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Get Mugged

It is a fact that chocolate makes everything better; no matter what is happening in your world or the whole universe, chocolate will comfort you, never disagree with you, never cause you stress, and best of all it’s healthy.

 

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Health benefits of cocoa bean:

  • Powerful source of antioxidants.
  • May reduce heart disease risk.
  • May improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
  • Raises HDL and protects LDL from oxidation.
  • May protect your skin from the sun.
  • Could improve brain function.

I know what you’re thinking—“Selena is a self-professed chocolate guru/chocoholic, of course she’d say chocolate is an important part of a balance diet.”

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There is that, but Mayo Clinic does agree with me. Click here to read how chocolate can be part of a nutritional and healthy eating plan.

CHOCOLATE MUG CAKE

 

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Go get mugged with this easy, quick (takes less than 10 minutes to make) recipe for those times when you need chocolate to satisfy a craving.

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 TBSP powered peanut butter (or creamy peanut butter)
1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
2 TBSP warm milk (or warm water)
1 egg white
1 tsp. olive oil (or canola oil)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. maple syrup (or 1 tsp. agave nectar – or – 1 tsp golden syrup)
1/4 tsp. baking powder

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Spray a 10-12 oz mug with non-stick spray

2.  Add all the ingredients in a small bowl, and stir well together, until smooth.

3.  Pour the mixture into the mug.

4.  Microwave on high for 60 – 90 seconds (will depend on your microwave’s wattage) or until center of the cake is done.

5. Serve warm.

Top it with your favourite yogurt and fruit, (I topped mine with vanilla Greek yogurt and berries) or whipping cream, or chocolate chips—get creative.

Enjoy in good health!

 

Long Live Chocolate

 

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Cadbury eggs move over—it’s ZEPPOLE time

It’s that time of the year again, where everyone is hunting down Cadbury Easter Eggs, chocolate bunnies, or marshmallow eggs, so why not raise your sweet tooth bar a little higher and bake up a batch of these heavenly balls of dough—ZEPPOLE.

 

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Zeppoles are deep-fried dough balls, topped with powdered sugar.

However, as is with most things of my people, every household has their own recipe. Some recipes including filling the dough with pastry cream, custard or butter and honey.

I am sharing my family’s recipe for Zeppole.

Get your Italian on and fry up a batch.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
2 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
zest of a small lemon
1 stick butter (or 1/2 cup)
1 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs
Olive oil (for frying, and use the light olive oil, not the extra-virgin kind)
powered sugar (in Canada we call this icing sugar, in USA it is called confectioner sugar)

Directions:

In a bowl mix together: 1/2 cup of sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and lemon zest. Set aside.

Turn your stove on to medium heat, and using a saucepan, combine the following in the saucepan: butter, 3 TBSP sugar and the water.

Stirring constantly, bring this to a boil.

Once it has boiled, remove from the stove and stir in the flour.

Return the saucepan to the stove, and keep stirring until the mixture forms a ball. Continue stirring for 5 minutes.

Take mixture from saucepan and add to the sugar/cinnamon/vanilla/lemon bowl you had set aside (or if you prefer to use a food processor you can put it in there).

Using a hand mixer (or food processor), add your eggs one at a time, so that each egg is mixed in well with the dough.

Continue beating until mixture is smooth.

At this point you are going to fry the dough, but if you want to do it later, you can. Simply cover the bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate and fry them later.

TO FRY THEM:

Add enough oil into a large frying pan (about 2 inches). Heat oil over medium heat.

Fry them in batches so they are not crowding each other.

When oil is hot, using a melon baller, or small ice cream scooper or a tablespoon and drop the dough into the hot oil. Turn the zeppole a few times so that all sides get a nice golden color.

Once they are all puffed up and golden on all sides (takes about 5 minutes) place each one on paper towels.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, and if you like, you can sprinkle with cinnamon as well.

Best eaten right after they are made.

Let me know if you have any questions about this recipe if you give it a try.

Feel free to post your favorite traditional recipe as well.

