Enhance enjoyment

The definition of a condiment has something to do with enhancing flavor and enjoyment. I would have to agree with that. In the condiment category there are so many options to choose from.

You start out as a youngster with ketchup. A mystery combination of ingredients suspended in a tomato base. My children choked down so many meals with the plate swimming in a sea of ketchup. It was so disappointing to see the real flavour of their food being drowned out by the ketchup. But they matured and got over that habit. Thankfully.

Then there is the world of mustard. That is not overstating the different choices in the mustard category. There is something to suit any taste. I usually have 2 or 3 different kinds on the go. Right now we have a basic hot dog mustard, a spicy hot and dijon. We just finished a jar of turmeric mustard.

It would take a very long post to go through all the other condiments in my kitchen. And the rotation at any given time is temporary. We are often trying out new ones. And I’ve taken to making condiments fresh. The difference of a fresh version to a store-bought is really night and day. With my strong preference being toward the fresh options. I like the taste better and I can feel in my bones, how much better it is for my health.

I’ve been experimenting lately with salsa verde. It seems like the taste can be quite similar to chimichurri. It also depends on where the salsa verde recipe derives from. Mine is from an Italian version, rather than Mexico, Spain or Germany. Back to the Italians, again.

I think salsa verde can be used with anything and everything. Top corn on the cob, instead of using butter. Use as a dip for vegetables or chips. Add to anything coming off the grill. Or even use as a marinade before going on the grill. When I taste salsa verde I am taken back to warm summer days. Even in the dead of winter. It is so easy to make up large batches and freeze in flat “sheets” in plastic bags. Then re-constitute with olive oil.

Classic Italian Salsa Verde

  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, (or onion)
  • 3 anchovy fillets, (or anchovy paste)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, (or basil, mint, or combinations)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard, (whatever is on hand)
  • juice and zest from 1/2 lemon, (could use vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, (could use another type of oil)

I put everything in the Magic Bullet and shake it as it blends. You get a sauce this way. It is super quick and easy. Alternatively, the vegetables and herbs can be finely chopped. The result is thicker and not as creamy.

I would say that this sauce enhances enjoyment of whatever is on the menu. I like it with eggs too!

Salsa Verde with bean

Roasted Roots Salad

This is a recipe that I use all the time, but it constantly changes depending on what I have in the house. I seem to always have some root vegetables on hand. Lettuce, kale, spinach or arugula are always in the fridge. Quinoa is in the pantry. While this takes some time to prepare, it is worth it to have 4 days of salad ready to pack and go in the morning. As well, when vegetables are cooking, I can do other things. So in that sense, I only need a timer to make sure nothing gets forgotten. I should also mention that I am usually not so precise on measurements, but for the sake of accuracy and my attempt to watch calories a bit more, I have tested all these values and they produce good results.

Roasted Roots Salad_web

Roasted Roots Salad

425 grams 2 small sweet potatoes
375 grams 3 small turnips
200 grams 2 small beets yellow
200 grams carrots
150 grams 1 medium red onion
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
300 grams 2 small zucchini
2 teaspoons jalapeno chiles finely chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice +lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup quinoa
200 grams Romaine lettuce

Directions:

ROAST ROOTS
Chop and or slice the root vegetables according to taste. For example slice the sweet potatoes and dice everything else. In a large bowl add olive and paprika as well as salt and pepper to taste. Toss root in the large bowl and shake to cover evenly with olive oil mixture. Lay sweet potatoes on a parchment lines cookie sheet. Spread everything else on another. Roast the potatoes for about 20 minutes at 400F, turn and cook for another 10 minutes. Repeat with second tray.

ZUCCHINI
Spiral the zucchini and then cut into smaller lengths. Finely chop jalapeno. Zest the lemon and then add to zucchini along with juice and 1T olive oil.

PERFECTLY COOKED QUINOA
Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer. Place in a pot set over high heat with 1 3/4 cups water and a big pinch of salt. Bring to boil, lower the heat, cover the pot and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa’s germs look like little spirals, 12 to 15 minutes. Turn the heat off, place a dry paper towel between the pot and the lid and let the quinoa sit for at least 5 minutes before giving it a fluff with a fork.

