Travel tips for vegetarians

For 30 years now, I have been a vegetarian, which, without getting into rigid labels, I simply define as someone who does not eat meat. I’m often asked how I manage when travelling around the world. For the most part, I usually do not have any problems, or I find a way to get by.
Assamese food in Shannon's Travels

Vegetarian delights in the state of Assam, northeast India

 

Some destinations are heavy meat-eating cultures and that means eating in a restaurant can be tricky. In Canada, where 4 per cent of the population is vegetarian/vegan, you do not have to look any further than our own backyard of beef-province, Alberta (where my family lives) and its influence on menu items. Or Texas in the United States.

Internationally, India is a paradise for vegetarians. Having travelled there twice last year, I had no issues finding vegetarian fare, mostly because a good portion (30 to 40 per cent) of the country is vegetarian due to cultural and religious traditions. If you ask me, Indian food is the most flavourful food on the planet.

But not all nations are so accommodating to non-meat eaters. Some years ago, I visited Prague and, at the time, finding fresh vegetables and salads proved to be a challenge (the Czech Republic has one of the lowest percentages of vegetarians at 1.5 per cent of the population). The solution to my problem was a Chinese food restaurant, which made a delicious stir-fry that I ate several nights in a row (hey, you do what you need to do).

In Morocco, the cuisine is heavily meat-based, but I discovered tasty alternatives. In Thailand, the chicken never looked like chicken, so thankfully I was able to give it a pass.

In some cultures, some amount of meat is tossed into most dishes, such as Italian pasta sauces. Or vegetables are generally cooked in meat or fish broth, like in parts of Asia. And in other countries, meat and seafood is a separate dish from vegetables and grains. In Switzerland, I found it impossible to go without trying the cheeses, simply because they are Swiss.

Here are 5 tips for vegetarians (and vegans) when on the road:

1. Start with good communication: Learn to say “I am a vegetarian” or “I do not eat meat” in the language of the country you are visiting. This helps the wait staff understand what your requirements are, so you don’t mistakenly order a dish that could have meat in it. Not only does it facilitate understanding, it is being respectful of the staff.

2. Research and plan in advance: You can always research local restaurants that cater to vegetarians or at least have some meatless dishes. A quick Google ought to do the trick. There are also some apps that might be useful, such as FoodSpotting.

3. Pack protein snacks in your bag: As a vegetarian on the road, eliminating meat is one thing, but finding protein substitutions can sometimes be even more challenging. Pack nuts, and protein bars and powders, into your day bag to ensure you have enough protein in your diet while away.

4. Stay in a self-catering place: Having your own kitchen away from home helps you better control what you are eating. And it does not matter what your diet restrictions or preferences are, whether you are vegan, gluten-free, have food allergies, or a health nut.

5. Pre-arrange meals or take a packed lunch – If you are on a road trip, or taking daily excursions, pick up pre-packed foods and pack a lunch. Also ask your hotel’s restaurant the night before your day excursions if you can pre-arrange a packed lunch.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan who travels the world, I would love to hear what your tips are. Tweet to me at @Shannon_Skinner or leave a comment below.

Love,

Shannon

Shannon Skinner is a Toronto-based, award-winning television and radio show host and producer, international speaker, author and creator of ExtraordinaryWomenTV.com. Her passion is to travel the world and write about it. Tweet to her at @Shannon_Skinner.


Take a digital detox to re-connect with your heart

time for a Digital detox and re-connect with your heart

I was reflecting this weekend on how much time I spend looking at a screen these days. Our addictions to computer screens, and getting our information and entertainment anytime, anywhere, is taking a toll on us. I know it is on me – my neck is paying the price.

Long are the days when I would sit for hours with paper and pen. I feel the need to type away on a laptop instead and that way I can save my work. But sometimes I wonder if I would feel more connected to what I am writing if it was just me, my pen and a pad a paper.

