Sausage Party.

IMG_2160

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

IMG_5487

Week Two:

  • Lasagna with cesaer salad
  • smoked mussels on crackers

IMG_5491

  • 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.

Welcome Wagon

IMG_5424

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.

IMG_5423

 

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.

The Cat Came Back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

IMG_4602 IMG_4601

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

IMG_4600

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

IMG_4605

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.

 

 

Fall.

IMG_1462

My yoga series this season was “fall into yoga” and my heart feels like falling in love with everything!  So I am in my kitchen this week falling into everything the season has to offer, loving the crisp air, the honeycrisp apples, and the colours of change.

This week’s meal plan:

IMG_4496

  • Spinach Salad with tempeh bacon and egg. (Like a chef’s salad – for a vegetarian!)

IMG_4489 IMG_4487

  • Red Lentil Rotini with Pumpkin Sauce (easy as pie to make!!)  And yes the red lentil pasta is pricey…I was hoping to give it a go and then buy in bulk at Costco.  Which we will now be doing.  We LOVED this!  Did not love the $8.99 price tag for the 12oz box…but love the 21g of protein per serving.  And no, the picture does not do this dish justice.

 

  • IMG_4506Broccoli and Cheddar Soup with crusty whole grain and seed bread (This was pulled out of the freezer from when I made it 2 weeks ago – LOVE freezer days when I don’t have to cook!)

 

 

  • Butternut squash soup and crusty whole wheat bread

IMG_4511

I wanted to give you a better idea of how to speed things up in the kitchen (or at least my kitchen) and also a good idea on pricing…(since I’m starting to spend a little more gearing up for Christmas). Soooo….

IMG_4507I bought a butternut squash from our local grocer. Buying it whole meant saving quite a lot of cash ($0.79/pound).  I also bought some pre-cut, and on sale ($2.99/pound)  I call it the *time saver, money spender*!  The squash cutting requires a fair amount of effort, and a sharp kitchen knife.

I think it’s worth it, considering the extra effort yields a substantial amount.  I still go back and forth, as this is one of the few things I have repeatedly cut myself doing.  And it always seems to happen at the most inopportune times.  I did not cut myself today.  Hence why I have time to write about it!

I bought about 1.5lb of pre-cut butternut squash (rang in at $4.50) and then about 3.5lb of a regular squash (rang in at $2.75) So I got more than twice as much for less than half the price.  You can see the difference in the picture of my hard work of cubed goodness compared to the store’s boxed.

IMG_4508

I also have started adding lentils to our butternut squash soup recipe.  We are all very active in this family and being vegetarian I try to get protein in where ever I can.  This is a no brainer here, as the red lentils don’t add much flavour to the soup, but add a good amount of protein, which I feel rounds out the meal nicely.  It also keeps us full for longer…if vegetarian fare (or soups in general) are a cause for complaint in your home. (Hi Dad!)

IMG_4509To make the soup I start by heating up the butter or oil in my large stock pot.  I saute the onion until translucent and then add the cubed squash, IMG_4514lentils, boiling water, broth, salt, and pepper.  I simmer for 20min.  After simmering I use an immersion blender to process the soup into a fine puree.  Alternately you could transfer back and forth from a countertop blender to puree.  I keep the heat on low until we are ready to eat and serve with a hearty toasted bread.  Alone this recipe can feed 8.  We split it up and freeze half so it makes a freezer meal for later.  And the kids LOVE it.  Tonight my 4 year old ate two full bowls and my 2 year old ate three full bowls (plus their bread).  And yes, three toddler-bowl-fulls is more than what I ate.  It is that good.

Pumpkin muffins also made an appearance this week.  Yeah for fall!!  They are filled with a cream cheese icing of sorts and are amazing.  Worth that little bit of extra effort.

IMG_1342 IMG_1347

 

Like what you see?  Let me know (or share).  And if you don’t, don’t.

Happy Week!

 

 

My life.

