Laveanne Lavender Fields: A Touch of Provence

This summer for me is a time of exploration in my own country’s backyard and to my delight, I didn’t have to venture far to discover something extraordinary. Lavender fields! Laveanne Lavender Fields is about an hour away from Toronto.

My friend Karolina joined me on this adventure one warm sunny July day.

We decided to take the scenic route to get to Laveanne, as opposed to the highway and we were in for a treat. We not only passed by little charming towns, but also saw so many greenery and rolling hills. The further away we were from Toronto, the more surreal it felt that we were travelling somewhere abroad.

When we stepped onto the property of Laveanne, we felt like we were transported into the lavender fields in Provence, France. The view of more than 10, 000 lavender plants was breathtaking and the fragrance of them were definitely in the air.

At Laveanne, July is blossom month. I was glad that I took some time out during July to visit this lovely haven with Karolina.

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We started our early morning at the charming boutique and were in heaven browsing through so many lavender products, mostly made on site. Then we strolled through the plant nursery. Finally we stopped in front of the big maple tree outside and were greeted by our yoga teacher, Elizabeth. She guided us on a 60 minute gentle yoga class outdoors and then a 30 minute meditation walk through the lavender labyrinth. Elizabeth gave her students an option to walk through the labyrinth barefoot or with shoes. I chose barefoot, so I can feel more connected to nature, and at the same time draw energy from earth, which is a practise known as “earthing”. I loved how earthing was combined with the walking meditation here!

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At the end of yoga class, we visited the pop-up restaurant on the terrace, overlooking the lavender fields, and enjoyed a variety of lavender infused food. Everything was so delicious!

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We originally anticipated spending a few hours here and ended up spending the whole day! We took time to stroll through the fields, take photos, and bask in the sun on one of the benches. Time seemed to just slip away quietly in this beautiful and tranquil environment.

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In the words of Karolina, “I felt like I was at a spiritual retreat.” Truer words were never spoken. Laveanne is a sweet haven where one can find peace and beauty away from the hustle bustle of city life, and feel rejuvenated body, mind and spirit at the end of the visit.

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Stop & Smell the Flowers

This long weekend I had the pleasure to spend some quality time with a few good friends whom I don’t see enough, due to our busy lives and schedules. Since Spring is upon us, we wanted to take advantage of the weather to go for a walk, searching for Cherry Blossoms at High Park.

Despite the fluctuation between sun and rain while we were at the park, I’m glad we were able to catch a glimpse of the remaining Cherry Blossoms and saw other beautiful flowers and plants too.

I had an opportunity to try some of my amateur photography skills. I’m excited to share with you the beauty of Spring at High Park because I think my photos did justice to what we witnessed at the park. Enjoy! 🙂

 

The famous Japanese Cherry Blossoms that return every Spring at High Park

The famous Japanese Cherry Blossoms that return every Spring at High Park

 

Gorgeous magnolias, that we mistaken for Cherry Blossoms at first when we couldn't find any. hehe

Gorgeous magnolias, that we mistaken for Cherry Blossoms at first when we couldn’t find any. hehe

 

Bright, colourful and cheerful tulips, another sign of Spring

Bright, colourful and cheerful tulips, another sign of Spring

 

I am not sure what type of flower this is, but I love the vividness of the purple, and since it's my favourite colour, I took a close up of it. ^^

I am not sure what type of flower this is, but I love the vividness of the purple, and since it’s my favourite colour, I took a close up of it. ^^

This weekend’s nature walk with my friends through the sun and rain helped me to remember that no matter how crazy busy life gets, we still need to take time to stop and smell the flowers along the way, on our own and/or with people we treasure. This thought reminded me of this beautiful quote/poem by Bruce Williamson, which I would like to leave with you as food for thought:

“Walk in the rain,
smell flowers,
stop along the way,
build sandcastles,
go on field trips,
find out how things work,
tell stories,
say the magic words,
trust the universe.”

