Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving AND receiving

This Thanksgiving, remember to not only give thanks but receive thanks too. It is easier to give than receive, but we need to be open to receiving.  Think about how you receive thanks.  Find a good balance. Lets make it a happy thanksgiving/receiving day.

I'm thankful for you - and grateful to have you in my life.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lemon cheesy roasted vegetables

I served my lemon tamari chickpeas from yesterday's recipe with lemon cheesy roasted veggies for dinner, so I thought I'd share that recipe with you too - even though its so simple, it hardly needs a recipe.

Often times however, people just roast veggies in oil but I love the addition of lemon juice and zest.

Variety of vegetables cut into small pieces, with tougher veg cut smaller than soft veg - enough for a large baking sheet/pan.
2 tbs olive oil
3 tbs lemon juice
Grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Approx 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (heavy sprinkle - but optional)

Preheat oven to 415F. Mix the first 5 ingredients together on a large baking sheet, lined with a non-stick liner (see yesterday's post for my favorite).  Sprinkle heavily with nutritional yeast and gently mix.  Roast in the oven for 20 minutes then toss them around, adding another sprinkle of nutritional yeast, and roast for an additional 10-20 minutes.

Serve hot or cold.

The veggies I used were what was on hand: blue potatoes (I love blue potatoes!), red onion, multi-colored carrots, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus, but you can chose your favorites.  Think of a rainbow as you select however, trying to get lots of different colors. You can see from the photos that I got orange, yellow, green, and blue/purple in there, so plenty of color just on one dish.

If you aren't familiar with nutritional yeast, it brings a really cheesy flavor to dishes - so is perfect for those who are dairy free or vegan. It is also a great source of B vitamins so for those who are gluten free and not eating many grains, or anyone who isn't getting many B vitamins, adding nutritional yeast gives a real boost to your B vitamin levels.
Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lemon tamari chickpeas

These are my new favorite snack - lemon tamari chickpeas.  I find them so satisfying and filling.  They are a wonderful source of fiber - something that many of our diets don't have enough of.  This may be different from what you'd normally have for a snack, but it is definitely worth trying.  I make at least double the recipe as they are too tasty to just make a few. They aren't crispy but a good texture.

1 can organic chickpea - drained and rinsed
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs low salt gluten free tamari sauce
1/2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tbs sunchoke syrup or yacon syrup (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F.  Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.  Place in one layer on a baking sheet, preferably lined with a non-stick liner - see below*. You don't need the sun choke or yacon syrup, but it is a great source of prebiotics and yummy. As you pour it on the baking sheet, there seems to be quite a bit of liquid but don't worry, the chickpeas soak it up as they roast. Roast for 25 minutes, stirring once half way through.  The chickpeas will be nicely golden and the liquid absorbed.

Serve them warm or cold as an appetizer/snack or as a protein source for a dish, such as sprinkling on a salad or with roasted veggies.

I'm traveling up to Canada this week, so these are going to be my snack for the plane journey….as long as I don't eat them beforehand!!!

*For my non-stick liner, I use bake-o-glide which comes from England. Its a reusable sheet, you cut it to the size of your dishes and it makes washing up easy but also browns food nicely, even if you aren't using much oil.

The sheet is thinner than a silpat - and you can get the roll on Amazon.  It lasts for ages……a year or so and I cook a lot! I use it on everything, so give it a try.

Let me know if you like the chickpeas.  Kids love them too.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Buckwheat breakfast

Unlike Smiler in my recent otter post, I don't like frogs for breakfast.  I tend to have something made with oats….but this week I tried buckwheat instead.  It is a seed of the same family as rhubarb and sorrel.  It is a great source of rutin, a bioflavonoid that acts to extend the antioxidant activity of vitamin C.  It has a lipid lowering effect and has protective effects against heart disease. Buckwheat is also important as a good source of magnesium, which is a cofactor for more than 300 different enzymes in the body. It's also a good source of fiber and protein.

I used it raw, blended into a pudding style texture - like a thick yoghurt.  I made a few pots and they kept nicely in the fridge for a ready to go breakfast, adding some flaxseed and fruit (home grown nectarines) to it.

Here's how I made it:

1 cup of raw buckwheat groats
1 cup of raw walnuts
1 cup of almond or non-dairy milk
1 small pot of unsweetened organic apple sauce (4oz/100g) - or fruit puree of your choice
1 tsp cinnamon or spice of your choice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Soak the buckwheat and walnuts separately in water for at least an hour, but preferably overnight.  Drain and rinse them both well in water. The buckwheat may be slimy and frothy - that's fine. That is why we soak it, to get rid of the saponins. Drain well.