Zepoli

Growing Up Italian

Growing Up Italian

 

  • The word calm is not in the Italian dictionary.

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  • Thanksgiving dinner included; antipasto platter, lasagna, meatballs. Turkey was a side.
  • I don’t want to be that girl, but roasted peppers, Nutella, pesto, deep fried zucchini was a staple for us way before it was trendy.
  • You learned how to make pasta before entering Kindergarten, and you didn’t practice with play dough.
  • When your friends came to your place to play, they were asked no fewer than five times if they were hungry.

 

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  •  We had gardens—not flower gardens. Huge gardens with rows and rows of tomatoes, along with peppers, basil, squash and zucchini.
  • We knew that the word “Latte” is an Italian’s way of saying, “You paid way too much for that coffee.”
  • It is drilled into your mind at a very young age how to make pizza, but if you have absolutely no choice then you know how to order pizza properly, asking for 75% less cheese than your non-Italian friends would order.

 

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  • You have multiple family members named Maria, Angela, Joe, Tony and at least two Uncle Mario’s.
  • You know how to properly pronounce “gnocchi,” “bruschetta,” and “tagliatelle,” which means you’re the spokesperson when out to dinner with your non-Italian friends and family.
  • Salad was always eaten AFTER the main course. (I still do this.)

 

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  • Chamomile tea cures everything.
  • Every Sunday afternoon lunch time with extended family started at 1:00 and ended at 6:00, and there was enough food for everyone to have a second helping and take food home for their week’s lunches.
  • Your Saints day is even more celebrated than your birthday. (Except for me, I don’t have a Saint’s day, but then again I was born in Canada, and that seems to be a loophole according to my siblings, which brings me to the next point).
  • If you were the first generation Canadian, your siblings convinced you that you were adopted.
  • Shocked when you heard someone’s last name did not end in a vowel.
  • Surprised to discover that wine was sold in stores. Wasn’t everyone’s basement a winery?
  • NO VOLUME CONTROL WHEN THE FAMILY GETS TOGETHER.
  • You know a lot of people who came from the same village as your parents or grandparents, they’re not blood related, but call them Aunt, Uncle anyway.

 

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  • Thought everyone got pinched on the cheeks and had money stuffed in their pockets by their relatives.
  • You couldn’t date a boy without getting approval from your mother, father, brothers, sister, a nanna and nonno if they are in the picture, and a few uncles and aunts, by that time, you didn’t have to worry about dating. Ever again.
  • You have at least one irrational fear or phobia that can be attributed to your mother, which of course you pass on to your own children when the time is right.
  • You know that it doesn’t matter what happens; loss of job, divorce, headache, flu, clumsiness….it’s all because you did not eat properly that day and of course, you didn’t listen to your parents.
  • No matter what city you are in, you need to go and visit their Little Italy.
  •  You did the dishes for Nonna or a Zia (Aunt) and got $50.00.

 

All this and more, but you love every minute of it, and look forward to sharing these traditions with the next generation. 

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“Warning! Asses directly in front of you may be closer than they appear.”

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After a long absence—and by long, I mean over two years—from any type of Yoga, I’ve re-entered the twist and sometimes shout world of attempting to perfect the tripod headstand with Lotus legs (hey, one can dream).

My bestie and partner in many crimes (and may I add, great writer and Podcast personality. Jasmine Aziz) and I have partnered up as Bendy Accountable Buddies, re-entering the Yoga world of hurt together (this program is called Yoga Burn, and baby, does it burn).

 

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With that in mind, I am re-blogging the following post of the time I first entered the Zen world (although, with me, finding my Zen meant figuring out how to wake up my left foot after it fell asleep).

I hope you enjoy this re-posted blog.

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A few months ago, I decided to try anti-gravity yoga. Great fun until you injure your shoulder and are told to take up a less strenuous yoga class.

I did love being upside down and pretending I was part of the Cirque de Soleil troop. However, I had to give up that class and at the anti-gravity yogini’s suggestion, I now attend a Hatha Yoga class.

