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.

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

Pain.

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I sat down to write this blog tonight, and frankly I just don’t know where to start.  So I’ll begin at the beginning and when I’m done will be the end.  First things first.

Pain.

The most constant thing on my mind since having my braces adjusted.  (Yes, I have braces.  19 months now.  But who’s counting right?)  And every month with an adjustment comes pain.  And soft food.  And soups. (My husband hates soups, so in effect my pain causes him pain.)

Me and my better half...and the braces.

Me and my better half…and the braces.

The kids too.  Have you ever noticed that being in constant nagging pain makes you kind of a painful person to be around?  I think if you asked my kids, and they could articulate how they really felt about me, I’m pretty sure my braces being adjusted causes them pain too. (If only in the way that the constant ache makes me less resistant to noise, like drums and whistles and screeching – in joy or not.)

So this week might be a painful read.  But I promise to give you some really good recipes out of it.  The one thing that makes me happy is filling my family with healthy food, bursting with love and joy.  And also softness (literally and figuratively) as I try to be gentle to myself (physically and emotionally).

These type of weeks are effective tools in helping me to ask for what I need (quiet please…and maybe an Advil). Also hugs.  Compassion goes a long way in the road to dealing with what’s bugging you. Even when it comes from a 2 year old.

And now the recipes! (Excitement over these is also a from of pain-escapism!)  This week’s meal plan is amazing!

  • Broccoli and Cheddar Soup (adapted from The Vegetarian Bible).  I would have taken pictures of this as I made it.  But it is ugly.  Really truly.  Boiled broccoli can have this beautiful green colour, but when you boil it down to be blended…let’s just say it’s not the same green.  Also for this recipe I do not recommend making it unless you have a food processor.  Unless you just love grating potatoes and cheese by hand for extended periods.  The end result keeps me coming back for more.   Which is good because this recipe makes a LOT.
  • IMG_4019White Bean and Kale Soup.  I know I know, I keep posting this.  But honestly it is only because I KEEP making it.  And the husband kinda sorta likes this one (as much as a soup hater could ever love soup.)  It is very easy, and hard to mess up.  Oh an freezes so well!  Yeah for leftovers!  This also uses up the GIGANTIC kale in my garden.  My kale “tree” is over a year old and now a tiny bit taller than my four year old.  Makes for a lot of great soups, smoothies and juicing.
  • Sweet Potato and Spinach Lentil Curry served with rice.  Yes, again.  I think when in pain,I lose brain power to the “dull ache void”.  So I’m less creative.  And go to old standbys (and comfort food).  And it’s soft and easy to eat.
  • Chickpea Stew.  Yum!  Seriously folks I got over my aversion to chick peas with this meal.  Packs in protein and is really really REALLY easy to make.  And freeze.  And eat.
  • Vegan Spagetti.  I have to hope that soft pasta is in my future, at least nearing the end of the week.
  • Mexican Salad in Tortilla Shells.  New recipe!  I will let you know how this goes and post if it’s good.  Very basic.  And will hopefully be at a time where my salad fantasies can be fulfilled with the ability to chew properly.

The end.

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.

 

 

 

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This week’s meal plan has me excited!  So many new things to try…and increasingly so many challenges.  I struggle when faced with new things.  And going no dairy was great for the first two weeks, but now that I am officially out of my comfort recipes (of which I don’t seem to have as many as I had thought which are no-dairy) I am throwing caution to the wind and trying out all sorts of new flavours.  Most of which happily seem to be going well.  So here’s the plan (and yes, I’m halfway through!)IMG_2049

  • IMG_2051Moo-Shu Veggie Salad wraps with peanuts.  Aren’t those little Boston lettuces to die for!  Almost too cute to eat, and add a wonderful texture to the warm cabbage wrap filling.  I basically stir fry a little bit of garlic, add one shredded head of red cabbage a few shredded carrots, two diced green onions until the mixuture softens.  Then I add a few tbsp of hoisin sauce (yes, store bought – oh shame) and one or two tbsp of tamari.  Stir in about 1/2 cup chopped peanuts and then serve in the wrapped lettuce.  (In the picture you see I had also made a wonderful cold soba noodle salad! Yum!  And substituted the red cabbage for green, but after having tried it prefer the original.)  This recipe was adapted from The Supermarket Vegan cookbook.
  • Pinto bean sloppy joes on whole wheat buns with maple coleslaw.  The kids LOVED this recipe also from the Supermarket Vegan book above.  I need to tweak it a little before I share it with you – the joes were a little too sweet in my opinion.  And goodness knows we already have enough sugar I am trying to cut out of our lives!
  • Tomato and Basil Pasta with cashew cream sauce
  • Black Eyed Peas with Collard Greens and brown rice.  This recipe also needs tweaking, hence me not sharing (sorry!) Too spicy for the kiddos…so once tweaked I will share away and give a spicy option for adults!
  • Chickin’ burgers and sweet potato fries (using Quorn brand veggie burgers) and of course a large salad.  I have also found that surprisingly I am not above daiya cheese.  And happily it’s a great substitute!  We may even give the fries a go on the BBQ, being a long weekend and all.IMG_1419
  • Chickpea Salad Sandwiches on whole wheat seeded bread.  Mostly because this week has been HOT and cooking is overrated on these 85+F days!
  • Avocado Pasta. Still haven’t tried out this recipe yet but I feel it will be a great addition to the week’s menu for the kids!   It’s also super fast and meets my ‘hot day’ meal criteria.