Mix all the ingredients together in a blender, until smooth.  Place in small pots, cover and they will last in the fridge for up to 5 days.  Add nuts and fruit and flaxseed on top, as you please.
Monday, July 28, 2014

Grilled/Barbecued whole cauliflower

I've tried baking cauliflower whole in the oven and like it that way, but recently I found a recipe to bake it whole on the barbecue, using indirect heat. It sounded great - and in fact, it turned out to be the best cauliflower I have ever eaten.   John loved it too.

It was perfectly cooked throughout - not too hard in the middle and not too soft on the outside. The coating was delicious and added a bit of flavor to it.  Give it a try. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

The recipe was inspired from one by J.M Hirsch.

1 large head cauliflower
1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon water
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat the grill to medium heat. The cauliflower will be cooked on indirect heat, so either move the coals to one side or on a gas grill, light the burners only on one half.

Trim the leaves from the cauliflower and cut the stem so it doesn't protrude from the bottom of the cauliflower. You want it to be able to stand up.

In a shallow bowl, mix the remaining ingredients and whisk together.  Overturn the cauliflower into the bowl and coat it thoroughly with the mixture, making sure it gets onto the whole head, using a spoon as necessary.

Set the head right side up on a piece of foil on the grill and spoon any remaining mixture over the top.  Cover and cook for 1 hour or until lightly browned.

Let it cool slightly, then slice into wedges like a pie, and enjoy.
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Visit by the otters

My day started with John waking me up saying the otters were in the pond.  We tend to have an annual visit to our pond by otters.  Just once a year, they swing by, eat the big fish, and leave.

Fancy trying out the canoe?
Daddy Otter

Playing hide and seek under the dock

Yummy breakfast
This time however - there were little guys too! Two parents and three little otters all arrived at 7am for breakfast.

As they've eaten all the big fish in previous years, today it was a frog breakfast. We have literally over a thousand frogs in the pond, so losing some to the otters seems OK.

I think this was the parent who taught Smiler to smile

They were all lovely to watch as they went about their way - but one in particular caught our eye. We called him Smiler the otter - as his bottom teeth tended to stick out of his mouth, like he had a big grin.  I'm not sure if this was because he was a greedy gobbler, but he definitely ate more than the others.

At one stage, he was busy hanging out by the water lily, eating as many frogs as he could, when the rest of the family went down the other end of the pond.

Suddenly he noticed they were gone!  Agh! He started swimming around in circles, very distressed and crying very loudly.  Poor little Smiler!  The others watched him at a distance, from the duck house,  but didn't shout back!

Hello! Anyone home?

Where's Smiler gone?

I thought it was a bit mean, but John reckoned he probably did this quite often and his parents were fed up with him!!!

His cries got louder and he's swimming frantically, but then saw them did a big dive to go towards them.

He didn't learn his lesson however, as he just went back to frog eating at the lilies while the family decided breakfast was over. They then went off to head back to the creek but Smiler was too busy eating and didn't notice them!
"Ok, time to go"

"where is that pesky Smiler?"
In the end, they had to come and get him so they could all leave together!

"Ok, I'm coming"

I hope you enjoy the photos of our little otter family.  Let me know if you see Smiler at your pond - you'll be sure to recognize him :-D
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Oatmeal smoothie or my green tinge smoothie

I've been making a new breakfast smoothie lately instead of having oatmeal or muesli.  I'm loving it so I thought I'd share it with you.  While initially it was my "oatmeal smoothie", for the last few days, I've been adding a green tinge to it - not from veggies, but from green tea, so now its my "green tinge" smoothie. Yes, another way to get green tea into my diet when I don't like the taste of green tea!  And just a tinge of green as sometimes, I just don't fancy veggies for my breakfast!

I vary it most days but the basics are:
1/4 cup rolled GF oats
1 cup organic, unsweetened soy milk
1 small banana
1/2 tablespoon matcha green tea
1 tbsp of sun choke or yacon syrup (optional)
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed.

Here the reasons for my ingredient selection:
I use soy milk in this, as it has a higher protein level than other non-dairy milks.  While I am definitely not one to say we need a lot of protein in our diets, it is good to have a little in every meal/snack.  Almond milk, which I like a lot, only has 1g protein per cup, whereas soy milk has 9g per cup.  I need about 45g a day so this smoothie provides about 15g in total - a third of my daily needs.

The sunchoke syrup - or as its called above, sunroot sweetener, is a relatively new product on the market and worth a try for its health benefits  It is a prebiotic made from sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes. Prebiotics are functional foods that your "good" gut bacteria thrive on. Basically it is something that we can't digest ourselves, so it passes to the colon and, bacteria, particularly bifidobacteria just eat it up! They thrive and their numbers increase and that helps us thrive.  Yacon syrup is a similar product but made from yacon root ( and is more expensive!).  It is a syrup - even though its only made from sunchokes/yacons, so can be used as a sweetener. I don't think this smoothie needs sweetening actually, but I use it for its prebiotic component.  1 tbsp has 7g of fiber in it. Added to my flaxseed in this smoothie and other ingredients and I'm getting a total of 14g a fiber, just for breakfast.

