About Me

My name is Christine. I'm a visual artist, musician, traditional storyteller, DV survivor, and have been a fulltime caregiver for an individual living with various diagnoses. After my marriage, I learned how to play various instruments, started exploring various means of creative expression, worked with at-risk teens/families, volunteered with the local crisis lines, participated in starting up a family resource center, completed my BA, furthered my studies towards becoming an art therapist, managed homes for adults living with disabilities, and facilitated therapeutic music/art sessions. I was doing everything I could so my children and I could have a brighter life, present and future. My physical health, however, continued to show evidence of too many chronic stressors over many decades. This blog is about my journey in discovering peace and better health by meeting life in the most basic and, in my opinion, the most rewarding of ways - by focusing on the riches of simplicity. If you're a new visitor to my blog, you might be interested in starting here: Finding the Riches.

Thursday, February 02, 2017


Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

(scroll down for CHOCOLATE GOODNESS!)

As hemp hearts continue to become more mainstream, entering grocery stores and kitchens with increasing frequency, many people are realizing their numerous health benefits.  Hemp hearts from Manitoba Harvest are the only ones I use.  Over the last few years, I've occasionally received emails asking how  hemp hearts can be used for more than just sprinkling on salads or adding to smoothies. 

As many of you know, I've come to a point in my own life when I'm now choosing vegetarianism and generally incorporate a larger portion of raw food than cooked food in my daily diet.  I am also mindful of glycemic load, gluten, and the relationship between alkaline/acid and disease.  I still often refer to http://www.nutritiondata.com for information regarding a more comprehensive list of food items.

Hemp hearts fit perfectly into all of those decisions, and they're so easy to work with in the kitchen.

I often have "first breakfast" when I wake up, then "second breakfast" later in the morning.  Here is today's second breakfast:  a few sips of organic lemon juice (followed by water to rinse the lemon from my teeth); cottage cheese mixed with chia seeds, hemp hearts, freshly-ground flax seeds, and a hint of powdered cayenne pepper;  half of a cucumber; dandelion tea with turmeric and cinnamon.  I often drink lemon juice shortly after waking in the morning, and then usually 2 or 3 more times throughout the day, always followed by water.  I also aim to have at least 30g of protein before noon each day - an easy task when hemp hearts provide approximately 10g of protein in just 3Tablespoons.


I'm often trying to think of simple ways to eat more hemp hearts because they're such a nutritional powerhouse.  My body doesn't want sweets the way it used to, but occasionally it's nice to have a few little treats around for a quick nutritional boost throughout the day.  And they're so easy to make!  You can experiment with the amounts of each ingredient. 

Here are two simple combinations I made today:

Ingredients:  dates, hemp hearts, chia seeds

Briefly "Pulse" then "Mix" 
I knew when it's finished because the mixture clumped together.
Separate into thirds, roll each into a ball.

And here they are!


The next "recipe" is for chocolate bites.  I used to make chocolates by melting fair-trade, unsweetened bakers' chocolate with honey and letting it cool then rolling it into balls.  However, with my ongoing desire to eat raw items when possible, I experimented with coconut oil, cocoa powder, and honey.  If you find the coconut oil taste to be too strong, you can add more cocoa powder. 

All Measurements are Approximate and You Can Experiment!
1Tablespoon of Coconut Oil, 1Tablespoon of Honey, 1.5-2Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder, 2Tablespoons of Hemp Hearts, 1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds,
2teaspoons of Pumpkin Pie Spice (Or Try Cinnamon),
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Into the Food Processor!
Briefly "Pulse" then "Mix" until a Ball Forms

Separate into Thirds and Roll into Balls

And Here They Are!
Chocolatey, Simple, Healthy Goodness!

 Here are some of the products I used today:



 P.S.  See that painting in the background?  Raye Anderson is the artist.  She is one of my all-time favourites, not only because storytelling takes you wherever she leads but also because her watercolours remind me of my childhood storybooks.


Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Juicing has become one of my favourite ways to get benefits from raw food into my body. 

But what about all that fibre left inside the juicer?  Fruit fibre has a myriad of uses, but that's a post for another day.  Usually I put vegetable fibre directly into a pot of stew or soup, or store it in the freezer. 

One day I decided to experiment and made


Tasty and so quick to make!

First, I made the juice:

Raw Carrot Juice

Raw Cabbage Juice

Raw Cucumber Juice

Total:  1/2 of a Cucumber, 2 Carrots, 1/4 of a Cabbage

Place Something Under Spout to Catch Drips.


