Sausage Party.

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Okay guys it has been a looong time.  A month or two of me sitting down to blog, and then getting up to clean up spilt milk, or break up toddler fights, or a million other things. (Truth: There may have been a few bright and sunny days where I shirked this off to go play outdoors and other times where I just sat down to write and then possibly took a few naps instead.)  But I’m here now.  And determined as ever. (Read: I’ve just napped.)

So for the two months I’ve eaten meat.  A lot.  Sort of my choice, but mostly ordered by a doctor.  (And I’m serious when I say that, the only way I could get out of a month of frequent injections of iron and B12 was to promise I would eat meat, at least 3-4 times a week.)

“What?” you say “But you eat a balanced diet and I know you get enough iron because I read your blog and there are ALWAYS meals high in iron content and you write stuff about nutritional components so of all people YOUR iron shouldn’t be low!!”

Oh my god I’m hearing voices now.

Truth be told even the best vegetarian consuming iron sources, isn’t getting the most bioavailable type. As a vegetarian we eat non-heme iron from plant-based foods.  And the absorption of that iron is inhibited by things we also eat: like oxolates in the greens, phytates in the grains, and calcium (say cheese!)  So although they are good sources of iron, if there is underlying pathology in the body affecting the ability to absorb or “bank” iron eating veg may not be enough.  The type that is most readily available to our bodies is the kind from meat.  The heme iron.  Like hemoglobin – one of the markers in our blood that we use to measure iron.  Long story short.  I need iron. What I was doing wasn’t working, and it was time to try something new.

Because hey, when there are bold alerts all over your lab sheet from your last 6 months of blood work it generally means something needs to change.

So change I did.  And happily for all my non-vegetarian friends I’ve included some of my favourite meat recipes here.  Or what I thought were my favourites.  After gradually cutting meat out to nill over the past 5-6 years it just doesn’t taste the same.  Especially when you HAVE to eat it 3-4 days a week.  Especially red meat.  Sorry, I’ll continue.

My meal plans consisted mostly of red meat or high iron shellfish 3-4 days a week (the highest sources of iron one can get).  Which consisted of a whole lot of leftovers, ensuring that I ate meat almost every day.  Plus a whole lot of supplements from the doctor, which I won’t get into.  I’m not that into supplements and did this begrudgingly.  But it was only a month.  And I’ve done worse…remember the 6 week dairy free diet?? Ugh.  I am a crazy person.

Week One (meat meals listed, the others consisted of my regular vegetarian go-tos and meat leftovers) :

  • Lasagna (my favourite) with garlic bread and vegan cesaer salad
  • spagetti and meat sauce with salad (Did NOT taste the same as I remember, I used to love this stuff!)
  • Rapini linguine with steamed clams

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Week Two:

  • Lasagna with cesaer salad
  • smoked mussels on crackers

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  • Pork shoulder butt roast with kale and roasted new potatoes (I loved this meal growing up.  It still brought back the fond emotional memories.  My husband called it war food.  No offence to those during war times.  Or to the recipe.  But be warned, without the emotional ties it apparently doesn’t taste the same.  Just ask EVERYONE in my immediate family.  So sad.  It was so good…to me.)

Week Three:

  • Dear god no more Lasagna.
  • Chicken cattacori with vermecelli and salad
  • More smoked mussles on crackers (In a tin…for lunch.  I was getting desperate to boost the iron and not have to eat any more red meat.  Or cook meat.  Or think too much about meat.  Do you know how gross it is to pull skin off of chicken? *shutter* I had forgotten.)

Week Four:

  • Lazy cabbage roll casserole
  • Turkey wraps (no recipe genius here, just hummus, smoked turkey breast, mayo and cheese in a wrap with a ton of veggies on the side.)
  • Smoked clams (So happy to be done the smoked mussels…some of them were kind of gritty *shutter*) on crackers
  • Breakfast sausages.  And bacon.  Because skiing weekend.  And they were served to me.  And they were greasy.  And SOOOOOO good. Not sure these actually count as there was likely more health repercussions from the artery clogging goodness than any iron benefit.  But it was my last week, and bacon.

So the meat eating is done.  And I’m awaiting results.  The one thing I do know is I got the worst flu I’ve had in years this month, and have felt overly tired.  The supplements made me anxious, as did trying to figure out what to cook…I had forgotten ALL my meat recipes. Also I’ve been less active and more sluggish.  I just don’t have my usual get-up-and-go attitude.  Is it the meat? Or the weather? Coincidence? No idea.

