Inner Child Visits Disney – Part 2

Starting the day at 3 am before the sunrise, it was both a thrill and a relief to finally arrive at the hotel.  Pulling into the Disney Pop Century Resort, our home away from home for the next five nights, the exhilaration was palpable. There is great joy in finally announcing, “We’re here!” when travelling with kids as many of you know.   Everybody off the Disney Magical Express!

 

 

I have never been in the presence of so many genuinely happy people as when at Disney. There is no fake joy being tossed about here, just ear to ear grins of folks that love spreading happiness – and their jobs. I found myself constantly smiling! Yes, I do frown occasionally (I know, it’s hard to believe) even though I try to stay upbeat. I shall apologize now for the blurriness of some of these photos. The night before leaving home I decided to treat myself to a new iPhone 5  and was still trying to figure it out. You are all a nice bunch so I know you will look past the static. Moving on.

 

 

 

Home Away from Home

Home Away from Home

 

 

 

Hotel check in

Hotel check in

 

 

 

A game of Twister anyone?

A game of Twister anyone?

 

 

 

giant foosball

giant foosball

 

 

 

Pop Century Hotel

Pop Century Hotel

 

 

 

The trek through the hotel grounds included three pools, an arcade, numerous photo ops, playgrounds, and the plant and animal life to just touch the tip of the iceberg. One could stay at any Disney themed resort and never have to leave it the entire stay there is so much to do! My two kids were entranced by the geckos (or whatever type of little lizard they were) and were always on the look out for them. My daughter was very worried that they would be stepped on and tried to keep everyone abreast of the gecko crossings throughout our stay. We never did swim in the pools though, we were far too busy. So much for my entire wardrobe of bathing suits I packed. Next time.

 

 

 

We were only in our hotel room long enough to drop off our luggage and turn around so as not to miss our reservations at  Bongos Cuban restaurant in Downtown Disney. Side note: Downtown Disney is a world all of its own outside of the Disney theme parks. An incredible place to visit with so many great things to do. My only disappointment was not being able to enjoy live music at The House of Blues. I’m thinking Disney would be a great girls trip in the near future…great but dangerous I’m sure, knowing the wild and wonderful women that are my closest friends.  Sheesh, sidetracked again…Bongos Cuban restaurant as described by my teen-aged son that can eat like a locust, “That was the BEST meal I have ever eaten in my life! I wish I could eat here every day.” I have honestly never seen him consume so much food as he did that night. I’m surprised he even tasted it he inhaled everything around him! The only photo I took inside Bongos was my son sidled up to the bar while waiting to be seated. Bongos had a great atmosphere that was fun with great music that kept everyone upbeat. I highly recommend this eatery.

 

 

 

Bongos restaurant

Bongos restaurant

 

 

inner Tonga toast edit

 

no more Tonga edit

 

 

I am not a breakfast-loving girl but Tonga Toast broke me…I almost ate it all!

Honestly, I could do an entire post on the fantastic restaurants and food at Disney but I would like to move on to other things. I will say though that the level of professionalism from all restaurant staff was spectacular. The chefs are obviously highly dedicated to their craft and take great pride in their finished products. As a family with a few food allergies and special requests we were awed by the impeccable care given to our needs. A chef even came out to talk with us personally and do a rundown of each item on the menu and how it could be altered to suit our needs. Stress-free goodness  on a plate for a vegetarian that has anaphylactic allergies, let me tell you. My kids have stated on a few occasions since returning home how much they miss the awesome food at Disney. You’d think my cooking sucked…thanks guys.

 

 

The next morning, we were up early and raring to hit the pavement. We walked like we’ve never walked before over the next few days and my sister and I tuckered out the kids every single day. Interesting how we had far more stamina than teens. Every night it seemed as though the kids were nearly begging to go to bed. Ha! Music to my mommy ears.

 

 

I will not bore you with a boat load of photos but I will add a few that capture some of our favourite moments…and a couple embarrassing, yet highly entertaining photos as well. Life shouldn’t be so serious that we can’t laugh at ourselves occasionally.

 

 

 

Didgereedude

Didgereedude

 

This musician was in one of the squares in Downtown Disney and was phenomenal. He played both the electric guitar and the didgeridoo while singing. No kidding! Check out his website to hear his incredible talent and perhaps purchase some fun new tunes for yourself.

 

 

 

Epcot at Night

Epcot at Night

 

 

Epcot bridge- view of France

Epcot bridge – view of France

 

 

Fireworks at Epcot

Fireworks at Epcot – best fireworks display I’ve ever witnessed.

 

 

 

sitar and tabla duo

sitar and tabla duo

 

This duo was top-notch. My son and I sat and listened for an extended period of time (in the shade).

fun photo op

fun photo op – who could resist?