Carefully Open Juicer.

Vegetable Pulp Inside the Juicer

Vegetable Pulp Inside the Top of the Juicer

The Pulp Already Easily Clumps Together

Scrape Pulp from Juicer into a Bowl.

Add 1 Egg.

Add Spice/Seasoning (I added Turmeric and Sea Salt).

Mix Together.

Roll into Small Balls and Flatten.

I cooked these in a cast iron pan with coconut oil.

Easy and Delicious!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Canada's Food Guide

When I was younger, Canada's Food Guide seemed to be considered by many around me as the epitome of nutritional information. I was fascinated by it, especially while learning which foods fit into which category. It was a good learning tool for exploring the basics of food-categorization and for learning the importance of nutrition.

Among my primary guides today are http://www.nutritiondata.com for providing nutritional data along with glycemic/inflammation information, and sites providing information regarding acid-forming and alkaline-forming foods:


For many things in life, I believe in the importance of embracing as well as balance. When it comes to food, however, I aim for mostly-alkaline with good glycemic/inflammation rating. I don't eat only alkaline-forming foods, but when I choose something that isn't clearly in that category, I do so to maintain a healthy alkaline/acid balance*, for nutritional value otherwise, and in small amounts. I do make a general exception when it comes to eating with friends, though it's been interesting to note that there are some foods which no longer hold interest for me and some that are much less of a draw than they used to be. Pretty cool, huh?

* Example: "To maintain health, the diet should consist of 60% alkaline forming foods and 40% acid forming foods.  To restore health, the diet should consist of 80% alkaline forming foods and 20% acid forming foods. Generally, alkaline forming foods include: most fruits, green vegetables, peas, beans, lentils, spices, herbs and seasonings, and seeds and nuts.
Generally, acid forming foods include: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, grains, and legumes."

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Lake-aholic me

I wish I could do justice in showing the lake in its splendor: the textures of the frozen ripples of water, snow and ice; the subtle shifts in shades of blues and greys and whites.

Dragon's Teeth 
 One of many nature-made quinzhees along the shoreline
I continue to be in awe of the wonders of beauty when I look out over the lake. There
are so many shades in the sky and across the snow and ice. I remain grateful and inspired.

 The vast variety of textures along the shoreline and across the surface of the lake are humbling and make me feel transported to an entirely different existence.


What To Do With Chia Seed

 I've had some emails lately from folks who are hesitant to use chia because they either don't know what to do with it or struggle with the taste/texture of having it with just water and aren't sure what else to do with it. This afternoon I was about to put together one of my favourite chia combinations and decided I'd share it with you :-)

Here's my chia seed in a bowl. When I make something with chia, I usually use about 3 Tablespoons.
Then I add water, usually about a cup.

 It only takes a minute or so before it starts to gel.
  After a few minutes its consistency is similar to oatmeal, though the texture is very different. It can also be left to soak overnight.
 For one of my all-time favourite chia dishes, I add in hemp hearts and milled flaxseed.
Then I add in tomato juice, and tadaa! (Sometimes I soak the chia seeds in the tomato juice instead of water, but I often do the water for the added hydration.) Mmmm, healthy tomatoey goodness that hits the spot and packs a great nutritional whallop: calcium, protein, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, fibre, omegas, hydration, amino acids, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, etc., etc., etc. No cooking, takes moments to prepare. Pretty cool, huh? 

Chia is also great for smoothies, in a variety of dishes either dry or soaked, and in drinks such as Chia Fresca. The seeds are small so they're easily swallowed and offer so many nutritional benefits that I won't go into here but are easily found online. All the best!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Morning Shift

Life has shifted.

Fall of 2013 has been the first season in his entire life when my son has been consistently getting up on his own in the mornings (and not at 4am as in years gone by) and getting dressed and ready for the day independently. I'm very proud of him.

For me, this has meant a major shift. Mornings are now quiet. Peaceful. And I now have the luxury of getting up on my own schedule rather than being woken by someone else's morning displeasures that continue until they leave the house - and sometimes beyond ;-) 

What a change! And very healing for the body, mind, and soul.

Calm and peace are first on my list in the morning. I often find myself coming out of a dream when I become aware of being awake in the morning, though not always. Sometimes I take a bit of time to remember what I've dreamt about but otherwise I start my exercises by watching the tree branches outside my window.