My conscience has also weighed on me heavily.  The fact that 3 chickens died so we could make one meal just didn’t feel right.  Although I think Astrid, Gloria and Peep lived a happy life in the middle of a green field loaded with grubs and felt no pain in the end. (At least the price and assurances on the labelled chicken led me to believe that.)   Same goes for Henry the cow.  And Cornelius the pig.  Not sure about the clams and mussels and oysters (sadly, too many to name).  The tins said “wild caught” and had other assurances, but I’m just not so sure about any ethically sourced seafood anymore.  I’m not really sure about anything anymore.  After all, a big portion of being vegetarian was health related.  Only I haven’t been healthy in regards to my iron levels at all, for months now, even on iron supplements and with fastidious attention to diet.

The environmental impact of eating meat is also something that is concerning to me.  From the farming practices, to the waste produced in the the processing and transportation of meat products, I’m just not sure I’m ready to jump back in to being a full-time omnivore.  I tried to eat locally sourced meat, ethically and organically treated/raised/processed but it’s hard to trust a system (that you can’t check up on yourself) when so much bad media on the matter is available.  I’m conflicted.  Currently my health is the priority, so it was easy to me to sweep the other concerns aside for just a month or two.  But what if being vegetarian doesn’t work for my body?

What then?

Time will tell.

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Welcome Wagon

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So the holidays happened and the New Year rolled in.  I swore once again I would AVOID the gym for ALL of January, because resolutioners.  Not that I have anything against resolutions, but more because the pressure of another year ending with not enough “shoulds” having been done.  And too many people setting up too many “shoulds” for the future, ending in disappointment when they don’t achieve (unrealistic) goals.  And the craziness that becomes the gym when everybody shows up all at once, en mass.

Okay, so not everyone fails and I’m being a bit of a pessimist.  But deciding to do something just because it’s a new year is not a good enough reason for me to do anything.  Deciding to do something because of an intrinsic motivational factor is. So when I feel inspired to change something, or break a habit everything has to do with ME and not a date on the calendar when the numbers change.  So my new year’s resolution is always to avoid the gym in January.  And please note…I’ve already failed (I think failure happened at week two of the new year, oh well).

My meal plans continue weekly even when I don’t share them here.  And this week is looking exciting!  Some new recipes and CAKE even! (Sorry for all you “I won’t eat cake/sugar/sweets” resolutioners.  This is ah-mazing!  And what’s life without balance?)

  • Vegan Spagetti (Easy pleasy! And also good with some non-vegan parmesan on top!)  See recipe below.
  • Slow Cooker Enchiladas.  I am in need of making use of this ugly slow cooker I own…but finding vegetarian recipes that are healthy and tasty are hard to come by. (Meat seems to be a main ingredient for getting this bad boy to work, much to my disappointment.)  This is a new recipe.  Anyone out there with good veggie slow cooker ideas??
  • Spinach-Potato Tacos.  Also new!  Only instead of following the recipe exactly, I plan on using hard shell corn tacos and wrap them with soft shell tortillas. YUM.
  • The BEST Chocolate cake ever.  With layers of buttercream icing of course. Now of course we’re not having this for dinner.  But we are bringing it along to a dinner party.  And it’s my husband’s birthday Yeah!! So with the best cake ever it instantly becomes the best birthday ever (right?!!)  I will try to take a picture and post later.  But it might just all get eaten before then…

And then the big “thing” I alluded to in my previous post.  I printed a cookbook for my family for Christmas!  So exciting. All my favourites, in one place.  Although I am constantly changing and altering recipes, I can’t claim many as original.  Therefor you won’t be seeing this bad boy out in stores.  But I do endorse all the original recipe chefs because they are amazing.  And without them, I’d be eating mostly porridge.  Seriously.

So also this week I’ll be making the Vegan Spagetti  and my most favourite Masoor Dal with cauliflower yogurt and naan bread. Both in the book.  The Cook Book. My most favourite.

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Vegan Spagetti

Vegan Spagetti

So here is to wishing you all a great start to the new year.  And if you made resolutions, I wish you luck (really I do!)

And in the meantime I’ll be back blogging weekly.  And I’m also on instagram @backyardyogalove following my yoga path daily.