 

 

 

Disney Yeti Coaster

Expedition Everest Coaster – oh look, it’s me and my sis! Third person back from the front in the black shirt is moi. Screaming my head off…lovely.

 

 

 

Indiana Jones movie set

Indiana Jones movie set attraction. Demonstrates how the special effects were executed.

 

 

 

Tower of Terror

Tower of Terror – everything I thought it would be…and more! I wonder how many people have suffered heart attacks on this ride?

 

 

 

 Aereosmith Rock 'n' Roller coaster

Aereosmith Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster – guess who? Whoa that was FAST!

 

 

 

Sulley and I

Sulley and I – I thought meeting a character would be a bit more subdued. Not so.

 

 

 

Disney has implemented many strategies to make their parks and resorts more environmentally friendly. If you are interested in their approach there is contact info on their website.

 

 

 

In the spirit of letting our Inner Children run free, I definitely think Disney is the perfect location to just dive right in. Fast-paced or leisurely, whatever your pace it caters to every age group equally. Loving Disney as a child and returning as an adult after many years I would  have to say that I enjoyed it more this time around. Honestly, if someone has a hard time enjoying Disney they need their head examined.

 

 

 

During our visit to Florida we took a side trip. Where did we head off to? You’ll have to read my next post but I promise I won’t make you wait too long.

 

 

 

“I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.”  – Walt Disney

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Thanksgiving Challenge

Last year at this time I was in full-out Thanksgiving dinner mode. See last year’s post here. This year I thought I was going to cruise through the weekend with absolutely no stress in sight. Alas, here I am on Thanksgiving Monday in the throes of assembling something “wow-worthy”. If not for my family’s enjoyment then at least my own sense of accomplishment. Here’s the thing…since we went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving for a couple of days I figured that I wouldn’t feel like preparing one myself so I didn’t fill my fridge and pantry with any of the necessary ingredients. This Thanksgiving Day I have decided to challenge myself by putting together a full spread with a near empty kitchen. I seem to like this type of challenge since I do this type of thing frequently. I cook with the spirit of adventure – trying new things is great fun and I seldom use recipes except to bake.  I am sticking to an Autumn harvest theme in celebration of the season.

 

At present I have a luscious smelling pot of pumpkin and roasted garlic soup simmering on the stove. It is chock full of delicious organic ingredients and fresh herbs from my garden. In the oven is a cauliflower roasting away with real butter (mmmm…) and a sweet mesquite spice blend.  I have yet to sort out a main dish but I suspect a chickpea something or other is about to be concocted.  I’ll report back on that if anyone is interested in the comments below.  Cyndi over at Healthy A-Z inquired as to whether I would be making the gluten-free pumpkin pie that I made last year. She inspired me to do so. Sadly, my cupboards were void of the necessary items so I have decided to whip up a spiced custard and serve with baked apples. 

 

This time of year encourages me to get busy in my kitchen and get back to the simplicity of great food using what is being harvested. Soups and stews fill my foodie brain and I enjoy the run out to the back garden to snip herbs for whatever is in the works on the stove. I am usually hopping from stone to stone down the garden path in my bare feet and quickly darting back into the warmth of my fragrant kitchen with my arms full of healthy goodness.  

 

To all of my fellow Canadians, may you be filled with thanks for all of your blessings and enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family. To all the non-Canadians, let the spirit of gratefulness bring you peace at this splendid time of year.

 

 

 

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”  – Oprah Winfrey

 

 

 

 

Greening It Up for My Blogiversary!

One year ago today I decided to give WordPress a go, encouraged by my friend Crystal over at Change My Body, Change My Life. I am so glad I took her advice. Over the past year I have grown immensely (not in size, but in self-confidence and spiritually) thanks to making myself find words for what I was thinking and experiencing. Thank you to all of you that have read my blog and encouraged me. WordPress bloggers are an incredible group of individuals and I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie that takes place. I have even made a few new friends to boot! So, once again thank you to all of you that not only visit me here at Live Love Be Green and/or on my Facebook page Live Love Be Green but that also create your own fascinating blogs that capture my imagination and that makes time well-spent reading what you have to say.

 

 

 

So, since it is not only my one year anniversary of blogging but is also St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would try something new and fun with a poll. I am just trying to get the idea of how to create a poll so bear with me if it is lame.