As well, I read far more online now than ever. An avid reader, my reading has changed from getting through a focused pile of books to now digger deeper and deeper into rabbit holes of the internet on a much broader range of topics.

We, as a whole, spend far too much time looking at screens. It affects our eyesight, posture, health, and it keeps us away from spending time with loved ones and the people who matter most. I have chronic neck pain, which is bad for me, great for my chiro. Computers and personal devices especially, can be surrogates replacing human interaction. Creating, surfing the web, reading the news, checking in on Facebook, posting Tweets, checking email and texts…it doesn’t stop.

I remember traveling to LA and leaving my cell phone behind. I was an a bit of a panic, even if I also knew the world would go on. For the past few years, I’ve taken my phone with me everywhere I go, even feeling the need to have it with me at the dog park. Really, the dog park.

Spending too much time on our devices can also take us away from our own hearts, preventing us from listening to the inner voice, the wisdom inside that whispers to us our greatest desires.

I am planning to take a digital detox. As I write this, a bit of anxiety pops up. My inner voice says: what about emails? What about Facebook? How am I going to get my news?

I will survive. It very well be the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long while.

If you are planning to do a digital detox, here is an article in Forbes that may be of interest on how to do it.

Have you taken a digital detox? What has been your experience? I would love to hear from you. Tweet to me at @Shannon_Skinner or leave a comment below.


Tonight on Shannon Skinner Live: Dr. Joan Borysenko and Monika Burwise on ancient wisdom, healing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TORONTO, June 23, 2015 — Tonight on Shannon Skinner Live radio show, host Shannon Skinner speaks with world-renowned expert in the mind-body connection, Dr. Joan Borysenko; and Monika Burwise, author and co-founder, Global Awakening Institute, about ancient wisdom and healing. Tune-in to VoiceAmerica Women tonight at 7pm EST/ 4PM Pacific.

Shannon Skinner Live is a weekly radio show that uncovers the stories and solutions to living an extraordinary life and making this world a better place. It features interviews with experts, visionaries and activists, and more.

joan Borysenko

 

About Dr. Joan Borysenko:

Dr. Joan Borysenko is a pioneer in integrative medicine and world-renowned expert in the mind/body connection. Her work has been foundational in a global health-care revolution that recognizes the role of meaning, and spirituality, as a part of health and healing.

Harvard Medical School educated, Dr. Borysenko is the author of the New York Times best-seller, Minding the Body, Mending the Mind. She is also the author or co-author of 13 other books, including her latest book, The Plant Plus Diet Solution. She is the Founding Partner of Mind/Body Health Sciences, located in Boulder, Colorado. She lives in New Mexico.

moni

About Monika Burwise:

Monika Burwise, is the co-founder of Global Awakening Institute and world-leading expert in the fields of psycho-dynamics, personal empowerment and spiritual evolution. She is the author of Knock, Knock, Who is There?: In Search of the Holy Grail. She is based in Toronto.

About Shannon Skinner:

Shannon Skinner is a Canadian television talk show host, speaker and writer. In 2010, she launched Shannon Skinner’s Extraordinary Women TV, the first-of-its-kind, as a live web TV show, and later developed it into an broadcast television show and online platform that is the ultimate online life-guidance resource for women. She is the author of the Whispering Heart: Your Inner Guide to Creativity; and she writes on a range of topics, including creativity, inspiration, feminine leadership, change and travel.


Tonight on Shannon Skinner Live: anti-aging secrets with beauty expert Vian Sharef

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TORONTO, June 16, 2015 — Tonight on Shannon Skinner Live radio show, host Shannon speaks with beauty expert and owner of Toronto-based Dermedix Laser Clinic, Vian Sharef, about beauty and anti-aging secrets. Tune-in to VoiceAmerica Women at 7pm EST/ 4PM Pacific.