ASSEMBLE
Cover the bottom half of the container with lettuce. Layer on quinoa, roots and finish with zucchini and some of the dressing that runs away from it.

Nutritional Information
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 471
Calories from Fat: 144
% Daily Value
*Total Fat 17g 26%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 134mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 68g 23%
Dietary Fiber 12g 47%
Protein 12g 21%
Sugars13g
Vitamin A 440%
Vitamin C 59%
Calcium 12%
Iron 16%

Serves: 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes

This week in my kitchen

Blog Hop Banner

 

 

Welcome to my week in the kitchen – bloghop with Beauty That Moves

This tour starts with a seafood boil I did for my visiting Grandfather and Father. Spot prawns were in season and my husband caught the Dungeness crabs.

Boil_web

For dessert that night we had peanut butter balls made by my daughter.

PB Balls HB_web Peanut butter balls_web

An amazing salad for dinner.

Dinner salad_web

Rhubarb and Strawberry iced tea.

Rhubarb tea_web

Strawberries for freezing.

Strawberries freezing_web

This week in my kitchen

Hmmm – it’s been a good week. Tried some new ideas. Had a few nice quiet meals with my daughter. A time to catch my breath.

Blog Hop Banner

Check out the action on the blog hop hosted by Beauty That Moves.

Coconut creamer_web

Don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner, replace dairy creamer with coconut milk creamer! So yummy.

Carrot cake oatmeal_web

My daughter really doesn’t know how lucky she is – this is carrot cake oatmeal for breakfast! No dairy, sugar and gluten free. She’s no dummy, however. It does not taste just like carrot cake. But for me it is a wonderful thing to have for breakfast.

Market finds_web

Treasures from the White Rock farmer’s market.

Chocolate cake_web

A baked treat – chocolate cake, same properties as the carrot cake. My daughter thinks it isn’t sweet enough. I think it is heavenly.

Soba salad_web Cod_web

Asian inspired dinner.

Asparagus&Fiddleheads_web

Local, wonderful.

ketchup_web

My daughter can get anything down with ketchup!

 

Clean Eats

I have a few prerequisites for buying a new cookbook.

  • First I must be inspired. Usually that is taken care of in the photography. I quickly flip through and “see” there are many recipes I want to run home and create.
  • The book needs to contain a number of recipes I don’t already have or can easily gain access to.
  • Cannot be too complicated or fussy. Those days are long gone for me. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen creating masterpieces for the taste buds. With the exception of my son, this effort goes largely under appreciated. In fact, my husband has begged me stop trying to impress him. He has a very basic palette and would rather spend our precious time together doing other things.

My biggest priorities now are:

  • Nutrient dense food.
  • New ideas for treatment of food stuffs – a light touch is best. Let the ingredients shine. Try new techniques that allow for amazing taste sensations, not replicating an old recipe without the classic ingredients, (sugar, animal fat and processed ingredients).
  • Biggest bang for the effort required.

With all these ideas – most of my old standby cookbooks do not fit the bill. Quite frankly most new cookbooks don’t either. I’ve been waiting patiently for “Clean Eats“. Dr. Junger has compiled the recipes along with many contributors and the results are great. I’ve tried many recipes so far, (and would strongly recommend more photos in the next printing, I’ll take them!) with really great results. Even my husband and daughter, who are my toughest customers have been pleasantly pleased. Which says so much!

The recipes have a prep and cook time listed at the top. Don’t have to guess how long it will take. They also define which of Dr. Junger’s programs they adhere to. I am interested in “Clean”, for lower inflammation, better digestion and increased energy and vigour.

So I’m a bit of a raving fan. And I may start pasting my photo’s into my copy. Might be better that way!

