The Goddess Weighs In

Living Large and Healthy

Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na Sodium!

Before I left on vacation I had an appointment with a nephrologist who altered one of my medications and who gave me some pamphlets with easy to follow guidelines regarding sodium.  I knew to cut out packaged foods and obviously salty foods like french fries and potato chips, but beyond that I didn’t really know how to tell what was “good” and what was “bad” for me in terms of my sodium intake.

It turns out that a sodium content that is 5% or less of your daily value is low and anything 15% or higher is high.  She also asked if I liked canned tomatoes.  It was like she knew they are staple in my home.  Alas one of my favourite foods must become an occasional treat, just like the pickled vegetables I love and my hot sauce.

While I was away I watched my levels as best I could when you consider we ate out more than usual and we had a few treats, but cutting back on sodium has helped my general state of well being and now that I am home I am reading my labels more carefully and many foods that I would have thought were low or at least on the low side are surprisingly high in sodium.  For instance tortillas or “wraps” are loaded with sodium, salsa, and well nearly anything packaged in a jar seems to be loaded with sodium, though with a little careful snooping one can find some healthier choices.

My issues with sodium are tied directly to my issues with high blood pressure at least for now, but while I was away I happened to catch an episode of Dr. Oz and he did a segment on how sodium can attack the lining of the stomach and may create an environment that encourages cancer growth.  I couldn’t find a clip of the show, but I did find some links that support what he was talking about and it goes beyond cancer and blood pressure including health concerns like ulcers, hardening of the arteries and even heart failure in some people.

We need some sodium in our diet in order for our bodies to work properly, but obviously too much sodium is an issue for us all.

– the Goddess

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Hitting The Road All Healthy-Like, Part One: Food

In a few weeks I will be careening down Interstate 75, ahem at the speed limit Officer, on my way to the Sunshine state.  While there I will be in the water every day, resting, sleeping, meditating, eating healthy and creating my own little spa experience.  The problem is that in order to do this I must endure a minimum of two days on the road.

There is a certain allure to a road trip, wide open spaces, watching towns and cities go by and counting down the mile markers as you hurtle towards the next state line.  Driving, however means being sedentary for long stretches which could cause blood clots, aggravate sciatica, and shorten muscles.  It also means the temptation of quick, easy, and often tasty convenience food sold by clowns, kings, bears and little girls with pig tails.

It’s hard to eat a salad one handed and it’s hard to keep saying no when fried food, sweet creamy milk shakes and hot apple pies beckon you, and after all it’s a vacation right, so you deserve a treat.  Stopping at a higher end restaurant may be a better choice, but they still offer fast food fare and they can be hard on the budget and on the clock.  Losing an hour to stop for a burger just makes no sense when you can swing through a drive through or order snacks while making a pit stop.

I’ve decided however that this trip will be different. My new life view is Fit, Fun & Frugal and my vacation needs to fit this schema. This time I’m going to really work on eating healthy during my entire vacation.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be a few treats, for instance whenever I go to Florida I must visit The Hurricane restaurant in St. Pete Beach and get a grouper sandwich.  This is their specialty and in fact they have one employee who’s only job is to come in and slice the grouper fillets.  There is also an Italian market that sells a lot of delicious food including buffalo mozzarella and I’m sure we’ll go there at least once, and then there is Tijuana Flats known for their hot sauce bar which allows patrons to sample their spicy concoctions including the ever popular  “Slap My Ass” line of sauces.  But even at my favourite places to eat I can make healthier choices and I love that in the U.S. I can eschew pop and get cold, unsweetened, brewed tea.

Eating on the road however is still a problem.  I’ve come up with a few ideas as to how I can make road trip eating healthier, and as always I welcome your suggestions.  I checked the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website and other than meat products and citrus fruits it appears that I can cross with a wider variety of foodstuffs in my cooler bag than I realized.

Things I will be packing include:

Cold, sweetened coffee and tetra packed almond milk. The milk doesn’t need to be refrigerated until opened and for a couple dollars for the tetra pack we can drink almond milk all day and then toss what’s left if we feel it won’t last a second day.  Ice is available at any convenience store so we can just pick it up on the road as needed.

A ziploc of veggies. Celery sticks, carrot sticks, baby tomatoes and sugar snap peas can be packed with some ice cubes to keep them fresh and cool

Bread, a small container of mustard, and a ziploc of shredded lettuce.  We can stop at a grocery store across the border and pick up some roast chicken or turkey to make sandwiches.  If we go to the deli counter we can buy only enough to make a fresh sandwich and then we can stop again should we want more later.  While at the grocery store I can also peruse the Ready Made section for items like pre-cut fruit and veggies and even prepared salads.  Still difficult to eat in motion, but assuming the weather is decent this time of year we could find a picnic table at a rest stop and take a few minutes for healthier eating.

Frozen bottles of water.  I’ve heard that freezing bottled water isn’t good for you, but it will be a good way to keep the cooler cold and I don’t think I will cause any serious harm with one or two bottles.

Almonds or mixed nuts, unroasted, and unsalted. Better than chips or other savoury snacks, if I can remember to only eat a few and not a bag full of them, plus no refrigeration required.  I may also make some Endurance crackers which will satisfy the urge to munch.

 Things I won’t be packing include:

Chips and other high salt, high fat snacks

Diet pop.  If I really need a caffeine hit I can swing through a drive through, but the iced coffee and bottled water should keep me going.

