Sj’s Cardamom Bliss Balls

I’ve been saying for months I would share one of my Bliss Ball Recipes. Sure you can troll the internet and find a recipe or two but if you’re looking for a protein power ball that can see you through a nausea time in your pregnancy, long labor, or long breastfeeding session, this one is one of my favorites from the Salt Spring Experience. The Cardamom aids nausea, and after babe it is helpful for digestion and elimination. The Tahini is high in vitamin E and Calcium and the Chocolate…well, we all need a sugar spike sometimes.

From my Kitchen to yours- I give you

Cardamom KissesBlissBall

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup grated coconut

1. Grind the almonds fine in a food processor
2. Add the raisins and grind until they’re chopped up
3. Add the tahini, honey, cinnamon, and cardamom, and blend until everything is well mixed.
4. Empty the mixture into a mixing bowl, and hand mix the chocolate chips in.
5. Put the coconut into a shallow bowl or a plate.
6. Form balls form the mixture, roll them in the coconut, and arrange them on a platter.
7. Keep them refrigerated.


Bon Appetit, Bon Birthing and Bon B-Feeding


Triaged Toe and Togetherness- A Photoshoot and Gathering of some 2013/14 Families


This morning I experienced something I likely should have started three years ago when I first ventured out in labor support….a gathering of the families I have had the honor and privilege to work for and with.

It happens, we labor support people meet the families, get to know them, join them start to finish for one of the most intense day (or days) of their life…and then we leave. We may have one to two visits with you to see how the family unit is getting on, assist with breastfeeding, but…then we do the sad job of leaving you to become your own family.

We are trained in letting go, leaving you to flourish as parents. But we think of you. We think of a moment we might have shared with you that is forever etched on our life’s template. Like when you look at us and say something like “ I just want to see the series of Breaking Bad before I have this baby,” or when you look at us and say “ Holy S*it, I’m a mum, what’s up with that?” For me, it’s those memories that make me chuckle in the aisle of the grocery store. You’re like a high school boyfriend that makes me smile for no reason….just at the thought.

So, I couldn’t in good faith let another year pass without seeing your breath-taking babies and you again. You, parents, need to know that you are what makes my work thrive. I believe I was meant to work with each family that chooses me. Because you chose me, my life is richer; because you choose me I don’t scowl at my phone when it rings in the night…instead I smile and think “ Here’s another woman, or family I’m gonna love even more after the next 24 hours passes, I’m about to get a lot more connected to what loving your purpose and work is.”

And so I asked all of my 2013-2014 families to join me for a morning of lemonade, bliss balls and a group photo.

As the cars rolled into the parking lot at Gyro Beach at 10am this morning, I just kept thinking, “ Have they even had a chance to have coffee?” “ Have I interrupted baby’s morning nap?”…I had a niggling feeling of guilt for having made the families come all this way just so I could ogle them and get a group photo. But you emerged from your vehicles all smiles, ready to connect with other families, maybe with a babe born the same month as yours.

Me? I just stood there and had a Grinch moment; you know that scene where his heart grows exponentially bigger every time he sees an act of kindness? Every hug I had, every baby who just smiled up at me four, five even ten-month’s later. When I left most of these babies they were barely holding their head’s up. Now, they’re smiling, charming, chunky little people. I have a terrible memory but I remember vividly the moment each of them came into the world.

Last night I planned what I would say to everyone who came. I’d tell them that meeting them and being a part of their birth experience has been the fulfillment in my life I never thought I could get from my work. I’d tell them that each of them had taught me so much about what makes a solid relationship between two people or between a mother and their child. I’d tell them that just by showing up on a sunny Sunday morning when there was a World Cup game fixin to start, just warmed my heart to bits. I’d finish by letting them know that I can look at each and every one of them and relay a heartfelt moment we had shared on “ Birth Day” and how that solidifies my view that we are all meant to share these moments with each other as human beings in our life time. Instead, I felt myself overcome with emotion and felt I might burst into tears and be the “loser doula” who lost it in front of a bunch of smiling, gurgling babies. So, I kept it simple, which is just as well as I’d opened up my left toe a few minutes before on something menacing in the sand. I needed to get it looked at by one of my nurse clients who knew how to doula the doula ;)

What I will now say is true, authentic, raw honesty comes forth from a woman and their partner on the day a child is born. And, then we all surface and move on with our lives. Thank you for letting me be there and support you through your first or third time at the “true- authentic-honest rodeo“.