Here is a list of what I have tried so far:

  • Page 44 Blueberry Quinoa Cereal – really good, I used frozen berries
  • Page 60 Root Vegetable Hash – I added paprika
  • Page 65 Roasted Beet Salad with Miso Dressing – I changed this a little, added asparagus and pickled garlic and beans on top
  • Page 77 Chunky Avocado Salad – my husband made this for me last week! No spirulina, (mine is peppermint flavoured anyway).
  • Page 125 Best Dip / Sauce / Salad Dressing Ever – this really is
  • Page 156 Lemon Herb Chicken Burgers – clean version, baked instead of fried
  • Page 159 Mustard-Baked Chicken – my husband made this and it was easy and excellent
  • Page 174 Slow-Cooked Chicken – in a slow cooker, Saturday night – I added gravy for my husband
  • Page 188 Shepherd’s Pie – this is really different than the classic, so shouldn’t really have that name, but very yummy
  • Page 217 Baked Turnip Casserole with Walnut Sage Cream – this didn’t turn out so well, too dry somehow
  • Page 244 Broccoli Cheddar Soup – really good, I gave it a little whiz with a hand blender at the end

 

This week in my kitchen

Blog Hop Banner

Taking a tour of my kitchen once again. Love this blog hop. A few words about each of the shots, just below.

Healthy Water_web

Healthy water – just can’t keep enough made!


Root Veg_web

 

Roasted root veg salad_web

Roasted root vegetables, made into a salad.

Apple Pie Cereal_web

Apple pie granola with coconut milk, (from a can) cream topping.

Veggie Burger Patties_web Veggie Burger Done_web

Veggie burgers.

Veggie platter_web

Veggie tray – after work must have to munch on.

Beet&Green salad_web

Beet, asparagus and broccoli salad with pickled garlic and beans.

Flowers_web

Flowers from my garden.

Vegan Friday night

Kicking off the long weekend used to involve a whole lot of liquid refreshments, a little grilled meat, a campfire and staying awake until the wee hours of Saturday morning. While that is still fun, from time to time, it is not how we start our weekends anymore, (long or otherwise).

My husband and I have joined the ranks of other 40+ year olds who have come before us. At least the ones that have turned to a more restful and relaxing weekend practice. Nothing like needing a vacation after the weekend has finished. That is a young person’s game. At least, that is my story and I’m sticking to it.

Instead, we kicked off the weekend in style. Some great food, served over the course of the evening. Early to bed feeling satisfied but not stuffed. Peace. (Why can’t we find these kind of food choices in most restaurants? It was so full of flavour!)

Here is what we enjoyed: (even my husband and daughter, who have very discerning palates)

Minted Pea&Cashew cheese_web

Minted Pea and Cashew Cheese Crostini

Ingredients:

For the minted peas:

  • 10 oz. frozen green peas
  • 1/4 cup mint, loosely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

For the cashew cheese:

  • 1 heaping cup cashews, soaked for several hours and drained of soak water
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons minced chives, (sprinkled on top)

For the crostini:

  • 2 long, thin sweet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Herbamare

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash sweet potatoes, trim ends and slice 1/4″ thick. Place on sheet and brush with olive oil on both sides. Sprinkle with Herbamare. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, gently turn and bake another 5 minutes.
  2. Bring a small pot of water to boil. Boil the peas until they’re bright, sweet, and tender (3-5 minutes). Drain them and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water to arrest the cooking and keep the color bold. Drain them and transfer them to a food processor. Pulse in the mint, salt, and lemon juice. With the motor running, pour the oil into the food processor in a thin stream. Stop the motor and mix everything up. You want a mixture that’s not quite pureed, but also fairly uniform. Continue to pulse as needed, until you’re pleased with how it looks. Set the minted peas aside.
  3. To prepare the cashew cheese, place the cashews in a food processor or high-speed blender along with the lemon, garlic, sea salt, and pepper. Blend the cashews until they’ve taken on the texture of a spreadable cheese/thick hummus. Add water as needed (a third cup or half cup is normal). Continue blending, stopping occasionally to scrape the machine down, till the cashew cheese is very smooth.
  4. Once the potato rings are cool, top with a small spoon of each pea puree and cashew cheese, garnish with chives.

Yam Veggie Patties_web

Yam Veggie Patties with Cilantro Tahini Sauce

Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free
Recipe is inspired by Angela Liddon’s Moroccan Yam veggie burgers from the Oh She Glows blog.