Vian photoVian Sharef, owner, Dermedix Laser Clinic

Shannon Skinner Live is a weekly radio show that uncovers the stories and solutions to living an extraordinary life and making this world a better place. It features interviews with experts, visionaries and activists, and more.

About Vian Sharef:

Vian Sharef is a single mother, beauty expert and the founder and owner of Dermedix Laser Clinic, based in Toronto. Born and raised in Iraq, Vian came to Canada as a teenager with her family, after living in a refugee camp for 3 years in Turkey. She would eventually achieve a successful career in the financial services industry  – and get married. Later, in 2008, life would have its challenges again. Vian lost her father, job and her marriage disintegrated within 6 months, and, as a single mother to a young daughter, she made the decision to go back to school to study medical aesthetics. Today, she is a successful businesswoman and has helped thousands of women and girls look and feel their best.

About Shannon Skinner:

Shannon Skinner is a Canadian television talk show host, speaker and writer. In 2010, she launched Shannon Skinner’s Extraordinary Women TV, the first of its kind, as a live web TV show, and later developed it into an broadcast television show and online platform that is the ultimate online life-guidance resource for women. She is the author of the Whispering Heart: Your Inner Guide to Creativity; and she writes on a range of topics, including creativity, inspiration, feminine leadership, change and travel.


Tonight on Shannon Skinner Live: Rev. Darcelle Runciman and Reeti Mishra on VoiceAmerica Women

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TORONTO, June 9, 2015 — Tonight on Shannon Skinner Live radio show, host Shannon speaks with guests Rev. Darcelle Runciman, ordained minister, founder of Infinity Centre wellness retreat, and magazine publisher, about Metaphysics and healing. And Reeti Mishra, born and raised in India, who now lives in Toronto with her husband, about life as a diplomat and living in many place around the world, Hinduism, and why forgiveness is something we all need to practice. Tune-in to VoiceAmerica Women at 7pm EST/ 4PM Pacific.

Shannon Skinner Live is a weekly radio show that features interviews with experts, visionaries and activists, dedicated to helping people live their magnificent lives and making this world a better place.

About Rev. Darcelle Runciman: Rev. Darcelle Runciman is an ordained minister with a degree in Metaphysics, and founder of The Infinity Centre, a wellness and spiritual retreat centre, based in Stirling, Ontario. She is also a spiritual and business coach, and publisher of Infinity Magazine, a publication for spiritually-connected individuals, travellers and businesses.

Rev. Darcelle Runciman

About Reeti Mishra: Reeti Mishra is a motivational speaker, educator, writer, poet and president of the Consular Spouses Association in Toronto. She is actively involved in various community services as a member of diplomatic and consular organization in many countries. She is passionate about yoga and spirituality, speaks 5 languages, and has traveled and lived in Peru, Italy, Nepal, US, Afghanistan, Tanzania and Canada – where she is based.

Reeti Mishram pic

 Shannon Skinner is a Canadian television talk show host, speaker and writer. In 2010, she launched Shannon Skinner’s Extraordinary Women TV, the first of its kind, as a live web TV show, and later developed it into an broadcast television show and online platform that is the ultimate online life-guidance resource for women. She is the author of the Whispering Heart: Your Inner Guide to Creativity; and she writes on a range of topics, including creativity, inspiration, feminine leadership, change, lifestyle and travel.

Shannon Skinner Live radio premieres tonight on VoiceAmerica Women

TORONTO, June 2, 2015 — Shannon Skinner Live radio show premieres tonight on VoiceAmerica (World Talk Radio) Women. Join host Shannon Skinner and her guests as they delve into celebrity activism, what it means and how it impacts the social good. Tonight’s show guests are Dr. Samita Nandy, Director, Centre of Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS), and cultural critic on fame. And Dr. Carolyn Harris, royal historian and author of Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada, who is a regular media commentator on history and royalty. Both are based in Toronto.

Shannon Skinner Live is a weekly radio show that features interviews with experts, visionaries and activists, dedicated to helping people live their magnificent lives and making this world a better place.