Hatha Yoga is all about breathing exercises, meditating and gentle poses.

Okay, I can do that. Easy stuff. Right?

I was off to Yoga class armed with a fierce determination to stay focused during the whole class. I was raring to go, equipped with the mandatory (and may I add, cool) yoga kit:

A sticky pink yoga mat—sticky as in sticks to the wooden floor. Not sticky as in—when a person smuggles in a smoothie instead of water inside their water bottle and said smoothie is accidentally knocked over. (It only happened to me once)

Two blocks—used to lean on, not to build a little bridge for any tiny ants that may have slipped into the room.

A bandage—don’t ask, it’s rather complicated.

A chiropractor on speed dial—–you can ask, but you won’t believe it.

My mind was in focus mode. My gear was all organized and I sat and waited for the Yogini to start the class.

 What the hell is a third eye?

 

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I noticed Yogini got new tattoos on her arms. She now had what they called sleeves on each arm.

That must have hurt like a mother…wait, don’t let mind wander…stay focused.

I looked out the window in front of me, instead of trying to figure out what Yogini’s new tattoos symbolized.

As everyone was getting themselves organized, Yogini looked around and commented that there were many new faces.

Yogini has great powers of observation, because I hadn’t noticed any new members, but then again, I keep to myself in these classes…being an introvert and all.

Yogini asked if anyone had any questions before we started.

As you probably have all experienced, there’s always someone in any class that takes this question literally. Their expression usually looks like a question mark at all times.

Sure enough, the lady on my left raised her hand.

Cripes, lady, we’re not in school, just ask already. I have meditating and focusing to get into.

Yogini nodded to her and Ms. Question Mark started off by gushing on how much she loved Yogini’s methods and how this was the best class and…that’s when I. Checked. Out.

I thought about what I wanted to accomplish today, mentally making a check list.

That done, I focused on Yogini’s arms and her new tattoo’s, trying to figure out what they were.

There were stars (I think), a dinosaur (I think) and an upside down cross (I think).

One thing I did know for sure was that they were all the same color in different shades.

Blue.

The thing that looked like a dinosaur was a neon blue…okay, not neon, but I’d never seen a tattoo that bright.

The color reminded me of the Smurfs.

I know what you’re thinking; how do dinosaurs and Smurfs compute?

The Yoga studio is across the street from the movie complex and through one window I could see the huge posters advertising movies.

The Smurf Movie.

This got me thinking.

Should the Smurfs be a kid’s movie?

Think about it.

There’s a village filled with boy Smurfs, baby Smurf and Papa Smurf. Then you have Smurfette.

This is where it gets dicey…who is Baby Smurf’s baby daddy?

Hollywood needs to reevaluate what is deemed appropriate for children.

Ms. Question Mark interrupted my deep thoughts, when she said, “Thanks for the explanation.”

“As I said,” Yogini answered. “It’s nothing to worry about. It’s common and in time, it will pass.”

Huh? What’s common? What will pass?

Now, I’m curious.

“I sure hope so,” the woman with the matching Lululemon yoga outfit, mat and water bottle said. “We were talking about this before class, because it also happens to me.”

Ms. Lululemon smiled at Ms. Question Mark (BFF’s for sure), proud they talked about this. Whatever the hell this was.

“It was a good question,” Yogini said, and glanced around the room. “Anyone else find this a problem?”

I looked around and it seemed everyone was nodding.

Should I nod as well? Shit, what should I do? I’ll stand out if I don’t nod. I’ll be the only one who doesn’t find whatever the hell this is a problem if I don’t nod.

Dammit, why didn’t I pay attention? Damn Smurfs, it’s all their fault.

I don’t go in for sheep mentality, but I didn’t want Yogini to think I wasn’t paying attention. Again.

No, not only did I nod, I enthusiastically said, “Yes. It’s a real pain in the ass when that happens, isn’t it?” And smiled at Ms. Question Mark to let her know I understood her problem. (Which of course I had no frickin’ clue).