Ingredients:

For the patties:

  • 1.5 cups grated yam
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger (1 cm cube), peeled
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats, ground into a flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

For the cilantro tahini sauce:

  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 2/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  2. Peel the yam and grate until you have 1 1/2 lightly packed cups.
  3. In a food processor, using the “s” blade process the oats into a flour, set oat flour aside in a large-sized bowl
  4. Mince the garlic, cilantro, and ginger in the food processor. Add drained chickpeas and process again until finely chopped, but leave some texture. Scoop this mixture into the oat flour bowl.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together the flax and water mixture.
  6. Add the oil, tamari, salt/pepper, and spices to the oat flour and mix everything until well combined.
  7. Shape 6-8 patties, packing the mixture firmly together. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully flip, and bake for another 18-23 minutes until golden and firm. Cool on pan.
  8. For the cilantro tahini sauce: Mince garlic in a food processor, followed by the cilantro. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and process until smooth and creamy.
  9. Serve the patties over a bed of greens with a generous dollop of sauce.

Along with this meal, I enjoyed my version of a Hugo.

Hugo_web

  • British Columbia Moscato Frizzante
  • Canadian sparkling water
  • Mint from my garden
  • Lime cordial
  • Chive blossom for fun!

Smooth finish

New smoothie recipe breakthrough. After many days of rich food and drink, a little cleanse to get my body topped up with fresh produce.

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 large leaves kale, remove main stem
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 green apple stem removed chopped in large pieces
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 2 tbsp omega 3 flax oil
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 tsp cashew butter

Blend in wild side container on smoothie setting TWICE. Ends up with a super smooth drink with virtually no pulp.  Excellent.

Smootie_web

A week to go

I can see the finish line. 7 more days. Date night is set with my husband. My experiment with a cleanse will be over.

I’ve kept up with it, but the strange rules are wearing on me. Things like: (Yes, I have a well-formed list by now)

  • no sweeteners except brown rice syrup and coconut sugar, really no honey or maple syrup? FYI – brown rice syrup is not really very sweet and you have to use a lot of dates to make a smoothie sweet
  • no bananas, they are sweet and they thicken a smoothie perfectly, and I like the taste
  • no tomatoes, or any nightshades, my husband convinced me to buy a few and make a small batch of my salsa. The late summer blight that hit my tomatoes and wiped out most of my crop might have brought me to tears, if I had not been on this cleanse
  • no potatoes, of course they are more than fine in the garden – what can be done with an over abundance of potatoes?
  • no corn, another delight of late summer and fall harvest, sigh
  • no soy, which is hidden in lots of things
  • no coffee or alcohol, see how far down the list? Hasn’t been bad to give up at all

Ok now for a few strange things that “we” have tried. While my family has not adhered to the cleanse, they have been subject to many new ingredients and experimentation.

  • EFA oils, omega 3 and omega 6 – super easy to splash into a smoothie, no taste and great benefit
  • homemade almond milk and the resulting almond flour – love this
  • maca powder, recipes were calling for 1 tablespoon which made both my husband and I feel nauseous, in fact that was how I started this thing, took it back to 1/2 teaspoon and no tummy ache, gotta figure this out – it is supposed to be an aphrodisiac!
  • spirulina – is a protein dense algae that comes in a powder form – but whew does it ever smell up the kitchen, when the bottle is opened the kids hold their noses!
  • sacha inchi – looks and tastes a bit like a peanut, is considered a super food because of its high protein and omega 3 content

I think what I have learned by this is to consider what I eat. I have always done that, or so I thought. I have a new appreciation for what is truly good for you, rather than what has been packaged, marketed and thrust upon us at the grocery store. The good stuff is there, you just have to find it.

Here is a super simple recipe to make and is very healthy and tasty.

Energizer Trail Mix by Julie Morris

  • 1 cup dried goji berries
  • 1 cup dried mulberries
  • 1/2 cup raisins, (subbed dried blueberries)
  • 1 cup sacha inchi seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup raw pecans
  • 1/3 cup cocao nibs

CB Trail Mix spoon_web

The morning before

White Rock foggy morning - August 2013

White Rock foggy morning – August 2013

It is my last morning of sitting in bed with a large coffee and cream. The end of an era. Time to shake things up. Try something new. I might return to this habit in 3 weeks time, I might not.