 

 

For our St. Patrick’s Day celebratory dinner I made a vegetarian shepherd’s pie (yum) with a fresh mesclun salad and a mouth-watering pint of Guinness for me. For dessert I lovingly baked a Chocolate Guinness cake with salted caramel drizzle. Holy heaven on a dessert plate! I shall leave you with thoughts of Guinness Cake. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Chocolate Guinness Cake with salted caramel drizzle

Chocolate Guinness Cake with salted caramel drizzle

“May you live a long life Full of gladness and health, With a pocket full of gold As the least of you wealth. May the dreams you hold dearest, Be those which come true, The kindness you spread, Keep returning to you.”  –  Irish blessing

Breakfast Bliss

breakfast with Buddha

breakfast with Buddha

 

Breakfast this morning was a blissful start to the day.

What could be more sinfully satisfying than a bowl of warm chocolatey, coconutty sumptuousness?

A few days ago I happened upon a recipe for chocolate banana breakfast quinoa that made my taste buds dance at the thought. While reading through the ingredients I mentally omitted certain things and added others.

The original recipe can be found here. The first ingredient to hit the chopping block was banana. Over the past couple of years I get this weird mouth-feel from bananas that makes me highly uncomfortable. Okay, that sounds kind of weird. I guess I should be more specific. I may possibly have a slight allergy to bananas or at least an intolerance since my mouth and throat get a tingly, fuzzy feel and my stomach feels as though I swallowed a bowling ball. Does that explain why the banana was axed?

Instead, I aimed for pure gastronomic pleasure and substituted with coconut.  Gosh I love coconut. I would lay in a tub filled to the brim with coconut milk and drink pina coladas if the situation ever presented itself.  Yes, I am mad for coconut.

I think I need to stop and compose myself with a sip of coffee. Or three.

Let’s get down to business now, shall we? Collect your ingredients and let’s get the quinoa simmering so you can make yourself a cup of coffee while its doing it’s thing.

Fixin's for chocolate-macaroon breakfast quinoa

 

Quinoa

Coconut milk – read your ingredients before buying since most coconut milk contains preservatives. Find one without if possible.

Honey – unpasteurized is my preference. I want the “good stuff” that’s meant to be there.

Cocoa – I am trying to use up a large canister I bought for Christmas baking. Choose an organic, fair trade cocoa if you can.

Water

Coconut – shredded, unsweetened and preservative-free.

Sliced almonds

Now that all the ingredients are collected, let’s put the quinoa on to cook.

Make sure to rinse the quinoa well before using to avoid the bitter taste from the protective layer of saponin that covers the grain to repel birds and insects. Put 1/2 cup of washed quinoa into a small pot and add 1/2 cup of water, a handful of shredded coconut, and 1 cup of coconut milk. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. I covered the pot but you don’t need to. Watch it doesn’t boil over and make a mess of your stove top like I did.  The smell of burning coconut milk is not pleasant. This is where you can make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and relax for a few minutes. When the liquid is almost fully absorbed, remove from heat.

 Add 2 tsp of cocoa and 2 tsp of honey. Stir well. Top with a little coconut milk, shredded coconut and slivered almonds.

Find somewhere comfortable to sit while savouring your morning meal. Lingering over each bite and being mindful of enjoying the goodness of sustenance makes it all worthwhile. When we rush to consume “whatever” in the morning we are doing ourselves a disservice. I know I feel so much better and more clear-headed when I sit down, put on some music or just enjoy the silence while eating instead of trying to multi-task while walking around.

” To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha 

Ties That Bind

The ties that bind us together. Family, friends and those that weave in and out of our lives to deliver timely messages whatever they might be. On my Path through life I am often reminded how we are all connected to each other by seemingly invisible threads. I have learned that there are many different types of bonds in life; the bond of genetics is strong. Within my heart is a huge section reserved for my family. My parents, my sisters and those that surrounded me by relation. I have an amazing family that I am very honoured to be a part of. My sisters mean the world to me. Although we are each very unique we are also very similar…eerily similar sometimes. We laugh at the same things without speaking or even eye contact and often feel that the other is in some sort of distress just by intuition. Sounds kind of hokey but I think it speaks loudly of our concern and respect for each other as well as the strong familial connection. As we mature, it seems as though we are drawn back toward each other. We don’t get the pleasure of spending much time together as all three of us live in different cities. A few recent family events through both loss and health challenges has brought us back to a common goal of caring for each other. It is interesting how Life throws us back together when we need each other without realizing it.

 

 

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with my family. My daughter and I went back to my childhood home to visit. On the way, we stopped off in Toronto to visit with my sister since she had flown in for work. I live fairly close to Toronto so this was a great opportunity for us to spend time together. Growing up, my sister was my closest ally. It was rejuvenating to get to spend time with her and my daughter together. This occasion allowed my daughter and I some time exploring on our own as well. We walked arm and arm down Yonge Street in Toronto and enjoyed each others’ company while we wandered aimlessly through the Eaton Centre. I am not a shopper by any means and I really do try to steer clear of malls and the materialism that is reinforced within its’ confines. However, the Eaton Centre is a really unique space. It is a landmark and focal point of downtown Toronto. It covers two city blocks and is four stories of shopping galleries while having a six-story glass domed ceiling. The Eaton Centre attracts approximately 50 million people per year with 25% of those visitors being tourists. It is a vibrant location in the heart of the city. It’s interesting how the mall itself still has the same feel it had when I visited it as a kid even though the stores have all changed. It is clean and bright and caters to eclectic tastes, not just the same stores and restaurants you find in every other mall in Canada.

