Can we take a minute to talk about how quickly these past 4 months flew by?! It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through September and closing in on the end of 2016! Homestretch, folks! That’s probably more terrifying than a measly 4 months; nearly 12 have zoomed by with a blink of an eye. But I guess that’s what happens when we’re having fun… Or when you’re plain right busy.
I was fortunate enough get out of the country this summer and visit Croatia with a closed friend. I’ve never seen a country more beautiful in my life. We started our journey in Dubrovnik, a historical city in the south of the country, rented a car and drove up the coast to the top. What. A. Country. If it’s not already on your bucket list, scribble that down in permanent marker ’cause it sure is a site to see. I left my heart in Croatia. I’m still waiting for it to be FedEx’d back to me. Or maybe that’s just another reason to go back and get it. 😉
I spent the remainder of August with family and friends up at the cottage. I can tell you this, that’s where true relaxation resides. Morning runs in the woods and afternoons spent by the water is what my body was made for. I haven’t had the opportunity to spend that much uninterrupted quality time with my family in a long while. It brought immense joy and a calmness to my mind and body. No doubt. We swam, canoed, played endless games of pool (which my dad creamed us all in! He’s full of hidden talents that one…), we played darts, we danced, we cooked and ate until our hearts content! We spent hours laying out on floaties, catching up and absorbed by the stillness of the water. Every now and then a boat would zoom by and we’d be rocked by the rippling water coming our way. I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation. While driving back into the city, I made sure to carry that calmness with me and for a hot minute I felt like I was on permanent vacay mode. That was shortly lived.
Before I knew it I was returning to The Institute of Holistic Nutrition for the remainder of the program. That serene, vacation calmness quickly dissipated and we were right back into the swing of things. To be honest, it was quite bittersweet. It was great to be back with all the friends, refreshed and learning once more. With school coming to an end (three months…ahh!), it certainly has rattled our cages and not necessarily in a bad way. Come December the real fun begins as we’re let go from the cozy nutrition nest at IHN and sent off into the ‘real world‘, as they say. As exciting as that is, I know a lot of us are enjoying our role as little grasshoppers spending our days soaking up of their knowledge.
Apart from full-time school, I’ve began Spanish night classes twice a week. Hõla! This six-week intensive program is offered by The Spanish Centre, which is conveniently just up the road from my place. There are 8 of us in the class, making it super intimate, and we’ve become quite close in such a short amount of time. It’s fun to know we’ll be advancing to the intermediate level as a group too. The ongoing support and safe and friendly atmosphere really goes the extra mile when learning a new language.
Finally, I signed up for an another night course taking place Wednesday nights at IHN. This time it’s on Fat-Loss – Researched & Practical Applications. In this 7 week course, we’ll be learning about the role macronutrients play in metabolism, fat cell anatomy, endocrine (hormone) function, health markers that contribute to obesity, dietary manipulations that increase fat burning and exercise/meal plans. I couldn’t be more psyched. Having previously completed a course in endocrinology, this will certainly come in handy for helping future clients as hormones/thyroid function and weight go hand-in-hand. With Diabetes and weight-related illnesses being one of the leading causes of death, the more I educate myself in this field the more people I can help. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Well, my eyes are bigger than my stomach, but I know I can handle it.
So why Spanish? Here’s where the previously mentioned nerves set in. I’ve spent the better part of the year trying to pan out my future; where I want to live (for the time being, anyways), how I can use this knowledge to it’s highest potential, how I can help people on a larger scale and the services I can offer to the world. I found myself waking up in the night with a head full of ideas, quickly rolling over to jot them down in my phone. Like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle, I’ve been arranging and rearranging pieces slowly creating a bigger picture.
It’s no surprise to people who know me that I love the heat. In fact, I live for it. Lay me out in the middle of the desert and you’ve got yourself one happy lady. Heat, check! Secondly, I want to explore outside of Canada. I want to see more of the world and not just for two weeks. I want to immerse myself in another culture and soak in as much as I can. Having previously lived in Asia, I discovered I’m pretty good with languages and can pick them up relatively quickly. I debated going back to Bali and setting up roots there, but it’s such a distance from my family’s home base in Montreal, so I quickly let go of that idea. Australia was next, but distance was still an issue, so scratch that. I decided to explore more locally.