Today, I just wanted the opportunity to let you know I hold you all in my thoughts long after my service is done with you. You may never really know the joy that radiates throughout my whole body when I see you on the street or in gatherings like today. You affirm that I’m on my chosen path even if my parents likely think I need to go back to a “real job.” You are my real job!

Once this toe heals up I’ll be up in the night to serve more families, but client’s past… you’ll all be etched in this “Grinch” Doula’s heart.



Entering the spiritual dimension of birth


‘Spiritual birth recognizes that each and every birth is the birth of the Christ child. The Birth support person’s job is to do her best to bring both the mother and child through their passage alive and well and to see that the sacrament of birth is kept holy,” writes the great American midwife Ina May Gaskin. When I visited Gaskin’s Farm in Summertown Tennessee earlier this year it was to further my training as a doula – a birth support person.

My first birth experience after my training with Gaskin was with a woman who had an older child and was preparing for her second. This woman remembers loud noises, and being directed what to do when she had her first birth experience. She recalls being tense all over which, she says, made labor pains worse. She had a fear of that same experience with her second child. Being mindful of this I made sure to allow her the space she required as she found her ritual of walking in circles, stepping in only when she needed to be guided physically.

She paused every few steps and we’d rock back and forth together as she hummed and swayed. She was somewhere else right now. A deep and spiritual place, it seemed.

She was completely at one with herself to the point that I knew that even if an intervention needed to happen in her labor, she would stay in this sanctuary she’d stepped into. She continued to hum and rock to the beat of her own internal rhythm

An intervention never came.

This got me thinking…there is something ritual about labouring and something ceremonious in carrying a child from the great unknown into reality.

In her book “Spiritual Midwifery,” Ina May Gaskin extols that if a woman allows herself to enter a spiritual realm in labor her pain will be felt less, she will reach a new high, and she will cross over from one part of her life into a new dimension.

I have to say reading those things before I had a child seemed wildly presumptuous. But, as I attended more and more births as a Doula, I began seeing these crossing over’s more often. There seems to be a marked point in labour where if a woman has enough of a connection to her spirit, she goes inward to an ethereal place.

Almost all religions have some sort of ritual whether it’s the ceremonial and symbolic drinking of wine, chanting, reciting, or singing. It’s that ritual that keeps the follower of a select religion coming back. It represents something meaningful… comforting.

Labor is an intimidating and scary ceremony to step into, but this mother I speak of hummed her baby into the world. When the baby was born she just stared straight ahead, breathing, with a fixed gaze. After what felt like an eternity to me, she just readjusted her eyes and looked at her baby with a smile that took up her whole face. She had come out of her spirit den as it were.

There are instances where the laboring woman can go to a place of divinity. It takes faith, support and the desire to know one’s spirit better, trust it, and let it lead you.

When her labor was over, there she was, back in this world with her newborn child feeling as though she’d rushed toward the center of her spirit for 12 hours and back again, reborn with a newborn.  What a blessing it was to witness.

sarah-jane-steeleSarah-Jane Steele is a Journalist, Mother, trained Doula and Yoga Teacher. She hails from Halifax and now lives in Victoria with her family. You can contact her regarding any of the above at

*This article was published in the print and online edition of the Times Colonist Faith Forum page. 

You can read more articles on the interfaith blog Spiritually Speaking HERE

Lavender Infused Honey


I promised myself I would only post foods for the pregnant woman’s baby-growing body. Lavender infused honey it not exactly that.

  1. The jury is still out on this but lavender is said to be harmful in the first trimester of pregnancy. It’s been written that it can cause miscarriage and is to be avoided. But, I have spoken with naturopaths and herbalists and nothing particulary conclusive says this is fact. Still, you may consider this before using lavender.
  2. Just make sure the honey you cook with is pasteurized. Anything not pasteurized does carry some bacteria and organisms that could be harmful to your baby. I thought this was worth mentioning.

Still, homemade lavender infused honey is a great gift, a great add to some balsamic and figs ( that recipe will follow) and it sounds more complicated than it actually is to make.

I followed Rebar’s directions. In early 2013 I made a pact, mostly with myself that I would cook every recipe in the Rebar cookbook within two years ( I didn’t set an insane goal like the lady in the film “Julia and Julia” and aim to do this in a year. Rebar’s cookbook is like gourmet for vegans…..I needed more time to hone my cooking skills.