 

 

 

Eaton Centre, Toronto

Eaton Centre, Toronto

 

Eaton Centre fountain

Eaton Centre fountain

 

 

 

My daughter was awestruck by Sephora while I just wanted to run as fast as I could away from it while plugging my nose! Sorry Sephora fans. Admittedly, it was a beautifully laid out store and the products are high quality. That is not the reason for my disdain. The odours of vanity hit my nose like a huge green cloud of toxicity. Nail polish remover, perfume, and masks of makeup on every female in the store hiding her natural beauty underneath. Makeup is meant to accent a woman’s beauty when worn on a “regular day”, not as though she were about to perform on stage! I guess I don’t share a flair for the (over)dramatic. I don’t think of myself as unkempt by any means but I felt as though I was totally naked walking through this establishment with my real face showing. I personally subscribe to the thought that we are each given something unique and beautiful, why try to look like everyone else? On that note, we carried on through the mall taking in all of the sights we aren’t normally bombarded with in our city which is surrounded by wineries and natural beauty. I love spending time in large urban areas. Seeing and experiencing how other people live is eye-opening. A reminder of why I have chosen the life I am living is essential sometimes.

 

 

 

Metal Sculpture

Metal Sculpture

view from 21st floor

 

 

 

Later that day, the three of us went out to enjoy dinner together. We found an incredible little place that served vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free pizza, pasta and desserts. Oh, and beer.  Jackpot! It was a great little hole in the wall that we all enjoyed immensely. If you are in Toronto and have the opportunity to eat at the Magic Oven I highly recommend it. The service was friendly, the prices reasonable and the food outstanding.  After dinner we headed to Chinatown. I love Chinatown, but sadly it was getting late and the shops were closing up for the night. My daughter had the shock of her life when she stepped on what she thought was a fish head (who knows what it really was) and I just couldn’t stop laughing at her reaction. If you’ve ever watched the show Pitchin’ In with Lynne Crawford and have heard her when her gag reflex kicks in, this was what my daughter sounded like. Hilarious. We booked it back to our hotel in the -10 degree weather as quickly as possible so we could warm up again. It was an enjoyable, if not frigid, walk. We stopped long enough to snap a pic on this extremely cool sculpture outside the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). I got stuck holding the bags of desserts while my daughter clambered around behind me.

 

 

 

Sculpture outside the AGO

Sculpture outside the AGO

 

 

 

Saying goodbye to my sister as we left was, as always, bittersweet. I love spending time with her but that was merely the start to our busy weekend. Two more family and friend-filled days ensued. I got to spend some much-needed time with my other sister and parents. Visiting at “home” was a much more relaxed pace which was enjoyable after the hustle and bustle of the two days prior.

 

 

Catching up with my dear friend Crystal (Change My Body, Change My Life)  after a few months apart was grounding. Bringing me back to introspection. She is so good at reminding me to ask myself the important questions in life. She seems to always be able to read me like a book which is very comforting. There is no need to explain myself but just to be who I am…whatever heart space I happen to be in.  I am honoured to know that I am also a safe place for her. We help feed each others’ souls with positivity. Thank you.

 

 

These are merely snippets from my weekend spent reconnecting. Pulling the ties that bind closer to my heart. My world is more colourful and glorious because of those that grace the stage of Life.

 

 

 

 

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” – Henry Miller

Snack Attack!

I love snacks but they have to be worth having or forget about it. I have learned the hard way about choosing wisely when it comes to snacking. This time of year is especially difficult for me to snack wisely since all I really want to do is what Nature intends for us to do and pack in calories to get us through the winter here in this chilly climate.  I have started making my own healthy snack options for a couple of reasons.

1: I don’t want to munch on crappy junk food.

2: Eating something just because it’s “healthy” is pointless unless you actually like it.

3: Cutting out extra sugar and sodium is easy when you are the one to decide how much to use.

4: There is nothing wrong with being frugal.

5: I really, really like to cook and bake.