Cookies.  No I can’t just eat one so I’m going to have to leave them at home.

Candy and other sweet treats.  I’m thinking there might have to be a small bag of gummy worms in case of emergency, but I’m really not a sweets person, I just snack on them on the road because they are there.  No sweets, no eats.

 

We’ll see how it goes, but I’m hoping with a little planning I can save us some money and a lot of calories.

– the Goddess

 

 

 

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Vegan Recipes I’ve Learned (36-40)

Woot!  These are the last vegan recipes I’ve tried and this challenge is done!  I’ve learned some new recipes and some new spice combinations, but the nice thing is that most of these recipes weren’t so different from things I already enjoy to eat so incorporating vegan dishes into my life really hasn’t been that great a challenge.  As I’ve said before I’m just not ready to go completely vegan and vegetarianism isn’t a healthier choice since I found I was eating a lot more bread and cheese, but incorporating new foods and options into my diet and reducing the amount of animal fat and animal protein in my diet feels like a step in the right direction that I can maintain.

36. Dark Chocolate Cherry Energy Bites (Source)

Yield: 15 small bites

  • 1 cup whole raw almonds
  • 120 grams pitted Medjool (not honey) dates (about 8 )
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cherries (I accidentally bought unsweetened, so I added some brown sugar to taste)
  • 3 tbsp dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raw pecans
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste

1. In a food processor, process the almonds until finely chopped. It’s ok if some bigger pieces remain. Just be sure not to pulverize it into a flour as you want some texture.

2. Remove 1/3 cup of the processed almonds and set aside for the final step.

3. Now, add the pitted dates in (along with the almonds already in the processor) and process until finely chopped and sticky. A dough will start to form. Add cherries and process again until combined. The mixture will likely form into a large ball. If this happens, break it up with a spoon and process more if necessary.

4. Add in the chocolate chips and pecans and process until they are just chopped. Add salt to taste. Pulse in the reserved 1/3 cup almonds for texture. Roll into small balls. Place in a container or baggie and store in the fridge or freezer.

37. Strawberry Lime Granita (Source)

  • 1 pound/450 grams fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 5-6 tbsp fresh lime juice, to taste
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup water

1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients and process until smooth. Adjust agave or lime juice to taste.

2. Pour mixture into a 9-inch square pan (or equivalent non-stick pan) and place into freezer for a couple hours. Once an hour, scrape the mixture with a fork to break it up a little. The whole process takes about 4-5 hours of freezing, but this may vary based on your freezer.

3. When it’s firm enough, scrape/shave it with a fork or spoon and serve in a parfait glass. Cover and freeze leftovers in the freezer until ready to enjoy.

I made a lemon granita before that was good, but pretty tart.  This was just the right mix or sweet and sour.

38. Holiday Cocktail (Source)

  • 1 ounce vodka (about 2 tablespoons)
  • handful fresh cranberries (or thaw frozen)
  • 2-3 lime slices
  • ice
  • 1/4 cup 100% pure unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 1 cup club soda
  • Agave nectar or other liquid sweetener, to taste (I use 1/2 teaspoon agave)
  1. Add the vodka into a 16-ounce tall glass. Add a handful of cranberries and a couple lime slices. Add the ice on top.
  2. Pour in the cranberry juice followed by the club soda.
  3. Add a squeeze of lime juice (if desired) and agave to taste. Stir to combine.

I left out the booze and the handful of cranberries and this was pretty good.  Next time I might do it with gingerale for a little more zip.

 39. “Husband’s Healing Stew” (Source)

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small sweet onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground corriander
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • 2 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper and 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups organic vegetable broth (not low sodium), or more as needed
  • 1, 28-oz can diced organic tomatoes (no added salt)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked raw buckwheat groats, rinsed (or grain of choice)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked pearled barley, rinsed (or grain of choice)
  • 1/2 cup frozen Edamame (or bean of choice)
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
  • 5-10 shakes red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt + Black pepper, to taste

1. In a large pot over low heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil and the chopped sweet onion, green onion, and minced garlic. Heat over low until translucent, about 5-8 minutes.

2. Stir in coriander, cinnamon, and two bay leaves and heat an additional two minutes. Add in the chopped vegetables (zucchini, peppers, carrots) and cook for about 5 more minutes.

3. Stir in the diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, rinsed buckwheat and pearled barley (or grains of choice). Simmer on low-medium heat  for 20 minutes.. Add a bit more broth or water if necessary and reduce heat when needed.

4. After 20 minutes, add in the lemon juice and additional seasonings- all to taste (minced parsley, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and salt & pepper).

40. Oatmeal Squares (Source)

  • 2.5 cups regular rolled oats (not instant oats), divided
  • 3 tbsp chia seed
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1.5 cups almond milk (or other milk)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
  • 2 tbsp nut or seed butter
  • 1 banana, chopped small
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • Dry sweetener, to taste if you want them a bit sweeter 

1. Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8 inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper.

2. In a blender or food processor, blend/process 1 cup of the oats until a flour forms. Or you can just use 1 cup of oat flour.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: oat flour, 1.5 cups rolled oats, chia, flax, baking powder, salt, cinnamon. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: milk, syrup, nut/seed butter, banana, vanilla until no clumps remain. Add wet to dry and stir until combined. Add dry sweetener to taste if desired. Fold in any nuts or dried fruit that you desire.