 

Happy Spring to all of you out there! 🙂

XO,

Violet

 

Raw Mango Chocado Mousse

A few days ago I went grocery shopping for some much needed greens and local produce.  As I passed by the front of the store, I couldn’t help but notice the mangoes from Brazil were on sale.  The reason they were on sale, in my opinion, was because they were quite ripe.  Usually I would stay away from overly ripe fruits unless I really want to eat them immediately.  From previous experiences, I also know that sometimes an overly ripe fruit may be more rotten than you think.  When you peel it off, perhaps you can only eat 10-20% of it!  However, I also learned a very handy trick from my mom on how to tell when a mango is ready to be eaten, so I decided to give it a test (for some reason that day the mangoes were calling out to me, and I couldn’t step away from it! lol).  Thanks to my mom’s wise trick, I brought home a few of these perfectly ripe sweet mangoes! 🙂

Anyways,  I was planning to eat one on its own today as an afternoon snack, but then I  saw the ripe avocado and I was suddenly craving for something chocolatey as well.  Therefore, I thought about mixing all of them together.  Below, you will find the recipe to my successful Raw Mango Chocado Mousse, a refreshing twist to my Avo-Banana-Chocolate Mousse! (see https://violetseverydayadventure.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/avo-banana-chocolate-mousse/)

Whether you have it for a snack or dessert, on your own or served to your loved ones and/or friends, I hope you will enjoy its flavours as much as I did! 🙂

A perfect blend of tangy and sweet healthiness using only 6 ingredients !

A perfect blend of tangy and sweet healthiness using only 7 raw ingredients!  Plus, the combination of avocado, mango and flaxseeds contributes to beautiful glowing skin! 🙂

 

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Blending Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: about 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 small ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, diced

1 ripe mango, peeled, seeded, diced

2 tablespoons flaxseeds

1 tablespoon cacao powder

2-3 tablespoons natural maple syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup filtered water

Optional: use a few remaining mango cubes and a handful of raw cacao nibs as topping

 

Special Notes: 

Sweetness- You can control the degree of sweetness by reducing the amount of maple syrup to your preference.

Avocado- It is filled with fiber and healthy fats, lowers cholesterol,  and keeps skin smooth and youthful.  It helps protect the body from heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases. (info taken from my Avocado, Blueberry & Kale Salad Recipe: https://violetseverydayadventure.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/a-scrumptious-simple-satisfying-superfoods-salad/)

Mango- Eating this nutritionally rich fruit is good for you in so many ways!   To name a few health benefits from eating it: it is anti-cancer, alkalizing and has a low glycemic index (regulates blood sugar level).  Also, it aids in digestion and clears the skin!

Flaxseeds-  I love adding them into almost anything! 🙂  They are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids (good fats), lignans and fibre.  In fact, they have among the highest level of fibre in any food.  They help stabilize blood sugar, promoting cleansing.  Also, including them into your diet will help in having radiant and youthful skin.  However, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should avoid consuming them. (info taken from my Super Bite-Sized Peanut Butter Balls Recipe: https://violetseverydayadventure.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/super-bite-sized-peanut-butter-balls/)

 

Instructions:

  1. Put avocado, mango, flaxseeds, cacao powder, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a blender.
  2. Add water slowly, one tablespoon of water at a time to achieve creamy consistency.
  3. Sprinkle a handful of raw cacao nibs (along with remaining mango if you like) at the top.
  4. Enjoy immediately! 🙂

Storage: can be refrigerated up to 2 hours, then must be consumed.

 

*To find out more about nutritional and health benefits of mangoes, read:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-health-benefits-of-mangos.html

http://healthmeup.com/photogallery-healthy-living/mango-health-benefits-15-healthy-reasons-to-eat-mangoes/20986

A Simple & Satisfying Superfoods Salad!

My Avocado, Blueberry and Kale Salad, minus the chia seeds and pumpkin seeds.  In my haste to eat it, I forgot to add them for the photo!

My Avocado, Blueberry and Kale Salad, minus the chia seeds and pumpkin seeds. In my haste to eat it, I forgot to add them for the photo!

Lately, I’ve been absorbed in reading about the kinds of healthy food we should eat to maintain good health and nutrition.  I learned about the “superfoods”.  It is a term coined for food that have many health and healing benefits and nutrients for the body.  I have been slowly adding some of them into my daily diet.  Of course, there are so many of them, that one can get overwhelmed.  Therefore, it’s one day at a time for me!