Our lovely green nectarines are ripe on the tree right now so I've been swapping out the banana for them some mornings, so choose whatever fruit you have ripe right now.  I actually prefer it with the nectarines - but I'm using the ones that fall on the ground so as not to waste the perfect ones. Yes, they are green - outside and in. Not sure what the varietal is but they are wonderful.

What's your morning smoothie right now with all this yummy fruit and veggies in abundance? Share your recipe.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Harvest for health

I got really excited when I read this research study a couple of weeks ago.  I think it sounds such a lovely idea.

Its a new type of therapy for cancer patients - vegetable gardening.  In the study at the university of Alabama, breast cancer patients were paired with a master gardener. They then worked together to plant a small garden in the patient's yard or in a Earthbox - a gardening container on wheels that can be kept on a porch or patio or just by the front door. The garden was planted with vegetable seedlings.  The idea behind the study was that the gardening project would encourage increased activity to plant and maintain the garden, and  then increase their vegetable intake by eating the fruits (or veggies!) of their labor.  I also think it would be good to increase the patient's self efficacy from having managed to try something new.

I'd love to see us at Ceres be able to expand to incorporate this.  At Ceres, our clients (mostly cancer patients) can have free food for 12 weeks and then another 12 weeks for a donation. It would be perfect to set them up with a garden at the 12 week time point and encourage them to grow their own organic vegetables so that when their food delivery ends, they will have learned how to cook and prepare their own vegetables.

There are horticultural therapy programs around the US and UK.  And if you've grown your own fruit and vegetables before you know what a labor of love it is - and more importantly - how exciting it is to eat your own home grown produce within minutes of harvesting it.

Anyhow - back to the study…. it was a year long feasibility study in 12 adult and child cancer survivors. The gardening intervention was well received and 90% of the subjects saw improvements in measures of strength, agility and endurance.  In addition, fruit and vegetables servings consumed each day increased in 40% and increases  of >30 minutes/week of physical activity were observed in 60% of the subjects. 

I'd love to see it also studied in groups - where neighbors work together and so you get that community spirit on top of it all.  Or at Ceres, our clients could work together with the teenagers in our garden…..

What do you think? Do you find vegetable gardening therapeutic?  How excited are you to eat your own produce?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Unconditional love

I recently came across this poem by Sharon Kunin, referring to the unconditional love given to us by our pets and the bond between us.

a little
like meeting God
Through feather, fur or fluttery thing.
To be judged not by words,
But by the timbre of my voice.
Not by ability
But by the gentleness of my touch.
And not for knowledge,
But by the Light that shines from my eyes.
To be loved
For the nature of my heart.

I love the idea that animals judge us by our voices, our touch and the light from our eyes.  That is something we as humans should learn from animals. There is too much judgement based on less important things. We all do it - we even do it to ourselves, not thinking ourselves clever enough, or beautiful enough, or good enough.  Instead, lets focus on how we speak, how we touch, how we look at people and the light and love that comes from us.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Red White and Blue 4th July Potato Salad

Wondering what to make that is a little different for your 4th July gathering - try this potato salad. I make it with red white and blue potatoes all the time - but for the 4th July, it is a must to have those colors!

It uses fresh horseradish but if you can't find that, you can use the jars of horseradish but the fresh is best.  Don't be put off by the strong aroma as you grate it - use the full inch - the dish can take it! It's not too hot.


Approximately 2lbs red, white and blue small potatoes
15 - 20 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups sugar snap peas, halved lengthwise to reveal the peas
1 large handful of chopped dill

1 inch fresh horseradish, grated
2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp walnut or nut butter of your choice

If the potatoes are large, cut into small piece.  Place in a saucepan and cover with hot or cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. Test with a small sharp knife - they hold fall off the knife when they are cooked sufficiently.  Drain and set aside to cool.

Combine the tomatoes, peas and dill in a large salad bowl.  Whisk together the dressing ingredients.  When the potatoes have cooled. Add them to the salad bowl and pour over the dressing. Toss to coat.

This is a great prepare ahead salad as it doesn't have wilting greens in it. Its even good the next day.

Have a rainbow colored 4th July in the foods that you eat!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Duckling rescue

I was woken this morning by John telling me we had ducklings in our pond :-D I've always wanted us to have ducklings but it was a surprise to us as the mother hadn't been using our duck house. She was obviously hiding out somewhere else as we hadn't seen her for days. Daddy duck had been around, but as I've now seen today, mummy is good at hiding - and at hiding her ducklings.