If you like what you see here please “like” it and let me know! (or comment) And if you don’t, then don’t.

Kitschy Christmas! (It’s baaaack!)

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Welcome back, a year later, to my Christmas craft gift. (Warming SPOILER ALERT!)

This year we focused again on ornaments.  And ornaments, and more ornaments.  Started right after Halloween because once we return to our family’s home for Christmas it won’t be about our gifts for others, it will all be about baking and decorating and Christmas music. (Who am I kidding I’m listening to it right now.  After making up a whole yoga class playlist of carols.  Sorry if you’re reading this and in my yoga class.  I did warn you with the spoiler alert!) And hey, don’t judge I am fully aware it’s a bit early.  Then again, we’re at the 6 week countdown…

I am so excited for Christmas.  This year both kids will “get” it: the presents, Santa, the anticipation.  And still believe in the magic.  Not sure how much longer the magic will last.  But we’ll hang onto it for as long as we can.  And have lots of memory-filled ornaments to hang on our tree, and Grandma’s tree and Oma’s tree, and the neighbour’s tree…you get the picture.

So bring in the cinnamon ornaments!  They are made of mostly cinnamon (insert shocked look here).

IMG_4789The recipe is one cup cinnamon, 1/4 cup applesauce (and mix…although nothing ever looks mixed properly in this recipe) Then slowly add 1/2 cup white craft glue.  Mix again.  And some more.  And nothing’s sticking together so you (or in this case, me) roll your sleeves up and get in there with your hands trying to mush that spice into the glue and applesauce.  Stick together darn it! And all of a sudden, just at the point you are about to throw it all away, it comes together.

IMG_4791Wait one hour, then roll out to 1/4″ thick and cut with cookie cutters (remember to use a straw to cut out the ribbon hole!).

IMG_4792Bake at 200F for one hour turning them halfway through. (I lined my baking sheet with parchment, because glue, ewww).  Oh and if your husband happens to be in the kitchen “helping” – Conveniently arriving to turn them over, remind him they are not cookies, they are ornaments.  They are NOT cookies. Seriously.  Our kitchen conversation went something like this:

“Stop! O-R-N-A-M-E-N-T-S! Not edible!  Seriously don’t put it in your mouth, there’s glue in there!! I’m not joking you can’t eat these ones!” (He always sneaks Christmas baking, or any baking prior to them being ready, or out for guests.) Sigh.  I bet this doesn’t happen in Martha Stewart’s kitchen.  She’s the one who invented these bad boys.  See her recipe site here. The pictures are way better.  And not nearly as realistic as the ones in my kitchen, with a 4 and a 2 year old.  And a hungry, cookie eating husband.  I didn’t take a picture of him.  Was waiting for the “sick” shot.  It never came.  Go figure, the one time he listens…

Then let them cool, and paint them.  And hang them on your tree!

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The Cat Came Back.

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Our neighbour’s cat went missing last week.  A very friendly marmalade cat whom everyone in the community loves.  It was sad.  It was very sad for me, because he is the reason I don’t need to get a cat for the kids.  He is in our backyard.  He is in our home.  He loves to be cuddled by small gentle hands. Curls up on our couch when the door is left open (or scares the crap out of my husband by rubbing against his feet while he’s working…we don’t have any animals so when my husband is working and something silently starts brushing up against his toes he jumps.  A lot.)  And the best part is, we get to enjoy him without ever having to clean a litter box or pay a vet fee.

The cat was gone for almost a whole week.  And then, right before my neighbour’s birthday someone who had taken in the friendly “lost” cat saw the missing poster and returned him home.  Such a happy story.  Which reminded me of our story, when our cat went missing:

She was also a marmalade cat.  A little spunky girl whose name suited her: Shiraz.  And we loved her. (Did not love the litter box, or hair, or vet bills…but that’s beside the point)  We went away on vacation with someone coming in twice a day to cat-sit (or feed rather).  And when we got back, she was gone.  So we did what all good-people-who-love-their-pet do: we put up posters.

The first phone call was at 10pm at night from up the road, at a fast food place with an outdoor service window (which had our poster in it.)  A man had seen our cat!  And on his cell phone he told us where she was.  Huddled under a car in the parking lot.  Oh, wait what colour was she?  Because it was dark and he couldn’t see.  We held the line as he fumbled for a flashlight.  And then.  Low and behold!  A black cat.

Sigh.