 

So that’s this week!  Happy Canada Day to all my fellow nationals.  And Happy July 4th to those around me currently.  Anywhere you are in the world I hope your week is great!

The No Dairy Diet

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And by diet I mean temporary lifestyle.  I’m trying this out for the next 6 weeks to give my system a break from certain inflammatory food.  And in the meantime it’s a good vegan experiment too!  I have even found a creamer substitute for my coffee.  It’s still not cream, but makes my coffee loveable and drinkable and still enjoyable.  Which in turn makes me happy.  Yeh for coconut creamer!

So here’s what I’ve been working on this past week:

  • Thai Cashew Quinoa Salad– perfect for the summer weather and filled with energizing protein (who doesn’t LOVE thai?)
  • IMG_2966Jumbo Stuffed Shells and Vegan cesear salad.  This appears to be a take on my tofu and spinach stuffed shells recipe…only it’s not at all and doesn’t contain parmesan like my recipe.  AND it tastes just as amazing.  I don’t even know how that is possible but it just is.  I planned on freezing half, and then we ate. it. all.
  • IMG_2409Thai Coconut Red Curry with added edemame.  Filled to the brim with veggies, and more veggies and THAI! I used red and green bell peppers, a sweet onion, edemame (about 2 cups!) broccoli and brown rice for our dinner.  And of course omitted the chicken, still a veggie girl over here!
  • IMG_2927Green “Pasta” Primavera.  This was a shocker.  Again, so amazing.  With all the new recipes I am testing I keep anticipating failure and yet I always am so pleasantly surprised.  But my poor husband ends up not getting leftovers for work.  These meals are just so great, they are gone by the end of the meal.  IMG_2929With this meal you make a sundried tomato pesto for the primavera; I doubled the recipe for that and froze it so the next time I make the meal my time is saved (and I don’t have to clean the food IMG_2928processor – bonus!) Bought a vegetable julienne tool (and spiral slicer) especially for this, and my many vegetable “pastas” to come!  I can’t wait to give it a go on kohlrabi – so refreshing for the summer.  My kids loved the carrot “pasta”!  The tool I bought was easy to use and ranked high in the ratings.  It also makes making vegetable pasta fast.  Way faster than the manual peeler type (and anything to make my life easier working with whole foods is a GO!)  You can find it on Amazon here if you are interested in expanding your kitchen helpers.
  • Spinach Lentil Bake.  My old go to, with love and comfort baked inside.  And enough leftovers for the sitter, kids and our night out to the baseball game!

Also this past week has been energized by the longest days of sunshine in the year.  Yeah for summer solstice! There just seems to be more energy in the air.  With that I am off to do a run!  Gotta make use of this vamped up energy.  And bonus that it helps me train for another upcoming race.

I love summer!

Oops!

I’ve fallen off the wagon.  Okay, more than that.  I fell off the horse and the wagon rolled on top of me!  But I’m back to this blog and I promise to do better – at least weekly.

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Why? You ask.  Well why not.  Life. Is. Busy.  I celebrated my 10 year wedding anniversary and went away on a fabulous (and also not-so-fabulous) vacation without kids.  And kids, my kids; well they are like the black holes of my space/time continuum. Not that it’s a bad thing.  I love actually living my life.  I’ve added more teaching karma yoga classes to my week, added going-to-yoga-classes (where someone else can stand at the front and give instruction – yeah!) And my garden. Sigh.  The never ending project of trying to turn my black thumb green.  And also now, just today I start my 6 week no dairy trial.