4. Pour mixture into prepared pan and smooth out. Bake for 35-40 minutes until lightly golden along edge and it springs back slowly when touched. I baked them for 40 minutes, but baking time may vary. Place pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes, carefully remove, and cool on rack before slicing.

– the Goddess

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Vegan Recipes I’ve Learned (31-35)

31. Peanut Stew (Source)

  • 1 large potato
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 can chick peas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1/2 C crunchy, natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • Rice or rice noodles for serving

1. Chop the potato, microwave until soft, approximately 4 minutes on high (actually I boiled it on the stove)

2. Put 1 Tbsp oil in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Chop the onion and saute on medium/high heat.  Add the potato, the crushed tomatoes, 1/2 C crunchy peanut butter, half can of garbanzo beans, and thyme.

3. Cover, reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes on low. Serve over rice or rice noodles.

I added some hot sauce to give this a bit of bite and next time I might add a little coconut milk to make it a little creamier.

32. Granola Nut Clusters (Source)

  • 1 cup raw walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup raw pecan halves
  • 3 tbsp brown rice syrup (I used corn syrup)
  • 6 tbsp gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2-3 tbsp Sucanat sugar (I used brown sugar)
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Scant 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to garnish

1. Preheat oven to 275F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Place walnuts and pecans into a large mixing bowl. Pour on brown rice syrup and stir very well until combined for about 60 seconds. The aim is to completely cover them in syrup.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oats, coconut, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour it onto the nuts and mix until combined. Some of the oat mixture will not adhere to the nuts and this is ok.

4. Spoon the mixture onto the baking sheet including any oats that didn’t stick. Spread into a single layer. Garnish with fresh ground nutmeg. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the pan, and bake for another 10-13 minutes allow to cool on the pan.

5. Once cool, break apart clumps and store in glass jars or Tupperware containers.

33. Broccoli “Cheese” Soup (Source)

  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 4-4.5 cups chopped broccoli florets (2 heads, stems removed)
  • 1.5 cups peeled & chopped potatoes (about 3)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or crushed red pepper flakes)
  • Low-fat vegan cheeze sauce, divided (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
  • herbamare & onion powder, to taste
  • Kosher salt & black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh minced parsley, plus more to garnish
  • Vegan cheese, to garnish (optional)
  • Smoked Paprika, to garnish (optional)

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil, onion, and garlic over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Cook for about 5-6 mins.

2. Add in the celery, broccoli, and potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. Now, add the broth, nutritional yeast, and cayenne pepper and simmer for another 15 mins or so until the potatoes are just fork tender.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the cheeze sauce (see below) while the soup simmers.

4. Carefully transfer the soup (in two batches) into a blender. Blend until almost smooth (I left it a bit chunky, but you can blend as much as you wish) and place back into the pot. Stir in the cheeze sauce, reserving 1/3 cup for later.

5. Stir in optional lemon juice, salt, pepper, and optional herbamare all to taste. Finally, stir in the minced parsley and ladle into bowls.

Oh this was just too fussy for me.  Too many bits and pieces and things to watch.  I make beaded Christmas balls that take approximately 8 hours a piece, but I found this recipe more annoying.  It was tasty enough, but being that I am not opposed to eating cheese, I doubt I will make this again.

34. Low-Fat Vegan Cheeze Sauce (Source see above)

  • 1.5 cup unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance or other non-dairy buttery spread
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Melt the Earth Balance over medium heat.

2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/4 cup milk until all clumps are gone.

3. Whisk in the remaining milk (1.25 cups) as well as the milk and flour mixture into the pot. Whisk in the nutritional yeast. Reduce heat to low-medium.

4. Add Dijon, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste and whisk frequently over low heat until the sauce thickens, for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat once thick.

35. Holiday Soup For The Soul (Source)

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup red quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube (not low sodium)
  • 6 cups water, boiled
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1.5-2 cups cooked black beans (about one 15oz can)
  • 1 tsp  curry powder
  • Pinch  of cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the chopped sweet onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the chopped carrots, chopped zucchini, and minced garlic, and continue to sauté for 5-7 minutes.
  2. Place the bouillon cube into a medium sized bowl. Boil 6 cups of water and pour over the bouillon cube. Stir well to dissolve. Add bouillon mixture, tomatoes, red quinoa, black beans, spices and seasonings. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes. (I used a packet of boullion and just tossed it in with the water and everything else and nothing bad happened.)
  3. Add the roughly chopped spinach, stir well, and cover. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
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Vegan Recipes I’ve Learned (26-30)

With the weather outside being frightful it’s time for some hearty comfort foods, vegan style.

26. Vegan Chili 

I often make this to use up vegetables in my crisper so each time it’s a little different, but this is a good place to start.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin, or to taste
  • 3 tbsp chili powder, or to taste
  • pinch salt, or to taste
  • pinch cayenne (the last chili powder I bought at a Jamaican grocer and it had quite a kick, so again this is to taste)
  • 1 can each: black beans, kidney beans, chick peas
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with juice or 1 large can of tomato juice
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • Tbsp tomato paste if it needs thickening

1. In a large pot, add the oil and heat over medium.

2. Add onions first and when they start to go transparent, add in the carrots.

3. When the carrots start to soften add in the garlic and peppers.

4. Cook until everything is soft.  Add the rest of the ingredients, cover, and cook for about 30-40 minutes on low to medium heat.