About Dr. Samita Nandy:

Dr. Samita Nandy

Dr. Samita Nandy is the Director of the Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) and writes as a cultural critic on fame. She has been featured in many media outlets including CBC TV and the Globe and Mail. Her work has been published in books “The Performance of Celebrity” and “The Emotions Industry.” Her forthcoming book “Fame in Hollywood North: A Theoretical Guide to Celebrity Cultures in Canada” will be published in 2015. Samita earned her PhD in media and celebrity culture from the Department of Media and Information at Curtin University, Australia. She is based in Toronto.

About Dr. Carolyn Harris:

Carolyn Harris

Carolyn Harris is a royal historian and author of “Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada.” She received her PhD in European history at Queen’s University and teaches at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. She often provides historical and royal commentary for print, TV and radio.

 

 

Shannon Skinner is a Canadian television talk show host, speaker and writer. In 2010, she launched Shannon Skinner’s Extraordinary Women TV, the first of its kind, as a live web TV show, and later developed it into an broadcast television show and online platform that is the ultimate online life-guidance resource for women. She is the author of the Whispering Heart: Your Inner Guide to Creativity; and she writes on a range of topics, including creativity, inspiration, feminine leadership, change, lifestyle and travel.


Announcing SHANNON SKINNER LIVE radio on VoiceAmerica

I am pleased to announce the launch of my new radio show, SHANNON SKINNER LIVE on VoiceAmerica Women’s Channel (World Talk Radio), starting Tuesday, June 2 at 7pm EST.

skinner-Promo-Women

Hosted by Shannon Skinner, SHANNON SKINNER LIVE is a weekly lifestyle show that uncovers the stories and solutions to living an extraordinary life and making this world a better place. Each week features experts, change-makers and visionaries from around the world. We talk about subjects you won’t hear anywhere else! Shannon’s gift is unlocking hearts and opening minds, which she has become known for as host of her own popular television show and online platform, ExtraordinaryWomenTV.com, the ultimate online life-guidance resource for women. When you live your best life, you are changing the world. So tune-in every Tuesday at  7 PM EST/4 PM Pacific Time on the VoiceAmerica Women’s Channel, listen with a new pair of ears, and turn inspiration into action.

I am looking for guests. If you are an expert, change-maker or activist (women and men), whose mission is to make this world a better place, please drop me an email at info@ShannonSkinner.com.

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Got the February blahs? Try these.

Canadians know how challenging the month of February is. March is not much better. After months of low light, shoveling snow and enduring frigid temperatures (unless you live in Vancouver, in that case, stick it!), we start to get cabin fever from hibernating.

Frosty Morning in Forest

Something I have noticed in my own life is that after hanging up my downhill skiis more than a decade ago, I stopped enjoying winter. I tend to stay in more and by the end of February I’m going squirrelly. For exercise, I do walk my dog several times a day and jog on the days when my lungs and face won’t hurt, but it is not enough. Going outside is a big effort. By now, I need an attitude adjustment. My guess is that others do, too.

Here are some ways to get over the February blahs and cabin fever, as we go into the last stretch of winter.