Yes. No more cheese. *Sad face*

Or cream in my coffee. *Exasperated look* This is the hardest part.  Did I mention I only drink one cup of coffee a day?

So I’m at a toss up as to discuss with you in the next 1/2 hour of writing time.  My deliberations include:

a) goodness in giving back to the world (cuz I added more FREE yoga classes to my backyard class! And boy does that feel amazing!) or

b) the endless battle with slugs and aphids and my anti-pesticide attitude. (My poor Hostas!) I could also get into a large rant about the ants living in my walls and currently attempting to randomly take up residence in my residence. Sigh. or

c) this week’s menu plan.  Which as of right now has one thing on it because all I can think about is everything I can’t make with cheese and how I will get through without cream in my coffee!  First world problems for sure.

Since I can’t decide I will go into a little of each.  So here it goes.  About 7 min on each topic, since I’ve spent the last bit of my 1/2 hour of free time trying to decide…

A) Karma

What you give to the world you get back (or there abouts).  I can’t speak more highly about everything I gain from giving away my yoga class.  The relationships that develop and my own inner sense of peace knowing that I am doing good in the word (or at the very least not doing harm for my hours of weekly yoga.)  Bliss.  Better yet, I’m reading a negotiation book currently.  The entire concept is to focus attention on what you can do for others, so they can in return give you what you need.  And I truly believe that if we all followed this mantra, everybody in the entire world would get what they need.  By giving so much of what you can, and what you are good at, other hearts open and give to everyone else.  Once a circle or community is established if we all continue to give freely of our gifts the egos would (in theory) all fall away and life would be perfect.  Right?

Did I mention I’m still allowed wine on my new dietary plan? (Or have you already guessed that by this point?) I’m sounding like a socialist.  Maybe deep down under I am.  Wine brings out the best?

And time. 7 minutes are past.  Well past.  I had to stop mid post to intervene a naked non-potty trained child from further running through my house.  Put him to bed.  And then there was laundry…so I hung up the wet and folded the dry and

Life.

But I will attempt to get through this one blog post.  It has been a month!

B) B is for bugs.

IMG_2821I’m at a constant battle within myself that the bugs of this earth make the soil and environment what it is. Which gives the rest of us food to nourish our bodies, and helps to enrich the soil so plants can grow, giving us fresh air to breath.  So they have just as much a right to be here as I do.  And given that it’s not up to me to take them out of this world.  But gosh darn it if I don’t get my panties in a twist when I can’t seem to keep the snails off my Hosta and the poor thing is looking like the swiss cheese I can’t cook with for the next 6 weeks!
I went outside to take a picture of the plant.  Then found another snail (5th today). So I snapped a picture of that (and promptly took it off the plant and relocated far away into my lawn).  Then noticed some random weeds trying in infiltrate the bed so I just pulled a few, and then a few more and then a few more.  The soil was just IMG_2822perfect for this right now, and one out of two kids were in bed, the other pre-occupied so I had a few moments to pull plants without “help”.

And time. Waaaay past 7 min. Snails, weeds,

Life.

Back to focus.

C) Menu plan.

I’ve been told to try 6 weeks dairy free to give my body a rest from certain inflammatory foods to give my system a rest.  Do I believe the whole inflammatory food? I’m still unsure.  More reading required (in all of my free time!)  But I do believe I can do anything for 6 weeks so here I go.  But sadly without the cream in my coffee. *Really sad face*

Sad panda face.

Right, back to focus.  The easiest thing to do is access my vegan cookbooks (which surprisingly encompass half of my food library.)

Today was Portabella Enchiladas.  I’ve given out the recipe on the blog before.  But this time I omitted the cheese, and put sliced avocado all over the top.  So good.  Day one down!

IMG_2117IMG_2122Tomorrow is a very simple meal.  Tofu dipped in Tamari and coated in nutritional yeast, then pan fried in coconut oil.  So yummy!  With a side of brown rice.  And in the leftover coconut oil in the pan, I will saute a massive amount of swiss chard, lightly salted.  My family loves this meal.  We just can’t get enough swiss chard.  And with it’s iron content, I’m a happy mommy who can sleep well at night knowing we won’t be iron deficient.

Then comes my staple Lentil Bean Dish.  Also a family favourite and posted on here previously. (Makes for faster blogging too!) Only this time I omit the cheese and will top it with a blend of steamed cauliflower/russet potato mash!  Creamy goodness!  Good as cheese? Only time will tell…

Tuesday will be a Cauliflower Curry  with rice.  And I’ll add a cup of red lentils to the cooking process and omit the paneer (indian cheese) I usually add.  Might even get wild and throw in some torn up spinach! I knew that I added dairy to about a meal a day, but I never realized how constantly it has because a part of our main meal.  It is a good thing to shake life up a bit.  Especially for me, who is at times stuck in my ways, and averse to anything different.  Tuesday is also shopping day.  Which means I have to meal plan for the entire week!

