Wednesday, 3 September 2014

I am a tiny person who has dreamed of living in a tree house.

Perhaps I fell in love with the Ewoks' village community-driven living arrangements when I was a little girl, it was the only thing I loved about Star-Wars. Then I saw Lord of the Rings, the hobbit's homes definitely intrigued me and I soon began reading up on Earthships. Heck, Winnie the Pooh Bear even lives in a tiny space inside the trunk of a tree! So tiny eco-friendly homes are possible in Canada! You knew he's originally Canadian, right?

Posted Image

Farces aside, earlier this week Eric posted an article to my Facebook timeline on the concept of Tiny Living. It included the following infographic:

We have been discussing downsizing, we need to get out of debt. Selling our home at the price we paid for it three years ago would allow us to do that. Attracted to community living, the idea of sharing responsibilities and interests with another family with young children is VERY attractive. There are so many pros on top of saving money on bills and rent: she loves yoga, as do I but I'm not motivated to get up early enough in the morning to stretch and meditate. We could motivate each other and my commute to work would be shorter so I'd have more time to do it. They eat organic whole foods, we do too. They like gardening, we think growing food is vital to our sustainability. I need more positive feminine energy in my life and this would all be a beautiful adventure for our children, including my 12 year old step-son to whom I keep talking to about the importance of working together as a team.

The part that I don't know how to tackle is the "getting rid of stuff" part! I attach feelings to everything. Heck, I'm still wearing a piece of orange yarn on my wrist, which served as a festival bracelet when I went to Bhakti in the Woods more that three weeks ago. I like wearing it because to me, it represents the peacefulness. serenity and beautiful connections felt while I was at the event.

I also have large plastic containers at home holding pen pal letters dating back to elementary school. It feels like it would be a disgrace to get rid of them. I can't bring myself, yet, to dump them into the recycling bin. Then I keep ribbons, gift packaging, egg cartons and boxes for craft and entertainment purposes. Eric sorts and gets rid of stuff when I'm not around and we've had more than one argument about this in our seven years of cohabitation.

Is it because I grew up with a fear of lack and am still holding on to it? Perhaps but I've done lots of work to overcome that feeling already and see myself as abundant.

I'd like to know your thoughts on all of this. Do you hold on to your stuff, or "crap", as they say in the article? If so, why do you do it and if not, what makes it easy?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Gluten Free Multigrain Sunshine Flatbreads (with vegan variation)

I experimented a bunch in developing this recipe and finally, here it is, ready to be posted for you!

These gluten free - flours from scratch - flatbreads are da bomb! As fall approaches, people will be pulling out crockpots and stew recipes. These flatbreads are perfect to accompany chilli, stews and of course, curries.

You will love them even if it seems like a lot of work, it's simple to do and you can prepare several cups of flour and keep in labeled airtight jars. You can use a variety of flours, milks and oils, just watch the proportions.

I invite you to innovate and create your own sunny spice mixes but first, try one of the two mixes I wrote below. If you already know what will accompany your flatbreads, consider how to harmonize the spices with the taste of the other dish.

Sunshine Spices:
½ tbsp turmeric
Pinch of sea salt
Crushed chilli flakes
ground cardamom

Italian Spices:
Dried oregano parsley, marjoram and rosemary
Pinch of sea salt

Flour mix:
½ tbsp xantham gum
1 cup rice flour (white or brown)
1 cup corn meal
1 cup tapioca flour/starch
1 cup mixed flours of your choice, or another cup of rice flour
·        2/4 cup millet flour*
      ¼ cup quinoa flour
      ¼ cup black bean flour* 

To make flour, simply pulverize a grain or bean. Imagine how beneficial this will be, to grind your own quinoa instead of searching for and paying triple the price for quinoa flour. Plus, you can go organic!

