Thursday, March 29, 2012

black bean brown rice bowl


A couple of years ago I was looking to move away from my default easy (but less nutritious) lunch of peanut butter and honey on whole wheat bread. It was amazingly difficult to think outside of that well-ingrained box. I grew up on sandwiches for lunch, fed them to my kids, and handed them in a brown bag to my husband when I kissed him goodbye in the mornings. Didn't sandwich = lunch? But I wanted to eat less wheat and needed to step it up nutrition-wise, so I was motivated to find some options. Those options needed to be quick and if they weren't also really yummy, I knew the changes wouldn't last and I would just have a cookie or two instead. One day I had a bunch of random stuff in the fridge, was hungry, picked what I thought would work, and found my new pb&j. I love it! This bowl is easy enough that it takes honestly about 5 minutes or less to throw together. It packs well and since it is meant to be eaten 'cold', is easy to take along. I usually have everything on hand so we eat it fairly regularly - except for when I am on a hummus binge.


I usually make individual bowls that are semi-custom (according to the preferences of whoever is eating it) but  it  would also work  to  make  a  large batch for several lunches. Really quick and easy then.


black bean brown rice bowl
(for 1 serving)


2/3 cup cooked brown rice
1/4-1/3 cup salsa (fresh is better than a jar but either is good)
1/4 cup drained and rinsed canned black beans
1/3 cup corn kernels
2 Tbsp grated cheese ( cheddar or  crumbled feta)
3 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 avocado, sliced
a healthy amount of chopped cilantro
salt and pepper
Mix it up and there you go! Super simple. 


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

chorizo, black bean & corn chowder


In my humble opinion, soup is wonderful just about anytime. Fall and winter are no-brainer seasons for soup - all that hot, cozy goodness chasing the cold away. Sadly, even in spring and summer there are days that are cool enough to warrant chill-chasing here in Calgary. But my love of soup has little to do with the weather and a lot to do with easy, yummy, nutrition. It is very simple to pack a lot of goodness (taste and food-value-wise) into a single bowl and that is exactly why I love to have soup - or the fixings for it - in the fridge. Lots of veggies, a bit of quality protein, some herbs to give it a kick and you're good to go. Quick to heat and easy to eat. Perfect.


This soup way out-performs its appearance and totally lives up to the expectation I had reading the name. How could anything fail to be great with chorizo, black beans, corn, and chowder in the title (and thus the pot)? This is another recipe from Spilling the Beans by Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan ( a cookbook I highly recommend). We liked it very well as per the recipe but loved it with a squirt of Sriracha sauce and a light handful of chopped cilantro. I also added salt because, well, I love salt and my rational is just this - when one cooks whole foods from 'scratch' one avoids all the added and hidden sodium that bedevils fast and prepared foods. Whatever salt I get is honest sea salt and I know how much and where it is. Besides, it tasted a bit flat and sad without any. But salt this recipe according to your taste and conscience.


chorizo, black bean & corn chowder
(adapted from Spilling the Beans  by Julie Van Rosendall and Sue Duncan)


olive oil for cooking
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 fresh chorizo sausage (about 125 gm)
3 green onions, chopped (separate the white and green bits)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups corn kernels (I used frozen)
1 (19 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
a handful of baby new potatoes, washed and quartered
1 l (4 cups) chicken stock
2 cups coconut milk (fresh, from the dairy case)*
2 tsp sea salt
Sriracha sauce 
1/2 cup chopped cilantro


Heat a drizzle of oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion, carrot and celery for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the sausage (squeezed out of its casing) and cook, breaking it up, until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the white bits of the green onion, the garlic, and cumin and cook for another minute.


Add the corn, beans, potato, and stock. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the coconut milk and green bits of the green onions. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and pass the Sriracha (rooster) sauce. Garnish with a generous sprinkle of chopped cilantro.


This made enough for generous main-course servings for 2 one evening and two lunches for 2.


*Once again I used So Delicious Coconut Milk (original). You could also use 1/2 to 1 cup of half-and-half cream if that is your preference. Or another milk altogether.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

for josie


So glad my friend was clever enough to have a baby girl because it gave me a sweet excuse to make these perfect little shoes. The moment I saw them on the Purl bee I was looking for a reason to make a pair or twenty. 