Wednesday is a new thai cashew salad.  On recommendation of a friend. Yum!  And then I fall back on the plan.  Which is to be made in the future.  If I haven’t already lost my marbles because I just can’t drink coffee without cream. I bought and started using a coconut creamer today.  Not. The. Same.

I am trying.

Times up.

Meal Plan Monday.

IMG_1950This week I’m cracking out new recipes!  And I’ve already begun the alterations.  Nothing seems to fit two people quite the same…and recipes for me fall into that category.  So I make it mine, whatever it is in my pot! (Likely also why I am NOT a baker.  I can bake. I just really struggle with it, as I feel like there is no room for adjustment – at least not in my timeframe.)

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So this week’s list is exciting!  And includes quite a few vegan options!  (Which I seem to make up for with cheese in the lasagna recipe…)(V=vegan, GF= gluten free)

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The altering of recipes I do is a good reminder of how everything should be altered to suit the needs of those it is for.  Whether it be clothes, or relationships, food or a health plan, I think we are all individuals and no one person is exactly like another.  That explains why blanket ‘diets’ and blanket treatment programs don’t work for everyone.  So go out and find what works for you.  Get to know yourself.  Really understand what it is you need and then ask for that.

That is all we ever can know.  Ourselves.

And the more we understand that, the more we can find happiness in our life.

IMG_1957The only person you can blame for ever being disappointed is yourself.  If you don’t have the expectation in the first place there is nothing to fall short of.  (Unless I am baking of course!)

Meal Plan Monday. (4of4)

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This is the last of my weekly meal plans for the month.  Did you love them? Hate them? Try any new recipes?  Tell readers what you think – click the comment button and share with others.  Want me to keep posting meal plans? (hint: let me know!)

So this week I have one of my dear friends coming to visit from out of town.  She has celiac disease so I wanted to give her as many options as possible for meals.  Although she will only be here for maybe a dinner or two I figured I’d let her pick from a variety of options.  One challenging thing for me is that she doesn’t do dairy either… She said she will cheat with cheese (for my ease of meal planning).  I pulled out all the stops at trying to find recipes I love without either.  I’ve marked them GF=gluten free, and/or DF=dairy free as applicable.  Although there are only a few that meet all her requirements, here is what I came up with:

As I was planning these meals I was busy prepping for our Sunday night dinner where friends came over as well.  A realization came to me: people are funny about food.  We are so particular about what we like, what we’d prefer and what we believe.  The fact even that as a species we change our diets to lose weight, or cleanse, or detox or etc. strikes me as odd.  I’m no different.  I choose to be vegetarian.  I don’t like cooked pineapple.  And it’s odd.

Almost everybody I know who has these preferences; at some point, has gone against them and done the exact opposite.  For example: I don’t like cooked pineapple (in soups or stir frys or pizza) but put that sucker on a bbq, coated in honey glaze that carmalizes, with a bit of cinnamon and I’d dive in!  Even my gluten free friends (even the celiac ones) have eaten something ON PURPOSE that doesn’t fit into their preference.  (And please don’t jump on me; I am a nurse, I am aware that having celiac disease is a medical condition with severe consequences if a gluten free diet is not followed. I’m using the term preference here as a matter of choice, which it is.)  The thing is, even with consequences, sometimes that ‘delectable baked good’ is just too ‘good’ to resist.

Or take for example, a diet to lose weight.  How many people have you known to ‘cheat’ on that?? It just seems weird to me, that we categorize and put all these ideas, ideals and notions into boxed categories.  Lacto-ovo vegetarian, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, fat free, etc.

That is only the start of where things get weird.  Then we start introducing and projecting our thoughts on what the people look like in each category.   How many of you think vegans are hippies?  Or that all vegetarians don’t eat meat because they love fuzzy animals?  How many meat and potatoes eaters are old, white men? Or salad eaters: skinny, pretty girls?

Where do these ideas come from?

Why can’t we just eat??

Hence why I diet. And by that, I mean I eat.  And what I eat is my diet.  And who I am isn’t something that can be contained in a box.  Today I do not like cooked pineapple, but by tonight when the rain has cleared, and the barbecue is fired up, I might love it.  And hypocritically eat the whole thing.