4 large or 6 medium flatbreads:

1 cup flour mix
1 large egg (or 1 tbsp milled flax seed  and/or whole chia seed in 1/3 cup water)
1 cup milk (dairy, almond, soy, dairy, or other)
1 tbsp oil (avocado, olive, sesame or other)
¾ cup water
1 tsp jaggery (optional)

Drip consistence: like a crepe mix, thinner than a pancake mix.
Mix dry ingredients and using a whisk or mixer, beat in the egg, milk and oil until smooth and all flours are scraped from sides. Add water as needed for a drip consistency. 

Heat skillet or a non-stick pan with a drop of oil on the stove top and preheat oven at 350F. Cook the batter like you would crepes: using a ladle, drop batter at center of pan which you let droop towards the edges as you glide the pan in the air... as you set it down horizontally, have a mindful moment... bringing yourself back to now and back to the reasons why you are so lucky and happy and grateful to be here. What beautiful abundance there is in this fine dish! Why do I feel so rich and empowered?

Let the aromatic pancake sit on the high heat 5-8 seconds, it’s very quick. When bubbles appear at the surface, flip and cook for 20-30 seconds before transferring to the oven straight on the wire rack. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, flip once and serve slightly chewy or bake until crisp for about 10 more minutes each. 

If you are not eating them all in one sitting, it is best to crisp them up. You can turn the oven off and let them cool in there before storing in a container. You can also break them up into pieces to eat like crackers, they'll be easier to store than the round pancake shape.

The center got soggy with this test but it still tasted very good!

The eggless version needs more cooking time in the pan, on the first side, otherwise it collapses and folds over but you can still bake it, it'll be thicker. 

In my few beautiful Italian flatbread experiments, there was also added lentil flour so that plays in the balance of texture. I want to experiment using it for pizza crust next, that was Benjamin's idea. Here is his delightful testimonial: 
A few more tips before I finish: I use mason jars for everything around here these days, including storing flours. The milling blade that came with my baby bullet has been fantastic. What a gift! That’s what I’ve been using to make flours and almond meal and for walnuts for fudge, etc. *smile* Speaking of sweet things, jaggery, in case you’re wondering, is cane sugar and has a very subtle caramelized taste. I bought it at an Indian grocer. Tapioca flour or starch, they’re the same thing, is very affordable at Asian markets.

Did you like this recipe? Show us Your Sunshine! 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Mushroom Gravy - Gluten-Free, Vegan and Organic!

Organic mushrooms from our local Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) weekly basket.

To make this delightful gluten-free gravy, you will need:

  • 2 cubes of organic vegetable broth diluted in 1 1/2 cup warm water, set aside. This is your bouillon.
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • corn starch or chia seeds (optional)


  • In a small saucepan, sauté mushrooms and red onions in oil (we used organic cold pressed sunflower oil, also from our CSA).
  • Add sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Add the bouillon, stir, and bring to a boil.
  • Add 1/2 cup organic tomato paste (ours was bought in a can)
  • Reduce heat and let simmer until the desired consistency is reached. For quicker thickening, you can whisk in a teaspoon of corn starch or chia seeds.

Rhubarb and Raspberry Chia Jam

Ingredient measurements are approximate, sweeten to taste. I used organic cane sugar and frozen raspberries. You might want to double...

  • Simmer on medium heat: 1 cup cubed rhubarb, a handful of raspberries (or chopped strawberries)with 1/2 cup of water.
  • Stir frequently, taking care not to burn and adding water as required
  • Once the fruit have reduced to a sauce consistency (about 15 to 20 minutes), remove from heat.
  • While hot but not cooking, add 2 tablespoons of raw honey and/or organic sugar.
  • Add 1/4 cup of whole chia seeds and a teaspoon of milled flax seed.
  • Stir well and let stand to thicken.

Serve warm over pancakes, waffles or muffins. It is wonderful mixed with plain greek yogurt or on it's own by the spoonful for desert! great for adults and children!

Raw chia, honey and flax can certainly be cooked but I prefer keeping their goodness intact as much as possible.

To preserve for up to a couple of weeks, keep refrigerated in a glass jar with an airtight lid.