IMG_4348

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.

IMG_4312 IMG_4311

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

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

IMG_3909

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.

 

 

Pain.

IMG_3594

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.

The Pint Size Snack.

IMG_2620

Welcome back to the school year!  And with it, the volunteer activities and necessity to pack lunches and snacks.

Enter the preschool helper.  The position of prestige in the eyes of my child.  And a good place for a parent to see their child flourish amongst others.

Along with the helper part also comes the lunch part.  (We take turns providing lunches for the classroom.)  When it comes to feeding my kids all is well and anything (or just about anything) goes.  But being a classroom of pint-sized people, many lunches have been a flop.  Some parents have resorted to bringing in delivered pizza…yet I have persevered to find something healthy AND likeable.  Not an easy feat. Especially when one of the considerations is that it is easy to prepare – remember this is a whole classroom.  And as much as crackers and cheese seems to be a lunchtime staple, the lack of nutritional fruit and vegetables kinda drives me nuts (nuts – which we are also not allowed to bring.)

Now that it is the beginning of the school year I can finally say I have found the perfect  snack, having worked at it all last year.  And usually everyone finds something they like out of it.

IMG_2621

Bring in the skewer!  Toddler style (or rather pre-school style) with the sharp skewer ends clipped off and a colourful display of vegetables.  This seems to be the best accepted, nutritional hit I’ve managed to conjure up.  And it’s great to have a preschool helper to prepare it!

IMG_2624

And speaking of conjuring…here was this weeks meal plan:

  • Chickpea Stew with Naan bread

IMG_3924

  • Mushroom Broccoli Quisotto (think risotto, but with quinoa!  And this dish can be fully ready in 20-30min…chopping time included!)

 

 

  • Daal with Cauliflower yogurt and Naan bread
  • Tomato Basil Pasta (with cashew cream sauce)

 

Go-Beta-Carotene!

IMG_3223

So what does one do when we are trying to pack in a punch of nutrition?  Get the most out of what we put in?

Try something new!

Still not sure I’m totally convinced of all the benefits. But after seeing all of what goes in, I’m happy with how I feel.  What am I referring to?  Juicing of course!

IMG_3262For the past 2 weeks I think we’ve juiced everyday.  Kale, cantaloupe, cucumbers, carrots, apples, melons, celery, ginger, oranges, mint.  You name it, we juiced it!  Another way to try and push in the iron content.  And for all us of taking iron supplements (3 out of 4 in the family) a great way to get a natural source of vitamin C to help with the absorption.

And I thought I didn’t like parsley.

Turns out all I had to do was drink it.

Direct from the garden - KALE!

Direct from the garden – KALE!

Now don’t misunderstand.  This is still juice.  I am not a regular juice drinker, or advocate.  I use this as supplementation to me and my family’s dietary needs.  Most of the juices are vegetable based (less carbs and sugars) and all are either focused on our need for vitamin C (to help us absorb iron supplements) or iron nutrients (like in the kale and parsley.)  We drink one cup a day (less for the kids).  And it is great!

Also made Costco shopping fun.  12lbs of carrots, a box of oranges, a ridiculous bag of apples (heavier than my son), and a ton of cucumber.  Okay so not exactly a ton of cucumber, but you get the picture.

IMG_3254
Being summer it also helps us to stay hydrated. As juices usually went along with snack and our usual water.

IMG_3267

My favourite was this morning.  I want to call it my “Go-Beta-Carotene!” 3 carrots, 3 oranges, 2 tbsp ginger, and about 1 cup pineapple.  Simple and yet so good.  Split 5 ways.  What a great start to the day. AND wow the houseguests.

Almond butter and beet juice breakfast.

Almond butter and beet juice breakfast.

That’s what I’ve been up to.  How about you?

Why juice? Read here.

Alteration.

