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.

 

 

My life.

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I’ve been spending more time in my life.  And by that I mean offline.  With my kids, in the moment, doing yoga and you know, life things.  It has been great!  (But isn’t everything always portrayed as great online?  Well mostly.)  Rarely do people use it as a “look how much my life sucks” forum. Unless they are using it to process life issues…and then sometimes that’s all you hear about.  But for me, here, it’s about the happy stuff.  Yes, there are life issues in my life.  Or maybe not as many as I feel like there are in comparison to others (first world problems here, first world.)  Generally happy.  Generally good.  And generally grateful for all that I do have.

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So, first things first.  What’s been on my plate recently…  The Mexican taco bowls were a huge hit last week.  So here is the recipe:

Mexican Taco Bowls

Another fabulous meal of late was another type of taco we tried…Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos.  Looking at the recipe I don’t think I would have ventured out to give these a go, but a close friend raved about them (and she’s never wrong when it comes to recipes) And low and behold, she was right again, keeping her record perfect.

I am still working on the 6 week dairy free diet to post here.  It’s an ongoing process.  I hope to include all recipes – which requires more time than my “live in the moment” current life provides.  But it is in the works!

So this week’s meal plan included favourites (both oldies and newbies):

  • IMG_4363 IMG_4364Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos (YUM! This will be made again soon! And my pictures don’t do it justice, go to the website via the recipe link and you’ll see it in real life colours.  We are always in such a hungried hurry to eat over here that I’m rushed for snaps before the food does a disappearing act.)
  • Quinoa with Zucchini and Ricotta Bake (Because freezer meals for later…and no picture.  I have no idea why I have no pictures, I make this dish as a staple in our house every few months.  I will take pictures this week when I make it! Yum!)IMG_2341
  • Soba Noodle Salad (In the dishes, prior to putting it all together…Such a beautiful and colourful entree.  Makes tastebuds dance.)IMG_1458
  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas (Also, the freezer meals thing. And the only picture I have of this beautiful dish is the sweet potatoes.  Mostly because once it is out of the oven I can’t wait to dive in, forgetting about pictures.  And slightly because I mis-timed dinner and had two VERY hungry children sitting at the table demanding food as soon as it was removed from the oven…)
  • Vegan Chili (New recipe!!! I still haven’t found a chili I like.  In my head they are all measured up against my chili, pre-vegetarian days.  I’ll let you know how this goes, but this blogger’s recipes are really, really good.  So I am hopeful!)

So you’ve likely noticed my attention this week to freezer meals.  And that’s because my husband is going away soon for a week on business.  My motivation for cooking will likely nose dive during that time, so I’m thinking ahead and giving myself plenty of options for when he is away.  These options may also include pancakes, pizza and ice cream.  I am giving myself full permission to use whatever methods necessary to maintain my sanity during that time.  Oh and also it is my birthday week.  So ice cream, cupcakes and giving in to cravings will be a big part of my plan.  Even if it means giving in to the kids to keep the peace.  Just a little.

Oh and I’ve started instagramming (is that a verb? I limit myself to it once a day so it must be…)  As much as this blog focuses on my meal plans, it focuses on my yoga practice (another huge part of who I am.)  Follow me @backyargyogi

And as always…if you like what I write or post, share it! (Or like it! Or comment to let me know!) And if you don’t, don’t. 🙂

Cheers,

Karen

Meal Plan Monday.

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Greek Pizza (on garlic naan bread)

Yup it’s back!  Not that my meal planning ever stopped… and this week it’s better than ever.  Mostly because we are going away on a family trip soon so I get to plan all our food for a 2 night hotel excursion with mini fridge and microwave!  In a future post I will outline how we did it – both to save on money and continue to keep eating healthy! (Well healthier than the burger and fries options most restaurants provide…this is vacation after all and treats are well deserved!)

So here is this week’s menu plan!

  • IMG_2403Peanut Satay Dragon Bowl with quinoa (The pic is of my pre-chopped veggies for this evening. One of my lifesavers in whole-foods eating is prep time ahead of schedule.  Too bad my colourful peppers are hidden underneath.)
  • Greek Pizza (on garlic naan bread)
  • Vegetarian Paella
  • The finished dish

    Vegetarian Paella

    IMG_1425Chickin’ Fingers with Green Bean and Feta Salad (The Chickin’ is the Quorn brand using mycoprotein as the source of protein.  Meat and soy free!)

  • Tacos! (Since I totally missed out on the Cinco de Mayo celebrations I’m making up for it here!)

In amongst all of this planning and prepping I am training for an upcoming mother’s day race.  I use the word training and race VERY loosely.  It’s 5km (3.1miles) and my normal runs are 2 miles so it really isn’t a stretch.  And as for the race aspect, I’m not in it as a competitive sport.

I realized with the extra time to get out with running stroller, or haul the kids to the gym (so I can get on a treadmill) that I do excel in time organization.  And also, that the part of me that wants everything healthy and ‘from scratch’ needs to sometimes take a breather and take a step back.  So I have been organizing easy meals the past few weeks.  And although they are still healthy and balanced, they have some ‘cheats’ to make things go a little more smoothly in my time crunch between naps, ballet class, school, playdates, swimming lessons, running schedules, yoga classes (both teaching and attending), and hubby’s new krav maga martial arts training…

30. Listen

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Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

A good deal of us have stopped listening to our body.  I bet every person reading this can recall the last time they overate and didn’t feel well. (Chinese food anyone? Or sugar overload?)  So my tip today is about awareness within your body.