Protein Packed Pesto and Peas Stuffed Tomatoes

The end of the summer is approaching, it is my favourite season but I find comfort in the harvest!

We have friends we have potlucks with and Andrea told me you don't need to make pesto with pine nuts and she showed me. It was delicious and I came home with a huge bag of basil she gifted us.

That weekend, I made walnut and hemp basil and parsley pesto following this basic recipe I found on Pinterest. I used less parsley than the recipe called for, added some chili powder and turmeric as well as hemp and chili flakes.

That day we had begun pulling pea plants from the garden because they were dry and sporting brown spots on most leaves and pods.

Bye bye peas.
 Eric beautifully carved yellow and red tomatoes , removing seeds with a melon baller tool while I was processing together the walnuts, hemp, oil, garlic, salt, spices, parsley and handful upon handfuls of green and a bit of purple basil leaves.

We combined several tablespoons of the thick pesto with our peas and some hemp hearts.

Stuffed the tomatoes before sprinkling more hemp onto them.

 They baked in the oven for eight minutes at 400F and broiled for two minutes. These stuffed tomatoes can be eaten raw.

When I use the oven, I make a point out of using the oven! Our tomatoes baked alongside organic roasted potatoes and a beef roast while a gluten free gravy made from scratch with local mushrooms simmered, and snap peas steamed on the stove top.

Pesto can obviously be a delight with pasta and stir fries, it's nice added to warm soups and sour cream dips too. If you don't cook it you benefit from fuller nutrition so consider stirring it in to hot dishes just before serving.

What other nuts, herbs or spices have you used in your pesto? 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Kombucha Starter Kit - Instructions

If you have purchased from me a Kombucha Starter Kit, you will appreciate these instructions!

Photo by Amanda Porter.
The starter kit includes:

  • 250 ml glass jar with live culture a.k.a. mother culture 
  • kombucha a.k.a starter liquid
  • green and black tea bags
  • coffee filter
  • elastic band

You will also need:

  • 1 L glass jar a.k.a. your brewing vessel.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups pure water (no chlorine)
  • kettle or stove top to boil the water

  • Clean and dry your brewing vessel (large glass jar) with water and raw apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. Soaps, detergents and chlorine can negatively affect probiotic cultures.
  • Bring 1 cup of water to boil and use it to steep the teas in your brewing vessel
  • Add 1/2 cup of sugar (I use organic cane sugar) and stir until it dissolves, with a plastic or wooded spoon. It is best to avoid contact with metal when handling kombucha and the mother culture.
  • Let the sweet tea cool, adding the second cup of water to speed this up.
  • Once the sweet tea is at room temperature, add the starter liquid and culture.
  • Using the elastic band from your kit, attach the coffee filter or a cloth to the top of the jar. 
  • Place your brewing vessel in a well ventilated place, out of direct sun light, where it can breathe and be left undisturbed. 
  • 5 to 7 days later your kombucha should be ready. Give it a taste test. It should be tart but not vinegar. The longer it brews, the culture will use the sugar to make vinegar.
To learn about flavouring your kombucha, please read this previous post.

Enjoy your raw, homemade, alkaline, energy-boosting, probiotic kombucha!

Nathalie at the Bhakti In The Woods Festival, August 15 to 17, 2014.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Heal your gut and the rest will follow - a guest post by Toni Sicola

This blog post is an extract of a very interesting article, reproduced with the author's permission. Read on to discover why it is that if your gut isn’t working properly, nothing in your body can.

Toni, who's releasing her first e-book this summer for folk transitioning to the gluten-free lifestyle, and who's biography you will find below, is a wellness expert and in her article, she explains the link between gut health and overall health:

Vitality starts in the gut where we assimilate input from the outside world into resources for inside our bodies. Gut health is crucial for the health of every other system in our bodies. It affects our skin, our immune response, our hormones, our weight, or energy level, our bowel movements (obviously), even our MOOD and PERSONALITY. That’s right, there are studies being done now to attempt to isolate certain bacteria in the gut responsible for depression and anxiety. That level of detail hasn’t been worked out in the lab yet, but rest assured that altering the human biosphere to address any number of mental health problems is in the not-too-distant future.

