How Did I Get Here?

I am currently in the car traveling back from Fredericton, New Brunswick, where Roger’s family runs several trade shows each year. It’s always a ton of work, but it is extremely rewarding and a lot of fun! A big reason we enjoy it so much is because we work together as a high functioning team where each member knows their role to a tee. We are like a well oiled machine.

It wasn’t always this way. When we first started, we made a lot of mistakes. We did things we shouldn’t have done, spending money on things that didn’t return the result we wanted and we saved money in areas we should have spent it. We were learning.

But with trial and error comes experience that you simply can’t get any other way than by going through it. It is only by doing the job that we can gain this kind of insight, and it feels good to know what to do and what’s expected of us.

Haven’t we all worked in jobs or done things where we are so aware of our tasks that we hardly need to think about it? Where we know our roles so well it feels like breathing? There is a power to this; we can save time and money, we can avoid making mistakes, we can see around corners. 

But unless and until we continue to stretch and grow our talents, we can become stagnant. Unless and until we seek out ways to improve, we can get stuck in the mentality of “this is how we do things” and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I am a big fan of systems and plans; organizing tasks into the most efficient order. I love tracking my time and ensuring I am being productive with each 15 minute block. But I am also a big fan of breaking things; of doing things in an entirely new way that causes me to be critical of the way I do things now and compare it to my new method to determine which one works best.

Yes, systematizing things saves time and keeps things simple, but it can hinder creativity and stifle innovation. It can keep us wearing blinders that can limit our potential.

“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

Henry Ford The Ford Motor Company

When we want to make a change health-wise, we can fear change or worry that we won’t do everything “perfectly“. It can become paralyzing, and we can find ourselves reverting back to our old ways because the learning curve feels too overwhelming.

But if we can step outside our comfort zones and move, inch by inch, in a new direction, we can find ourselves in a place that looks a lot different, and we can look back and see how far we’ve come.

I get this a lot with the people I work with. Before they begin, they fear they won’t be able to do it; they try to imagine 28 days without their favourite foods and it can be extremely scary for them. They wonder if they will be able to swap out pop for water; eliminate alcohol; ditch dairy, and avoid refined carbohydrates like candy, cookies, muffins, cake, bagels,  pasta and bread.

But that is exactly what people do when they join my Kick The Sugar Challenge. They avoid all of these foods, swapping them for alternatives that nourish their bodies, rather than harm them. They are breaking what wasn’t working and taking what was and creating a new system for themselves. It’s pretty awesome to witness.

Stuck In A Rut

We can get into ruts with our food, as well. We can continue to shop for the same ingredients week after week, eat the same foods, and make the same meals, often on the same nights of the week! If we aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, we can find ourselves doing what we know as a way to save time and avoid making mistakes and wasting ingredients.

We can be so afraid of doing the wrong thing that we just keep playing it safe.

I like to challenge myself to create or experiment with at least one or two recipes each month. This way, I get to find new favourites and, through trial and error, I am able to to expand my culinary experience.

It’s fun to try new things in the kitchen!

It can feel so clunky when we have to buy ingredients we haven’t bought before and follow a recipe we’ve never followed before, but if you can cook ONE thing, you can cook LOTS of things!

And it is empowering when we can put ingredients together that work. It’s so satisfying to know exactly what’s in a dish and know that we’re nourishing ourselves and our families.

Show Your BRAIN Some Love!

I have talked before about how much I respect Dr. Daniel Amen’s work. He is a BIG fan of challenging our brains and doing things differently, not relying on rituals, to keep our minds sharp . He is also passionate about feeding our brains, as well.

In an interview, he talked about his favourite brain foods. He shared that foods high in fat like salmon and avocados reduce the risk of alzheimer’s disease by 40%. Diets high in protein reduce the risk by 21%. Diets high in refined carbohydrates INCREASE our risk by over 400%!!

We are only as healthy as our brains; they rule our emotions, our feelings, our thoughts and our actions. If we can commit ourselves to taking care of them, we will change the trajectory of our lives. 

I love the game he’s been playing with his daughter for over ten years. Here’s the game:  Whenever she is going to eat something, he has her ask the question “is this good for my brain or bad for my brain?” It’s something we can all do, throughout our day, to keep us aligned with what we REALLY want, which is to live a healthy, vibrant, long and happy life (at least I hope that’s what you want!) 🙂

Here are Dr. Amen’s favourite foods for brain health:

#1. Water: Our brains are made of water and fat. We need lots of both. Aim for half your body weight in ounces of water daily. So, a 150 person needs 75 ounces.