Tomorrow morning, I start a 3-week cleanse. I am using the principles outlined in the book called “Clean”, by Dr. Junger M.D. I borrowed his book from the library and am going over to my local “Choices” grocery store to procure some of the more unusual recommended ingredients. However, I am choosing to use food as the main ingredient. No powder drinks, no supplements, just a wide variety of fresh food. I am really crowding out the space on my plate where all the potential irritants are sitting. (Cleanprogram recipes are available for free online).

This idea started in June of this year with the purchase of a cookbook. (Ahh, the feeling of acquiring a new cookbook) And, I have been intrigued to know more about the food sensitivity to gluten, so many people have.  So when Gwenyth Paltrow was smiling out at me in such a happy, clean and bright way, I had to know more. This is where I first learned about the long list of processed foods that cause digestion problems. So many common and irritating ailments are a sign of poor digestion. (Who knew?) As each new “health type problem” was added to my running list, I just assumed these were signs of getting older. New and not exciting signs of ways that my body was betraying me. And that I was doomed to accept these forever more.

I had thought, up until that time, I practised a pretty healthy diet. But, if I looked closely, took the time to learn a few new things, it was surprising to uncover a some rather unhealthy habits. My kitchen cupboards contained a whole lot of processed food ingredients. I was then combining them all together, with a bunch of time and effort to create a home-made version of what was available at the store. Sure my baked goods had slightly less sugar in them, maybe a few bits of grated carrots or zucchini thrown in, but they were essentially a processed food. When the main ingredients are finely milled flour + processed sugar + butter, it is hard to say that is a going to produce a healthy product.

Once I looked beyond the big food manufacturers widely available at every grocery store, there is a small, (but growing quickly), and secret door into a world of TRULY healthy and tasty options. Every time I shopped for groceries I challenged myself to try a few new ingredients. So I became to experiment with coconut oil, chia seeds and cocao. My children know what agave nectar, stevia and mulberries are.

As I began to experiment in the kitchen and focus on what each and every meal contained, I was surprised by a few things:

  • I began to find sweetness in vegetables. Evidently, we have become accustomed to expect a very high level of sweetness in our food. High fructose corn syrup is present in a wide variety of processed foods. As the name indicates, it only requires a small amount to yield a highly sweetened result. As I shifted away from adding sugar or ingredients containing sugar, I started to really enjoy naturally sweet vegetables.
  • Home made milk alternatives ROCK. I have never enjoyed the feeling of drinking milk. I had long suspected it created excess mucus, and it does! But a freshly made  almond milk with a touch of vanilla, still frothy from the blender is amazing!
  • Needing caffeine to get going in the morning is not good. I have long thought this, but have so enjoyed the feeling and rush it gives. As my husband and I have experimented with smoothies in the morning, first thing, we have forgotten to drink the coffee afterwards. Maybe because the smoothie is filling and leaves a feeling of satisfaction, different from coffee.
  • Substituting flour with my home-made almond milk, flour-like leftovers has given us the most amazingly moist, rich and gluten-free muffins. I am throwing in all kinds of fresh or frozen fruits. The experimentation has only just begun. More on this to follow. I just got from the library, (after paying over $20 in fines! Travel to Oslo wreaks havoc on my library routines), “babycakes“, by Erin McKenna. A gluten-free New York City bakery I have heard about and will be trying in November.

Timing is everything. This is a great time of year to focus on fresh food. The local farmer’s markets are over flowing with local produce. A trip to Mary’s Garden yesterday yielded $60 worth of the most amazing vegetables and fruit. As I have slowly been changing over my pantry supplies, the investment today, should not be significant. (Will see about that. Is probably like doing a house renovation, double the time and capital from the budget!)

Web_Produce3

It will be an interesting journey, for sure. I am going to keep a detailed daily journal. I’m not sure how much of it will make its way to this blog. I have read that this journey will be profound. The changes will happen on many levels and effect every part of me. Probably more information than anyone else needs to know. My husband will suffer all the details like a champion. My children will probably only question why I need to “drink” my dinner each evening while they enjoy a proper “chewing” meal.