Anyways, the other night I was flipping through my newly purchased book written by Kimberly Snyder called The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Beauty Foods that Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You, and was excited to try her Blueberry & Avocado Salad recipe, since I love both of these superfoods, and knew I had them in stock.  Today seemed like the perfect day to try it out as I felt like having something light and refreshing for lunch.

In my journey of healthy eating so far, I learned that making your own food is so much better because you control what goes into your mouth, and ultimately your body!

Without further ado, please enjoy my version of the salad, inspired by Kimberly Snyder, using some other superfoods.  I guarantee that you will find this salad simple to taste and make, but very satisfying!

VIOLET’S AVOCADO, BLUEBERRY & KALE SALAD

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup kale leaves

1 cup blueberries

1/2 or 1 peeled and chopped into cubes/sliced avocado (the amount depends on how filling you want your salad)

1-2 wedges of lemon

1 tablespoon of chia seeds or pumpkin seeds (or both if you prefer, both are a source of protein; if you prefer to eat your salad without them, you can also leave them out)

Instructions:

  1. Wash, drain and dry blueberries and kale.
  2. Toss kale and blueberries together in a salad bowl with freshly squeezed lemon juice from the wedge of lemon.
  3. Place chopped/sliced avocado on top of the salad, and if you prefer, you can also squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on them.
  4. If you have chia seeds and/or pumpkin seeds, sprinkle them into the salad as well.
  5. Mix the salad and enjoy!

Special Information on Each Superfood & Its Benefits:

Avocado- It is filled with fiber and healthy fats, lowers cholesterol,  and keeps skin smooth and youthful.  It helps protect the body from heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases.

Blueberries- They are high in water and fiber, which help to cut down sugar cravings.  They make eyes (the antioxidant anthocyanin strengthens eyes and vision) and skin beautiful, plus promote brain function, lower stress level, and boost energy.  They also help to prevent the body from diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stomach ulcers and high blood pressure.

Chia Seeds- They are high in fiber, antioxidants, omega-3 fats, protein, calcium, potassium and iron.  They are a good workout food, as they supply the body with strengthening and toning nutrients.  They also help with digestion.  The most amazing thing about this superfood is that they swell more than 5 times their weight in liquid so it means when you add 1-2 tablespoons of them to meals, you will feel fuller faster, and have a long burning source of energy.

Kale-  It is rich in iron, copper, minerals, vitamins A, C, E and K, magnesium,  calcium, and omega-3 fats, and antioxidants.  It is high in fiber so it helps to tone up the body, and make it strong and resilient.  Also, it is an anti-cancer and anti-aging food!  One cup of kale provides about 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.  Other interesting facts about this superfood is that per calorie, it has more iron than beef, and more calcium than milk!  No wonder it is called “the new beef” and “the queen of greens”!!

Lemon- It is rich in vitamin C, balances our pH level, detoxifies the liver, helps to eliminate waste in our body and improves our digestion.

Pumpkin Seeds- They are rich in zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, sulfur, vitamins A, B, C, E, K, fatty acids, and protein, and contribute to the growth of healthy and shiny hair.  The high zinc content helps in avoiding acne and other skin imbalances.  They help stabilize blood sugar which means weight loss.  Like the lemon, they balance the body’s pH level.  A great fact to know, if you’re looking into moving away from getting protein from meat, is that a 1/4 cup serving of pumpkin seeds provides approximately 16 percent of your daily value of protein.

Sources I took information from, and if you would like to read more about each superfood:

The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Beauty Foods that Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You by Kimberly Snyder

http://www.naturalnews.com/038324_food_superfood_nutritional_density.html

http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2012/03/31/12-superfoods-for-a-healthier-lifestyle/

http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2011/08/23/5-superfoods-that-improve-your-memory/

http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2011/06/07/25-snacks-that-will-give-you-energy-througout-the-day/

http://www.drfranklipman.com/the-super-7-foods-with-benefits/

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8354/5-amazing-benefits-of-drinking-lemon-water.html

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/16-health-benefits-of-lemons.html

http://getmotivatedpaige.blogspot.ca/2013/01/10-reasons-lemon-juice-is-superfood.html

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-health-benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/253658-what-are-the-benefits-of-eating-pumpkin-seeds/

What are your favourite superfoods, and how do you eat them?

I would love to hear how you add them into your diet, and learn some new recipes for my healthy eating lifestyle!

Thanks & Love, Violet