I took some photos first thing this morning and no sooner had I put them on Facebook but John came in saying we needed to do a duckling rescue!  Three little ducklings had jumped over the overflow of the pond and because it slants backwards, they couldn't get back.

Poor mummy and daddy duck were in the pond squalking loudly, and the little guys were cheeping, so John had to crawl into the tunnel and help them back over and back into the pond again!!  Brilliant rescue and the family were reunited!

Phew, we've only had them a few hours and already we've had a rescue. Looks like this could be a busy few weeks!!!  From the reunited photos, I can see there are 12 babes……fingers crossed we stay at 12. No more jumping!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Egg-citing Easter

I just love this photo of Volker Kraft in Germany, preparing for Easter!

Photo by Michael Reichel

He has hung 10,000 colored eggs on his apple tree!!  Move over blossom!!!

So for all of you who decorate for Easter- see if you can match this!! And send me your photos :-D
Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Begin at the beginning

Begin at the beginning

"He who wishes one day to fly must first learn standing
             and walking
                and running
                    and climbing
                        and dancing

 One doesn't not fly into flying"
FW Neitzsche 

Is there something in your life right now that you are trying to excel at? Something you are eager to be great at?

Maybe the process is worth taking time over.  We can find enjoyment in walking, running, climbing and dancing along the way, but by focusing only on flying, we miss out on those achievements.

I know this really applies to me right now with my studies. I'm so eager to learn everything and be great at it that I'm not noticing the joy of just the little steps I'm taking and the small achievements.

Is there some aspect of your life that you are rushing to achieve greatness, and missing out along the way?  Take a deep breath and enjoy where you are now, where you've come from and the achievements you've made already.  
Thursday, March 27, 2014

Eating fresh herbs daily

A couple of days ago, my photo for my #100happydays was of some chives growing in our garden. I love my herb garden.  It is right by my kitchen, so it is easy to nip out there and pull off a few leaves of something or other.

I eat fresh herbs daily and so was interested in some reading I was doing for my studies which was comparing different government food recommendations in different countries.  I was looking at the the New Nordic diet NND which is a gastronomically driven, regional, organic and environmentally friendly diet from Denmark.

The NND was developed by a collaboration led by Rene Redzepi from the world-leading Copenhagen restaurant NOMA.  NOMA held the title of "best restaurant in the world" for 3 years. Shortly after opening NOMA, Rene held a conference with other chefs in Denmark and they collaborated with the University of Copenhagen to create a healthy diet, showcased in the local restaurants that could also be easily used for home cooking.

The NND is based on regional foods in season, with a strong emphasis on palatability, healthiness, and sustainability, while staying in tune with regional food culture and dietary habits.

The basis of the diet is comprised of the following food groups:
  • fruit and vegetables - especially berries, cabbages, root vegetables and legumes
  • potatoes
  • fresh herbs
  • plants and mushrooms gathered/foraged from the wild
  • nuts
  • whole grains
  • meats from livestock and game
  • fish and shellfish
  • seaweed
The majority of foods are organically grown and of Nordic origin.

Yes - they include "fresh herbs" as a food group.  I don't believe any other government dietary requirements mentions herbs at all.

Herbs have lots of different effects on the body - with each having their own little "niche" of health benefits, for example oregano has antibacterial and anti fungal effects, thyme and rosemary are both good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, mint helps with digestion,  and basil helps with pain, reduces cholesterol, etc.  So using a variety of fresh herbs as part of your daily diet brings lots of benefits - never mind the flavors they impart.

The research on NND shows that eating this style of eating leads to great health improvements and weight loss, with people eating the food ad libitum - i.e. freely.  The OPUS project is continuing research on the diet.  More information on OPUS and the NND are in these links, including their research with school children.

I have to confess, there is another reason why the NND piqued my interest!  I am going to Copenhagen in May for my husband's birthday celebration.  A couple of weeks ago, I stayed up one night until nearly 2am, and I managed to get a reservation to eat at NOMA while we are there. I am so excited.  I can't wait to eat at such a creative restaurant. They employ two full time "foragers" who go out and forage for the food every day.  Apparently, if a restaurant in Denmark doesn't employ a forager, its not really a "proper" restaurant!!!!!  I love the idea.

So in the meantime, I will continue to eat my home-foraged (!!) herbs daily, until I go to Copenhagen and eat Rene's amazing creations!  

Do you grow fresh herbs? Its something easy we can all do - even if you don't have a garden.  It not only makes food tasty but is good for your health.

Watch this space….you know you'll be hearing more about NOMA and Rene (who is definitely a Great Dane!) and the NND.

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