  1. When it’s cold outside, be warm and sunny from the inside: Go into your heart more. Do the things that warm your heart and make your light shine and radiate. Maybe it is helping out at a soup kitchen, or cooking a meal for your elderly neighbours, or a random act of kindness.
  1. Create an inspiring space: Our environment directly impacts our creativity and productivity. Low light tends to create lower moods. So brighten up your interior, both literally and figuratively. Create an inspiring space where you do your creative work. Colour plays a huge role. Paint your walls vibrant colours such as red, yellow or orange – or calming ones like baby blue. Enhance your space in a way that is inspiring to you — and maybe it will inspire others.
  1. Buy new art: If you already collect art, take stock of what you have. Consider trading or buy new art. Start a new collection of artifacts or other items that have meaning to you and place them in your creative space. Perhaps it is from your travels. Or make your own art to hang on the wall.
  1. Listen to music to lift your spirits: Listen to the kinds of music that pick up your energy, spirit and mood. Music impacts our energy level. I personally love opera and, this weekend I, fought the snow to see the Canadian Opera Company’s production Don Giovanni, at the Four Seasons Centre. The way the music made me feel was worth fighting the snow to get there.
  1. Get outside to play: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! I write this at the risk of being pelted with snowballs…Even if you are not athletic, get outside to play as much as possible. Go for walks, even if they are short. Play winter sports. Go tobogganing. Remember the fun you had as a kid and try to re-create that feeling.
  1. Take a class: As a forever student, I am always taking a course of some sort. Taking courses forces us to get out of our spaces, meet new people, we learn something new – and it keeps us engaged. Consider taking a photography, cooking or language course.
  1. Get some sunshine: We all crave fleeing from the Canadian cold into warmer, sunnier climates. So find a travel deal and go somewhere new, whether it is basking on a beach or a wellness retreat, or taking a course, such as Spanish, in a place that inspires you.

Photo credit: Andreas Krappweis

Shannon Skinner is an award-winning inspirational speaker, writer, and host and producer of the television and online series www.ExtraordinaryWomenTV.com.

This article was originally published at HuffingtonPost.com.

 


This Thanksgiving I count my blessings

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, when families gather around a delicious home-cooked meal. I rarely cook. I don’t eat turkey and haven’t done so in about 30 years. My friends are busy with their families and my family lives on the other side of the country. I wanted to do something to mark the occasion. So, I went to the gym for little “gratitude rowing” to count my blessings.

thanksgiving-brownscombe (1)

I recently started this practice of what I call my “gratitude row.” At the gym, I spend a few minutes on the rowing machine and use that time to reflect on everything I’m grateful for, while at the same time getting exercise. Not only does this deep reflection help me get through the boring, mundane activity of exercising at the gym, my gratitude row has been changing my life.

I once had the good habit of starting the morning and ending the day with a gratitude list, which is a way to constantly be aware of what I have, and don’t have. But lately I fell out of my good habit. Life got busy. Demands got more demanding. All I could do was focus on my stresses and anxieties, and on what was not working rather than what was working.

I have experienced the benefits of mindfulness exercise and I have tried meditation, but with chronic tinnitus in both ears, I find the practice of trying to be quiet when all I can hear is the ringing in my ears creates more stress and anxiousness. Talk about defeating the purpose.

Then, I started my gratitude rowing. Now going to the gym is something I look forward to rather than dread. Furthermore, as I progress in my new good habit, I see a universal truth: the more I am grateful, the more I have to be grateful for.

This Thanksgiving, here are some of the many things I am grateful for:

  1. My Extended Family: I am so fortunate to have both my maternal and paternal grandmothers, who are both in their 90s, still here with us – and both in relatively good health. I am thankful to have an extended family, as pointed out to me by a dear friend who lost his parents as a young man and never knew his grandparents. Although my parents and siblings, and their respective families, all live across the country from me, I feel blessed to see them a few times a year.
  1. Meaningful Friendships: As I mature, I have noticed a shift in my friendships. I tend to have fewer friends than I did when I was younger, but the friendships I do have are more meaningful and sacred. What I seek in a friendship has changed with each passing decade. For those who seek my “business” under the auspices of “friendship,” I see it for what it is. Recognizing the difference has been a big lesson for me.
  1. Canadian Healthcare: As the world focuses on Ebola in West Africa and its inevitable spread to North America and Europe, I am reminded of how fortunate I am to live in a country that, arguably, has the best healthcare in the world. It may not be perfect, but it exists and we benefit from it.
  1. Opportunity: I am blessed to have doors of opportunity open, whether I enter that door — or not. Sometimes I don’t even recognize an opportunity until it passes, but at least I know I am not living in a vacuum and that my hard work and efforts do, and will continue, to benefit not only myself, but many others as well.
  1. Being a Woman: Nobel Peace Prize 2014 winner and Pakistani girls education activist, Malala Yousafzai, reminds me of the struggles many girls and women continue to have every day, especially in many developing nations. She also reminds me that there are many reasons to be thankful for being female. I like to feel feminine. I enjoy wearing a dress. I enjoy taking care of my beloved sheepdog, who is fully dependent on me. I enjoy working, creating and being productive, and making a difference in people’s lives. And I am so grateful that I can make choices in my life.