The gut is often called our “second brain” due to the more than 500 million neurons that reside in the Enteric Nervous System.


In fact, communication between the gut and the brain is a two-way street, with information going from gut to brain far more often than we ever thought was the case. The term “gut feeling” is a lot less metaphorical and much more literal than you might think. A healthy gut means proper communication between the systems of the body.

So certain bacteria in our gut represent the body’s ability to fight off invaders, and they actually communicate with those neurons I just mentioned above. When the right bacteria are overtaken by the wrong ones, we start to see both acute and chronic malfunction in our bodies, often accompanied by inflammation and pain. A healthy gut means a healthy immune system.

It’s been shown that “bad” bacteria such as candida thrive on sugar and foods that quickly turn to sugar. When there’s an overgrowth of candida, the bacteria actually cause you to crave those foods that they like to eat! Likewise, when you have “good” bacteria at healthy levels in your gut, you’re more likely to crave a diet that they want to eat – one rich in fiber.

You might be surprised at some of the easy changes you can make to start improving your gut health today. Of the listed suggestions, (Read the full recent article here) for me personally eliminating sugar is by far the most challenging to stick with consistently. It might be a different story for you, but considering how much sugar we as a country consume every day, I’m guessing we might have this in common. Nathalie: "oh yes we do!"

If you completely eliminate sugar for at least two weeks, it will have a synergistic effect with the rest of the suggestions on this list. If you do all the things below but remain on a high-sugar diet, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle. Sugar is a highly inflammatory food. After your two weeks of cold turkey, test the waters with fresh berries or a small amount of dark chocolate, but pull back for another week or so of you see negative side-effects.

Toni's gut healing pointers include consuming foods rich in live cultures such as sauer kraut - which brings me to say that I have began experimenting and that my fermented vegetable recipes are coming soon to this blog! Another source of healthy probiotics is making your own unpasterized kombucha, like I do!

Toni Sicola is a wellness professional, holistic nutrition expert, and food enthusiast. In her day job, she manages the wellness program for over 5000 employees in 8 locations at Alameda Health System in the East Bay Area of California. She has a Master’s in Integrative Health Studies and a Certification in Integrative Wellness Coaching.
When she’s not working, Sicola is feeding her passions for cooking, gardening, rock climbing, creating, and playing with her dog Dexter. Her favorite places to be outside include the national and regional parks in Northern California, especially Yosemite, and her back yard garden. She loves to find ways to be creative in the kitchen, often using herself and her husband as guinea pigs for her latest ideas.
Sicola’s first e-book will be released this summer. She’ll be sharing her most practical tips for going gluten-free while continuing to live a sweet-rich life filled with delicious, satisfying, and nutritious foods. 
Visit her blog at, like her on Facebook at, and follow her on Twitter at @dailywellbeing. You can also join her mailing list to receive extra goodies each month including exclusive recipes, news, and an early copy of the e-book absolutely free.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

What’s an Afformation?

I guest posted for Toni at Cultivated Wellbeing! In case you didn’t see it, check out my article on using afformations

Afformations on Toni Sicola's Cultivated Wellbeing Blog

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Daily Toxicity

We know about toxicity which can be




We forget though, those toxins that can be self-induced.

Emotional boundaries are thus required and recommended.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

School Hacking (one word??)

I believe this would be an amazing gift to offer our children. Would need collective effort. Friends?

This Is What Happens When A Kid Leaves Traditional Education

Friday, 3 January 2014

Happy New Kombucha !!!

We're starting a new year, welcome, 2014!

I haven't written resolutions per se but do have several goals in mind for this year of divinity, (add up 2+0+1+4 = 7, the divine number!)  life and family.