But I am excited. This is not a diet-to-loose-weight kind of thing. Everything has led to this moment. At age 43, I am finally ready to formally commit to a healthier way of living. My children are young enough to benefit greatly from this effort. I will set them free in the world with an abundance of great recipes, happy memories and the enthusiasm for life that comes from the foundation of good health.

Check out the website for Clean.

Kombucha

Sounds like a type of salsa dancing. Or an African flute type of instrument that yields a low, melancholy sound. Maybe a fried German pastry with sugar sprinkled on top?

No, none of those things. Kombucha is an effervescent fermentation of sweetened tea that is used as a functional food. Doesn’t sound so sexy. My first ideas are far more appealing.

But sometimes life becomes interesting when you mix things up. Not a lone ingredient. A single note hangs in the air, waiting for the others to accompany.

That was how we tasted kombucha today. A flight of different versions mixed with a pitcher of superfruit sangria. Now that was a great combination of flavours and so fun to compare one to another.

The proper recipe is included in the cookbook Superfood Kitchen by Julie Morris. I didn’t have 2 of the superfoods on hand and really wanted to have the overnight soak time. So substitutions were in order.

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 T goji berries
  • 1 1/4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 750ml red wine, (I only had 600ml…..)
  • 2 cups kombucha

Instead of the raisins, I was to have 1/4 cup each mulberries and goldenberries. I have procured those and will include in the next batch. I can’t decide the best type of wine to use. Looking in my cellar, do I use wine that is good enough to drink its own? Great red wine is out of the question. There is also the wine I have received as gifts. Could be great, but how does one know? Which is how I ended up with 600ml above. Quite frankly that wine was undrinkable, but made great sangria.

The method here is, berries and wine together – marinate for at least 5 hours, better overnight. Pomegranate juice is added before serving. Once you have the kombucha sorted out, add just before serving. Assuming the whole batch will be consumed. Otherwise add to each glass like soda water.

kombuchaFor the kombucha, we wanted to be very analytical. Plain or ginger as recommended? We went with plain and GT’S “third eye chai”. And we had to compare to soda water as well. Good old Canada Dry for that.

“Third eye chai” won – 2 votes out of 3 cast.  Next favourite was plain kombucha. Canada Dry soda water will have to be used for something else.

Kombucha can be brewed at home. That practice would save money. This is an expensive drink. But supporting small companies like GT’S feels good. I think the aspartame industry can live just fine without me.

It’s all good

“It’s all good.” ~Albert Einstein

I’ve always been intrigued by the kind of people who use this phrase on a regular basis. They are so chill, relaxed and laid back – probably hippies. They take everything in stride. I want to be like that, I really do. I just can’t seem to achieve it.

Maybe it has to do with what you eat? Everything seems to be related to that these days. I’m already, pretty much converted to that idea, so it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. But how does one go about figuring out what to eat? There is so much information on what we should not be eating, but why start a project with a negative thought?

I’ve been on a hunt for the one resource, could be a book, or a website, a course, whatever. But I’ve continually come up short. I’m also skeptical of the ideas related to juice fasting, detox, etc. Extreme deprivation for relatively long periods of time just doesn’t sound healthy to me. (More than a day is a long time in my food life.) And, am I prepared for the consequences? Could I possibly have a food sensitivity? Would I be able to give up any of the foods which I enjoy so much?

Time will tell. I’m going “all in” for the next couple of months. My inspiration circles back to where I started this post – “It’s all good” by Gwyneth Paltrow.

Its all good

Let me digress. I came by this cookbook in the usual way of things. By accident. I was grocery shopping, (there should not be an entire book aisle in a grocery store, really, I’ve spent so much money this way), and there she was. Smiling out so nicely, she looked great. She always looks great, but in this photo, particularly so. So I bit. (All puns intended).

Once I got the book home and read Gwyneth’s story about discovering her food sensitivities and allergies when her body started to give off some pretty serious signs of problems, I stopped in my tracks. I just thought, it’s time. I can’t put this off any longer.

Enter another new way of eating, that will drive my family crazy, and have me questioning my sanity – the 21-day elimination diet.

There is a bunch of information about the idea of an elimination diet on the web and with Alternative Medicine practitioners. Simply put, this is a process to determine which foods may be causing problems, understanding how great you can feel, then moving forward in that new way. Won’t be entirely simple to do, but seems quite worth the effort.