The next was a voicemail.  A woman saying she found her!  Only her collar was green, not black with ID tags as we had left her with.  And then, despite us returning the call (repeatedly) no further response or contact.

Weird.

Did I mention at the time we lived on a tropical island with a large feral cat population?  One island on which a do-gooding organization set up cat feeding stations with actual cat food. (Granted they also trapped and spayed/neutred the cats and re-released them into the ‘wild’.  Guess it did help control the mice/rat population…) Anyways we sort of figured this is where our cat ended up.  Figuring out she could live just fine without us. And still get her fix of kitty food.

And then we got the last phone call.  A lady.  A very kind lady.  Who described our cat to a tee.  Down to the little black collar (ID tags lost).  We got VERY excited.  We made plans to come up to where she was (an area not too far away) to pick up our little ball of love.  And right before we hung up the phone she asked:  “How many legs does your cat have?”

Crazy.  There is a whole lot of crazy in this world.  And it is enough to make me laugh (and cry somedays).  But without it, life would be boring.  Because who would put up a lost cat poster and not mention if their cat was missing a leg?  And who would call people to say they had found a cat, well a mostly-whole cat, when the picture in the lost poster clearly indicated our cat was whole?  The lost limb was not a fresh injury.  This lady was crazy.  (But in a do-gooder type way.)  And now I can smile at all the good memories of our cat, and the crazy story of her being lost.  Likely in a forest, being well fed.

Speaking of being well fed.  Now a days we certainly are.  Tried a new recipe I will share with you.  It. Is. Amazing!

Shiitake Mushroom and Smoked Tofu Dumplings

And also a weekend project.  When you have an hour to do nothing but seal dumplings together.  But trust me, totally worth the effort.  AND better still, you can freeze them and prolong the food-love.

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First the making and draining of the filling: cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, smoked tofu and so much goodness.

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Then the putting of said filling into tiny little wrappers.  It’s like Christmas over here I swear!  Only the little presents are edible.

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Then the actual eating of said dumplings.  Unless you are my children.  In which case you unwrap them first.  For full mess effect.  Either way it was a whole lot of yum, with kale chips and wild rice on the side.  I highly recommend you give this a go.  Even if it means inviting yourself over to my place for dinner so I can pull some out of the freezer for you.

Happy week!

By the way, I have a big surprise in the works for December.  Something I’ve been working on all this month.  Can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet. (Sorry bad joke.)  Stay tuned!

And as always with my posts: if you like it, share it (or like it!) and if you don’t, don’t.

 

 

Practice Safe Snacks

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I love this week.  The excitement and the dressing up.  The parties.  The adorable children.  The thing I don’t love is the candy.  Well, the candy in itself is not entirely to blame.  The excess of it drives me a little bonkers.  (We still have leftover from last year when my daughter was 3…and she didn’t do more than a couple of blocks of trick-or-treating.)

We’ve tried to get rid of it, in moderation over the past year.  Allowing a piece of candy if dinner is eaten (and if she remembers to ask for it…which isn’t all that often). And of course, with Daddy raiding the bucket every so often on a craving.  But there is still so much.

What do you do about it?

There is a local dentist here who will trade it for money the day after Halloween.  And I’ve heard of the “switch witch” who steals it in trade for cash, or toys.  Also, the limiting kids to a certain number of candy pieces they can pick out and the rest disappear.

I’m at a loss what to do.  I try to instil good eating habits in my kids, and a huge part of that is allowing them choices.  In the end, when they are all grown up, I won’t be there when they choose what to eat or how to live.  So the best I can do is help them to understand choices.  A big part of choices are having things tempt you.  And I’m not sure that making those temptations disappear is the right way of going about things.  But I’m not sure.  So this year we’ll wait until the 12th hour to figure out what we should do.  And it will likely involve a discussion with my daughter about how we should handle all the candy, as a family.

In the meantime…we’ve been snacking on this lately.  Say hello to the banana man.  The perfect spooky snack.

IMG_4284And as always if you like what you see let me know!  If you don’t, then don’t.  Happy Halloween everyone!  Practice safe snacks.

 

Happy Birthday.

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The day I was born.  TODAY!! Can you feel my excitement?

Although it feels like I should be celebrating my Mom and Dad instead, since you know, THEY did all the work 🙂

What a Happy Birthday so far!  Can’t wait for all the rest that comes.

