You won’t see me fall apart.

My mind was so full when I ran this morning…and then this song came on my playlist. It is funny how songs can be the beginning of a bigger picture unintentionally.
I remember being fond of it when I first heard it and that was about it. However, today I am almost lost my breath because of the tears that began to run down my face
as I ran harder and harder and faster and faster inadvertently. Fear has a way of arousing and complicating things. Somethings that are good, as well as things that aren’t so good.
As this song played and I lost absolute concentration with my breathing, I realized, fear won’t break me. It can’t. I don’t want to live like I can’t trust anyone anymore.
I just refuse for this to haunt the way it likes to do.

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Vegan Reuben.

Lunch

Reuben sandwiches have been a personal favorite of mine since I was a young child. Across from the Value Village in Langley, there used to be a bistro named Patsy’s Uptown Bistro and they had the ultimate reubens ever! I used to eat it with a New York Seltzer Rootbeer…sheesh, hello 1980’s! This particular reuben isn’t like the ones I ate as a child or like the ones I ate habitually when pregnant with our daughter, but this is the one we have been eating since Sean has radically changed everything about the way he eats. This reueben pairs well with a little extra sauerkraut, a few slices of pickles, and homemade fries….yummy….but don’t forget to some greens to the mix!

Rueben Sandwich

Inspired by: Thrive Energy Cookbook.

Ingredients:

2 Thick slices sprouted bread (Silver Hills)

Virgin Coconut oil

1 to 2 tbsp Reuben dressing (see below)

1 tsp organic stoneground mustard

¼ cup Daiya cheese, mozzarella style

¼ avocado

4 slices tempeh, or tofu grilled each side for 2-3 minutes

3 large red onion rings (optional)

1/3 cup sauerkraut

1 small handful organic spinach leaves

2 large pickles, quartered, for garnish

 

How To Play:

Press the bread slices together and lightly spread some virgin coconut oil on the outsides. Cook in panini press (or oiled skillet) on medium high until golden and lightly crisp.

Pull the slices apart. Spread Rueben dressing on the untoasted side of one slice. Arrange the cheese on the other untoasted side of the other slice of bread, covering the entire surface. The heat of the toast will melt the cheese….

Arrange the avocado, tempeh, and onion rings over the Reuben dressing, then top with sauerkraut, baby spinach, and the top slice of bread. Cut the sandwich in half diagonally and serve with pickles.

 Reuben Dressing:

½ jar Wildwood Zesty Garlic Aioli (or homemade)

1 tbsp finely chopped chives

1 ½ tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ½ tsp organic ketchup

1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp prepared horseradish

1 tsp agave nectar (I used maple syrup)

Pinch of freshly ground pepper

How To Play:

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Whisk together until smooth and creamy.

Enjoy.

 

Moroccan Couscous with Saffron.

I was so excited when my sister bought me Alicia’s Silverstone’s The Kind Diet recipe book. It was for my birthday and I was just beginning to end nursing my second child, completing my degree at University, and desiring to shed the last few pounds I had gained with my son. I remember during that summer, five years ago, I was cooking up a mighty storm. If we had new comers move into our complex, guaranteed they were going to have me knocking on their door with a vegan dessert of some sort. It was incredibly fun having a resource I could go to and know whether it be a meal, a snack, or a dessert, The Kind Diet would provide a smooth sailing for a great dish.  I love cook books and being able to fold, highlight, and scribble my own thoughts on the pages. I am not a technical person, far from it. I like to be able to take my books with me and sift through countless recipes and take notes on loose pieces of paper of the next meal I will embark upon. This particular recipe is a cozy go to. It makes quite a bit, so I tend to eat it for dinner and for lunch a couple of times in a row, as well as take it to work in hopes someone will enjoy it too.

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Moroccan Couscous with Saffron

Inspired by: The Kind Diet

Ingredients:

2 cups peeled butternut squash cut into ¼ or ½ inch cubes

2 cups yellow onion, large dice

1 ½ cups carrots, cut into ¼ or ½ inch cubes

1 ½ cups zucchini, cut into ¾ inch cubes

2 TBSP avocado oil

Fine Sea Salt

1 ½ tsp ground black pepper

1 ½ cups vegetable broth

2 TBSP Earth Balance butter

¼ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp saffron threads

1 ½ cups whole wheat couscous

2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

How To Play:

Preheat the oven to 375. Place the squash, onion, carrots, and zucchini on a baking sheet and toss with the avocado oil, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, turning once with a spatula about midway through.