For more texture you can add textured vegetable protein (TVP) or I like to add some peeled and cubed eggplant.  They will cook down to almost nothing so picky eaters don’t usually notice, but the seeds give a bulky texture similar to ground beef, though softer.  When I make this with meat I often use half extra lean ground beef and half eggplant and most people don’t realize the eggplant is in there.

27. Ribollita (Source)

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 400 ml can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound kale, stems trimmed off and leaves well chopped
  • 4 cups  cooked white beans
  • 1/2 pound crustless loaf of bread
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • lots of well-chopped oily black olives

1. In a large pot over medium heat combine the olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot, and onion. Cook for 10 -15 minutes sweating the vegetables, but avoid browning.

2. Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, and simmer for another 10 minutes, long enough for the tomatoes to thicken up. Stir in the kale, 3 cups of the beans, and 8 cups of water.

3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the greens are tender, about 15 minutes.

4. In the meantime, mash or puree the remaining beans with a  splash of water – until smooth. Tear the bread into bite-sized chunks. Stir both the beans and bread into the soup. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, 20 – 30 minutes.

5. Stir in the salt and the lemon zest.

6. Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate overnight. Finish each serving with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped olives.

28. Crock Pot Apple Sauce (Source)

  • 8 to 10 apples, peeled, cored, and cut in chunks
  • 1/3 cup apple juice or water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 9 hours.
3. Stir to blend and mash lightly, if desired.
This does not look like the jars of apple sauce from the grocery store.  Despite the amount of sugar it’s a little more tart than I expected, but I quite like the taste and the texture.  I doubled the recipe because I have quite a large crock pot, but I didn’t need to double the water.  I think next time I will put in half a cup instead of two thirds for a double batch.  When it was hot it seemed like the perfect pairing for ice cream, sadly I only had heavenly hash and it really needed a good vanilla ice cream. My picture does not do it justice.
IMG142

29. Endurance Crackers (Source)

  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup pepita seeds (or pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tsp grated sweet onion
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • Herbamare, to taste (optional)
  • Kelp granules, to taste (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 325F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, mix the seeds together.

3. In a small bowl, mix the water, grated garlic, and grated onion. Whisk well.

4. Pour the water mixture onto the seeds and stir until thick and combined.

5. Season with salt, and optional Herbamare and Kelp granules, to taste. Add spices or fresh herbs if you wish.

6. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet with the back of a spoon until it’s less than 1/4 inch thick.

4. Bake at 325F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, slice into crackers, carefully flip with a spatula. Bake for another 30 minutes, watching closely after about 25 minutes. The bottoms will be lightly golden in colour. Allow to cool completely on the pan. Store in a container or plastic baggy.

I was skeptical about these and they seemed a little fussy, but they were actually really easy to make and despite being a little on the salty side (I’ve never used Herbamare before and didn’t realize it was basically salt) they are pretty good.  I may experiment with a sweet version of these, but I do really like them savoury.  They remind of of sesame sticks.

IMG143

30. Creamy Tomato Barley Risotto (Source)

  • 1 cup dry pot barley
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp Miso, mixed with 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp  salt, to taste

1. Rinse pot barley  and place into medium sized pot with a lid. Add olive oil, basil, and oregano and stir well until barley is coated with oil. Turn heat to medium until barley begins to sizzle.

2. Add in the garlic and reduce heat to low-medium. Cook for 1 minute and then add  the tomatoes, milk, water, nutritional yeast, miso, and salt. Stir well and bring to a gentle boil and then cover and reduce heat to low.

3. Cook, lightly covered for 30-35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, being careful not to burn the barley on the bottom of the pot.

4. The mixture should be creamy, but not soupy, and the barley will be very chewy. Serve immediately.

This stuff is dense.  I added a cup more water when it was “done” and let it cook another 20 minutes to absorb the extra water and the barley was much less chewy and a lot more palatable.  Next time I will add a lot of veggies to this to lighten it up because after eating a hearty bowl it felt like lead in my tummy.

– the Goddess

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Vegan Recipes I’ve Learned (21-25) Indian Style

I’m cooking along on this challenge (pun intended).  I bought an Indian cookbook years ago called What’s Cooking Indian by Shehzad Husain and it remains one of my favourite cookbooks.  It is not vegetarian or vegan in fact one recipe is called Tomatoes Cooked with Meat & Yogurt which always strikes me as funny because of the emphasis, but it’s a clear cookbook with pictures of each recipe, plus pictures of how things should look at different stages in the preparation which I really appreciate.  Below are five recipes I’ve not only tried, but which have become staples in my home over the last ten years.