IMG_4397Started out by walking around Greenlake, because the day was beautiful and gorgeous and sunshine-y and warm.  And the kids were perfect.  Even when the little guy was crying because he just didn’t know whether he wanted a snack in the stroller or to continue scooting…perfect because he was acting exactly like a 2 year old should.  And it was wonderful.

Saw 4 Herons.  Four!!!  And one was saluting the sun.  Taking in life.

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BIG smile on my face.

Got to celebrate with a fancy date night with my love (see the picture – I even got a cupcake, in a cupcake shop!! My favourite kinda fancy.)  With my favourite still-makes-me-smile date.

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IMG_4386And then in the morning before he left for a week on business, he and the kids got up and decorated (AND let me sleep in.)

BAM: Birthday Table!

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This has been a tradition since I was a little girl.  One that I have carried with me my entire life.  My grandmother started it, followed by my mom and now I do it for my kids (and they do it for me…with a little help)  The idea is you wake up to a table: of all your cards and presents and a few of your favourite treats to start the day right.

Even though it wasn’t exactly on my birthday (it all went down yesterday) The balloons and streamers were still up this morning when the kids woke me up.  And I got snuggles in bed.  And it was perfect.  (Is there any other way to have a birthday?  Or any day?)  Even got a candle in my oatmeal.  Yes, my husband rocks (he had to leave to catch a plane an hour later).

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So I’m signing off now.  The kids are playing nicely and I think I’ll join them.  I believe a cake has just been pulled out of their oven for me.  With pink icing even (I am told.)

Perfect.

Love.

Happy happy happy.

I love birthdays.

How To Be Healthy. In A Nutshell. (Without The Nuts, Someone Might Be Allergic.)

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First off, drink milk so your bones grow strong.  But not too much, saturated fat is bad for you. Eat fish, the omega 3s are great for your brain development.  Not actual fish though, they have high levels of mercury and heavy metal poisoning.  And don’t drink homogenized milk as it has been linked to heart disease.

Dairy leads to juvenile diabetes.  Don’t eat dairy. Yogurt should be consumed everyday for the positive effects of probiotics on the gut.  However any yogurt you buy will likely contain refined sugars or sweeteners.  Do NOT eat refined sugar or sweeteners, they lead to tooth decay and diabetes.

IMG_2195Live in moderation so you don’t end up teaching your kids that all sugar is bad.  Otherwise they will go crazy in their teenage years and only eat sugar.  Eat sugar.  And only eat homemade things as they are healthier than eating out.

Do not eat baking.  It is filled with refined sugars and flour and fat.  And eggs.  But eggs are okay, they are a good source of protein and B12.  Do not eat eggs that you can buy in a store, the chickens were likely abused.  Do not eat eggs you buy.

Do not eat meat.  Meat and animal products have been linked to cancer.  Meat also contains saturated fat.  Saturated fat is bad.  Do not eat saturated fats.  Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.

Eat coconut oil.  Rub it on your skin. Use it for oil pulling. Clean your house with it. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature.

Make sure you get enough iron and protein in your diet.  Eat meat and nuts.  Nut butters are especially good.  Not in public, someone might be allergic.  Nuts often contain alfatoxin.  Alflatoxin stimulates cancer growth. Do not ingest alflatoxin.

Don’t ingest anything that hasn’t been produced locally (to help save the environment.)  Make sure you get enough colourful fruits and vegetables in your diet, especially in the middle of winter.

IMG_3267Juice veggies in order to meet your daily quota (goodness know getting enough in can be hard some days.) Blend up a green smoothie as well.  Drink your vitamins!

Don’t drink juice, it lacks the fibre.  Without the fibre, the carbohydrates are more readily available for your system to ingest causing a glucose spike.  Glucoses spike cause strain on the system and may result in diabetes and obesity.  Use common sense. Don’t “drink” more than what you would actually eat in a sitting (i.e. 2 bananas, 3 apples, a head of kale and tablespoon of ginger).

Only eat raw food as it is closest to the source and the most natural form.

Vitamins may not be readily available unless you steam or gently cook foods like vegetables.  Cook all your food.  Add coconut oil to the cooking process, as some of the vitamins are only fat soluble.

You should get enough vitamins and minerals in the food you eat, as long as you eat a varied diet, full of all the colours of the rainbow.  Most supplements don’t contain what they say they do, as they are not regulated by any government or regulatory body.