One of the latest snack crazes that has risen to popularity in our house is  Roasted Chickpea Bites. These little guys pack a serious nutritional one-two punch while satisfying the need for salty or sweet (or both). One cup of chickpeas contains 10 grams of protein, approximately 15% of your RDA of iron, 6% of your RDA of calcium, 7 grams of fibre and 0 mg of cholesterol. I’m in love. Sure the calories may be on the high side at 220 calories/cup but I’m okay with that. Everything in moderation, right?

Chickpeas

Chickpeas

 

 

 

I thought you might enjoy these tasty morsels as well so I am going to share with you so you can snack-on without guilt.

Roasted Chickpea Bites

large 796 mL (28 oz ) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

olive oil

seasonings of your choice

Preheat oven to 350*F.

After rinsing the chickpeas well, pour them into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with approximately 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil,  add your seasonings (today I used 1 tbsp of my favorite madras curry powder and 2 tbsp maple syrup), and stir.

Gathering the ingredients.

Gathering the ingredients.

 

 

Mix well to ensure each lovely little orb is coated with deliciousness.

Pour the chickpeas and any liquid onto a rimmed baking sheet. Don’t use a flat cookie sheet without a rimmed edge or you will have chickpeas all over the place, no matter how steady your hand is. I know this from experience!

Chickpeas on baking tray.

Chickpeas on baking tray.

 

 

 

Put the chickpeas into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes. Wiggle the tray around every 10 minutes or so just to ensure even cooking and so the chickpeas  don’t stick to the tray. I like my chickpea bites to still be soft in the centre but crispy on the outside so after 25-30 minutes I put the oven onto broil for about 5 minutes. Watch them carefully because you can quickly gazorch (okay, burn) things very quickly under the broiler. This I also know from testing the reaction time of the smoke alarms.

Remove from the oven when they feel crispy and are dark golden brown. They will start to “pop” when they are perfectly cooked to my taste. Allow the chickpeas to cool on the tray. Don’t try to eat them when they are first out of the oven. You will burn your mouth. Yup, done that too. Once your mouth is burned you won’t be able to enjoy the yum-factor as much so please try to be patient.

Voila! Here is the finished Roasted Chickpea Bites ready to snack upon. Dig in!

roasted chickpea bites

roasted chickpea bites

 

 

 

I recommend storing the Chickpea Bites in the fridge once they have cooled down. Since there are no preservatives they will go bad quickly. These are scrumptious cold by the handful or tossed on top of salads.

“When baking, follow directions.  When cooking, go by your own taste. ” 

 ~Laiko Bahrs

Peruse Before You Partake

I have always been interested in food. Not just what I ingest, but what others choose to consume as well. I admit that I am a discreet food snob and I am okay with this characteristic. It’s not so much that I would judge another on their choice of food but will judge the food itself against my own standard of quality. For instance, I will always choose a creamy smooth piece of spiced gouda for instance over a processed cheese slice. To me this is common sense. So maybe I’m not necessarily a food snob as I am a seeker of quality. That sounds much better.

 

 

All of this interest in food consumption has led me down many different eating paths over my lifetime . I am presently a lacto-ovo vegetarian and have been most of my life. I am presently not consuming wheat or sugar as well. I go through phases where I cut out eggs and dairy and abide by a strict vegan diet. I have even gone for a period of time as a raw food vegan and felt fantastic. I was breastfeeding my second child ( my last) during this time and she flourished and is still incredibly healthy. It just wasn’t the right diet choice for my lifestyle after a while. I find, and I’m not sure if this is just me, but living in the climate I am in I felt cold constantly in the winter months so I added some cooked food back in to stoke my internal fire up again. Twelve and a half years later I have had a huge epiphany in terms of eating habits. It is not so much about “belonging” to any one eating regime as it is about providing ourselves with food that our body will be thanking us for.  I always knew this, I just seemed to need to identify with a particular lifestyle to feel like I was doing the right thing. Not so much anymore. As you are aware, I have ventured down the road to whole food eating. This, to me, is where it’s at. There is no need to call this lifestyle choice anything but common sense eating. No need to belong to a diet plan title. This is about choosing foods that are not processed and are from the original source be it a fruit, vegetable, oil, or animal product. The further our food gets from the source the more unrecognizable it becomes to our body.

 

 

There are many within the whole foods methodology that subscribe to the Paleo diet. I am going to give my opinion now so please don’t get your knickers in a twist. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts on this. Like I said, this is my opinion. I don’t profess to be perfect or have all the answers. I only do the things that make sense to me and that feel right. I am a live by my intuition and heart type of person. Here goes…I like the idea of so many people trying to make positive change for their health. I am speaking at present of one of the newest crazes called the Paleo diet. The concept of eating what our systems were originally fed and powered on is very noble. There is one key point missing – is this really how Paleolithic humans ate? Probably not.