#2. Wild salmon: High in omega 3s. Go to your fish monger and find wild, not farmed.

#3. Avocados: They contain brain-healthy fats and B vitamins as well as fibre, so we feel full longer (plus they are delicious!)

#4. Eggs: I LOVE eggs! They are high in protein as they contain all 9 essential amino acids. Your best bet with eggs is to look for pastured eggs. If not, look for omega 3. If not, look for organic. Oh, and eat the yolks!

#5. Berries: Blueberries are highest in antioxidants, but all berries are power-packed. Just make sure you buy organic, as berries contain more pesticides than any other fruit.

#6. Nuts & Seeds: They contain healthy fat, protein and fiber. Just be sure to eat them raw and unsalted as much as possible to maintain their healthy properties.

#7. Broccoli & Other Cruciferous vegetables (kale, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts): They are an overlooked source of omega 3s!

#8. Spinach: Loaded with iron, spinach keeps your energy levels up. Great to have at lunchtime.

#9. Saffron: Yes, it is the world’s most expensive spice, but it’s so much better than prozac! Studies show that eating saffron can boost mood by increasing the neurotransmitter, serotonin. See below for a yummy recipe using this power spice! I buy mine at Bulk Barn at the front counter for $8.99. You can get several dishes out of it, as you only need about 10 strands, or 1/4 teaspoon, to receive the benefits.

#10. Dark chocolate: While on the Challenge, we stay away from any chocolate, but when we are done, we can enjoy a few pieces of dark chocolate now and again, or I prefer using raw cacao powder in my own home-made treats like this recipe for Dark Chocolate Cherry Tarts (p.s. you can swap other berries like raspberries for a nice change–SO good!)

So, with Dr. Amen’s list in mind, I decided to create a vegetarian dish (you could easily add beef or chicken to it, if you like) that combines a few of these BRAIN FOODS! I hope you make it and enjoy. 🙂

Saffron Quinoa Pilaf
Sarah Roberts

Why I Make This: I love quinoa. It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 amino acids, so we can enjoy quinoa as a vegetarian meal and yet still get all the nutrition we need. Studies are showing that saffron acts like a natural anti-depressant, increasing the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Enter this healthy, happy dish!


  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed VERY well and drained
  • 4 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 medium cooking onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 head of broccoil, broken into florets or 8-10 stalks of broccolini
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, peeled and diced
  • Juice and zest of one medium lemon
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley (flat leaf or curly)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to taste, optional.


  1. In a medium pot, add the water or stock, salt, and saffron threads over high heat. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add the quinoa, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, approximately 15 minutes. Allow to sit for 5 minutes longer and fluff with a fork.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the coconut oil in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and cook until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes
  4. Add broccoli/broccolini and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add lemon and lemon zest, and green onions.
  6. Add in the chopped parsley and stir.
  7. Add the cooked quinoa to the large pot and combine all ingredients.
  8. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  9. Serve alone as a delicious vegetarian meal or else with fish, chicken or beef. Enjoy!


I truly believe that when we challenge ourselves to do things differently, we gain confidence to do things we don't think we can do and we develop the ability to show up in a bigger way in our lives.

When we can step outside our comfort zones, we can stretch and grow, changing the trajectory of our lives.

I hope this post inspires you to look at things in your life a little bit differently, and I hope you challenge yourself in any area you feel stuck.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. If you'd like to sign up for the next round of the Kick The Sugar Challenge, click here and join the Wait List! The next round starts soon!

P.P.S. Let’s be friends! Connect with me on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. Plus, if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you should! That way, you won’t miss anything. For joining, you get my personal meal plan, shopping list, and a week’s worth of easy, tasty recipes!



  • Denise

    Reply Reply June 28, 2016

    re: Saffron Quinoa Pilaf — the recipe directions state: Add broccoli/broccolini and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.
    In the ingredients there is NO mention of broccoli / broccolini or amounts. Can you please provide the recipe amounts for these ingredients? Otherwise the recipe looks yummy! Many thanks, Denise

    • Sarah Roberts

      Reply Reply June 28, 2016

      Sorry Denise!! Take a look at the recipe now. I have added in the broccoli/broccolini. Thank you for catching that!

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