After a quick washroom break, I clean my teeth (baking soda, water, sometimes coconut oil, sometimes a natural toothpaste), and drink either a glass of plain water or water with baking soda. Then I move into the rest of my morning. My exercise time is for body, mind, and spirit. I meditate, do various stretches, exercise my focus, take time for creative free-flow thought, exercise my breathing, and purposely take time to feel a sense of wonder.
Then I indulge in my first breakfast. I'm a big fan of "smoothies" because I can toss all sorts of good stuff into the blender and drink it down: http://richesofsimplicity.blogspot.ca/2013/11/toss-anything-in.html.

This morning's first breakfast started with a pumpkin smoothie (frozen,/cooked pumpkin, banana, hemp hearts, water, chia seed, dehydrated kale, dehydrated spinach, maple syrup, cinnamon) followed by almonds followed by tomato juice:

My second breakfast was mashed chickpeas (garbanzo beans) that had been soaked (from dried) then cooked, mashed raw garlic mixed in with the chickpeas (a sort of hummus), cucumbers slices, and green tea.

My son is usually up by the time I've had or am having my second breakfast, and then our day together begins.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Toss Anything In!

Turmeric, dehydrated spinach, dehydrated kale, baking soda, dehydrated pumpkin,
frozen organic strawberries, organic banana, pomegranate juice
Almonds, dates, ground flaxseed, chia seed, hemp seed, cinnamon, water
I've had my share of discovered lumps over the years and tire of the waiting and the angst and everything involved in the medical procedures just to have lumps assessed. I've also lived with a generous share of stressors over the years. For all those reasons and many more, including my three wonderful children and my four beautiful grandchildren, I am very mindful of what I put into my body. I haven't always been mindful throughout my lifetime, but I sure am these days.
I really enjoy blending together healthy drinks. I get such a kick out of being able to toss in all sorts of good stuff and just drink it all down. For someone who wants to ingest certain foods on a daily basis, blended drinks are definitely a prime consideration. Every day, in addition to other fruits and vegetables, I aim to have quinoa, turmeric, baking soda, greens, a banana, pumpkin, ground flaxseed, maple syrup, a few nuts, chia seed, hemp hearts, and cinnamon - all of which are easily tossed into a blender. Sometimes I use various green/ herbal/organic teas in my drinks instead of nut milk, water, or juice. And to retain nutrients, I've also been eating most fruits and vegetables more frequently in their raw (usually dehydrated) form rather than cooked.
I also try to eat a bit of cacao each day as well as a bit of honey and a bit of coconut oil. I've tried taking apple cider vinegar every day and really, really struggle with the taste - my face contorts to a point where it might never return to its regular appearance. The health benefits will draw me back to trying it again at some point. I often use blackstrap molasses as a food supplement but I don't usually do so on a daily basis.
I consider the above to be the necessities in my daily eating. I usually try to get all that good stuff into me in the mornings and then fill in with other foods throughout the rest of the day. (That's not to say I don't eat other foods. I enjoy an occasional burger or eggs/toast or "Chinese" food when friends come to visit, and an occasional sandwich or "treat" with my son, etc.) I get my protein primarily through hemp, beans (bought dry then soaked and cooked), chia seed, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa. My calcium comes primarily from my chia seed, almonds, molasses, chickpeas, quinoa, and vegetables. And "vitamin" D? When not absorbing it outside during non-winter sunny days, I get a whopping hit of it from the hemp hearts.
Some folks have asked how I can afford to buy hemp hearts, chia seed, almonds, etc. It's all about choices. For example, I use Hemp hearts as one of my primary protein sources. One 454g bag costs me approximately $15. That amount of money doesn't buy very much meat these days. I eat 30g -60g of hemp hearts a day, though usually just 30. Here's a link providing nutritional information about hemp hearts: http://manitobaharvest.com/product/206/Hemp-Hearts-454g.html
When I cut out meat purchases, processed food, etc., I found that a big chunk of my grocery budget had been going into my body without providing much nutrition for my dollar. For awhile, I tried eating only really inexpensive "food" but found it didn't work - I felt hungry and unwell, not a good combination for parenting. Once I figured out how to adjust my budget to ensure I was getting decent nutrition, I found that nutritional eating didn't have to break the bank. I just learned to think about food differently. It's a lot of work through summer and into fall to stock up for winter, but it makes winter nutrition really simple. Now I view eating as sort of a science lab exercise, making sure I'm taking in enough protein, vitamins, calcium, etc., each day. And it's a fun exercise! I will point out, however ,that this has been a process. It's taken years to get to this nutritional place, and there were many periods of deep cravings. I believe, however, that we can train our brains to accept shifts in eating habits. Like so many other things in life, it just takes time.