21. Vegetable Curry (taken from What’s Cooking Indian, page 104)

  • 8 oz turnips or rutabaga, peeled
  • I eggplant
  • 12 oz new potatoes
  • 8 oz cauliflower
  • 8 oz button mushrooms
  • 1 large onion
  • 8 oz carrots, peeled
  • 6 Tbsp oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-2inch piece of fresh ginger root, chopped finely
  • 1 or 2 green chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 Tbsp mild or medium curry powder or paste
  • 1 3/4 C vegetable stock
  • 1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2/3 C coconut milk
  • 2-3 Tbsp ground almonds
  • salt
  • fresh cilantro sprigs to garnish
  1. Cut the turnips or rutabaga, eggplant, and potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.  Divide the cauliflower into small florets.  Leave the mushrooms whole or slice thickly.  Slice the onion and carrots.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, turnip or rutabaga, potato, cauliflower, and carrots and cook gently for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the garlic, ginger, chilies, paprika, ground coriander and curry powder or paste and cook for 1 minute, stirring.
  3. Add the stock, tomatoes, eggplant, and mushrooms and season with salt.  Cover and simmer for approx. 30 minutes or until tender stirring occasionally.  Add the green pepper, cover, and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
  4. Smoothly blend the cornstarch with the coconut milk and stir into the mixture.  Add the ground almonds and simmer for two minutes, stirring all the time.  Season with salt, if necessary.  Transfer to warm plates and serve hot, garnished with cilantro.

I now make this from memory, but I also play with the ingredients.  I tend to leave out the mushrooms and I tend to omit the coconut milk, cornstarch and ground almonds and it’s still a good curry, just not as rich or creamy.  I also add whatever veggies I have on hand, and use the tomatoes and eggplant as the base.

22. Potatoes with Spices & Onions (taken from What’s Cooking Indian, page 108)

  • 6 Tbsp oil
  • 2 medium size onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 14 ounce can new potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Baghaar
    • 3 Tbsp oil
    • 3 dried red chilies
    • 1/2 tsp onion seeds
    • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
    • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onions and saute until golden brown.  Reduce the heat, add the ginger, garlic, chili powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, and salt and stir-fry for about 1 minute.  Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  2. Drain the water from the potatoes.  Add the potatoes to the onion and spice mixture.  Sprinkle the lemon juice into the pan and mix well.
  3. To make the Baghaar, heat the oil in a separate pan. Add the red chilies, onion seeds, mustard seeds, and fenugreek seeds and fry until the seeds turn a shade darker.  Remove the pan from the heat and pour the baghaar over the potatoes.

I’m not a huge fan of canned anything, especially potatoes, but these are delicious.  I have also used the sliced canned potatoes and they turned out quite well.

23. Chick Pea Curry (also called Garbanzo Bean Curry) (taken from What’s Cooking Indian, page 124)

  • 6 Tbsp oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 fresh green chilies
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 large potato
  • 14 ounce can chick peas, drained
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and saute until golden brown.
  3. Reduce the heat, add the ginger, ground cumin, ground coriander, garlic, chili powder, fresh green chilies and cilantro leaves to the pan and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the water to the mixture in the pan and stir well to mix.
  5. Cut the potato into small cubes.  Add the potatoes and the drained chick peas to the mixture in the pan, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the curry.

24. Spiced Rice & Lentils (taken from What’s Cooking Indian, page 154)

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 3/4 cup masoor dhal (red lentils)
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Combine the rice and dhal and rinse twice, looking for any stones.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and saute for approx. 2 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat, add the ginger, garlic, and turmeric and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  4. Add the rice and dhal to the mixture in the pan and blend together, mixing gently.
  5. Add the water to the mixture in the pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and cook, covered, for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Just before serving, add the salt and mix to combine.

25. Spicy Corn  (taken from What’s Cooking Indian, page 154)

  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 fresh green chilies
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp butter (substitute with vegan margarine)
  • 4 dried red chilies
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  1. Thaw corn.
  2. Place the cumin, garlic, coriander, salt,  1 green chili and onion in a mortar and pestle or a food processor and make a smooth paste.
  3. Heat the margarine in a large, heavy-based skillet.  Add the onion and spice mixture and fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally for approx 5 minutes.
  4. Add the crushed red chilies to the skillet and stir to mix.  Add the corn to the skillet and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
  5. Chop and add the remaining green chili, the lemon juice, and a few fresh cilantro leaves to the skillet, stirring occasionally to combine thoroughly.

References:

What’s Cooking Indian, Shehzad Husain, Whitecap Books 1998

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Vegan Recipes I’ve Learned (16-20)

My friend Sara has a “sour tooth”.  The first time I met her she ordered a pasta dish and then after a few bites she asked the server for vinegar.  She said she knew we would think she was odd, but that she liked things sour.  I actually didn’t find it all that strange since days before that I had contacted my friend Sean in desperation as my bean soup was flat and he suggested adding a bay leaf, but more importantly a bit of vinegar or lemon juice to give the soup a bit more punch.  I took his advice and made quite possibly the best soup I’ve ever made so when she asked for some vinegar I knew what she was up to.  What I never expected though was the extent of her craving for sour.  Since our first meeting I have watched her add countless lemon slices to her water, float her french fries in vinegar and suck on lemons.  Recently I found a recipe for salt and vinegar potatoes (see below) and I immediately sent her the link because I knew she would like them.  We were both surprised that the potato slices are boiled right in the vinegar, but it is a perfect way to capitalize on maximum pucker.  As I continued to search for recipes I found one for a lemon granita and then an idea was born.  I would make a meal for Sara that was sourlicious.

The main course was a meat loaf as Sara is not a vegetarian or a vegan, but everything else was vegan and I slipped lots of veggies in the meatloaf when no one was looking.  We had the salt and vinegar potatoes, an arugula and baby spinach salad with a simple vinaigrette, pickled vegetables (from a jar),  a tangy barbecue sauce and to finish it off the  lemon granita.  All washed down with virgin margaritas.