The project journal materials use beautiful wool felt which is hard to source here in Calgary and there wasn't time to order any from any of the online sources I like - the baby shower was imminent. I checked my stash but it yielded nothing even remotely exciting for baby girl shoes. Then I remembered the sweaters I felted last year for making Valentine's Day scarves for Aubrie and Jane. Perfect!!! Just a little more artisanal, a little bit me - something original for beautiful brand-new Josie. Totally fun, fast and easy to whip up I want a pair for myself (working out a pattern for bigger feet and harder wear). 


the Purl bee has tons of great projects and ideas - from sublimely simple to luxe - all attached to a great resource for materials (Purl Soho). Check it out. It's one of my favourite fun reads.

Friday, March 23, 2012

honey graham wafers



Graham wafers and I go way back. They have been a long-time favourite comfort snack. A dependable, familiar, slightly sweet crunch that was perfect with a glass of milk after school, before bed, or (later) mid-afternoon when the kids napped. Cinnamon and sugar-dusted or naked, I just really, really like them. They pretend to be nothing more than they are - no glamour or decadence, just simple goodness. Like the best people.

I have been on a quest (if that is not too grand a term) to make a wonderful home-made honey graham wafer. I have tested no fewer than five versions and taste-tested said versions with whoever was near and some who are dear. I made a gluten-free version ( a top contender even among those who don't avoid gluten), tried Smitten Kitchen's adaptation of Heidi Swanson's (101 Cookbooks) version of Nancy Silverton's recipe, and referred to Martha Stewart and Alton Brown. Some were too sweet. Too much vanilla. One try too salty. Another too dry. I tried a mash-up of the recipes, made a few minor changes to accommodate my personal likes and ended up with something we all think is pretty hard to stop eating. My tummy was certainly tight a few times during the process.

Why would one bother to make this simple wafer at home when they are so readily available instore? Because they are simply so much better. Better in more than taste - although that is a considerable motivation. Better in quality of ingredients (my apologies to Nabisco and manufacturers of no-name brands), better nutritionally, and better fun. These wafers have real, whole ingredients and smell amazing in the oven. They are so, so yummy naked but spread a little left-over cream cheese icing on and make a cookie sandwich and bliss out. Or how about some homemade nutella. Or better yet, some homemade nutella and a roasted marshmallow. Or the ultimate ... a roasted homemade marshmallow squished between two honey graham wafers that have been spread with a smear of homemade nutella....sigh. Or yeah, just plain and simple. With milk.

honey graham wafers
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 cup graham flour*
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sprouted whole wheat flour
1/3 cup organic muscovado sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground chia seed
7 Tbsp (100 gm) cold, unsalted butter, cut into tbsp-size pieces
1/3 cup honey
4-5 Tbsp milk of your choice (I used coconut milk)
1 1/2 tsp good quality pure vanilla extract

In a food processor bowl combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ground chia seed. Pulse to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture is like a coarse meal.

Whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla. (Start with 4 Tbsp milk, mix that in and add more milk if the dough is too dry.) With the food processor running pour the mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough just comes together. It will be quite soft. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. 

All the recipes I looked at advised refrigerating the dough for 30 minutes to an hour before rolling out. I tried that two times and both times was dissatisfied with the process and result. Actually, the only part of making these wafers that was not purely fun and easy was rolling them out. The dough is really very moist and soft and regardless of the method employed in rolling (flouring the surfaces, using two sheets of parchment paper, chilling the dough) I was ready to scream and or pull my hair out. Fortunately for my hair and sanity, I tried - out of simple desperation - using ziplock bags. Genius (she modestly says). Simply this - cut the zipper part off two large size ziplock bags and cut down the side 'seam', effectively opening the bags up. Lay one bag down, put about 1/3 of the dough on that and top with the other opened bag. Go to town with your rolling pin. When the rolled out dough is 1/8" thick peel back the top bag, replace that with a sheet of parchment paper and flip the parchment paper, dough, and ziplock sandwich onto a baking tray. Peel back the ziplock bag. Cut the dough into squares with a pastry (or pizza) cutter - I didn't get too fussed about perfectly even squares and kind of liked the very homemade result. Prick dough-squares with a fork in rows.  Bake at 350 degrees F for  20-25 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking tray to harden further.

