This can be extremely beneficial especially considering that they are well-equipped to help you deal with your situation. I understand that there may be a monetary deterrence but most professionals in these fields take your financial circumstances into consideration, using a sliding scale to determine the cost. If you are a student, your school may have free resources such as counselors, “boot camps”, and support groups.

Be grateful 

The last thing we want to do when we are going through a rough time is write down all of the things we can be grateful for. It’s tough, I know, but it’s so necessary especially if you want to remain remotely sane. When we choose to dwell on the negative (and sometimes we will) we must remember that it is our responsibility to take every thought captive and decide whether or not we are going to let it weigh us down.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -if anything is praiseworthy or excellent, think about such things” -Philippians 4:8 

I have a tough time doing this consistently so a few things that I do are: 1) Pray– tell God what you are grateful for. 2) Keep a gratitude journal -before you go to bed every night write down at least three specific things that you were grateful for that day. It can be something as simple as hearing the sound of the birds chirping when you woke up. It’s also great to be able to look back on your blessings. 3) Talk it out with friends- My friends have shed a positive light on my tough situations. Sometimes what I need is an external perspective.

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Use the quieter seasons to equip you for the stormy ones

Quiet/ reflective seasons are opportune times to do some introspection and consider what areas in your life need some revision. Something I personally need to work on is my self-talk. A lot of the time I can be my own worst enemy -choosing to internalize negative beliefs about myself and replaying them in my head over and over again. I know that when things get busy I almost immediately revert to this type of thinking. So when I find myself in a position where I have a little more time on my hands, it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up my bible and fill my heart with truth, go to life-giving events, and work on cultivating positive relationships. Again, it all comes down to what you choose to do with your time.

A few books that have really helped me combat this cognitive disposition are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies and Me, Myself and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild. Both books have challenged my way of thinking and provide practical ways to equip myself when these negative thoughts come to mind.

Another thing I have been challenged to do is intentionally rest. This looks different for everyone, whether it be sleeping-in a few days a week, hanging out with people you haven’t seen for a while, or reading a book or two. This is something I’m still learning to do but it has been a rewarding process.

Do the exact opposite of what you want to do

When I find myself in a rut all I want to do is stay in my bed and sulk in self-pity. But in no way is that helpful. It ends up turning into a self-perpetuating cycle. For example, I neglect exercise and become more prone to stress and anxiety. More often than not, the best thing to do is that healthy habit you’re neglecting.

So what is it that you don’t feel like doing today that you know will benefit you after it’s been done? Is it going for a walk? Eating a good meal? Hanging out with friends? Go do it!

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This too shall pass

I can’t take credit for this last point. One of my good friends constantly reminds me that a season is just that, a season. She told me “You may be upset now, but you won’t be upset forever, you may be anxious now, but you won’t be anxious forever.” With this insightful perspective, I can now see the metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel.

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I don’t think that my season has ended just yet but after winter does come spring so I’m hopeful. Stay hopeful friends.

LOVE,

Jasmine

 

Nutty Nola bars

There are weeks where I don’t really get the chance to go grocery shopping which means, I’m left to my own devices when it comes to snacks. So as a backup plan, I’ve developed a quick and simple granola bar recipe made from items I usually have in my pantry.

It was super easy to create. I literally just threw stuff in a bowl that I thought would work well together! I hope you can make use of this recipe when you find yourself in a snack shortage.

Nutty Nola Bars

-vegan, refined sugar free

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 2 1/2 cup of instant oats
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • 1/8 cup of ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • Extras/ optional: cranberries, almonds – I would add no more than 1/4 cup of each.

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix it all using your hands until al of the ingredients are well combined. In an oiled tray spread the ingredients in the pan so that it is about 1/2 an inch thick. You want to be sure you really even out the edges as they can get quite crumbly.

Place the bars on the oven for 20-30 minutes to bake or until they are slightly golden brown (it may take less time).

Once they are done, take the bars out of the oven and spread melted coconut oil overtop using a brush.

Let the bars cool for an hour. Cut into the bars but cutting off the edges first (I like to use that part as granola) then cutting the rest into 12 even bars.

Store in an air tight container and place on the fridge to keep them fresh! Enjoy!

Yields: 10-12 granola bars

LOVE,

Jasmine