I’m preparing in this first week. I’ve tried a bunch of recipes from the cookbook with great success. Leaving out certain things has little effect on the finished product. In fact, by adding certain other things, the flavour turns out to be better! The quinoa flakes granola is the most amazing breakfast cereal / snack I have ever had. (I didn’t know there was such a thing as quinoa flakes).

The next post about this topic will include the story of acquiring a high power blender. That journey has taken 2 years and significant expense. But, in order to make the amazing smoothies, nut butters, nut milks, etc. I had to have the real deal. Stay tuned…

Its-All-Good-Poster

Food philosophy

I’m taking a Whole Food Workshop again this year, from the same lovely instructor Heather Bruggeman. She keeps a fantastic blog at “Beauty that moves“. Check out her thoughts if you are looking for inspiration.

One of the tasks in the first week was to write about my food philosophy. I had just finished my annual family ski week, and my thoughts on skiing and cooking easily came together. Strange how that sometimes happens.

Preparing food for my family is like skiing. I enjoy it, but it is tough going, leaves me exhausted, other people think I do it effortlessly. There is a peaceful feeling to be out in the snow and smell the clean air, same as my lovely kitchen with sharp knives and wood cutting boards, the smell from the stove. I can sometimes find the elusive rhythm on the snow where carving a turn is the most wonderful feeling. Plating a recipe with the freshest, tastiest ingredients, evocative smell, beautiful color and balance is a most delightful experience, but elusive just the same. But practice does count in both areas. Honing skills, paying attention to details, incremental improvements. However, the most important part of either skiing or cooking is to have fun. If I fall down after attempting a difficult run, or produce a somewhat less than spectacular meal, it doesn’t matter, the process should be fun, introspective, full of learning.

As I prepare new and interesting recipes for my family, I get a curious mix of responses. I eliminate certain dishes straight away due to known food aversions. But that list is always evolving. It is curious to see my daughter eat something quite well because it has no meat in it and my husband is fighting the same thing down because of the texture. (And maybe no meat).

Recently, I served a breakfast of millet, which has virtually no taste, so the extra’s were a must. My son, who has no food “issues”, could barely choke it down because it was so bland. Really?

Chick pea veggie burgers were a general hit on Sunday night. But my son was worried we were not going back to beef burgers, ever.

My challenge is to view all of this as success. Getting my family involved in what they are eating is the point. Understanding what is on the plate and asking themselves questions about where it came from, is it good for them, how much should they eat of it? Remembering to tread softly in the heat of battle, which is what it feels like when new ideas are met with a challenge, is hard to do.

Other ideas on food philosophy:

The commute

Every day that I commute into my office in Richmond, I go right past the Richmond Farmers Market. Not much going on there through the winter months, just a promise with the signs of the future bounty to come.

But as the months of early Spring have clicked over, I have started to notice the signs announcing the arrival of local fresh goodies. Today I got the first strawberries, compari hot-house tomatoes, garlic and garlic scapes. Throw in a loaf of Terra Bread, add a few things from the fridge and dinner was done.

The most complicated thing I made was the cheese. Today, we used white wine vinegar instead of lemon juice. That is the royal “we”. My daughter had a strong opinion what type of acid was to be used and then she didn’t even try the finished product. (Aghh she is a piece of work). Anyway, I added basil, salt and olive oil.

When I laid everything out on the table, my son put his plate together without hesitation. White bean/pasta on the bottom, then bruschetta and topped with cheese. Bread on the side. Then he watched everything closely because he was determined to have the exact same thing tomorrow in his lunch. No one was allowed to take too much.

Every day for the past 3 months, I have meant to stop in at this market. I drive right by and think, “yes I should go there today”. I would rationalize that maybe the selection was just average. Nothing I couldn’t get from my local market. However, to my amazement, this market has a little of everything. Things that I could not identify even. What a treasure, and I drive by it every day.

 See my March 18, 2012 post called “Making Cheese

P.S. – my husband will read this tonight and wonder how I neglected to mention the rather dramatic car troubles that I had today on “the commute”. Let’s just say, it was not exactly what I call, “the good stuff.”