Some of my health objectives include:
  • drinking more water;
  • remineralizing my body, I'm trying this product instead of a multivitamin (two pregnancies back to back took their toll on me!);
  • continue to heal my gut and keep it healthy (that's where kombucha comes in with its inexpensive source of probiotics);
  • avoid toxic ingredients including but not limited to sugar, gluten and artificial food;
  • follow a "sadhana" (daily practice i.e. meditation, yoga); and finally,
  • fit exercise into my busy schedule.
I first learned about kombucha online. I posted a few things to Facebook about it and turned out my friend Anne-Louise was already experimenting with a dehydrated SCOBY she had purchased at a local health food store. (La boite à grains in Hull). She messaged me this article and gifted me a SCOBY baby, at least six months ago, who has since become my mother - haha 

Anne-Louise and I at our first festival, offering kombucha (August 2014)

Here are some fabulous kombucha "how to" sites:

Anne-Louise came back on New Year's Eve, we drank kombucha and she introduced me to mulled wine. It was a fun visit! She said she is impressed with my experimenting. I wanted her to taste the kombucha in its most natural state so it wasn't flavoured.

This picture is of homemade ginger ale, the first jar is flavoured with lemongrass, then raspberry and the third is original ginger. If it were kombucha, it would look pretty much the same. It's just difficult to produce this large quantity of kombucha at one time unless you have a bunch of SCOBYs. Once flavor elements are added, fermentation can continue at room temperature, jars covered, and you might get some carbonation. a day or two later remove the flavourings and refrigerate (you can also use juice).
So, there are a couple of ways to brew kombucha, which in essence, is a fermented sweet tea (the process has similarities to brewing beer and wine as well as homemade ginger ale which is also a probiotic drink easy to make at home). With kombucha, each time a new brew is started, technically, a new SCOBY should form. In my case, that hasn't happened which is why I hadn't written about kombucha here until now. My New Year's brew has formed a SCOBY so I'm excited to share these perhaps disgusting pictures with you.

PS: I'm having a lot of fun writing this.

It takes a month to a month and a half for the kombucha to taste how I really like it. I keep it at the top of the kitchen cupboard for that time, with a coffee filter tied on with an elastic to allow the air to circulate and to prevent dust from entering what use to be a pickle jar.

SCOBY formed at the top of the liquid - mine has a bubble. because of it's appeareance, some refer to kombucha as "mushroom tea" but the SCOBY is a live yeast and bacterial culture, not necessarily a fungus.
there is a yeast deposit which I keep from one fermented batch to the next as I think it accelerates the process. Strings of yeast will form beneath the SCOBY as well.

These are required instruments, I like that I did not need to purchase new equipment. Avoid metal and soap (fuller instructions are found within links mentioned above) I'm only offering general lines.
colled down sweet tea is in the background for starting a fresh batch. What you see on the right is what we drank on December 31st! a good portion of the liquid stays in the jar as I use the continuous brew method.

As it ferments, the sweet tea and SCOBY should be left untouched in a warm airy location, protected from contaminants such as dust. Instructions I read said to use one cup of sugar but since I like the slight vinegary taste, I use 3/4 cup sugar when I start a new batch. I use raw apple cider vinegar and water (we're on a well) to clean the jar but I don't do it each time. Thus far, my kombucha has not been bubbly / carbonated.

My favourite flavourings have been:
  • rose petals,
  • lemongrass,
  • green apple,
  • blueberry, and
  • power kombucha (cocoa nibs, crushed bee pollen and maca)
I didn't enjoy as much as I had anticipated, the following:
  • green grape. or
  • raspberry
What's almost as fun as discovering a new SCOBY is watching my children chug down this probiotic home brew. We almost fight for it.

Here's a toast to your health in 2014 and beyond! Have you some healthy resolutions?


I hope you enjoyed this article, here's where else you can find me:

Nathalie Beaupre
Facebook Raw or Gluten Free Fan Page
Facebook Healthy Active Lifestyle Fan Page
Why Am I Perfect? Facebook Group dedicated to my published book
Canadian Healers Network on Facebook
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