Watch your wafers the last few minutes. You want them to be firm and toasty-golden. As you can see from the photo, the last batch I baked (the little tiny ones for little tiny hands) got a bit too brown. They are still good but not as good - I do that more often that I would like to admit when baking the last tray of a batch of cookies. Repeat the process until you have used all your dough. If you want to dust them with cinnamon and sugar, do it before baking, after rolling and cutting.

*Final note: Graham Flour - you can buy graham flour (Bob's Red Mill has some) or you can effectively make your own by mixing white flour, wheat bran, and wheat germ in the ratio found in whole wheat. One cup of graham flour can be made by combining 
84 gm white flour
15 gm wheat bran
2.5 gm wheat germ



gluten-free honey grahams
(adapted from Gluten-free Girl)


70 gm sorghum flour
70 gm quinoa flour
70 gm tapioca flour
70 gm sweet rice flour
2 Tbsp organic muscovado sugar
3 Tbsp whole grain gluten-free flour mix
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into tbsp-sized pieces
1/4 cup honey
4 Tbsp milk of your choice
1/2 tsp vanilla


Follow the same method as above. (I pricked X's on the gluten-free wafers to distinguish them easily from wheat flour wafers.) Now everyone can have s'mores at the next campfire or stove-top roasting session.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

mini anniversary


My MINI and I have been together for 4 years! Four blissful years of perfect harmony. It seems totally appropriate to celebrate a 'mini' anniversary. You can interpret that 'mini' however you like. If you are a person who can't relate to complete love for a car then mini will likely be interpreted as small and really somewhat ridiculous. Or you might (like me) love your car and then mini is in a class of its own.


Five years ago the little Nissan that I drove was written-off as the result of a scary head-on collision. David and I had been talking about another car for me - the accident simply made it a necessity sooner rather than later. Jonathon had a MINI that I had fallen for in a big way (I may have actually been visiting the MINI not Jonathon on trips to Vancouver) so a MINI of my own was top of my list. David was not on board. He thought MINIs were silly little pieces of vanity (not those precise words, that is simply the essence of his remarks re: MINI, pre-MINI). My heart and mind were set on a MINI. The hunt - and the contest of wills - began. 


We don't buy  brand spanking new cars. We simply do not - just cars that are new to us. So hunting meant more than going to the dealership and deciding which set of options and colours suited, it meant combing the ads .... for 10 dogged months. I suspect David thought I would get tired of looking and decide on a more suitable vehicle. I came within a hair's breadth of just that but my frustrating stubbornness carried me through and just as I was about to cave, one of the final four cars I offered as possibilities won his approval. My sister and I hopped on a plane for Chicago, road-tripped home in the new baby, and I have never looked back. I really must admit that it was a car worth waiting for. My little CooperS is exactly perfectly what I wanted. I would happily drive this car for the rest of my life. Four years later I get in my car and think "woo whoo!!!!" almost every day. David repented of his early judgement as soon as he had driven half a block and is now a MINI devotee as well. I (sadly) am much too selfish and entirely possessive, so he rarely gets to drive it but he loves me anyway.


(Mike and Merin used the MINI on their wedding day - so the sign was legit. Not a symptom of my obsession. lol)

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I have had the Nike Training Club app on my phone for months but it was kind of lost somewhere. Ysa was very efficiently bossing my phone around a couple of days ago and when she was done, lo and behold, there was the app that I had downloaded and promptly forgotten. (How is it that a 20 month old tiny person just knows how to unlock and navigate iPhone technology?) I decided to try a workout this morning .... LOVED IT!! Lots of options, good voice guidance, timer, video tutorials, bonus stuff.  If you haven't already, check it out. Sadly the app is only for iPhone and iPod Touch.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