Put portions on your plate that are appropriate.  Eat said food, and enjoy every last bite. Then stop. Many people I know would jump up for seconds, or a bigger helping of “that one really good dish” (ahem…my husband – sorry honey!) Instead, wait.  Give yourself 10 minutes, and literally set a timer if you need to.

Sometimes those cues from our body are still there, just delayed a little.  So wait the 10 minutes, and then if you are still hungry – actually physically in need of more nourishment, help yourself. (Since installing this as a household rule my husband has stopped with the second servings almost entirely! What a difference.)

Listen to your body, enjoy your food!

Simply Living Healthy – 40 tips in 40 days

Eat it.

So most of the people I talk to say that the biggest issue is knowing what to eat.  Reading into that more I see it as an “how to eat” issue.  Society forces us into a fast pace.  We struggle to s-l-o-w down.  I am adding a section to this blog called “Eat It” with my own weekly meal plan for dinners. If you are in need of a time saver (and don’t mind choices being made for you) you can follow along and use the “Recipes” section of the menu bar to create your shopping list.

Nothing is set in stone and most of the time I don’t eat as much as planned for.  If you still find yourself hungry consider all raw fruit and veggies (no dips) as a completely free food to gorge on (hint: if you aren’t hungry enough to be eating that than maybe it’s not hunger you are looking to fulfill…)

We as a family try very hard to follow a rule I read about in a book called Body for Life and that is that we can have one free day per week to eat junk or whatever we’ve been craving.  This usually extends to our weekend (so of the 7 days in the week we are allowed “bad” foods on weekends.) This rule also applies to alcohol.  The only exception to this rule is one piece of dark chocolate after dinner to kill any sweet cravings we may be having – we have also found that an expresso will do the trick nicely.  In addition to that, I will use my recipe for **raw chocolate pudding** to kill cravings if I don’t feel enough fat has been in place in my diet that day (or if I have been lacking in omega 3s).

We buy organic when we can, and local as much as possible. (This is especially so after reading **The Omnivores Dilemma**.)   Having said that I don’t dwell on it.  I make a shopping list for the week based on my meal planning and I stick to it.  I try to make use of large quantities of food through the week.  For example in one week’s meal plan I would have bought a very large bag of baby carrots and a huge container of blueberries, to use in recipes and as snacks through the week.  I spend as little time running around and preparing as I can.  This is also why dinner one night becomes lunch the next.  I consistently try to always make extra to use the next day, or to freeze.

Time savers: when making meals double the recipe and freeze if you are able.  That way nights when you are tired or busy dinner just needs to be reheated.  When doing meal prep I try to always to extra.  i.e. Cutting up an onion – do two and bag one for tomorrow’s meal.  Washing lettuce? Why not wash the whole bag, pat dry and put in a bag for the rest of the week.  If you know you will be tired this week or short on time buy the pre-washed lettuce.  Baby carrots are a lifesaver.  You might save money by doing things yourself but ask yourself if it’s worth your time.  There have been nights I would love to have a salad but have been too tired and don’t make the effort, which leads to junk eating later.  Prep work is key.  I will even do some in the morning if I have a minute to make dinner go little faster. Time savers like apple corers and eggs slicers are great, as long as the time saved isn’t spent on clean up afterwards.

Sit down for every meal or snack.  Period.  Pay attention to your food, the way it tastes and the way it makes you feel.  I am always grateful for the ability to prepare, enjoy and be able to obtain nurishment.  Even if you are running late and have grabbed a sandwich while you are out.  Find a bench, park your butt and pay attention to your fuel.  I honestly think intention and awareness to what we are eating helps us become more connected to how we feel.

Water, water, water.  If you are still hungry after what you feel is an appropriate amount for dinner, drink a glass of water and wait 10 minutes.  If still hungry grab seconds of dinner (not something else.)  Drink at least one glass of water with every meal. 8 glasses a day should be minimum.  It helps to control hunger and flush out the body.

Cravings.  ugh.  This one isn’t easy as I don’t believe in depravation.  Most of the time the “Body for Life” rule is enough to make me feel like I’m not depriving myself (Chips is my big one and if I can just wait till Saturday I can eat a whole bag to myself if I want…just knowing that gets me through to Saturday and usually by then I don’t need the whole bag, or any at all sometimes.) For sweet cravings the dark chocolate helps, albeit ONE piece.  My new favorite is Theo chocolate (especially the coconut or chili flavour)  I find that sometimes I can find alternate foods that will help.  I replace club soda with a wedge of lime for pop cravings, and will do a small bowl of plain yogurt with frozen raspberries and a little bit of cocoa to kill really bad dessert cravings (or the raw chocolate pudding.)  For my salty cravings I usually find pickles, olives or rice crackers and humous help.  I limit the amount I eat though as the salt will tax your system (i.e. 2 pickles, or 5 olives).  And pay attention to my body…am I eating because I’m hungry, or bored?  Is it just salt I am craving or fat as well? What should I change in the next meal to try and restore balance?