Tag Archives: Cooking

Food Sensitivities, Schoolwork and Kum Nye.

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It’s been a wild month for me and the above picture sort of sums up how I’m working on managing things. I’m so used to just giving up and letting everything fall to pieces, so this new found willingness to work towards recovering from a chaotic situation is both refreshing and terrifying. It’s interesting watching my perspective shift and being able to act as an observer to my thoughts both when I’m being rational and when I’m feeling myself getting ready to fly off the deep end.

Basically, I’m now conscious of the fact that I get to make a decision to either hit or not hit what I’ve always called my “Fuck It” switch. It’s kind of cool to know that I can say no to self-destructive and damaging behaviors, and also to know that I get to choose to be “good enough” instead of constantly beating myself into a stressed out puddle of mess for not being perfect. I may still wind up having to drop one of my courses, but I don’t have to let my entire life fall apart because of an illness and the resulting stress and anxiety.

This past week I met with a Naturopathic Nutritionist to discuss the terrible eczema which I struggle with and she did some muscle testing and we discussed my past and present eating habits. The results of the muscle testing shows that I am sensitive to a huge portion of my diet (soy, wheat, gluten in general, corn, soy and dairy are the main ones). I’m on a gentle bowel cleansing diet now in which I eat pretty normal foods, just without the things I’m sensitive to and with fewer added fats and oils and fewer raw foods. The bulk of my diet is currently steamed vegetables, green smoothies with ground seeds and nuts and a small amount of the grains which I do process well.

So far I’m feeling pretty good, but I must admit that I am really craving plain old whole wheat bread.  I ate a lot of sandwiches and wraps and veggie burgers for the past few months and I’m missing how easy grabbing something quick used to be. These changes in my eating habits will be affecting this blog in the near future as gluten free cooking is a new and exciting adventure for me and I’ll be sharing my successes and adventures here on a fairly regular basis.

Because I’m sensitive to so many of the things I ate on a daily basis, this is going to be a challenge. Thank-goodness that being plant-based and whole-foods based will make this transition a lot easier on me than it would be on someone who eats a standard American diet. The health food shops and exotic ingredients are already part of my routine and I really love exploring new ways of doing things. The only thing I’m currently really struggling to replace in my diet is soy sauce. I have found a great product called coconut aminos, but it’s not available locally and I can’t find anywhere in Canada to have it shipped from.  Amazon won’t send it to me and Amazon.ca doesn’t carry it. I may have to beg a Calgary friend to pick some up and mail it to me soon.

My Kum Nye books arrived the other day and they are exactly what I needed right now. I still have to kick myself in the bum to get myself to meditate daily, but I know that with consistent effort on my part this will eventually become a routine I love rather than a discipline I struggle with.

 

Walk In Beauty.

 

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Vegan Lentil Stew, Urban Cycling and Cultivating Peace.

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I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
e. e. cummings

Today was pretty darn awesome for me. It was my third shift at my new job and it’s really feeling good for me being there. The staff and the customers are just plain easy to be around, and my shifts just fly by painlessly.

The hour or so I spend on my bike on the way to and from work is seriously just glorious freedom for me. I really don’t understand why so many people become slaves to their cars; they’re just missing out on so much exhilaration, freedom and gym-free exercise. I’m probably quite the ridiculous sight when I bike home (and truthfully the though of how ridiculous I am makes me happy) because I bring music with me and sing my heart out while I peddle home. Today I was jamming to Van Morrison, drumming on my handle bars and basically just sucking up the sunlight and my freedom. I’m studying to get my learner’s license, and then my driver’s but truthfully, I think I’ll always bike in the warm months, it just brings me so much peace. I’ve moved into biking in a harder gear now that I’ve gotten a bit more used to the commute, and my legs and thighs are REALLY feeling the workout.

Tonight for supper I just made a really simple curried stew using tinned lentils, onions, celery. carrots, potatoes,  zucchini,  a chunk of broccoli, herbs, tamari, curry paste and a handful of leftover romano beans. I ate it with some toast and it was really satisfying and I feel good. I love how easy it is to turn PLANTS into a good, fulfilling, healthy meal in no time at all. Most likely I’ll just warm up the leftovers tomorrow and have them with a scoop of brown rice and a small cabbage salad.

I’m reading Being In Balance by Dr. Wayne Dyer currently and I’m really learning a lot about living in a peaceful vibratory state, and about changing my thinking/feeling. This book is really helping me own and release  the anxiety and stress that I usually carry around in me. It’s refreshing to read about stress/anxiety management in this new way. Thinking on a vibrational level rather than an intellectual level seems to really bring some new insight for me. My intellectual understanding of “choosing my feelings” just plain wasn’t doing much for me, but broken down this way it just seems to be more easily applicable. I’m ready to let go of my anxiety and stress and embrace being the peace I know resides at my core. This book really resonates with my current meditation work, and my current focus on balancing my life out wholistically.