Take vitamin D as you are likely deficient.  And B12.  Also take a multivitamin just to cover your bases.  If you are iron deficient add iron.  And if you are taking iron you should take supplemental vitamin C to ensure iron absorption.  If pregnant you should also take folic acid to prevent neural tube defects.

Exercise regularly.  But do not run.  Running causes strain on the joints and there won’t be enough osteopaths around for the knee replacements required later on.  And do not walk as it doesn’t elevate your heart rate enough for cardiovascular activity.

IMG_3807Only engage in non-linear physical activities.  Linear physical activities like running, walking, biking and elliptical trainers only provide one directional movement for your body.  Swimming could cause death by drowning, especially if you eat food (eating food could cause you to cramp up and die/drown.) So don’t swim either. Or eat.

Sitting is the new smoking so don’t do that either.  Oh and don’t smoke.  Or drink.  Alcohol is a depressant and can lead to obesity and dependance.

IMG_3900A glass of wine once a day is recommended and healthy for your heart.  It also provides you with antioxidants.  Also you should eat berries, they are high in antioxidants too.

Do not eat anything that isn’t organic.  Especially non-organic berries.  The pesticides will be harmful to you, like they are to the bugs they kill.

Organic farming isn’t sustainable for the whole world.  It is costly and not as effective as traditional farming methods.  We could not feed the world if produce was organically farmed.  Do not buy organic.

Meditation has been shown to decrease cortisol levels and improve physical and mental health.  Close your eyes and sit down to meditate at least once a day for 20 minutes.

Lastly: attack life, it’s going to kill you anyway.

 

If you like it, share it.  If you don’t, don’t.

 

 

True Story. The missing piece.

 

 

I got to my hot yoga class and set up my mat on the wonderful, radiantly warmed floor as usual.  Then proceeded to go to the back corner to get my block and strap.  Dodging all the cute university girls and hippi bearded guy before returning to the 2″x7″ long place I would call my own for the next 75mins.  I sat down in my usual virasana pose. In 95F degree heat.  And began to slow my breathing.

Many women were already stretching and posing.  Posturing even perhaps, for the shirtless frat guy who was already sweating in the warmth. Maybe they were just warming up in anticipation of the upcoming gruelling asanas that would get all our butts into shape and knock our egos back into reality.  Or maybe they were testing the weak points of newly purchased yoga clothes to ensure full coverage during twisty, bendy pretzel manoeuvres that we could practice inversions from.  Either way, the room was filled with this intense energy to go, and this feeling of silent calm that whatever road we went on, we were in it together, all 16 of us, for the next 75min.

I closed my eyes and just focused on stillness, silence.  Breathing in deeply, loving the moment.  Someone new came into the room and I opened my eyes.  Not the instructor yet.  But before returning to my inner bliss, I couldn’t take my eyes away from the top of my mat.  My strap sat there all alone.  Where was my block?  I put it there specifically, just like I always do.

I turned to the girl on my right and she had a block.  Had she swiped mine while my eyes were closed?  Seriously, whoever was too much of a lazy ass to get up and walk to the back of the room to get their own damn block was going to hear from me.

I turned to my left and although frat boy didn’t have one, with the amount of sweating he was doing I thought he probably could use one.  After all, if you already look fluish before class has even started, there is no way you can expect to hold any poses without major support. I don’t care how big your muscles are.

Two mats over that girl has a block.  Her in the hot pink sports bra and tie dye pants.  And she was upside down in headstand.  Showoff.  I mean seriously who does that shit before class starts?  Bet she thinks she’s better than the rest of us and has the need to demonstrate, in case the opportunity doesn’t arise during the actual yoga class.  Bet she stole my block too.  Besides if she thinks she’s that much better than me, then taking my block while my eyes are closed probably isn’t a stretch.

Or maybe its the guy two rows up who stole it.  He looks new and anxious.  Or the girl beside him.  My eyes scan the room and find thieves on every mat.

I shift on my mat.  Glaring at everyone around me.  Where is the thief?  And who would be so brazen and rude as to swipe another person’s block?  The room feels hot and small.  I feel angry and my breathing is fast.

Then I feel it.  My block is beneath me.  In virasana for extended periods the block takes the strain off the knees, hence why I put it there because I was 10min early.  I laugh at myself.  The utter silliness.  The anger melts away.  The girl next to me catches my eye and smiles as she reaches for her water.  I can see frat boy using his towel to mop off the sweat from his brow.  His well used, obviously aged-from-many-yoga-classes, towel.  And the girl two mats down comes out of headstand and settles into a seated pace on her mat.  I am back in the same room as I started.  Warm, inviting and energizing.