In the car this afternoon, at a four way stop, there was a car to my right. A steel grey, not new, import station wagon. The driver was a young woman with an open face. My heart stuttered. Joy!! ... and then of course, reality. That doesn't happen often. In fact today was one of two times since Merin's death. It is a strange thing the mind does. I know that Merin is not here and that I will not see her. I no longer wake up and expect her to call me. But still today, for that split second, enough pieces of information that my mind keeps in the Merin file came together and my heart leapt for joy. The reality, our new normal, made the rest of the day a little greyer than it was before that intersection. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

avocado pesto


For the second time in two days I was licking sharp things in the kitchen. Carefully but... licking something I really wouldn't want little people to lick. Not smart but this is oh-so-good! It was honestly exciting. We had been out and busy most of the day and David suggested something easy for dinner - like soup and grilled cheese. I explained to him that since we never have canned soup on hand, soup for dinner was actually a bit of work. I was on my own for ideas after that. Fortunately I had read a recipe in a magazine for avocado pesto that had taken my fancy. Unfortunately I couldn't remember which magazine. Fortunately it turns out that the idea was enough. In the end this gnocchetti with avocado pesto was at least as fast and easy as opening a can of soup and grilling cheese sandwiches. Better - way better - too.


It looks a bit odd, being lovely and gooey and green but my, my, it sure tastes good. And being so nice and green it is perhaps another contender for St Patrick's Day. I'd take it over Green Eggs and Ham any day.


I had a 500 gm package of gnoccetti on my pantry shelf that really loved being smothered in pesto. If you are gluten-free I would lay serious money on brown rice fusilli being every bit as good.


avocado pesto
(inspired by a mystery source)


1 ripe avocado
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup pecans
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt


Put all the ingredients in a food processor bowl or blender container and process until smooth. Toss with hot pasta.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

lemon cream


What do you do with lemon cream? Why, eat it! By the spoonful, in a tart shell, smeared on a cracker, or plopped on a scone. This particular lemon cream is bright, smooth, and rich and so, so, good that I licked the hand blender. Yes, I did. At horrible risk to my tongue (and reputation). I had swiped a bit with my finger that was threatening to drip and of course, I had to lick my finger. One thing led to another and before I knew it there I was licking. Yup. But at least I unplugged the thing first.

The  original recipe (from Tartine) called for a full cup of unsalted butter. I found that to be too rich - a bit too much like eating butter. This comes from a confirmed and unrepentant butter lover (a characteristic all my near and dear can attest to and protest). That recipe also recommended using a double-boiler or bowl over hot water when cooking the 'pudding'. Being a lazy cook I determined to see what would happen if I simply cooked it over a low flame. I am happy to report that the sky did not fall - in fact, the result was lovely, smooth, and silky. I did stir it constantly but that was recommended anyway. Do it however you choose but do it :)




meyer lemon cream
(adapted from Tartine)

makes about 2 cups

1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp Meyer* lemon juice (for me this was the juice of 2 1/2 lemons)
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Combine the lemon juice, eggs, egg yolk, sugar, and salt in a medium stainless steel pot. Whisk to combine. Place the pot over a low flame and stir constantly until the mixture becomes very thick (the whisk should leave a trail in the curd). This will take about 12 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times to release the heat.

Meanwhile, cut the butter into tablespoon-size pieces. When the cream has cooled for 10 minutes scrape it into a bowl. Using a hand-held or counter-top blender, add the butter one tablespoon at a time, blending after each addition before adding the next one. The cream becomes very pale yellow, opaque, and quite thick.

Use immediately or refrigerate in a covered container.

*I used Meyer lemons because I had some and love the spicy, floral note of the juice but regular lemons would work just as well.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

simply vegetable beef soup


I had no intention of posting this. It is just plain ol' soup. But David loved it. In fact he raved. Well....what passes for raving. A bit of back-story here - David rarely gets very excited about anything I cook. If I ask what he thinks he usually replies with a cool and non-commital "uh, good". So when he gets even a tiny bit enthusiastic I pay attention. When he made three comments about how he really liked this soup, I noticed. When he said "You should blog this one!" I more or less puffed up my chest and polished my nails. 

I have been reading lately about the merits of cooking meat bone-in. Tastes better - richer and fuller - and the nutritional value of the end product is enhanced. Bones are after all storehouses of nutrients, not just racks for muscles and skin. For the last few weeks I have had a hankering for a hearty, healthy vegetable beef soup, so when I stopped at the farmer's market for a few things I added a package of beef braising short-ribs (from grass-fed* Alberta beef) to my bag. This soup is just what I wanted to eat - pretty, rich, full of flavour and meltingly tender morsels of beef. Loaded with goodness.

vegetable beef soup

500 gm of braising short-ribs
2 onions, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced
6 baby potatoes, quartered
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (19 oz) can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp)
5 cups fresh baby spinach, washed
parmesan for sprinkling

In a large pot (I use a large enamelled cast iron pot) heat a tablespoon of light olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the short-ribs. Add the onion, cook stirring for a couple of minutes then turn the heat to low, add the garlic, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Leaving the heat low, add water making sure to cover the ribs. Replace the lid and continue cooking on a very low heat for an hour.