Counting our blessings is good for us. What are you grateful for? I would love to hear from you in the comments section.

* Photo credit: Thanksgiving brownscombe


These women inspired me to start cooking

Anyone who knows me well knows that cooking ranks up there with extracting fingernails. As a woman who is in a constant state of “busy-ness,” I often eat on the fly. Sure, I can assemble a salad, or re-heat healthy, prepared foods. Plus, I have learned how to feed my dog raw or whole food. Despite the fact that I rarely cook, I do strive to lead a healthy lifestyle.

What has become clear to me, though, is that to be as healthy as possible you need to make your own meals to have control over what you put in your body. As I began facing changes in my body due to stress, hormones and the inevitable — aging — I knew I had to do something. And I knew it had to begin with nutrition.

So one night, I opened my fridge, only to find it nearly empty, with the exception of food for my sheepdog, Bob. I opened my cupboards, not unlike Old Mother Hubbard, which were also nearly empty, except for ingredients for my dog’s food. I realized my dog eats healthier than I do. At that lucid moment, I was reminded of a Chinese proverb:

Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself. ~ Proverb

Enter my teachers…

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(Fit Chicks Laura Jackson and Amanda Quinn)
I met Laura Jackson and Amanda Quinn, known as Fit Chicks, this spring at a weekend retreat held at Horseshoe Resort, located one hour north of Toronto. Based on their bootcamp-style programing that Fit Chicks have become renowned for, I knew I would get butt-kicking exercise, fun activities as well as nutrition information – and in a location surrounded by beautiful nature.

What I did not know I would walk away with was a miracle of miracles: inspiration to – gasp – start cooking for myself.

It is changing my life.

The people who inspire me the most are those who have transformed their lives. Fit Chicks Jackson and Quinn have done just that. The two have been close friends since Grade 9 when they, like many other teens, both began to experience body image issues. Then years later, the two friends both felt the need to do something about it. They embraced a healthy living style and changed their lives — from the inside-out.

Both women became certified personal trainers. Quinn also got certified as a yoga teacher and Jackson branched out as a nutrition wellness specialist. Later, an “aha” moment would have them leaving corporate jobs for an inspired journey of helping thousands of women change their lives.

And so, they created Fit Chicks, a company that is dedicated to “spreading healthy love” and provides a range of award-winning bootcamp-style programs at more than 20 locations across Canada, as well as weekend fitness retreats, personal training, nutrition counseling and more. They are also hosts of Shape Up with Fit Chicks on Rogers TV.

It was during one of Jackson’s nutrition workshops that I had my ‘aha’ moment, which inspired me to want to learn more about cooking. “Cooking is probably the biggest lost art in our society,” said Jackson as she demonstrated how to make almond milk. “It used to be about celebration, but now it’s about counting calories. You need to start with a food philosophy.” That food philosophy, according to Jackson, is as simple as eating food that is “grown and made with love.”

Today, as I (slowly) embrace cooking, I am experiencing a difference in my energy and seeing positive changes in my body. While I have yet to open a cookbook, I have been creating my own concoctions of food that is “grown and made with love.”

And so, thank you, Laura Jackson and Amanda Quinn, for being the teachers who opened the door.

Read my post about the weekend retreat at Horseshoe Resort here.


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