And I realize the only thing I have to work on today is my own mind.

Oh yoga, if there isn’t something new I get from it every time.  Even before the class has started.

Camping with small kids…vegetarian and dairy free

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We went away this last weekend, and camped, with kids!  Small kids.  Lots of people do this I know, but there are a few things that we did which I think made it easier.  And food was a big one.  Being away doesn’t mean I want to resort to eating junk, but I do want fast, easy meals that are simple to prepare…

So here was my plan! (And note we are still vegetarian and continue to be on the last few weeks of dairy free eating.)

Dinner on the first night:  Vegan sausages with wine sauerkraut and raw veggies.

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The sausages were amazing, and being vegan, only needed reheating over the fire, so took less time than actual meat to cook.  Kids loved it!  And ate most of their sauerkraut separately.  The veggies were all pre-cut and ready to go, and made for great snacking while waiting for the sausages.  Also made for great morning and afternoon snacks through the camping adventures.  Fuel for our hike!

IMG_3073The next morning we started off right with pancakes and eggs.  Solution for this meal was the pre-made pancake better.  Put it in an old, washed, ketchup squeeze bottle and voila! No mess!  And less clean up.  The chocolate, coconut pancakes were a big hit and special camping treat.  Get the recipe here!  They were so good in fact, we ate before a picture could be taken.

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IMG_3090Watermelon rounded out our meal and filled our bellies!

We only brought a small pairing knife.  The easiest way to tackle a watermelon with a small knife is to cut it in half by slicing all the way around the melon (not through it like you would with a large knife)  Then cut it into quarters.  Once you have smaller pieces to work with you can cut slices, or as we did for small kids, cut off the peel and dice it so it could be eaten with a fork (less mess and bear bait).

Lunch was next was pre-made and canned soup.  Not real canning mind you – just enough to seal the jars so they could sit at the bottom of our waterlogged cooler and not get diluted.  This type of canning lasts long enough for camping and is a healthy and economic way to eat.  Soo good.  I used a family recipe favourite.

IMG_3058Then more snacking – raw veggies, watermelon and pretzels dipped in hummus.  I just love camping so!  Especially when everything is already prepared at our fingertips!

IMG_2378We were off to the nearby beach for the day.  And packed along homemade granola bars.  Homemade goodness (and fibre, omega 3s, seeds, protein and love!)

Our dinner was our “cheat” night.  And by that I mean we usually get treats on occasion.  It used to be only on weekends but now it’s even less than that.  So our treat was this meal.  And consisted of walking tacos.  I didn’t get a picture because I forgot.  Maybe it’s because I was so excited about the chips!  (I’m a savoury girl and salt fiend, as is my daughter.)  This meal met all my cravings!  Most people already know about it, but you don’t I’ll fill you in (because everybody should know about it!):  Cut the top off a small sized nacho chip bag (think halloween size), then fill with pre-diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, cheese (in our case diaya – dairy free cheese), and taco meat (ground round sautéed in the camping pan with taco seasoning)  Dig a fork in and enjoy.  Hardly any dishes either.  Bonus!

Dessert was a camping go-to we could not go without.  It needs no explanation.

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If you are dairy free then you MUST buy the good chocolate with no dairy and waxy additives.  I think I might be dairy free forever if it means good chocolate in my life from now on!

IMG_3075Finally breakfast the following morning:  meet my homemade breakfast burritos.  They freeze well and heat up like magic over a campfire.  And are super tasty and loved by all.  The making of them takes love and a bit of time ahead of IMG_3065the trip, but it is well worth it.  First you diced up the vegetarian sausages (2 Tofurky italian sausages in this case) and dry fry (no oil) in a hot pan until sealed.  Then scramble the eggs until just not moist, adding neccisary salt and pepper.  Then dice the red potato up into 1/2″ cubes or smaller IMG_3070(think small hashbrowns!) Boil for 5-7 min until just cooked – do not over cook! Then drain off water and transfer to a hot pan and dry fry (no oil) until browned.  Basically you are taking the moisture out of the food just enough that it doesn’t make the tortillas soggy that you will wrap them in.  Don’t fret, we add cheese (or diaya – dairy free cheese) to reclaim the moisture and fat to enhance the flavours at the end.  Put all the just made hot fillings in the fridge for 1/2hr to an hour until cold.  Then wrap these babies up in tortillas adding about 2 tsp of cheese  (or dairy free substitute) per burrito to the mix.  Wrap in tin foil and either freeze or refrigerate until later use for campfire ready food.