With a slotted spoon remove the short-ribs from the broth and let cool slightly. Pull the meat from the bones (the meat will basically fall off) and cut into small bite-size pieces. Return the meat to the pot. Add celery, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, tomatoes, and seasonings. Bring back to a nice simmer, replace the lid and cook for at least 20 minutes - or until the vegetables are tender. (Longer cooking won't hurt the flavour so if you want or need to leave it longer, don't worry.) Add the beans and cook another 10 minutes or so. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your preference. 

Just before serving add the spinach and stir until wilted. Serve with a tablespoon of parmesan sprinkled on each serving.

I once read that only the pure in heart can make good soup. I almost always think of that at some point in the soup-making process. Do whatever you want with that - but I aim to make good soup :)

*grass-fed (or pasture-fed) animal products -meat, dairy, eggs- are sources of vitally important and naturally occurring vit K2 as well as omega-3's. When you eat these products it is worth the time and money to source grass-fed. Just be respectful and don't over-indulge.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Waterton, wind, & pancakes



We spent two and a half perfect days in Waterton last weekend. The wind howled (like it pretty much always does in Waterton) and although the temperature was moderate for a Canadian mountain park in March it was still cold enough that I layered up like the Michelin Man before sticking my nose out the door of our cozy, quaint, totally cool cabin. Inside, we turned the heat up, snuggled into (sheepskin-upholstered!!) armchairs and read. Or talked. And ate. And then read some more. We watched the snow falling. All kinds of adventure. 

Blissful yes, but we decided to brave the wind, strap on the snowshoes, and see what we could see - or how we would do. Snowshoes and I are not very well acquainted but happily we got along just fine after I figured out that turning on a dime was not going to happen. The wind huffed and puffed and gusted and quite literally almost blew me down a couple of times. It was pure fun. Enough fun to go out again after lunch and snowshoe up the trail toward Bertha Lake. And then come home to curl up and read and eat and talk some more. Heaven!

For breakfast we had gluten-free flaxseed pancakes. Hearty, thick and fluffy. Crispy edges. Absolutely yummy. They are my current favourite pancakes - and satisfy enough of my requirements for a healthy breakfast that I look forward to them for special breakfasts. (I dislike eating - and will pass-up the nutritionally empty - all purpose flour pancakes drowned in faux maple syrup that too often pass for breakfast.) Topped with greek yogurt mixed with honey and ripe raspberries.... mmmwhaw!! 




gluten-free flaxseed wholegrain pancakes
(tweaked, from Gluten Free Girl)

7 oz  wholegrain gluten-free flour mix (about 1 1/2 cups + 1 Tbsp by my mix and scale)
1 oz ground flaxseed (1/3 cup)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
generous 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup soured* milk (almond, coconut or cow's - your choice)
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 large eggs
1/4 cup melted butter 

Combine the flour mix, flaxseed, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom.

Whisk together the soured milk, almond extract, and eggs. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir. Add the melted butter and stir until everything is entirely combined.

Pour the batter into a greased (I melt the butter for the batter in the frying pan and scrape it out with a rubber spatula - leaves about the perfect amount of 'oil') frying pan. Cook until bubbles start to form and pop on the top of the pancake and the bottom of the pancake is golden. Flip and cook another minute or so.

Serve with yogurt and fruit, or maple syrup.

Serves 4.

NOTE: If gluten-free is not something  you pursue, feel free to substitute wheat flour. If you use white flour though, you will pass up the goodness of whole grains. And seriously? These are amazing with the gluten-free wholegrain mix. You'll love them if you give them a spin.

* 1 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar and enough milk to equal 1 cup.



Monday, March 5, 2012

butternut squash & chickpea salad with tahini dressing


You have to make this! Really.