I’ve officially decided that I’m much happier, more balanced and more grounded now that my ex isn’t in my life. I’m not blaming him for the fact that I wasn’t happy, or that my life was lacking while I was with him, but I am celebrating my newfound freedom. It’s hard making a life with someone else and truthfully, I’m just really not into the idea of being tied down to keeping house and caring for someone else’s needs at this point in my life. I haven’t yet mastered self-care and balance, and having someone else who needed me to meet their needs really threw me off balance. I’ll always love things about our time together, and I learned a ton about what I do and do not want in a partner and my life.

This song always reminds me to be grateful for my ability to support myself and to love working, even if my job isn’t always what I want to be doing. Something as simple as preparing a nourishing meal and providing a bright moment in someone’s day is a service to humanity, if done with a humble spirit and good intentions. Hating my job isn’t something I need to do today. I’m working in the direction of creating the life I dream of for myself, and where I’m at right now, is just fine. Music is sure a beautiful way to celebrate life.

Vegan Black Bean Burgers, Gardening and Thinking About GMOs.

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Nothing is quite as awesome as leftover homemade black bean burgers!

Nothing is quite as awesome as leftover homemade black bean burgers!

We (my mom and I) spent most of the day putting in our garden. It’s just a small one, but heck do we ever get a ton of pleasure out of it! This year we planted pumpkins, zucchini, sugar snap peas, green and yellow beans,beets, parsnips, carrots, tomatoes, and watermelon. I’m working on digging up a big patch in the back so I can plant some wild blue sage, dill, mint, and basil as well. I normally just grow a planter of fresh herbs in my kitchen, but I feel like it’s time to commit a bit more and actually start a real herb garden. I just can’t seem to grow enough sage or dill in pots or planters as I’m a HUGE fan of both. Nothing quite beats making MASSIVE pots of super dilly beet borscht with garden fresh ingredients when our chilly Canadian Autumn hits.

Doing the gardening and yard work today, combined with yesterday’s local March on Monsanto rally has really got me thinking about how simple and affordable it really is to eat mostly organic and GMO free. I live on under 600.00 a month (including my half of the mortgage and bills) a lot of the year, and I’m able to eat really well on that so long as I keep my eating habits very rustic and simple.

Simply put, if one is willing to eat the same way most of the less developed world does, it’s dirt cheap.

I buy organic non-gmo brown rice at a local Japanese market (Japanese markets are awesome sorces of organic whole foods if you know a bit about macrobiotics and you’re comfortable asking questions). They keep their prices nice and low by buying bulk, and dividing the rice etc into different sized bags for resale. It’s always super high quality and super fresh.  One of my other major staples is beans. Most of the time I buy bulk dried beans, cook them up in my crock pot and divide them into single serving freezer bags and thaw them as needed.

Even on my tiny budget I’m able to eat abundant amounts of organic produce because I’m saving so much money by not buying many pre-packaged foods and household supplies. Realistically, the fewer “packaged” foods you eat, the fewer of your staples will be genetically modified. You just need to learn how to shop smart, and to do your best to avoid purchasing many food items which require an ingredient list. Hell, at one popular burger joint, even the salt packets have three ingredients listed.

It does take some time to get used to creating routines like cooking ahead, and keeping your pantry stocked with whole foods, and it also takes some effort to get your taste buds acclimated to the earthier flavour profiles.

Today I made a double batch of The Veganomicon’s black bean burgers, so I’ll have quick meals in my fridge and freezer for nights when I’m too tired, or too busy to prepare anything fancy. Pre-cooking things like veggie burgers, brown rice, beans, millet etc and storing them for busy days really does make living this way seem pretty simple. I do of course have some simple frozen packaged food around, but for the most part I’ve got this whole home-cooking thing down to an art-form. It’s easy enough and economical enough that anyone can do it.

Most of us have been brainwashed into thinking that food has to be decadent and easy (and full of animal products)and truthfully, there’s no good reason why we in the industrialized world should be eating such nutritionally deficient,genetically modified, and energetically dead food. True abundance doesn’t look much like the Standard American Diet, or our current “civilized” lifestyle. Less industrialized countries have many really valuable lessons to teach us. If we were to fall in line with what the rest of the world is eating, we’d have plentiful resources to SHARE with our fellow Earthlings.

Crispy Baked Tofu

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I love tofu and I try to eat it between one and three times per week. There is a fair amount of anti-soy hype, which much like the anti-gluten hype, I mainly just ignore. I believe in listening to how our individual bodies respond to what we feed them and following that “internal advice” first and foremost in all things. Of course, I do read assorted health and nutritional studies, and I am very careful to buy non-gmo and organic as much as possible.

I’ve been eating tofu since I was 16 and have found a ton of really satisfying ways to prepare it. This crispy baked version is one of my favourites. I used to use an egg bath prior to applying the coating, but eggs aren’t something I consume anymore, and I now use a chickpea batter in their place.