So that was this weekend’s meal plan.  And what great meals they were!  I’m only sad that now we’re home and my magic trick of pulling meals out of a cooler, already prepared, is over.

 

 

 

Nooner

I’ve come to the realization that all I usually post is everything to do with dinner meal planning.   The truth is that most of our lunches are our dinners (leftovers from the night before.)  But what happens when there are no leftovers?  And yes, there are nights dinner is good, there are none.  Or when picnics are planned?  Or when I send my little one to preschool with lunch?

Here are a few of my lunch solutions.

IMG_2142Here is one that is a favourite…open faced sandwiches on full grain/seed bread.  Tomatoes and avocado with a bit of mayo and salt/pepper.  Of course paired with a quick green smoothie of banana, celery, spinach, apple and frozen berries.  This is a favourite of mine because it is filled with vitamins and nutrients, or rather I can fill my kids with vitamins and nutrients.  I’ve also begun adding hemp hearts and chia seeds to our smoothies.  They add iron and omega 3s to the mix.  The vitamin C in the tomatoes helps our bodies to absorb the iron from the hemp seeds and spinach.

The thing about nutrition, or eating nutritiously is: that I am constantly thinking about it.  And by constantly thinking about it and acting on it, I hope that in the end we will be better off.

Another favourite an quick meal go-to is:

IMG_2160Apple sage Field Roast sausages with peas and carrots.  By the time I took this photos the steamed carrots had been eaten (oops!)  You see they are a favourite in this household.  So much so that if I don’t eat mine pronto the kids demand what’s on my plate after finishing theirs.  The sodium level is a little bit high for the kids, so I limit their intake of this type of food, both in frequency and amount at a meal.  Once in a while we serve them on whole wheat sausage buns…but not often.  I realized when my daughter was just four and asked me what a hot dog was, that a replacement for a food that seems a part of childhood needed at least an explanation.  So here it is – our ‘hot dogs’.

For a picnic lunch sandwiches are our go to.

IMG_3027 IMG_3029Note the re-useable sandwich bags!  They are perfect and easy to clean afterwards.  This time we did hummus and tomato sandwiches and utilized leftover avocado pasta sauce (similar to guacamole).  So good!

Tricks for packing sandwiches:  we freeze the bread then make the sandwiches right before leave and place them in the cooler – keeps the sandwich fresh and yet has thawed by the time we eat it.  IMG_3026The other trick with any avocado based sandwich spread: putting a small layer of water overtop.  Yes it looks messy but it keeps the avocado from oxidizing and is easy to pour off and reapply when done.  I will agree with the kids on this one – brown avocado isn’t appetizing.

Next up we pack tons of fresh fruit and usually include a few bags of assorted nuts, soynuts, and seeds (like pumpkin or sunflower).  The kids love the variety and mom loves the nutrition.

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And the other big favourite of mine are soups.  Number one because they taste so amazing!  Number two because the kids also think they taste so amazing (and nutritionally they are!) And Number three because they are cheap! (okay the cheap part only works when you make them yourself.)  There is actually a number four here too…my husband isn’t a big fan of soup, therefor if I can get my soup fix at lunch he can have a dinner he likes.  Oh and Number five I can make it once and it easily feeds us for a week…I could keep counting.  Soup is just that good.  I have both summer recipes (gazpacho anyone?) and winter ones (which also work in the spring and fall, or less than hot summer days.)  My blood tends to run cold, so soup for me is a big hit through the year.  I will someday write a whole blog about all the soups I make.  Lentil, chickpea, veggie mix… but for the most part if I’m not making a soup from a recipe I wing it.  So I’ll need to write down some of my ingredients for you to try one.  A full soup blog post is in order on this one.  You’ll likely see it down the road.

chickpea soup

chickpea soup

lentil soup

lentil soup

white bean and kale soup

white bean and kale soup

And there you have a few of our family favourite lunch solutions when we aren’t eating leftovers!  I hope everyone is out enjoying this long weekend.

Now I am stepping into the sunshine!