Here tis’ ( This is dedicated to Daphne in Montreal :) )

Lavender Infused Honey

You need:

  • 1 cup (240 ml) Honey
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) dried lavender blossoms ( You can actually get these from a florist and at some swanky markets and they should only cost you about 50 cents…don’t let them pick pocket you!)
  • or you can also use 2 tbsp( 30ml) fresh lavender

* Reebar doesn’t tell you this till you’re almost done the recipe but make sure you make this in the morning if you’re planning to serve it in the evening, it needs to infuse for a few hours). Also, have a mesh strainer on hand ( the little wire ones with the teeny spaces).

  • Heat the honey in a small little baby pot over low heat until it turns to liquid ( keep pot handles turned in so little ones don’t grab).
  • Add lavender and continue to heat gently for ten minutes ( you don’t need to watch the pot just put the burner on “gentle” Aka low setting and put the timer on and go back to what you were doing).
  • Remove from heat and allow the honey to infuse for a few hours.
  • Reheat the honey to liquid and strain out the flower blossoms.
  • I used the sticky flower blossoms to adorn the plate of salad I made….you could also just I don’t know, CHUCK THEM OUT.
  • Posted on August 10th, 2013
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Pelvic Trusts …..not Thrusts


Now where did I put my Birthing Pelvis?….Oh, there it is!

For the past few weeks I have been observing a 6-week prenatal class series at Mothering Touch here in Victoria.

This week the teacher, Eva explained the actual physiology of the transition phase of birth. Her words, “Once the baby passes through the bony pelvis…..they’re very close to be being born.” She was holding a model pelvis in her hands.

I drifted off for a moment, back to my pregnant bony pelvis striding along English Bay in Vancouver. 41 and a half weeks pregnant, like many other expectant mothers at 40 plus weeks, I was as impatient as a ….well as a woman who just cannot wait for her baby to be born, for the phone calls to stop asking “where’s that baby,” and for my life as a mother to really start. I also wasn’t confident that my small framed pelvis would be able to pass a baby.

I walked…..and walked.

When I saw it. The sign. The bony pelvis. Alright, it was a woody one…..

Just ten feet from me, a large protuberance in the sand- the most glorious, beautifully shaped pelvis. I stopped and looked around me, someone had to see this ( I have a terrible habit of speaking to people on the street like I know them when something monolithic happens like this….I really need to get a handle on that).

No one was around to rant to, so I took in the moment.

I told myself that the birth of my child was imminent- I needed to take a picture of the bony pelvis and go home and deliver my unborn. Too bad merely seeing a piece of driftwood in the shape of a pelvis doesn’t will the unborn to be born right? Well, that’s debateable. I think I, and my baby were not ready to meet each other before that moment.

Sure I’d gone for acupuncture to see if I could coax the ol’ cervix along. Admittedly I bemoaned to my family back east “I’m so ready to have this baby” when really I had no pain, discomfort or medical cause to say that. Finally, I actually let myself get worried when 41 weeks came and almost went without a baby when I wasn’t even 100% sure the date she was conceived. Why? I was listening to everyone else, but me.

Which brings me back to that pelvis. As I walked away from it I smiled down at my baby. It seemed almost like this little unborn being needed me to take this walk, see that sign, and finally surrender to giving birth. I can now honestly say, I had some emotional peace to make, some walks yet to take before I became a person’s mother. I walked to my monolithic bony pelvis 3 more times that week.

I’m off to study with US midwifery sage Ina May Gaskin in three weeks. At present she is campaigning the whole “Baby come when baby ready” idea. The due dates in themselves, says Gaskin, do not indicate the need for induction (Guardian, Uk, I was Pregnant for Ten Months). She sites there are definitive signs if there is something wrong and the baby needs to come out before 42 or even 43 weeks: reduced foetal movement, for example, a deceleration in growth, or reduced amniotic fluid (even this last point is arguable). Mothers are advised to pay attention to the former, as is the midwife.

On the third day of walking by what I now deemed “my personal pelvis” I ate some apple cobbler, checked in with my midwife as I felt some deep sense of “calm” I described as “unnerving” ( what a loser). Turns out that calm was my surrender, that placid lake in my body was about to be rocked by a behemouth storm we call labor and birth.

Eight hours later my own bony pelvis passed a baby. I visualized my pelvis was the size of the 15×10 foot sized one I’d seen on the beach.

Nine hours later a squirming, red faced little girl was in my arms. Oh the power of staying in discomfort to see what comes.

Update: I showed Ina May Gaskin and Pamela Hunt the picture of the wooden pelvis I found on that English Bay Beach. Pamela’s exact words ” you knew you were ready to surrender after seeing that didn’t you?”