Ms. Question Mark shot me such a filthy look, that if looks could kill, I’d be crossing over toward the white light.

The Yogini said, “Oh, it’s the first time I ever heard that it caused pain.”

I kid you not; I heard a collective gasp and then more than a few people laugh.

Oh, shit, what the hell did I admit to?

Yogini then looked concerned. “We can discuss this in private after class.”

Yeah, like that’s going to happen. I’m running the hell out of here after class.

Some people were still chuckling and it was beginning to piss me off.

Well, actually, I was super pissed at myself for not having more patience to listen to Ms. Question Mark’s query.

Yogini asked us all to settle down and then started the class. “Close your eyes. Clear your mind. Inhale deeply. Hold your breath in for 60 seconds and focus your energy at the third eye and mentally chant ‘Ohmmmm.’”

What the hell is a third eye? Maybe that’s what they were asking about? How the hell do I chant Ohmmm, when I’m holding my breath for sixty seconds?

I know I live in the State of Confusion when attending these classes, but today I was residing in The Universe of Confusion.

I closed my eyes and chanted, “Ohmmmm…”

“Not out loud,” Ms. Question Mark said. “She said mentally chant.”

Then she clicked her tongue as if I was annoying her.

“Chant this.” (Did I say that out loud?)

“Take in your breaths from your core,” Yogini said. “Then slowly exhale.”

The BBF’S were really into this.

Ms. Lululemon sounded like she was starring in a porn flick.

Ms. Question Mark was going at it so loud that I was sure she’d be needing a cigarette after class (or chocolate covered jelly beans—because you know not everyone smokes after a good…..O….Ohhhmmm).

The lady next to Ms. Lululemon, kept turning around, staring at me, looking like she had a hard time keeping a straight face.

Why? I have no clue. I swear I did not express the above mentioned thoughts about the BFF’s out loud.

Yogini then instructed us to slowly stand for downward dog pose.

Cripes, one of these women in the room obviously didn’t read the sign that says: No scent makes good sense? I think I’m going to puke.

Wait, did I just say that out loud? Shit. Okay, I can cover this up. I’ll smile and pretend it wasn’t me.

I’m downward dogging at this point.

They really should have a sign in this room that says, “Warning! Asses directly in front of you may be closer than they appear.”

I’m such a bitch.

Yogini then instructs us to slowly stand straight and to turn to the left.

As I experience head rush, standing straight, Ms. Question Mark turned to me and whispered, “I was asking a serious question about flatulence. You didn’t have to be sarcastic with your pain in the ass remark.”

F-L-A-T-U-L-A-N-C-E????

That’s what she was asking about?

Okay, let me stop here for a minute.

Those of you who know me, know that I can not, will not ever; say, type or even want to read THAT four-letter “F” (no, not Fuck, I can say, type that all day long) it’s “F” word used for flatulence (it’s one of my quirks), much less participate in a discussion about it.

O.M.G. I said it was a pain in the ass!

I did not respond to Ms. Question Mark, except to indicate that she should turn to face the wall.

We were instructed to bend over slowly and walk our hands in front and be mindful of the person in front of us.

While doing this, I remembered the tail end of the conversation and Yogini’s answer of, “This too shall pass.”

I burst out laughing. Well, not the loud burst of laughter. The quiet laugh.

“It’s not funny,” Mrs. Question Mark said.

Obviously, I failed at the quiet laugh, since she heard me.

“It happens to many of us here,” Ms. Question Mark said. “Before class we were discussing it and we wanted to know when it would stop.”

“Doesn’t happen to me,” I said. (It really doesn’t!)

“Aren’t you special?”

Cripes, lady, how the hell do you pass anything with that stick up there, anyway? Lighten up.

“I apologize,” I said. “I was pretending to know what you were all talking about, because I wasn’t paying attention. I had no clue what the question was.”

“Right,” she said.

Now I’m wondering why didn’t Yogini tell her to shush it, like she does to me when I accidentally hum along with the irritating, supposedly soothing music?

