With summer coming to a close, it’s time to turn our minds towards a new season and a new chapter! Whether you’re headed back to school or you’re simply setting fresh goals for yourself to coincide with Autumn’s arrival, now is the time for self-reflection and positive renewals!
As we prepare to face a new season of challenges and obstacles, it is important to reaffirm to ourselves that we CAN overcome whatever stands in our way!
I can’t help but be inspired by the incredible Penny Oleksiak, the 16-year-old Canadian who picked up two bronze medals, a silver, a gold, AND an Olympic record at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio!
The gold medal race where she shared the podium and the Olympic record with American swimmer, Simone Manuel, still takes my breath away! What a moment for our country!
The thing I find most inspiring about this young lady has to do with the fact that she left for Brazil with a few goals in mind and by the time she left, she had either met or exceeded her own expectations!
This is something we ALL have the power to do for ourselves and it is truly a matter of nourishing ourselves with the proper diet, regimen, and ATTITUDE on a consistent basis!
Oleksiak certainly appears to have done all three and will be heading back to school as a proud Olympic champion!
Speaking of back to school, we realize that returning to class can act as a source of anxiety for both teens and young adults alike. With a long road ahead that is sure to be filled with assignments, projects, and exams, it is critical that we also properly manage our stress levels throughout each day, month, and semester.
It has been demonstrated that our stress levels can significantly impact our physical and mental well-being. Negative stress levels are often associated with illness so it is important that we do our best to lessen the emotional toll that stress can heap upon our mind and body.
To decrease our stress levels, we need to balance our routines so that we are focusing upon ourselves as much as we focus upon our outward responsibilities. If you’re not right in your own mind, how can you expect to positively affect others and/or produce your best work?
When I think of the Fall, I get a little sad about what we’ll be leaving behind but I also get extremely excited for all of the new treasures that are about to come our way.
I get sorrowful about leaving the sun behind and having to close up the camp. However, everything is easier when you do it with friends!
Whenever we close up camp, we bring the pups along with us to make the most of the experience! The dogs love it up there and are always happy to help with whatever we need them for! See for yourself how happy these little guys are!
Having the dogs around always adds a little bounce to my step! Did you know it has been proven that pets can improve health and cognitive function? They can also help to decrease stress levels and bring about a heightened sense of calm. But did you know that the same goes for the people who stand within your circle? You are the company that you keep so make sure the ones you are spending the majority of your time with are propping you up rather than pulling you down!
As we mentioned earlier, diet is also a key component for staying physically and mentally fit! It is important that we are eating the best foods available to keep our heads clear and our energy levels raised! Before we left the cottage, my mother and I made sure to have one final healthy meal! Eating healthy all the time adds more pep to your step! We had lamb with our dish but you can easily swap it out for chicken, fish, or even tofu for the vegetarian and vegans! And just have a look at that gorgeous Chinese salad! Mmm mmm good!
When I refer to the abundance of treasures that come Autumn’s arrival, I am definitely speaking (in part) about the coming harvest season!
There is absolutely no comparison to homegrown organic vegetables. My father is amazing and can surely grow just about anything!
Here’s a great photo of Dad tending to some fresh potatoes:
Or even better, how about this capture of Dad picking out some fresh zucchini from his garden?
I know you’re all asking the question, so I’ll happily provide the answer: YES, I DO STEAL AS MANY VEGGIES AS POSSIBLE WHENEVER I STOP BY FOR A VISIT! ?
In fact, we made some delicious gluten-free muffins with this very zucchini! Take a look at how these beauties were looking just as we pulled them from the oven. My mouth is watering just thinking about how good these were!
As delectable as the muffins look in this picture, the camera still doesn’t do them justice. In fact, because these make for a tasty and healthy treat, I have to share the recipe with you so you can try it out for yourself! If any of you do attempt to make the muffins for yourself, I’d love to hear how they turned out! Please send us a picture to share your results with us!
GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS
- 1 cup rice flour and 1 cup of crushed/grated flax seed (both are gluten-free)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (don’t add gum if using a gluten-free flour mix that contains xanthan gum or guar gum)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- Optional: Substitute 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce for sugar, if desired
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup low fat sour cream (for dairy free version substitute applesauce or tofu for sour cream)
- 3 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini
- 3/4 cup gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Optional: Add 1/2 cup of crushed/grated walnuts (or another favourite nut of yours)
- Preheat oven to 350° F / 176° C
- Spray two 12-cup muffin tins with coconut oil
- Place rice flour, crushed/grated flax seed, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a medium bowl (use a wire whisk to mix and combine)
- In a large bowl, place oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla, and mix with an electric hand mixer until fluffy
- Stir in sour cream (or your dairy-free substitute) with shredded zucchini
- Stir flour mixture into batter until just combined
- Fold the chocolate chips into the mixture (add with crushed/grated walnuts or other nuts, if desired)
- Add batter to muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean)
- Allow to cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out
- Yields between 18-24 muffins!
- Can also be used for cakes/loaves – if baking a loaf, bake for 50 minutes
Try those out and tell me you haven’t been taken to a whole new world of flavour!!! I sure wish I had a fresh batch sitting next to me right now! What healthy foods and/or treats have you made a staple of your diet? I am always looking for new recipes to try out!
Of course, diet and mental health are not the only parts of our regimen that require extra discipline and attention. We also need to take care of our bodies, specifically, our skin! The changing elements can wreak havoc upon our skin and we need to ensure that we are taking steps to prevent harm!
Also, with it being back to school season, many teens and young adults are beginning to struggle with skin conditions such as acne. While many are predisposed to acne due to their genetic history, often times, acne arises due to hormonal changes and this can lead to stress, embarrassment, and a diminished sense of self-confidence.
It is tragic to think that anyone would be battling internal strife due to an unhappiness with their own appearance. However, due to the fact that our bodies are undergoing major transformations throughout our teenage years, it is understandable that younger individuals may struggle to cope with the seemingly never ending change.
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We know we can accomplish just about anything when we put our minds to it! So let’s ensure that we’re adding the right tools to our arsenal to ensure we achieve optimal success! Once we’ve properly equipped ourselves for all the challenges that are about to come our way, we should strive to set three personal goals each day that we hope to accomplish. It doesn’t matter if they’re big goals or small ones – when you set a goal for yourself and you cross it off your list, you can FEEL that you’ve really achieved something. It’s a great practice to work into your daily routine!
So, before we go, please let us know what your primary goal is this Fall – do you have plans to head back to school? Are you closing up your camp? Do you plan to work on improving your diet?
Please let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you and we’re wishing you the best of luck! We believe in you, Bellas!