The margaritas were simple to make and tasty, my favourite kind of recipe.  I made the simple syrup ahead of time and we added more lemon juice to sour it up a bit, but I will definitely make this recipe again, possibly as a party punch. The granita took the longest to make, but actually it was a pretty simple recipe and I made the initial syrup ahead of time so it only took about three hours to make while Sara and I chatted and cooked.  The result was lemon snow.  It was a little too sour for my taste, and I think next time I might add strawberry juice or a bit more sugar, but it was a really nice, light dessert.  Better suited to a hot summer’s day than a chilly evening in November, but still very tasty.  I can imagine serving it as an elegant finish to a dinner on the patio.

The only wrinkle to our meal was the Salt and Vinegar potatoes.  They were simply too sour.  The recipe suggested white wine vinegar, but we used regular white vinegar instead.  It was given as an alternative and this recipe was developed from one that called for white vinegar so it seemed a safe change.  Next time I think I would still use white vinegar, but I would dilute it by half.  The potatoes were edible, but just.  Even Sara’s sour tooth was overwhelmed.  Otherwise the meal was pretty good, and I loved the barbecue sauce, it was a bit of a witch’s brew of ingredients, but you just heat them up and you’re done.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

16. Virgin Margarita (recipe)

  • 2 ozs simple syrup (see below)
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • ice
  • 1 wedge lime (garnish)

1. Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously (you can add 1oz of tequila for a bit of kick).
2. Pour into a glass.
3. If serving frozen, combine the ingredients in a blender with 3/4 cup ice and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass.
4. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Simple Syrup (recipe)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  1. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Let cool completely, and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

17. Tangy Barbecue Sauce (recipe)   

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Discard bay leaf.

18. Greens with Vinaigrette (recipe)

Basic Vinaigrette

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of fresh ground black pepper

Italian Vinaigrette

  • basic vinaigrette (use EVOO and red wine vinegar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Mustard Dressing

  • Italian vinaigrette
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 -3 teaspoon honey (optional) or 1 -3 teaspoon another sweetener, to taste (optional)

Lemon Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  1. Let stand 10 minutes to rehydrate dried herbs and/or blend flavors.
  2. Shake again then dress salad as desired.

19. Grilled Salt and Vinegar Potatoes (recipe)  

  • 2 cups white wine vinegar (next time I will try 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup water)
  • 1 pound  waxy potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  1. Pour the vinegar into a medium saucepan, then stack (or arrange) the potatoes so the vinegar covers them completely.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are just fork tender. You want them to hold their shape, so they don’t fall apart on the grill later.
  3. Let the potatoes cool in the vinegar for 30 minutes. Drain well, then very gently toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Heat the grill to medium high. Grill potatoes, covered if possible, until golden on one side, then flip and grill the other side – roughly 3 – 5 minutes per side. Serve sprinkled with salt to taste.

20. Lemon Granita (recipe)

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (juice of about 6 medium lemons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemons, rind of (about the peel from 1 medium lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract

1. Combine 2 cups of the water with the sugar in a medium nonreactive saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
3. Add the salt, stir, and remove the pan from the heat.
4. Stir in the remaining water and let cool to room temperature.
5. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.
6. Meanwhile, place a shallow metal 2 1/2 qt container (such as a large cake pan) in the freezer to chill.
7. Add the lemon juice, lemon peel, and extract to the chilled sugar mixture; stir until well blended.
8. Pour into the chilled metal pan.
9. Place the pan in the freezer for 30-60 minutes, or until ice crystals form around the edges.
10. Stir the ice crystals into the center of the pan and return to the freezer.
11. Repeat every 30 minutes, or until all the liquid is crystallized but not frozen solid, about 3 hours.
12. To serve, scoop the granita into chilled dessert bowls or goblets.
13. If the granita has become too hard, scrape it with a large metal spoon to break up the ice crystals. Serve at once.

– the Goddess

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History Does Not Have To Repeat Itself

As I ponder whether or not to become a parent, I must consider a number of issues like my financial resources and child care options, but my biggest concern is not passing my food issues on to my child.  I was a fat kid with fat parents and fat grandparents. There may be a genetic component which may make me more prone to weight gain than others, but I strongly believe that behaviour is the biggest factor.  How much I eat, how I eat it and how much I exercise are all behaviours that I worry I could pass on to my kid.

My friend Fiona has two young daughters and writes a blog reviewing kid friendly places and attractions.  I talked to here about my concerns and asked how she handled conversations about food with her girls.  This is what she had to say:

I don’t make my kids clean their plates.  If they are full, they can stop eating.  If they are full, they don’t need any more food so why keep eating?  Also, I dish up the dinner so if there is more food on their plate than they want or need that is my fault not theirs.  I wouldn’t want someone standing over me telling me I couldn’t leave the table at a restaurant until I had eaten every one of the 1000 french fries they heaped on my plate, why would I do that to my kids?  Forcing a kid to eat when they don’t want to teaches them that a meal is not over when they are full, it is over when they hate themselves.   I have never understood the argument that it is wasteful if a kid doesn’t clean their plate.  It is no less wasteful to eat food you don’t want or need than it is to throw it in the garbage.  If you gave your kid too much food, don’t compound the mistake by also giving them a stomach ache and weird food issues.   Just make less next time.