Just so you know, I think I jazz up that annoying music so people don’t fall asleep.

“Will you stop giggling,” Ms. Question Mark said.

“I’m facing your behind for this pose and you don’t find any of this funny?”

“No,” she said. “I don’t.”

“Okay, I’ll stop,” I said. “And I really am sorry. Can I buy you a smoothie after class to make up for it?”

“No thanks, just stop laughing. It isn’t funny.”

Seriously? She doesn’t find this funny?

We continued with the poses, and I really did pay attention and managed not to fall over.

We were standing, doing the eagle pose, when the air in the room changed…as in…someone needs to open a window.

And fast.

The elderly woman in front of Ms. Question Mark turned and gave us both a wide smile and said, “See, when you get to be my age, you don’t question it or give a damn. Now that I’ve cleared out your sinuses, do some yoga and stop your yammering.”

Her friend (elderly woman number two) beside her nodded in agreement.

Elderly Woman Number Two obviously didn’t give a damn either.

It was like being plunked in the middle of that scene from Blazing Saddles.

Elderly Woman Number two cranked up a smile and said, “Breathe in ladies.”

NAMASTE.

 

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25 Years after the Glass Slipper

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With the Royals making headlines all over social media and the news, I thought we should check out the other Royals that a lot of us grew up reading about—The Charmings.

It is disappointing that there was no paparazzi at the time to follow Cindy (Cinderella) and Print Charming to keep us up-to-date, so I am here to give you a sampling of what happened after that fateful-lost-her-glass-slipper-turned-into-a-hot-mess-girl at midnight, with the crushed Prince looking for his life-long sidekick.

Well, as you know, the Prince found the girl, the shoe fit and the rest is history, and they lived happily ever after…..or did they?

The crowned dude works hard for his monarchy and money. After so many years in story books, the old palace is in need of major repairs and a paint job (white glitter is so 1697).

Here’s a sneak peak at one of their happy-ever-after, loving conversations:

Cindy: “I’m throwing that cape out. It doesn’t fit you and we need more closet space.”

Charming: “How about dumping those glass slippers. They don’t fit you anyway.”

Cindy: “Are you saying I have cankles?”

Charming: “What the hell are cankles?”

Cindy: “Fat ankles, you idiot.”

Charming looks down at her ankles.

Cindy glares. “Why are you looking at my feet?”

Charming: “So about that closet. I can build you a new one.”

Cindy: “You think that damn swagger is going to get you out of this? Newsflash. That’s getting old. And so are you!”

Charming: “I’ll tell you what’s old. Your Step-monster and those butt-ugly daughters of hers sponging off of us.”

Cindy: “I agree!”

Charming: “I’ll order a hit on them.”

Cindy: “Ah, my hero.”

Charming puffs out chest.

Cindy rolls her eyes.

They put the slippers on E-bay and continue with their happy ever after.

Yeah, I think they’ll make it to the finish line. 🙂

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Merry Holidays & Happy Christmas

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Sending you and your families best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and holiday season, and for those with an empty place(s) at your table, may you feel the love that surrounds you, and may you experience peace and the road to healing with the support of loved ones and the support of your own inner strength

Those who are no longer here to celebrate with us can never be more than a memory away, but as long as we have those memories they live in on in our conversations and hearts.

 

 

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May your gifts contain those three wonderful words: “No Assembly Required.”

May you sing along with your jingling bells–then upload it on YouTube.

May you spend your time with people who know when to go home.

May you never receive anything with raisins in it.

May you remember to wear pants when standing at the window.

May you be dashing through the snow (or sand or grass) with laughter and no holes in your shoes or boots.

May your homes be filled with warmth, love, laughter, books, lots of chocolate, good health, kindness, peace, and harmony.

May the holiday season and all of the new year find you in the company of people and/or animals you cherish and who cherish you.

May this holiday, magical season bring you and your families joy, blessings, good health & laughter. 

To my family and friends near, far, away and online; THANK YOU for the gift that keeps on giving—your friendship, your time, and your support throughout the year.

 

 

 

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