 

 

Common sense would suggest that eating large quantities of meat is probably not the best thing we could be doing for our bodies. Most meat is acid-forming for starters. On the topic of our Paleo forefathers and mothers diet, I am convinced that there was a heck of a lot more starchy vegetation/fruit  consumption than the Paleo ideology subscribes to. As I read blogs and articles as well as “studies” regarding Paleo eating it is very evident to me that this diet is an excuse for many folk to eat tons of meat – especially bacon.  How does this coincide with our Paleo relatives? Bacon is a form of food preservation/processing that was unknown to humans of old. This is just an example of ideas twisted to suit our desires. If my own vegetarian diet was controlled by my favorites, I would quickly become off balance consuming only aloo gobi and red wine!

 

 

I read a blog post last week regarding Paleo eating that actually made me sad. The author put the Paleo diet on a pedestal while slamming other lifestyle choices. She went on to flog vegetarianism as unhealthy and extremist. Hmmm….how very unfortunate. There are great ideas at the base of almost all eating styles however, things can quickly veer off course. The Paleo diet is a great idea at its core but has been reworked and altered to compensate for our desires.  However, to get right down to the nitty-gritty of eating perfectly Paleo the participant would need to investigate more than just a book written by one person about their idea of the perfect eating regime. In my opinion, the participant would need to first dig into their own personal ancestral past to find out where their origins started. This would give a great place to start whittling down the food choices. If they originated from an ancestral background that resided by the ocean, their diet would be composed mainly of fish and probably sea vegetables. If that aforementioned individual originated from a forested area they probably would have consumed predominantly berries, insects and game such as deer or small birds.  I venture to suggest that probably a majority of our ancestors within temperate climes ate with the focus largely on plant matter and enjoyed meat sporadically, not the other way around. This makes sense to me. Just sayin’.

 

 

Chasing down the animal content of the diet would make a huge difference as well. There is great physical exertion in hunting Paleo-style unlike walking into the grocers and picking up a nicely packaged portion of meat. Then there is the carbon footprint issue. Eating a large quantity of meat in the diet creates unnecessary waste of resources and a higher carbon footprint. If a family of four skips steak one day a week, it will have  the same impact as taking your car off the road for three months, supposedly. Not sure how accurate this fact is but it is definitely food for thought.

 

 

Do you know what your Carbon Footprint is?

Alternate Carbon Footprint calculator.

 

 

I am not simply spouting off about the Paleo diet and I am not suggesting vegetarianism is perfect. I am using this as an example due to the blogger that made me question why people make the  food choices they do.  This goes for all methods of eating as far as I’m concerned. No diet is 100% perfect. Suggesting such is foolish. When a new diet calls itself “the perfect diet” my alarm bells start ringing. The human body is a complex “machine” that relies on us to fuel it appropriately. Each of us has different needs. It can only accommodate so much before we start to see and feel inadequacies. I think if we all just stopped listening to the hype and started listening (really listening) to our bodies we could enjoy a better state of health.

 

 

 

 

” The very fact that we are having a national conversation about what we should eat, that we are struggling with the question about what the best diet is, is symptomatic of how far we have strayed from the natural conditions that gave rise to our species, from the simple act of eating real, whole, fresh food.”  – Mark Hyman

The Menu

To follow-up the Thanksgiving themed posts, I will wrap it all up with one last post…the menu. Sadly, I have no pics to add to this delicious food bonanza except a photo of the last piece of gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie. I think I will be making another pumpkin pie in the near future since this was such a hit.

The  Menu

Butternut Squash Soup

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes

Rutabaga

Homemade Stuffing (no boxed stuff here!)

Vegetarian Gravy

Herb Roasted Whole Chicken

Vegetarian Baked Beans

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie

Real Whipped Cream sweetened with Maple Syrup

Butternut Squash Soup

I never use a recipe for squash soup. Or most of the soups I make, for that matter. I start by heating up a couple tablespoons of oil in a large soup pot and add in a couple of medium-sized, chopped  onions. I saute the onions until they are just starting to brown slightly to give some added flavour. At this point I toss in an entire butternut squash (medium size) that has been skinned and cut into large pieces of about an inch or so cubed. Drop in one large sprig of fresh rosemary (you will remove the stem before blending soup) or remove leaves from stem and chop finely. Pour approximately 8-10 cups of vegetarian stock into the soup pot and simmer for approximately 45 minutes to an hour until the squash is very tender. At this point, puree in small batches in the blender until very creamy and smooth or use an immersion blender. The silkier the soup, the better. This soup can be made to serve immediately or even a day prior to serving. I think the soup tastes better the longer it rests.