Central / South America has always been on my bucket list. If we’ve ever spoken about travelling, I’m sure to have said that C/S.A. was hard on my list of ‘must see’s’. However, if over a year ago you were to have asked me where anything was on a map, I would’ve stared at you blank in the face. Although that has now changed, it felt like there was this invisible pull towards S.A. and one morning I woke up and I thought, ‘…why the heck not!’ Previously, I had only considered it a vacation destination, but I quickly fell in love with the idea of moving there. After all, places like Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua are all hubs for yoga & health retreats. Just up my alley.
So I started my research and the more I read the more I fell for Panama. I decided to begin learning Spanish as soon as possible, and with my background in french it’s proven to be an enjoyable class. It’s safe to say I’ve full on turned into that crazy lady walking down the street, listening to podcasts and blurting out Spanish sentences as passersby cautiously look back in confusion. But I’m not too worried – this girls’ having fun. I’ll admit though, as fun as it is it’s also quite demanding as my schedule is pretty much packed solid. On one hand it’s a blessing because the time will fly by in no time, but on the other hand, such a busy schedule can be quite overwhelming.
I’ve noticed I’ve been resorting to quick and easy meals, and by meals I mean 2 eggs with avocado. Hey, this girl isn’t complaining – she loves them avocados, but I’ve certainly noticed I haven’t been cooking meal meals as much. But then again it was summer so who really cooks meals, right? I’m sure that’ll change in the weeks to come. Building on that, I’ve definitely learned to take a breather and to schedule in some down time too. 15 hour days outside of the house can be a recipe for exhaustion. Work hard. Rest harder. Haiii, Netflix.
As for Panama, I plan to make my way down the in the New Year and scope out different spots around the country. Like most plans, they shift and develop over time and it seems mine are ever evolving. But there’s beauty in that. For now, I’m enjoying the last few months at IHN and friends and family in this city.
Another thing I’m taking advantage of are the truck loads of pumpkins making their way into the city. I had the strongest cravings for granola this past week and thought I’d honour the most notorious fall squash and #basic spice of all – PUMPKIN. As soon as September 1st rolls in, as do the pumpkin-spiced everything. I can’t say I’ve ever been drawn to pumpkin-spiced drinks or desserts, but this Pumpkin & Maple Spiced Granola has sneaked it’s way into my top 5 foods. I’ve snacked on it by itself, with almond milk, over yogurt, with chia pudding and even let it soak overnight turning it into overnight oats. 🙂
Building on my Nut & Seed Granola recipe, I swapped out a few ingredients and replaced them with pumpkin purée and a medley of warming ground spices that create that pumpkin-spiced flavour. I’ve powered through 2 batches of this granola in just a week. I store my batches in 1L mason jars and keep them in the fridge. Storing it in the cupboard (in airtight containers like mason jars) works well too. I just find it keeps fresher in a cool place. If it even hangs around that long… 😉
Wishing you all a great rest of your September.
- 3.5 cups GF oats
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 320F
- In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Mix well
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Mix well.
- Poor wet ingredients over dry ingredients and give it a good stir. Don't be afraid to get in there with your hands!
- Once mixed, spread granola out evenly onto two baking sheets. Make sure everything is spread out nice and flat. If you like clusters of granola, leave some in little clumps throughout the baking process.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the oats begin to turn golden brown. Set the timer and give it a good stir every 10 minutes. Keep a watchful eye though! You'll notice as time goes on that the went granola will begin to toast up.
- When done, set aside to cool. The oats will harden even more during this time.
- Store in airtight containers and in the fridge or a cool, dry place for up to 2-3 weeks
- Warning - your house will smell delicious when making this! I made it before bed and it took everything in me not to have a bowl at 11pm! 🙂