I read the recipe for this salad in the current issue of Oprah Magazine. The title for the recipe sounded promising. Then I noted the contributor (Deb Perelman of smitten kitchen fame) and saw that she had found the recipe in Casa Moro, a cookbook from Moro - one of her favourite restaurants in London. I think highly of Deb's blog and recipes, and I love every single ingredient in the recipe, so I had high expectations for this salad. They were fulfilled. Absolutely. It is even better than you think it will be.


butternut squash & chickpea salad with tahini dressing
(from Oprah Magazine)


1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4" pieces
1 minced garlic clove
2 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt and  freshly ground pepper
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the squash, garlic, and olive oil in a  large bowl. Add a generous pinch of salt and a few good twists of pepper. Toss to coat. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast until just soft, 15-20 minutes. 


dressing:
1 minced garlic clove
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp water
1/8 tsp sea salt


Whisk dressing ingredients together.


Combine the roasted squash with the chickpeas, onion, and cilantro. Add the tahini dressing and mix.


Simple and amazing.



Saturday, March 3, 2012

sweet

What I am about to share goes beyond full disclosure, it feels like exposure. It is certainly quite embarrassing but there is a greater purpose than simple confession. You see I have not one sweet tooth but an entire mouthful and until about 2 years ago I allowed those sweet teeth full rein. Just so you understand exactly what that means I offer a day in my life - food-diary-wise - from back in the day:

7:00 AM Eat a cookie (or whatever baked goodie there may be on hand) while preparing a healthy and delicious breakfast for the family.
8:00 AM Breakfast.
9:30-ish - time for a snack. How about a piece of candy?
10:30 - another cookie or perhaps a piece of chocolate.
12:00  Lunch  (maybe ... peanut butter and HONEY?) and a treat for sure!
2:00 PM - candy again??!
3:30 - 5:00 PM there must be something sweet around here. 
5:00 PM snack on ....candy? Again?! (I am honestly shaking my head right this minute. Seriously! what was I thinking?) while preparing (an honestly healthy) dinner.
6:00 PM  Dinner and dessert (of course!)
8:30 PM bedtime snack - you guessed it - something sweet.

You have no idea how lowering it is to recall and write that. I can barely bring myself to look at it. Really - I have to squint before I can. lol. In my (very feeble) defence there just never seemed to be a compelling reason to abstain from all the sugar. Weight has never been an issue (fortunately slim by nature), I did eat fruits, veggies, and all the other good stuff, and I really enjoyed it - so why not? Well, I had a very loud wake-up call and now I know why not. But that is not what this is about.

It is about this! 

As embarrassing as my old (and ridiculously sadly missed) eating habits are .... today I am validated! According to a recent study in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology people who chose dessert (as opposed to a savoury snack or nothing at all) proved to be more likely to help a person in need. The study also showed that the sweet-tooth-types are generally perceived as being kinder than our (perhaps wiser) peers.

I no longer graze my way through the day on sugar but I hope, with all the hope I can generate, that I am part of that demographic. I want to be the person that sees the need and responds to it. I want to be kind today and kinder tomorrow. Honestly sweet through and through. Totally validated and not a bit embarrassed about it.








Thursday, March 1, 2012

broccoli-spinach soup


This soup is so beautifully, brilliantly emerald green that I really should save it for St Patrick's Day. But it is also incredibly healthy, zip-fast to make, and delicious so I really could not (in good conscience) be so selfish as to not share immediately. It's one of the best ways to get a good big dose of greens in one sitting that I have had in a long time.


I added  hot sauce and more onion to the original recipe - the hot sauce because it just wanted to be there, the onion for health. And it tasted better.


broccoli-spinach soup
(slightly adapted from Whole Living Magazine)


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
4 cups organic chicken broth
6 cups chopped broccoli
6 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp tahini
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sriracha  aka rooster sauce


Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to be tender, add the scallions and cook another 2 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil. Add broccoli and cook, covered, until bright green and tender - about 3 minutes.


Remove pan from heat and stir in the spinach, Parmesan, and tahini. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Using a hand blender, puree soup until smooth. (If you are using a counter-top blender to puree the soup, be sure to let it cool slightly first or you will be wiping down your walls and ceiling.)


Drizzle with sriracha and sprinkle a bit more Parmesan on each serving. Pass the sriracha - so everyone is happy with the hot :)


Note: this saved and reheated beautifully. Still bright and green, both in colour and flavour.