While vegetables roast, bring the vegetable broth to a boil in saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the butter, remaining ½ tsp pepper, cumin, saffron, and salt to taste. Cover the pan and steep for 15 minutes.

Scrape the roasted vegetables and their juices into a large bowl (I used a large saucepan), and add the couscous. Bring the broth back to a boil, and pour over the couscous mixture all at once. Cover tightly and let sit for 15 minutes. Add the scallions, toss the couscous and vegetables with a fork and serve.

 

Enjoy.

 

Hot Turkey Sandwich.

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Sundays after church is anything but relaxing. It is a house full of five starving people and while everyone is expressing how hungry they are, I get in the zone of sandwiches, cheesy noodles and chopping vegetables…It is basically whatever I can find to keep the chaos controlled. The thing is, though, while I am eloquently preparing in a fast forward sort of way, I am questioning in the back of my mind just what am I going to eat? I don’t eat beef or ham, so Sean’s simple salami and cheese sandwich is not in the least appealing to me. I do not fancy peanut butter, so 2’s sandwich, is not an option…ever, while 1 & 3 enjoy the cheesy noodles and chopped veggies, my mind is elsewhere. Calgary elsewhere at that. A friend once took me to a great little restaurant called Farm. I had an insanely good chicken sandwich, oh my. This recipe is one that was completely inspired by the one I had at Farm.

Ingredients:
Cooked Turkey
Provolone Cheese, or preference
Garlic Aioli
Cole Slaw
Coconut oil
2 pieces of sour dough

How To Play:
Heat turkey in a skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add cheese, remove from heat, and place lid on skillet to melt the cheese. Toast 2 slices of sour dough bread. Spread toast with coconut oil, garlic aioli. Add a scoop of coleslaw to one slice and scoop the heated, melted cheese turkey to the other slice. Serve with a pickle.

Creamy Coleslaw Recipe:

Ingredients:
1/4 cup veganaise
1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
2 tsp coconut sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1- 1/2 cups Red Cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, shredded

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. May need to add more salt if you fancy salt.

For a Garlic Aioli, I roast a garlic bulb, then blend it with a 1/4 cup or more of veganaise, a tsp or so of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy.

Greek Dressing.

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I love Greek food. It is my favorite. I have never been to Greece, but it is up there in my choices of places to visit. I love lemons, garlic, peppers, chicken, olive oil, sheesh, can I say anything more? OLIVES! I love Olives, too! I am so happy I came across this recipe the other day, for I have been at such a loss for a great Greek dressing for years. It was a successful homemade Greek night, plus the kids loved it too.
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My New Favorite Greek Salad & Dressing:

Ingredients:
English cucumber, seeds discarded
7 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 red and yellow pepper, chopped finely
red onion, sliced as thinly as you can
kalamata olives (optional)
feta cheese, cut into chunks

dressing (for a large salad)

1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1.5 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried oregano

How To Play:
Place peppers, cucumbers, cheese, onions, tomatoes, olives in a bowl. Mix dressing ingredients in a small jar with a lid, shake well, pour over top of salad.
Enjoy.
Image Credit: Painting by Pantelis Zografos

Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Guacamole

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Tomorrow I am having a play-date with one of my oldest friends. We grew up on the same street and went to the same school until my family moved away when I was 11. We didn’t reconnect until we both began having children, many years later. Our kids happen to be all the same ages, just give or take a couple months apart, and it has been like we have just picked up from where we left off 2o years ago. Mind you, we are not doing cartwheels in clown costumes on our front yards, having lemonade-popcorn stands, or climbing trees, but we are watching our kids begin to be adventurous and curious, seeing glimpses of our creative natures resonating inside of them.  We have both highly intelligent, little adult first borns, quiet, secretly smart second borns, and then our thirds. No words, perhaps not enough words to describe their little fear-less personalities. It has been a great joy doing life with Jen and being able to tackle all the obstacles life brings in our way together as sounding boards for one another. For sure there is always something to laugh about, it is just a given. I know I am going to miss her greatly when she moves next month, but I also know that this is just part of the story of the greater picture. What that picture is, I am not exactly sure, but I do know there is a preparation taking place for the perfect plan designed for her life. I am excited to see how it all unfolds for her and her family. They will be impacting, inspiring and influencing all those they meet in Fort St. John, and they themselves will be impacted, inspired and influenced, too. God is good.
Tomorrow we will be breaking bread with this meal from Oh She Glows.

Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Guacamole

Inspired by: Oh She Glows

Ingredients:

For the spaghetti squash:

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • ground cumin
  • ground chili powder (I didn’t use)
  • dried oregano
  • salt & pepper

For the black bean guacamole:

  • 2 avocados, pitted and flesh scooped out
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups cooked beans)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
  • fine grain sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, to taste

How To Play:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice off the stem of the squash and place the squash cut side down on a cutting board. With a chef’s knife, carefully slice through the squash lengthwise to create two long halves. Scoop out the seeds and guts with an ice cream scoop. Brush some olive oil onto the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place squash halves cut side down on the baking sheet and roast for 30-50 minutes, depending on how large your squash is. When the squash is tender and you can easily scrape the strands with a fork, it’s ready. Be sure not to cook for too long or it will turn mushy.
  2. While the squash is roasting, prepare the black bean guacamole. Mash the avocado flesh in a large bowl. Fold in the onion, tomato, drained and rinsed black beans, and cilantro. Season to taste with lime juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Remove squash from the oven, flip over, and scrape the flesh with a fork in vertical motions. Do this until you’ve scraped all the strands off the skin. Now sprinkle on some chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper (as much or as little as you want). Top the squash with guacamole and serve warm. You can also plate the spaghetti squash, if preferred.

Enjoy.

Thirty-Five with a Chickpea Sandwich…for Jill.

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I am thirty five. I can’t believe I am thirty five. While vacuuming, obsessively pondering and churning with emotion of this realism, I thought about all the others before me, who have been thirty five at some point in their life. Did they have these feelings of vacancy, grief, or even disbelief? I am sure they have and did, some must have! However, as I continued vacuuming up all the million particles that can end up on one’s floor, I started to ask myself if I would want to hang out with someone like me who was not so excited about aging. The truth is, no I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want to hang out with me and the moodiness of self-pity that I have pulled, like a blanket from a linen closet to wrap my whiny self in. I would want to be alongside with someone who embraces age with every wrinkle, spot, and limitation. I would want the atmosphere around me to be lit with excitement and hope, adventure and awe, of the amazing, fruitful things that can only be revealed through time and grace. I made a commitment to myself, this afternoon, vacuum in hand, which I will no longer stretch the truth about my age, telling people I am 28, when in actuality, I am thirty five. It is time to stop this nonsense of the stunted growth syndrome, and be the age appropriate woman I really am. To age or not to age, is no longer the question. I am aging. I feel like I need a buy a cake with a cape on it to symbolize the breaking out of the old self into the new self, like the way a superhero breaks forth with force out of the restrictions, bondages, and restraints from his oppressors. It is a new hour, a new day, and a new challenge, one in which I will do with acceptance, grace, and forbearance.

As I no longer mourn being thirty four, but rejoice in being thirty five, I have prepared for myself a sandwich filled with nutrients, freshness, and promise. My life is no longer what I don’t have, but what I do have.

Perfected Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Inspired by Oh She Glows

Ingredients:

1-15oz can chickpeas rinsed and drained
2 stalks celery, diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickle
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2-3 tbsp vegannaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
2 tsp minced fresh dill
1 1/2-3 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper.
Toasted bread crackers tortillas or lettuce for serving.

How To Play:
In a large bowl, mash chickpeas until they are flaky in texture. Add remaining ingredients and serve with toasted bread, crackers, or lettuce. I loved it with spinach, sprouts and avocado! MMMMMMMMMMMM so good!!!

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Enjoy.

30 Day Challenge: Day 11

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Day: 11

Since Sean has been out of town, this little challenge has been challenging me in more ways than one. I have been finding it difficult to find time to write, time to eat, time to think, and time to work out, because there are so many different things happening in the day! By the time night rolls into town, I want to head to bed with the kids. Last night while they were eating their leftover chicken paprikash and dumplings, I ate Gwyneth Paltrow’s Millet and Chickpea Falafels and Tomato Avocado Salsa. I had it again today for lunch. SO GOOD! I have been happy with the results of my restricted eating compared to when I just ate chocolate whenever I wanted. My tight pants are beginning to feel slightly normal again, Phewie! It is amazing how after one week of strictness, our bodies are able to adjust to the sudden changes halfway into the second week. I am looking forward to Sean’s return and for my return back to spin class, also for the use of his phone so I can take photos of my meals. Oh trashed camera…how I miss thee. I can just imagine a few friends under their breath saying, “Well, if you would just get your own phone….” Any ways….that is not going to happen, but what is going to happen is 19 more days of this challenge and a possible weigh in, but scales scare me, so truly doubt it.

Green Chickpea Medley.