So being dairy free means I’m missing out on all my favourite recipes that include, well, dairy.  Being the flexible girl I am (okay so I’m only sometimes flexible, like in yoga, sometimes…) I decided to try a recipe from my weekday go-to collection and alter it.  Dairy free!

Dairy free and fabulous!

Here is my take on Broccoli Pesto Pasta (dairy free). This is an adaptation from another blogger which I love.  (Find her original recipe here.)  Although it’s low on the protein side of things that’s nothing that can’t be made up for with snacks throughout the day.  Like all the hummus and peanut butter we ate finishing up the chopped raw veggies and pretzel sticks!

And here are the results of trying it out on the kids:

IMG_3163

As you can see it was a complete failure.  At least for having leftovers, well leftover for the following day.

And then there was the epic dessert that was to end my dairy-deprived 6 weeks.  We even had invited guests over!  This is The Ultimate Tiramisu.  It is like heaven on earth.  No, it is heaven on earth, in tiny bites that dance on your tongue like little happy fairies and make your hips wiggle just right while dancing the salsa. Or at least dancing, there is a lot of dancing and happiness involved.

Only, after purchasing all the dairy (marscapone, condensed milk, heavy whipping cream) there were no find lady fingers to be found. For those not familiar, (like many of the store clerks I asked) they are the little crunchy, flaky, air-filled sponge cookies that hold the liquor and coffee goodness in the cake. (Is tiramisu a cake? More like an experience!)  I drove around for over an hour in search of these little ladies and even used my “source of all things good in the kitchen” friend (who knows where to get anything, at anytime) with no avail.

So I took it as a sign that maybe, just maybe jumping off the wagon with both feet wasn’t such a great idea.  And since we are overflowing with peaches on sale right now, I opted for peach crumble.  The night before guests. As a consolation prize of no tiramisu.  And as it was the night before the guests, I was still dairy free.  Another alteration!

The recipe is a little bit horrific when it comes to be counting fat, and calories, and nutritional value (unless you count the peaches – yeah vitamins!) For a once in a while treat, like when those peaches go on sale in the middle of summer, when the weather isn’t too hot to turn on the oven.  It is perfection. And peaches!

IMG_3182First I sliced up about 6 very ripe peaches in a greased glass pan.  I layered the peaches sprinkling a total of 2 tsp of tapioca, squeezing a small half lemon, 2 tsp Earth Balance and 1 tsp of brown sugar.

IMG_3183Next up, making the crumble I added 1 cup oats to 1 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup flour and mixed.  Then cut in 2/3 cup Earth Balance using two knives.

Once mixed evenly I used my hands to create “crumble”.  And put HALF on the peaches. (Freeze the other half for more peaches later!)  If you re-read the butter and sugar content you will understand me in feeling better about less crumble and more IMG_3185peaches.  Bake at 375degrees for 45min, or until nicely browned.  Then allow to cool before eating.  This is best made if you can pull it out right before dinner, then serve warm after dinner is done (I allow at least 1 hour to cool.)

IMG_3214

I guess a big part of me failing at the tiramisu is a life lesson that I repeat over and over (and over).  I seem to get stuck wanting something and when it doesn’t immediately happen I feel like a failure.

Failing has nothing to do with it.  You don’t fail until you actually quit.  So by quitting you fail.  And I am far from quitting.  This is so true for my yoga practice as well.  Trying to conquer handstand without a wall, and forearm scorpion.  I just keep trying over and over and over.  I’m not failing because I won’t quit.

This weekend I will go out again and look for those lady fingers.  The dairy is waiting in my fridge for the special moment when it all will come together.  And my yoga mat is calling me.  Despite falling on my face and my ego bruising in front of a class of 20, I will get there yet.  Even if I have to modify at a wall for a while, or seven years.

As for the guests that next night.  We did BBQ peaches.  Peaches. So. Good! And ice cream.  The real stuff.  Next to what was left of my non-dairy coconut ice cream.  Which I opted for, because given the choice, it didn’t seem like a big deal anymore.