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Marinaded tofu, chickpea bath, breading mixture.

Marinade:

  • Vegan BBQ Sauce, teryaki or other sauce you enjoy
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Agave Nectar
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Liquid smoke (optional, but delicious)
  • Water
  • Any other flavours which appeal to you (be creative, it’s your mouth that’s going to be eating this)

How to Marinade:

  1. Cut some pressed tofu (pressed under a heavy object for 20 minutes to remove extra water) into slices, cubes, triangles or whatever shape most appeals to you, then place in a container with a lid.
  2. Mix the marinade ingredients together until they reach a flavour profile and texture which appeals to you.
  3. Pour the marinade over your pressed tofu and leave marinade for a minimum of twenty  minutes (I usually marinade overnight)

Coating:

  • Chickpea flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Wholewheat flour
  • Cornmeal (optional)
  • Brown rice flour (optional)
  • Sea salt
  • Seasonings/herbs
  • Water

How to Make the Chickpea Bath:

  1. Add chickpea flour to one cup of water  and whisk until it is the consistency of runny pancake batter or whisked egg. This usually takes about 1/8 of a cup of the chickpea flour, but it’s really an intuitive process and you should be able to tell by feel how you’re doing.
  2. Add any seasonings you with to the bath (I used a touch of sea salt and a touch of Chinese Five Spice in mine).
  3. Set aside.

How to Make the Breading Mixture:

  1. Add equal parts of wholewheat flour, and bread crumbs to a bowl, mix in  your cornmeal and brown rice flour if you’re using them.
  2. Add any seasonings you wish. I just added some fresh ground pepper and a touch of sea salt.
  3. Pour well mixed ingredients onto a plate and set aside.

How to Put it all Together:

Pre-baking breaded tofu. I make the cubes for supper, and the slabs for making sandwiches during the upcoming week.

Pre-baking breaded tofu. I make the cubes for supper, and the slabs for making sandwiches during the upcoming week.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment.

  1. Drain tofu of marinade.
  2. Dip each tofu piece into the chickpea bath, shake off excess bath.
  3. Dip and roll each piece in your breading mixture.
  4. Place pieces one by one onto cookie sheet.
  5. Spray each piece with a fine mist of cooking spray or oil (I have a refillable oil misting bottle).
  6. Cook in oven 15 minutes, turn over, spray again then repeat cooking for an additional 15 minutes.

As you can see, my cooking process is usually quite intuitive, which makes recipes hard to share, but once you figure out the basic techniques, there is so much fun to be had with creating new meals.

I served this with brown rice steamed with both dried and fresh diced mushrooms, a vinegar marinaded cucumber salad (marinade is 1/8 c rice vinegar, a splash of agave, a touch of sea-salt, 1 cup water and a bunch of dill), and a pile of stir-fried carrots and zucchini. A very simple but very satisfying meal on a summer day. Tofu prepared this way is reminiscent of baked chicken, without the cruelty and cholesterol.

Tofu is rapidly becoming one of the things I cook which my mom looks forward to trying. A year ago she would run the other way if I told her I was serving tofu.

Whole Wheat Almond Raisin Cinnamon Buns

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Whole wheat almond cinnamon buns.

Whole wheat almond cinnamon buns.

I made some whole wheat cinnamon buns for us this evening and all in all they were not bad. I’m still looking for a recipe for these which is satisfying and decadent without being crazy sugary and greasy. I’ll post future attempts and recipes as well. I’d also love (and credit you for it) to try out any of YOUR recipes, although if they contain animal products (eggs, dairy, honey etc), I will have to tweak them to make them fit into my eating regimen.

“Millet Moo-Free Burger” Review

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As promised I gave the Millet Moo-free Burger recipe a try this evening and they turned out really well. I didn’t have fresh rosemary or spelt flour, so I used dried oregano in place of the herb and combined 1/2 chick pea and 1/2 whole wheat flour in place of the spelt. I REALLY appreciate the fact that these are baked burgers instead of fried as I do try to keep added oils out of our meals as much as possible.

My mother and my boyfriend are both very picky about veggie foods and both are usually suspicious of new things and both of them LOVED these. My boyfriend actually ate three of these which is basically a standing ovation.

I made a double batch of these and served them with a large green salad and a table-full of condiments. These will be making a frequent appearance on our dinner table.

A Millet Moo-Free Burger | The Veggie Blog

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A Millet Moo-Free Burger | The Veggie Blog.

I have a HUGE jar of millet in my cupboard, just begging to be turned into these wonderful-sounding veggie burgers. I’ll try my hand at making these tonight and post the results along with pictures.

I’m almost always eager to try out new veggie burger recipes as these are one of the veggie meals my boyfriend is generally pretty receptive to trying out.