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Being from the coast, I remember countless times of being at my grandparents’ house, a house situated right on the beach, and my parents taking their aluminum motor boat out into the depths of the West Coast sea. My sister, grandparents, cousins and all the rest of the family, would sit around the bonfire telling stories. I was quite young, so probably didn’t make for an interesting conversation piece, but never will I forget my foot being scorched by an ember from the fire that was hidden underneath all the ash. My uncle came to the rescue by pouring his cold beer all over my 5 year old foot. My grandma would often collect oysters along the shore and fry them up for the next evening’s dinner. If mom and dad caught a salmon, then it would be there for dinner time as well, with new baby potatoes from grandma’s garden, along with some beans, and last but not least ketchup for Papa. A Vancouver Island dinner, a true living off the land and sea kind of meal. Well, this dinner isn’t so much a Mountain man experience, but Sean did catch the fish I used to go along with this meal, from the West Coast of Vancouver Island this summer. I baked salmon with a smudge of mayonnaise, squirt of lemon juice, a dash of dill, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of grapeseed oil. This is a wonderful dish for a BBQ, a luncheon, or as a simple side platter rested upon fresh cut tomatoes. The Chickpea Medley is from Oh She Glows. When I make this, I find myself eating it for lunch, dinner and then lunch again for the next day. I also prefer parsley over cilantro, but either way, it is super yum.

Green Chickpea Medley

(Oh She Glows)

Ingredients:

For the chickpea medley:

2 cups dried/uncooked chickpeas (makes 5.5-6 cups cooked)

1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach

1.5 cups cilantro, large stems removed (or parsley)

3/4 cup red onion, chopped finely

For the dressing:

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)

3/4 tsp kosher salt + ground pepper

How To Play:

1. To cook chickpeas: Soak 2 cups dried chickpeas in a large bowl of water overnight. Drain and rinse the beans in the morning and add to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, until fork tender, about 40 minutes

2. Rinse and drain the spinach and cilantro (or parsley). Spin until dry in a salad spinner.

3. In a food processor, add the spinach and cilantro and pulse until chopped very small. Add the processed spinach and cilantro, drained cooked chickpeas, and chopped onion into a large bowl and stir.

4. In a small jar, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, maple syrup, and salt.

5. Pour the dressing on top of the spinach chickpea mixture and stir well. Let stand for about 10 minutes (or overnight) to let the flavors develop.

Enjoy.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Homemade Bread

This was the soup my friend Renata had made for us when we were in Tacoma. It was so yum, that I knew it was going to be a perfect soup for a lunch gathering, such as the one this afternoon. This recipe is taken from 101 cookbooks. As I perused this fascinating blog, it became very clear to me, it is full of brilliant dishes. This recipe is makes enough for about 4-6 people. We had 9, so I had added more than what was called for. I added shredded havarti and about 2-3 tablespoons of whipping cream. It was nonetheless a tasty treat on a beautiful fall afternoon.  I didn’t make the croutons, for we had homemade bread to go with it, but here is the recipe, I hope you enjoy it, as we sure did.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe

From 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients:

croutons:
5-6 ounce chunk of artisan whole wheat bread, torn into little pieces (less than 1-inch), roughly 3 cups total
1/4 cup butter or olive oil (I like 1/2 and 1/2)
1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

soup:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 1/2 cups light, good-tasting vegetable broth
1 large head of broccoli (12 ounces or 3/4 lb.), cut into small florets
2/3 cup freshly grated aged Cheddar, plus more for topping
1 – 3 teaspoons whole grain mustard, to taste
smoked paprika, more olive oil, creme fraiche (optional)

How To Play:
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees and place the torn bread in a large bowl. In a small saucepan heat the butter until it has melted. Whisk the mustard and salt into the butter and pour the mixture over the bread. Toss well, then turn the bread onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the croutons are golden and crunchy. Toss them once or twice with a metal spatula along the way.
While the croutons are toasting, melt the butter (or olive oil) in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallots, onion, and a big pinch of salt. Saute for a couple minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cover, and cook for about four minutes, just long enough for them to soften up a bit. Uncover, stir in the garlic, then the broth. Bring to a boil, taste to make sure the potatoes are tender, and if they are stir in the broccoli. Simmer just long enough for the broccoli to get tender throughout, 2 – 4 minutes.
Immediately remove the soup from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Add half the cheddar cheese and the mustard (a little bit a a time). If you are going to add any creme fraiche, this would be the time to do it. Now add more water or broth if you feel the need to thin out the soup at all. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Serve sprinkled with croutons, the remaining cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a tiny pinch of smoked paprika.

Serves 4 – 6.