I start with small portions and then if they want more they can have seconds.  If they aren’t terribly hungry that day, then I have leftovers for lunch the next day.   This also means that they eat their vegetables since they can’t have seconds of the mashed potatoes or pizza or whatever until they have eaten their portion of vegetables (they don’t have to seconds of the vegetables to have seconds of something else though).

I don’t make my kids eat things they don’t like.   I don’t like certain foods (fried eggs!)and I wouldn’t want someone forcing me to eat them so, again, why would I do that to my kids?  To me there is a difference between not wanting something and not liking something. If I make something that they like and they say they would rather have pizza, my response to that will be a shrug if I am in a good mood or a “Tough!” if I am not.  I don’t care if they pick things out.  If I make a stir fry, my one daughter picks out the peppers and my other daughter picks out the mushrooms.  Fine by me, they eat the other vegetables and I get to eat a dinner I like.

If I make something new, I usually make a side dish that I know they like.  If they try the chickpea and onion curry or the spinach and tofu salad on rice noodles  and don’t like it, fine, no problem.  They can eat the salad and potatoes.  That combined with the two bites of whatever they tried is enough to keep a little kid from going hungry.  I mean, they will have a snack in about 90 minutes anyway.  I think knowing that they won’t be forced to eat a whole portion or even a certain number of bites of something if they don’t like it makes them more willing to try new things.  My kids will taste anything you put in front of them but that doesn’t mean they will like it all.

I don’t talk about my kids’ weight.  The only time my kids’ weight is discussed are under the following circumstances:

a) At the doctor’s office when they are weighed at a checkup and the doctor says “Height?  …. good.  Weight?….  good.”.

b) When my daughter wants to go on a zip line and has to get weighed to see if she is big enough (she isn’t).

c) When my kid wants to know why they can’t sit in the car without a car seat.  Answer “Because you don’t weigh 40 pounds yet.”

I don’t diet and I don’t talk about diets or calories or anything like that.  My mom was good about weight in the sense that she has never once made a negative comment about my weight.  I mean, my mom once told me, when I was a pimply faced 14 year old no less, that I was prettier than Cindy Crawford.  At the time I rolled my eyes and no doubt stormed off in a huff, but in hindsight I am grateful that I had a mom who never made me feel bad about the way I looked, or at least not any worse than I already felt as an awkward teenager.   I look at pictures of myself when I was a teenager and young adult and while I was no Cindy Crawford I do wonder what exactly I was so self-conscious about!

Having said that, my mom did talk about her weight and did talk about diets she was on.   Even though I knew that she thought I was fine, I knew she didn’t feel the same way about herself and I knew that a woman’s weight was an ongoing concern.  I don’t want my girls to think that their weight is something they need to think about unless their doctor tells them they need to.  I don’t want them to feel like they aren’t worthy and interesting because they don’t match some image in their head.

I never restrict the amount of food my kids can eat, only the type of food.  I do say they can’t have any more candy or a second piece of cake but if they are hungry they always allowed to keep eating.  I just point them towards the fruit basket.  If my kid wants thirds of the mashed potatoes and they have eaten a serving of protein and a serving of vegetables, fine, have at ‘er.  I just figure they are going through a growth spurt or dropped their afternoon snack on the floor or something.   We talk about everyday foods and sometimes food.  Birthday cake is great, at birthday parties.  Apples, oranges and grapes are great anytime.

We also have the school lunch stuff sorted so they can make their own lunches (which I check) or grab a snack if they are hungry and I am busy.  Treats are in one basket, fruit is in the basket above it, things like goldfish, raisins, muffins and apple sauce are in another basket.  The kids know to pick out two from the fruit basket, one from the treat basket and one from the other basket and their lunch is mostly done, I just throw in a sandwich or leftovers.

I let them plan some dinners.  The only rules are:

a)  It has to have something from each food group

b) It has to be something I can make.

They like having some say in what we eat and I like not having to think of everything all the time!

My kids play outside.  A lot!  Nothing organized or structured, they just head outside and play with whatever neighbour kids are around and whatever they agree on.  They do also do things like soccer and t-ball, but they do those things to learn teamwork and sportsmanship more than for exercise.  If your kid plays soccer once a week for an hour, that means that they are getting ready and driving there for 30 minutes, then they play maybe 30 non continuous minutes during the hour and then another 30 minutes to gather everything up and get home.  That means you are spending two hours for your kids to get thirty minutes of exercise.  Not to mention that it often means a trip to Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s for something to eat since all of the rushing meant you didn’t have time for dinner or to pack a snack for after the game.  If you send them out in the yard or take them to the park they will play for that whole two hours.  Climbing, running, swinging etc.  Plus, it is free and it keeps them out of your hair.  So, just open the back door and say “get!”

Having said all of the above, a big part of the reason my kids are healthy weights is because they lucked out in the genetic lottery.  My dad used to get regularly tested for things like tape worms because nobody could figure out how someone could eat so much and stay so skinny.  My husband was an actual honest to goodness 90 pound weakling in high school.   It is possible that you could do all of the above and have kids who are still chubby, but they will be healthy and probably not hung up on food which is better than thin and miserable in my book.

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Vegan Recipes I’ve Learned (11-15)

A few years ago I went on a Yoga retreat in Belleville.  A lovely woman named Cheryl, who is a yoga instructor in Richmond Hill, organized the retreat. The retreat ran from Friday evening to Sunday midday and except for the last breakfast which was vegetarian all of the food was vegan.  This was my first experience with a fully vegan menu and I was pleasantly surprised by how good and filling the food was.