Caramelized Brussel Sprouts

I really love Brussel sprouts. They have always been one of my favourite foods but until recently I have always had them served boiled. My sister made them a couple of years ago sautéed and caramelized with brandy. Oh…my…GOSH! I learned to love them even more!  I have made them since then a few times following her method but for Thanksgiving dinner I simply steamed them in a saute pan then removed the lid, added a bit of ghee and let them do their thing until they were nicely golden and sweet. Mmm, mmm,mmm.

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes

Early on the morning I would be needing the roasted garlic I sliced of the top off of  a head of garlic, set it  on a square of foil, poured a bit of olive oil over top and sprinkled with  freshly ground black pepper. I then wrapped the foil tightly around the garlic and popped it in the toaster oven until it was fragrant and soft. I set it aside until dinner prep time when I squeezed all of the luscious soft cloves from the bulb and dropped them into the pot of cooked and drained potatoes.   I got busy and whipped the potatoes and garlic  with vegetarian stock instead of milk and butter to make them lighter and much easier on my figure.

Rutabaga

Yummy, sweet rutabaga…how I love thee. Usually I hear mass rebellion at the presence of rutabaga at our table so I don’t serve it often. I decided to go “old school” and boil and mash it but with the twist of real Canadian maple syrup and ghee added instead of butter and brown sugar as my mom prepares it. The kids decided that rutabaga can be delicious so I will no longer have the entire bowl to myself. For this, I am grateful.

Homemade Stuffing

Of course the recipe for stuffing that I have made in the past that I love had conveniently disappeared right before I needed it, so I had to wing it. A loaf of crusty, day old bread was ripped into bite-sized pieces and put into a 13 x 9 Pyrex dish. In a frying pan I sautéed cubed celery and onion until translucent then poured them over the bread.  I also added in herbs (dried thyme, marjoram,  as well as fresh chopped rosemary) , one egg, salt/pepper and some hot stock until it seemed moist but not sloppy and drowned. Stir everything around gently so the bread doesn’t turn into mush. The pan was covered with foil and put in the oven at 350*F for about 40 minutes. I then took off the foil to crisp the stuffing slightly for another 20 minutes or so. Watch that it doesn’t burn.

Vegetarian Gravy

Sometimes I add onions or mushrooms to gravy but I opted for no-fuss good old plain gravy that is certainly not boring. I start with either coconut oil or ghee and add about a tablespoon of quinoa flour into the hot pan and stir so as to not burn the flour. Once the flour starts to colour slightly, I add about 2 cups of vegetarian stock and stir with a whisk to remove any lumps. Stir until the gravy thickens. Voila…easy homemade gravy!

Herb Roasted Chicken

After acquiring a whole chicken, which wasn’t an easy task at a time when turkeys are all the rage. I am rather squeamish when it comes to dead animals so this was the tricky part for me. The bird was rinsed under running water then a mixture of dried herbs (fresh lemon thyme and rosemary), about four slices of lemon, and a couple of cloves of garlic were put into the cavity. I brushed melted butter oven the outside of the chicken for an extra layer of flavour. The chicken was lovingly placed into my cast iron casserole with lid and placed into the oven at 350*F for about and hour and 20 minutes. I had to hunt down the proper amount of time for cooking a whole chicken since it is not something I do regularly. I learned that a chicken needs to be cooked for 20 minutes per pound for a perfect roast chicken.  After the allotted cooking time, I removed the lid of the casserole dish to brown the skin slightly. The house was really smelling amazing at this point.

Vegetarian Baked Beans

After reading a fantastic post with a recipe for homemade baked beans by a fellow blogger, I knew I had to try her recipe. Wow, I’m so glad I did! It was scrumptious! You can check out her recipe here: Homemade Baked Beans.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie

This was another “first time” recipe for me and I am so glad I decided to give it a try! It was excellent and has already claimed a place in our Thanksgiving meal for next year. I highly recommend this recipe – Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie.

Real Whipped Cream Sweetened with Maple Syrup

Is there anything more nostalgic than pumpkin pie and whipped cream when it comes to Thanksgiving? Not in my mind there isn’t. To make my life easier I always use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer to do whipped cream. This way I can do my usual ten other things while the cream is being fluffed full of air. Pour the whipping cream into the mixing bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of real maple syrup (no fake maple-flavored crap here)  to the cream as well as about a half teaspoon of real vanilla extract then turn on the mixer and leave your hands free for other tasks. Once the whipped cream is the desired thickness turn off and place in a bowl for those around your table to serve themselves their desired amount instead of dolloping it on top of the whole pie before serving. I find the amount of whipped cream varies from person to person so allowing others to do their own is not only fun for the kids but for the adults too.

I have always found it curious that Canadian and American Thanksgiving celebrations are so far apart on the calendar.  I am looking forward to hearing how our friends to the South celebrate their Thanksgiving once it rolls around.


“Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.” ~Voltaire

Snippets in Time…Thanksgiving

I think this year’s Thanksgiving weekend ranks at the top of my Thanksgiving memories. The weather was incredibly beautiful and autumnal. One evening being cool and rainy was a great excuse to bundle up inside with a glass of red wine, a cozy blanket and an interesting documentary. What? I love a good documentary! Monday morning  the sunshine and crisp air beckoned us outside to get the garden prepped for winter. There was raking to be done and the removal of the veggie garden plants. The whole family chipped in on the task which made it so much more enjoyable. We had some good laughs while working as a team to accomplish a goal. Things went slightly awry when the kids thought it would be fun to chuck green “grounder” tomatoes at each other. They quickly realized it wasn’t as intelligent as originally thought once put into action. A learning lesson was had – being pummeled with green tomatoes is like having rocks thrown at you! Those shenanigans died down without me even having to pull out the “safety first” speech.

 


We indulged in our quiet Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday evening and reported to each other something we were thankful for. I stated that I had a few things on my list and was quickly shut down after three. Well! (Insert huffy breath here.) I was trying to keep it brief. I didn’t even ramble. I guess everyone was just incredibly thankful for the good and plentiful food set before them that waiting to consume it was a hardship.  I had prepared everything  healthier and  lighter with a  whole food mindset although I don’t think anyone even noticed that all the “unnecessary  stuff” was absent. All I heard was a resounding “thank you for a great dinner”. Chalk one more up for eating clean.

 

 

After mentioning in my last post that I would be making a wheat-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie there was some interest shown as to how it would turn out. Truthfully, it was delicious. I have made pumpkin pie in many variations over the years and I think this has to be one of my favourite methods. I didn’t feel that drive to overeat or the icky feeling from too rich of a dessert. I have tried everything from store-bought to tofu pumpkin pie to made from scratch using local pumpkins. This year’s was the winner! A co-worker/friend of mine came across the recipe and thought it looked like something I would be into so she posted it on my Facebook page. So glad she did…thank you.

 

 

There seemed to be a lot of kitchen activity this weekend and I even managed to stock the fridge with lunches and snacks for the next few days. We started the day yesterday with quinoa crepes with fresh, hot applesauce and real Canadian maple syrup… Mmmm. Yesterday I whipped up another new recipe to me – Banana Prune Cake. Very yummy and not too sweet. The prunes were supposed to be dates but I only had prunes so I substituted. Last night’s kitchen adventure was a speedy home-made hummus with extra garlic. Sorry to every one of you in advance that I am in close proximity to over the next few days. I pumped up the garlic amount in an effort to try to rid myself of the lingering sinus/ear annoyance I have been fighting for the past week.

 

 

All in all, this Thanksgiving was wonderful and reaffirming of the blessings of Life. Sharing healthy, delicious food, enjoying nature, and being with those I love has made beautiful memories and a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart.

 

“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.”   – William James

Giving Thanks

Here in Canada, Thanksgiving weekend has arrived. I love this time of year. After Christmas I would have to say that Thanksgiving is my favourite “holiday”. The chill in the air, the delicious smells wafting from kitchens and the incredible autumnal colours. This year, Thanksgiving is shaping up to be different from in the past. I have decided to lie low this year and simply take it easy at home with my kids. No huge dinners, no crazy running around, and definitely no travelling on jam-packed highways for hours only to spend a few hours at a table stuffing ourselves silly. We are enjoying each others’ company and loving the simple things like raking the leaves together, choosing a pumpkin, and cranking the tunes and singing like lunatics. Good times.

Our Thanksgiving dinner this year is veering slightly from the traditional. After starting a healthier way of eating at the beginning of September, I am shaking things up a bit by losing the mass amounts of unnecessary sugar, wheat and dairy that usually accompany large meals.  Our Thanksgiving meal will start with a butternut squash soup followed by the main entrée. Instead of turkey, a whole chicken has been requested so I will be making a herb roasted chicken as well as homemade vegetarian baked beans for us veg-heads. The side dishes will be plentiful – carmelized Brussel sprouts, whipped garlic potatoes, rutabaga,  and homemade stuffing.  For dessert I have decided upon a gluten-free, dairy-free pumpkin pie that my mouth starts to water at the thought of.  It sounds as though I will be busy in the kitchen slaving away. To me I am content and happy making healthy food to nourish my family. I have always felt that when we cook for our self and our family with love and kindness in our heart the food we prepare will be nurturing and full of love.

I have so much to be thankful for this year. I won’t bore you with my list that goes on, and on…and on.  Instead I will turn the corners of my mouth up into a smile and let my heart be wide open with love and gratitude for the goodness that I have been blessed with.

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”  – Henry Van Dyke