There was a chef hired to make our meals , but during yoga on the Saturday Cheryl brought out some snacks she had made herself. She wanted to introduce us to raw foods.  The first snack was a creamy spinach spread made with cashews and served with carrots and celery sticks and the other was a cookie like ball called an Almond Bite.  Unfortunately I don’t have the references for these recipes other than that the spread is attributed to a Caroline Dupont and the Almond Bites are from Vegetarian Time Magazine.

11. Creamy Spinach Basil Spread

  • I cup cashews
  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

12. Almond Bites

  • 2 ½ cups rolled oats (regular or quick-cooking)
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 Tbs. raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 Tbs. honey
  • 2 Tbs. barley malt syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Grind 1/2 cup oats and 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds in food processor until powdery. Transfer to medium bowl; set aside. Combine remaining 2 cups oats, remaining 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raisins, sunflower seeds and cinnamon in large bowl. Stir in almond butter, honey, barley malt syrup and vanilla until soft dough forms. Moisten hands, and roll dough into 1-inch balls. Coat balls in oat-pumpkin seed powder. Place in freezer 20 minutes to set, then serve or store in the fridge.

As the weather is cooling I love hearty comfort foods.  These next three recipes are just that.

13. Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf (Recipe)

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa (You can use either broth or water to cook the quinoa, but for more flavour try vegetable broth.)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small to medium yellow bell pepper, diced fine
  • 1 small to medium green bell pepper, diced fine
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Greek Seasoning (mint, lemon, basil, oregano mix)
  • 2 green onions sliced- white and light green sections
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, yellow and green pepper; and stir over medium heat until slightly softened. Add in the mushrooms. Add sea salt and ground pepper to taste. Add the Greek seasoning. Stir and cook until the mushrooms are tender. Add the quinoa to the mushroom- pepper mixture. Add in the sliced scallions. Stir to combine. Squeeze fresh lemon juice all over the quinoa and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Toss to coat the quinoa. Add more salt or seasoning to taste.  This is good hot or cold.  If serving cold you may need to adjust the seasonings.
14. Ratatouille (Recipe
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, cubed
  • 2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped, or 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes
  • 3 to 4 small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 teaspoon dried leaf basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
In a large pan or soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add eggplant; stir until coated with oil. Add peppers; stir to combine. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep vegetables from sticking. Add tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs; mix well. Cover and cook over low heat about 15 minutes, or until eggplant is tender but not too soft.  This is pretty close to my recipe though usually I only add garlic and oregano to the vegetables.  I don’t measure when I make this, I just add in what I have like yellow (summer squash), vegetable marrow, different coloured peppers along with the onions and eggplant and tomatoes and it’s always good.
15. Yellow (Summer) Squash Risotto with Fresh Garlic, Petite Peas and Basil (Recipe)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves,  finely minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 4-5 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 medium yellow squash
  • 1/2 cup frozen, thawed petite peas
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 1 Tbsp. vegan margarine eg. Earth Balance
  • Freshly ground pepper

Wash squash & cut into 1/2 moons about a 1/2 inch thick. Set aside. In a large, heavy saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil, & add onion & garlic. Saute for 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in the rice, & cook 2 minutes until opaque. Add wine & stir until absorbed. Ladle broth into rice, one ladleful at a time, stirring frequently over medium heat, after each addition. Wait until broth is almost completely absorbed before adding more. After about 15 minutes, add squash & peas. Continue stirring & adding broth until the vegetables are tender & the rice is al dente but looks creamy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add fresh basil, margarine & stir. Season with fresh black pepper & garnish with more fresh basil. For a little extra zing, top each dish with fresh lemon zest.

– the Goddess
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Gobble Gobble!

Yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving.

just like it’s American namesake it’s characterized by football, parades and gluttony.

Unlike US Thanksgiving however, which is always celebrated on the Thursday, Canadians can choose which day of the weekend to hold their big dinner.  Most seem to choose Sunday, though many choose Monday and in my family we’re a little bit different and do it on the Saturday.  Regardless of the day it’s celebrated, the following day is unofficially “Fat Pants Day” or “Stretchy Pants Day”.  In fact several different radio announcers on different stations (I like to flip around a lot) were calling it Fat Pant Sunday as I drove to the Y.

They were saying it to be funny or perhaps to reflect their own wardrobe choices, but all I could think about was how we subject ourselves to these high calorie meals and completely go off the proverbial wagon instead of remembering the true purpose of holidays.  The point, as I understand it is about being thankful for our good fortune which absolutely includes the bounty of the harvest and tasting the delights of the season, but somewhere over the years this has come to include unbuttoning our pants during a meal and causing ourselves discomfort and indigestion.

I am proud to say that this year I ate and I indulged in treats like pumpkin pie and I took in more fats and sugars than I would normally, but I didn’t leave the table feeling like a Roman on her way to the vomitorium.  I went to the gym on Sunday morning and I wasn’t suffering from a food hangover and when I got ready for work this morning my skirt buttoned without incident.  I’m not beating my chest in victory.  My waistline reflects a number of bad choices made throughout my life, but I’m counting this weekend as a small victory, a battle won while the war wages on and with Christmas looming I hope I can keep up the good fight.

– the Goddess

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